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Blu-ray Review HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Simpsons: The Complete Twentieth Season

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Matt Hough, Jan 12, 2010.

  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Well-Known Member
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    The Simpsons: The Complete Twentieth Season (Blu-ray)

    Directed by Rob Oliver et al

    Studio: Twentieth Century-Fox
    Year: 2008-2009
    Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 (9 shows upconverted)/1.78:1 (12 shows)   1080p   AVC codec
    Running Time: 456 minutes
    Rating: NR
    Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish, French, Portuguese 
    Subtitles: SDH, Spanish, Portuguese
    Region: A
    MSRP: $ 59.99

    Release Date: January 12, 2010
    Review Date: January 12, 2010
     
     
    The Series
    4/5
     
    Twenty years on the air, over four hundred episodes, numerous awards, and The Simpsons goes merrily marching onward. The world’s most dysfunctional cartoon family that started out rather inauspiciously on The Tracy Ullman Show all those years ago now has twenty years under its belt. What a staggering achievement! Even more impressive: the show still has the wherewithal to be hysterical, to be biting, to be topical, often within the same episode. From parodies of Mad Men and Two for the Road (and how many people would even know that masterful 1967 movie to know it’s being paid homage to?) to digs at the Apple universe, the Irish, religion, and the obsession with standardized tests in school, The Simpsons continues to be sometimes diabolical but always lovable even with the occasional dud episode.
     
    I’m not sure what kind of ritual sacrifice had to be offered up to the gods of inspiration for the brilliant casting of the show’s core actors, but time has proven over and over what masterful actors they are and how lucky the show is to have them. Dan Castellaneta’s well meaning but often befuddled Homer, Julie Kavner’s steadfast Marge, Nancy Cartwright’s mischievous Bart, Yeardley Smith’s incisive Lisa, and the versatile Harry Shearer (Burns, Smithers, Skinner, Flanders) and Hank Azaria (Moe among so many others) create brilliant characterizations show after show and manage to find new nuances in these personas that keep audiences coming back season after season. The writing, of course, by a crackerjack team of artists manages to keep the show timely on the one hand and effortlessly respectful to its television forefathers on the other. In one memorable bit in the opening credits, for example, the family is arriving back home and manages to move through quick, thoughtful parodies of The Honeymooners, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Brady Bunch, and Cheers. No big deal made about it, but just lovely, thoughtfully respectful nods to legendary comic families from sitcom days of yore.
     
    Each of the core actors gets episodes that spotlight his or her specific character, but on first viewing, this seems to be Lisa’s season this year with an above average number of episodes which shine the light on her interests and problems. From her quick mastery of crossword puzzles to making friends with an imaginative English girl who preferred living in a world of fantasy rather than one of reality, Lisa had a great year. But all of the characters get some superb chances to glow in the spotlight this season, and when Marge starts telling her versions of four variations on strong women (including hilarious satires of Snow White and Lady Macbeth) in the season’s penultimate episode, you know The Simpsons is as strong as ever.
     
    Here are the twenty-one episodes contained on the two Blu-rays discs in the set. The first disc contains the nine season episodes produced in 1.33:1 and upconverted to 1080p. The second disc contains the twelve episodes produced specifically for high definition in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio:
     
    1 – Sex, Pies, and Idiot Scrapes
    2 – Lost Verizon
    3 – Double, Double, Boy in Trouble
    4 – Treehouse of Horror XIX
    5 – Dangerous Curves
    6 – Homer and Lisa Exchange Cross Words
    7 – Mypods and Broomsticks
    8 – The Burns and the Bees
    9 – Lisa the Drama Queen
    10 – Take My Life, Please
    11 – How the Test Was Won
    12 – No Loan Again, Naturally
    13 – Gone Maggie Gone
    14 – In the Name of Grandfather
    15 – Wedding for Disaster
    16 – Eeny Teeny Maya, Moe
    17 – The Good, the Sad, and the Drugly
    18 – Father Knows Worst
    19 – Waverly Hills 9-0-2-1-D’oh
    20 – Four Great Women and a Manicure
    21 – Coming to Homerica
     
     
    Video Quality
    4/5
     
    The season contains nine episodes in 1.33:1 and twelve episodes in 1.78:1, all presented in either upconverted or native 1080p using the AVC codec. Colors are bold and bright, and lines are generally thick and distinct. There are frequent glimpses of soft banding in the brightly colored backgrounds, and there are some instances of aliasing here and there though it isn’t a major problem. Each episode has been divided into 6 chapters.
     
     
    Audio Quality
    3.5/5
     
    The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track does a solid job with the jaunty score that gets filtered into the fronts and rears, and there is even an occasional use of the soundfield for discreet effects (particularly noticeable in the rears) though these are sporadic and not the norm for each episode.
     
     
    Special Features
    1/5
     
    For such a monumental achievement (twenty seasons on the air, the first Blu-ray release of its television season), the almost total lack of celebratory bonus features is a major disappointment. The only thing offered is a 3 ½-minute 1080p sneak preview of Morgan Spurlock’s 20th anniversary special which was recently broadcast on Fox. The special itself is not a part of this set, but it should have been.
     
     
    In Conclusion
    3.5/5 (not an average)
     
    The Simpsons continues on its markedly decisive way with hilarity and insight in bringing America’s favorite cartoon family to us for the twentieth straight season. Though this won’t be the first time viewers have been able to see Homer and the gang in high definition (the hit The Simpsons Movie was released on Blu-ray a couple of years ago), fans of the show will surely want to have the program’s first widescreen television efforts to add to their collections. It doesn’t hurt that it was a wonderful season for the show though one would have preferred such an achievement to be marked with some congratulatory bonus material. Still, recommended!
     
     
    Matt Hough
    Charlotte, NC
     
  2. Adam Gregorich

    Owner

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    Thanks Matt. I have to give a kudos to Fox for really starting to embrace TV on BD.
     
  3. Gary Seven

    Gary Seven Grand Poo Pah

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    Does it follow suit in regards to presentation... animated menus, deleted scenes, audio commentary on every episode, etc?
     
  4. TravisR

    TravisR Well-Known Member

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    From the review "...the almost total lack of celebratory bonus features is a major disappointment. The only thing offered is a 3 ½-minute 1080p sneak preview of Morgan Spurlock’s 20th anniversary special which was recently broadcast on Fox."


    I'm dissapointed about the lack of extras but at least the aspect ratio is correct on all the episodes.
     
  5. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Well-Known Member
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    There are animated menus (by Matt Groening) but none of the other things you cited.
     
  6. WillG

    WillG Well-Known Member

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    I think it's a safe bet that this season will be revisited someday with a more through release. It's somewhat obvious this season was cranked out to tie in with the 20th anniversary and to capitalize on a Blu-Ray release.
     
  7. ATimson

    ATimson Well-Known Member

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    They've been pretty good about doing Blu-ray releases of their new releases for the last year or two (24 season 7, Dollhouse season 1). I just hope that they start to release more catalog beyond Firefly; I'd like to see the later seasons of Stargate: SG-1, and the first season of Atlantis, on Blu-ray.
     

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