The Simpsons: The Complete Twentieth Season (2008) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Animation / Comedy
Fox || NR - 456 minutes - $59.99 || January 12, 2010
Reviewer: Tyler Thomas || Posted On: 2010-02-03


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.:: 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 (created by); James L. Brooks & Matt Groening & Sam Simon (developed by)
Cast: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Harry Shearer, Hank Azaria


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Featurette


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Full Frame (1.33), Widescreen (1.78)
  • English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1), Portuguese (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, Portuguese

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.::THE FILM::.

I have some friends who whenever I bring up even the slightest notion of “The Simpsons” they say the same thing “Man, that show jumped the shark years ago, haven’t they done everything already?” To answer the question, yes they pretty much, and that’s one of the reasons for declining ratings and lackluster storylines as of the past five or six seasons. After watching the two discs of the show which marks the first entry for said show on Blu-Ray, I can say that “The Simpsons” haven’t quite jumped the shark yet, but are leering dangerously close.

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.

In by far one of the greatest “Treehouse of Horror’s” to date, a few different shows and movies are spoofed. Transformers, “Mad Men”, and finally an episode of “Charlie Brown” are poked fun at by the cast, although by far the best one if the “Mad Men” spoof. Homer accidentally kills Krusty the Clown, and through some luck with his abilities, is recruited by similar people to the cast of which the show spoofs to go around and knocking off celebrities like George Clooney. The ending to the brief spoof though is somewhat unsatisfying but out of the three available here this was the best one. The robot spoof wasn’t that funny and dragged on for much longer than it should have, while the “Charlie Brown” spoof didn’t have much in terms of laughter or anything else to do with comedy. It’s hard for me to find anything Milhouse does as funny anymore, as though I’m so used to him doing and saying such stupid things that his lines just aren’t entertaining. Plus, the whole setup for the spoof is downright weird, and unless you were a fan of the show then you wouldn’t get the references.

“Homer and Lisa Exchange Cross Words” deals with Lisa’s sudden ability to solve crosswords with the greatest of ease, and Homer’s gambling addiction that is probed yet again to where he bets on whether or not his daughter will win at the cross words championship. The problem with this episode is the fact that while the idea has been done in similar ways, i.e.: Lisa is always smart, always does well in school, excels at everything, and Homer has always gambled on anything he can get his hands on. The cameos at the end of the episode also weren’t funny, similar to the episode itself, so I’m trying to figure out just what the purpose of this episode truly was. There probably were some comedy opportunities here, mainly to do with the lack of storyline involving the rest of the cast, and that caused this episode to falter. The appearance of Gil yet again was a slightly redeeming moment, but yet again his character is slightly overused and I expected the outcome with the cast.

One of the highlights is available on the second disc, “Gone Maggie Gone.” There’s an eclipse and Marge is left out by her family to see it, and decides to take off the glasses to see if she can view the eclipse and her eyes are burned out because of her rash decision. Homer is then forced to be her eyes for a time but in the meantime manages to lose Maggie in the process. The episode is loosely based off of The Da Vinci Code, as though Lisa and Homer figure out that there’s a hidden meaning behind both Lisa and Maggie although only one of them are really meant for a true destiny. The premise of the episode is intriguing, and the fact that Lisa is shown her place among others for being too smart and not realizing other possibilities was quite funny. I liked how the episode actually provided a puzzle for me, similar to the “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” episode from years ago. I wonder if they’ve considered doing something like that again.

This season has run into the same problem that the past seasons that I’ve seen and reviewed have in common: there are too many inconsistencies in terms of entertainment value for fans and newcomers alike to enjoy. While some of the episodes (Treehouse of Horror, Coming to Homerica) are funny and provide laughter, there are far more duds (No Loan Again, Naturally, How the Test Was Won) that created sadness for me. The show that once had my eyes glued to the television and ears too has me now worried that the shows staying power has faded. Like I said previously in the first paragraph, the show may have jumped the shark a few years ago.

