The Simpsons: The Thirteenth Season (2001) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Animation / Comedy
Fox || NR - 491 minutes - $59.99 || August 24, 2010
Reviewer: Tyler Thomas || Posted On: 2010-09-03


Buy this DVD from Amazon.com!
.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: NA
Writer(s): Matt Groening (creator)
Cast: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Episode Commentaries
  • 11 Featurettes
  • Deleted Scenes


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Full Frame (1.33)
  • English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Comment on this and other movies on the message board!


.::THE FILM::.

“The Simpsons” is a show that hasn’t been able to withstand the test of time. After being on-air for more than two decades, the show has waned on both viewers and ratings. The show has been in a slump for the past few years because of the fact the cast has literally done everything possible. The earlier shows, as I’ve said before, are truly the best seasons for newcomers and fans to the show. The Simpsons: The Thirteenth Season stars one of the best, if not the best, characters from the show: Ralph, and is a season dedicated to his great lines, behavior, and funny elements he brings to the series. Most of the episodes here are sure-fire ways to crack a smile, but there are a few riddled within that make me rush for the fast-forward button on the remote.

The show stars Homer (Dan Castellaneta), Marge (Julie Kavner), Bart (Nancy Cartwright), Lisa (Yeardley Smith) and also baby Maggie who doesn’t speak although she has in the movie and at least one other episode. Homer is the bumbling father, who manages to get into trouble nearly episode. Marge is the kind, caring, compassionate mother who always holds her head high no matter what her husband or son did. Bart is the troublemaker of the family (well, next to Homer anyways) and can manage to stir up trouble no matter where he goes, whether he’s at school or the store. Finally, Lisa is the good daughter, who plays the saxophone and like her mom always tries to keep her head held high despite the fact she hates the family life she has at times.

Opening the season is arguably one of the “ho-hum” Treehouse of Horror episodes that parodies on three separate entities: Homer ticking off a gypsy, a former Bond agent voicing a killer house alarm, and finally a boring rendition of a famous wizard novel. The gypsy portion with Homer and the rest of the family brought a few laughs to my face, as though Homer is truly an idiot and the ending to this part was funny. The Pierce Brosnan (as himself) cameo for being a killer house alarm was hysterical and he does a great job as coming off creepy. Sadly though, this episode fails on the third portion with the wizard spoof. Mr. Burns as a bad guy (although Smithers as Slithers was somewhat funny) has been done way too many times throughout the years and it just gets old real fast. Burns is a character that’s horribly outplayed and is only funny when he’s nice rather than mean.

In “A Hunka Hunka Burns in Love,” Mr. Burns is in love with a cop who pulls him over, played by Julia Lous-Dreyfus. He has Homer (of all people) help him out by getting the female to love him, and he hopes to marry her at the end of the night. The issue however arises when it turns out that the female cops ex-boyfriend is Snake, the notorious burglar who appears throughout each season for a few lines at a time. The episode has some great parts to it, mainly with Burns and the cop attempting to go out on dates and requiring Homer’s help the entire way through, but it falters on basic continuity throughout the season. There’s literally no reason for Burns to ever trust Homer enough to help him out with dating, as though throughout the years Burns has seen Homer fail at marriage and even once attempted to woo Marge. The female cop also appears throughout later seasons as not a cop anymore, but merely the “hunny” of Snake.

In “Half-Decent Proposal,” Artie Ziff (voiced by Jon Lovitz) returns yet again (he returns a few more times in future seasons) to court Marge again. He offers to pay for the surgery Homer needs in order to sleep if he lets Marge stay with him for the weekend on their boat and relive their prom night. Homer, being the idiot he is, allows Marge to go but then decides that was a bad idea and fears he may lose his wife forever. I’ve always enjoyed Lovitz being on the show, as though when he does one voice he normally portrays a few other characters. Artie is a funny character for the show’s cast to interact with countless times, but here this episode fails from being too focused on Marge. Marge storylines tend to fall flat most of the time and here is definitely not an exception. There are some laughs here and there from Artie and the kids, but Marge brings the episode down.

Finally, the season closes out with one of the best episodes on the disc entitled “Poppa’s Got a Brand New Badge.” Homer takes over for Chief Wiggum when Wiggum screws up majorly in the town, and Homer decides to make his own band of nitwits to rule the city. Lenny and Carl help him contain the town of Springfield until Fat Tony is let out of jail again and vows revenge on Homer through the radio. The Fat Tony character (Joe Mantegna) has always been another favorite of mine, as though he has a great voice that truly fits the character he portrays. He comes off as creepy yet always has some great lines. Like for example when he calls into the radio to vow revenge on Homer yet also requests a song at the same time. This is by far one of the better episodes on the disc and one that if you missed it over the past decade you should catch up on.

Alright, to be honest, only a few of these episodes are bad. For the most part, they are great to watch and relive the funny moments that used to be the Simpson family. The best part about the show is that only once has the show really had a “cliffhanger” episode or one that impacted the rest of the show (The episode where Maude died, Flander’s wife, and that was only due to demanding a pay raise). That’s one of the best parts about the show, is that you can pick up whenever and wherever and not really miss a beat.