I hope that I’m wrong though, as I do love “The Simpsons”. But unless the episodes start improving (and this past season hasn’t been exactly wonderful either) soon, the show may be in trouble for fans.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

The 20th Anniversary Special Sneak Peak by Morgan Spurlock (4 minutes): Spurlock gives you a backstage look at the already shown special about the fans of the show. There’s nothing here that’s interesting, mainly because I’ve already seen the episode.

I’d like to start my giant rant right here, if you don’t mind.

First, I hate the fact that this season doesn’t have a Simpsons head or any character on the cover. The best part about buying the seasons roughly every year was the fun of seeing what character was on the cover and also the way they didn’t ever fit into a DVD rack. This case, however, is just plain awful. I’m pretty sure most people know this is the 20th year of the show, so trying to showcase it with a nearly blank cover and nothing on the back won’t fascinate anyone. Plus, the fact that the piece of paper barely sticks on the back with the episode titles and other things ticks me off too, as I’ve nearly lost it a few times.

Second, the show lacks any sort of extra that makes buying the Blu-Ray worthwhile. There are no commentaries, no features, nothing to do at all with the cast. Every other season (to my knowledge) has always had tons of neat extras, cast interviews, commentaries, that were a joy to listen to. Instead, for the 20th anniversary, they jip fans of anything meaningful.

Third, there is no episode booklet that details each episode like in past seasons. In place of said booklet you get a cruddy two-page booklet that just has what titles are on what disc. That ticks me off, and will probably tick off non-fans of the show, due to the fact that you can’t tell what an episode is about just from the title. If you are one of those people who are like “Well Homer had so-so happen to him…” you won’t be able to find what episode without an online search.

Fourth, and finally, what’s the point of putting a show on Blu-Ray when 9 of the episodes are up-converted (the first nine) and the rest are actual 1080p? That’s a slap in the face to people who buy the arguably much more expensive copy of the season and get nothing in return except for upgraded audio and half-upgraded video.

I hope these problems get addressed for the release of the next season.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

I mentioned previously, and I hope you read my rant, 9 of the episodes are available in up-converted crappy 1080p, while the others are available in gorgeous 1080p native resolution. I’m not sure as to why this is, but I must say that it severely angered me to see this being touted as a “Blu-Ray” when a little less than half of the episodes are merely up-converted, and poorly at that. Colors are bland for the 9 episodes, the framing is awful, and I found nothing enjoyable about watching shows that are identical to DVD quality. Brightness levels are decent, although I did notice a few scenes with grain and noise plaguing them. However, on the other side of things, the second disc which features 12 other episodes look phenomenal. Colors for these episodes on the opposite spectrum are beautiful and showcase how gorgeous the show can be. I didn’t notice any hint of grain, noise, distortion, artifacting, or anything else of the negative nature. I hope that Fox rectifies the situation with the first 9 episodes and produces more Blu-Rays in the future with the second disc’s quality.

Wow, I must say that this DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is an incredible improvement over the Dolby Digital 5.1 track I’m used to for the show. The yellow family certainly busts onto Blu-Ray with a loud, engaging, and overall amazing track. Surround sound isn’t used all that much, but when my surrounds were going off the sound was loud and at times shocked even me. The Treehouse of Horror episode was one of them, as a few times I jumped at the sheer loudness that came from my speakers even though I had the volume set at a medium level. Dialogue itself sounds great, as I never struggled to hear anything spoken, so obviously clarity was perfect as well. There’s nothing actually wrong with this track, as the entire time I was fascinated from beginning to end. A little more surround usage though can go a long way, and hopefully next season this will be slightly improved, although in all honesty I’m not sure that it would make this track any better.



.::OVERALL::.

“The Simpsons: The Complete Twentieth Season” isn’t necessarily the best of the seasons in terms of comedic gold or in the sense of providing a great experience for fans. Unlike past editions of the DVD releases, all of the extras that the show normally provides are stripped here. Plus, the packaging is atrocious. The technical aspects are only worthwhile for the second disc as though the first disc is of poor non-HD quality. I’d say that this is more of a rental than a purchase, even to fans of the show. This is one to not blow too much “Doh” on.