This is arguably one of the better seasons of the family in yellow, as though it only took a few more seasons after this one, around sixteen or seventeen, for the show to start a slow decline in laughter.

Go Ralph.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

DISC ONE

A Token from Matt Groening (2 minutes): Groening introduces the show’s thirteenth season by giving you a rundown of what each of the episodes is briefly about in two minutes.

Ralphisms (3 minutes): This is by far the best special feature I’ve ever witnessed in all of the seasons I’ve seen. My favorite character, Ralph, is shown saying all of the best lines he’s said throughout the seasons of the show.

Animation Showcase (7 minutes): This is a picture-in-picture option that allows you to view the show (part of it) through the design team’s rough sketches and how the episode was started on the drawing board.

DISC TWO

Animation Showcase (7 minutes): This is a picture-in-picture option that allows you to view the show (part of it) through the design team’s rough sketches and how the episode was started on the drawing board.

The People Ball (1 minute): Groening talks about the idea behind the building of the people ball contained in the episode.

The 13th Crewman (2 minutes): The production team shows how they made a giant Bart face for the episode.

Blame it on the Monkeys (2 minutes): The crew of writers discusses the controversy behind the episode “Blame it on Lisa” and the trouble that brewed from the Brazil show.

DISC THREE

Commercials: You can view a few of the commercials for the show that played throughout the years, including when they were being promoted at Burger King.

The Games (9 minutes): I was hoping that you could play the games from the past few decades that the show was involved in, but sadly all you get here is a brief 30-second clip of each of the games. I still have some of them lying around for good old nostalgic sake, but where’s the rerelease of the arcade game I spent so much money on?

The Sweet Life of Ralph (6 minutes): The character of Ralph is shown being transitioned into a bully into the light-hearted fellow we all have come to enjoy.

Sketch Gallery (6 minutes): There are hundreds of sketches here to be looked at that provide you with a birds-eye view into the world of the sketch artists.

Deleted Scenes (14 minutes): These are the scenes (I believe anyways) that are shown when you click on the “play episode with deleted scenes” option available on some of the episodes. Most of these are quite entertaining and funny to watch, so to fans of the show I strongly recommend watching these for a few chuckles here and there.

ALL DISCS

Commentary featuring Matt Groening and others: Groening, along with other writers and cast mates from the show, critique the episodes in a light-hearted manner similar to other commentaries I’ve listened to in the past from them. He doesn’t sound as excited as he normally does, but the rest of the commentators pick up the pace for him and carry the tracks. If you have a favorite episode then check out the commentary tracks with it when you have the time. There is always something you may have missed that the writers point out about the episode.

Episodes with Deleted Scenes: You can also choose to play the episodes either in the way they were shown on television or play them with some deleted scenes. This is only available on select episodes, but for the most part each episode has a scene or two that can also be seen on disc 3 as one option to view them all at once.

As usual, there’s always a complaint from me due to the packaging. The packaging for the Blu-ray comes with a neat looking slip-cover with Ralph on it that’s identical to the cover underneath. The DVD on the other hand gets the usual case with the head of the character on the cover, Ralph, instead of this. Why treat Blu-Ray owners unfairly? I have the other seasons complete with the heads, but for some reason fans of the show who want the Blu-Ray have to buy the head separately to complete their collection? I demand continuity!



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

The last time I reviewed a Blu-ray from this show, half of it was 1080p while the other half was merely up-converted and looked awful. The show looks much better than the previous season which is a huge plus. Colors are bright and vibrant for each of the episodes and not once did I notice any real grain or noise throughout the episodes. This is a great-looking season for being roughly a decade old, and I hope that in the future Fox changes their video coding but keeps the transfer looking this beautiful.

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is nearly identical to past releases, but on a positive note surround usage is a little bit more here I noticed. For example, in a few episodes, I detected a ton of surround sound usage compared to previous DVD seasons and Blu-Ray seasons as well. Sounds were coming from all speakers and they were quite loud and engaging, which is incredibly surprising for a decade old show that isn’t known for flashy sounds or loud noises. Dialogue levels were appropriate for the most part although I did notice a few episodes that had some problems in keeping in sync with levels. There were a few times where I struggled to hear the audio from the characters, and then when I cranked it up, the levels returned to normal and I had to tweak the audio. This only happened in a few of the episodes; I’d probably say around five of them, so the ratio is still better than most shows I’ve reviewed in the past. This is honestly how the audio tracks should sound (albeit the one minor quip I have with it) for television shows past, present, and future.



.::OVERALL::.

I’m thoroughly happy that Fox has redeemed themselves after their last disaster with releasing the latest season on Blu-Ray. That release had zero special features on it, and this season has gone back to the old formula with tons of features and most of them provide some laughter. The episodes in this season are great and truly showcase the greatness that is Ralph. The technical package does the show justice, although the odd choice of 1.33 Full-Screen framing is a little odd to me. This is one Blu-Ray package to pick up, as though The Simpsons Thirteenth Season is just one Ralph away from being perfect.