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The Simpsons: The Sixteenth Season Blu-ray Review

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#1 of 2 ONLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted December 04 2013 - 03:00 PM

The Simpsons: The Sixteenth Season Blu-ray Review

Though the sixteenth season of Matt Groening’s The Simpsons had more than its fair share of hilarious and memorable moments, the fact remains that the buzzworthy nature of the show during its first half dozen years on the air had evaporated by the 2004-2005 season. As always, the show riffs on (then) current events and references outstanding (or sometimes infamous) movies, music, and television shows in telling its stories, and the sixteenth season of the show turned out to be one of its more enjoyable recent seasons.


Cover Art


Studio: Fox

Distributed By: N/A

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Rating: Not Rated

Run Time: 7 Hr. 40 Min.

Package Includes: Blu-ray

keep case with pages in a slipcover

Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: A

Release Date: 12/03/2013

MSRP: $59.99




The Production Rating: 4/5

The world’s most dysfunctional cartoon family that started out rather inauspiciously on The Tracy Ullman Show all those years ago enters its sixteenth season in a comfortably confident manner: the show still has the wherewithal to be hysterical, to be biting, to be topical, often within the same episode. From biting parodies of The Passion of the Christ and American Idol to digs at drug programs, the British, agents for athletes, sibling rivalry, hip-hop, gay marriage, foreign adoptions, junk food, and Catholicism, The Simpsons continues to be sometimes diabolical but always lovable even with the occasional dud episode.

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? The sixteenth season proves yet again what masterful, versatile actors they are and how lucky the show is to have them. Dan Castellaneta’s well meaning but often befuddled Homer, Julie Kavner’s often-irritated though always steadfast Marge, Nancy Cartwright’s mischievous Bart (who in a couple of different episodes is shown in older variations of himself), 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. (One of the bonus features offers a table read which allows the audience to see just how many voices in each episode Castellaneta, Azaria, and Shearer are actually doing.) 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. And the guest stars who come in and do voices, sometimes as themselves and sometimes playing outrageous characters, are always memorable. This season the show made good use of James Caan, Thomas Pynchon, Kim Cattrall, Eric Idle, Tom Brady, Lebron James, Marcia Wallace (who appears in quite a few of the episodes as Bart’s teacher), Michelle Kwan, Yao Ming, Warren Sapp, 50 Cent, Gary Busey, Jane Kaczmarek, Lucy Liu, Robert Wagner, Joe Mantegna, Charles Napier, Amy Poehler, Stephen Hawking, Ray Romano, Albert Brooks, Fantasia Barrino, Los Lobos, Jason Bateman, and Liam Neeson.

Among the most outstanding of this season’s episodes are “On a Clear Day I Can’t See My Sister” where Lisa takes out a restraining order on Bart, “Midnight Rx” where Homer finds a way of making big bucks smuggling prescription drugs from Canada, “’Goo Goo Gai Pan” as Selma travels to China to adopt a baby, “Mobile Homer” which features Homer in a treasurable mobile home, and “Future-Drama” where Lisa and Bart are mortified to learn what their futures look like.

Here are the twenty-one episodes contained on three Blu-rays in this sixteenth season set.

1 – Treehouse of Horror XV
2 – All’s Fair in Oven War
3 – Sleeping with the Enemy
4 – She Used to Be My Girl
5 – Fat Man and Little Boy
6 – Midnight Rx
7 – Mommie Beerest
8 – Homer and Ned’s Hail Mary Pass
9 – Pranksta Rap
10 – There’s Something About Marrying
11 – On a Clear Day I Can’t See My Sister
12 – Goo Goo Gai Pan
13 – Mobile Homer
14 – The Seven-Beer Snitch
15 – Future-Drama
16 – Don’t Fear the Roofer
17 – The Heartbroke Kid
18 – A Star Is Torn
19 – Thank God It’s Doomsday
20 – Home Away from Homer
21 – The Father, the Son, and the Holy Guest Star



Video Rating: 4/5  3D Rating: NA

The Simpsons didn’t switch over to widescreen presentation until the middle of its twentieth season, so here the aspect ratio is 1.33:1 with the transfers offered in 1080p using the AVC codec. As always, the show is wildly colorful, and the deep, rich hues come through with excellent clarity and impressive levels of saturation. There is some occasional problematic aliasing and some slight instances of line shimmer with tight line structures that appear periodically in the artwork. You’ll occasionally see some minor banding, too, but again, it’s only there sporadically and not as a general rule. Most of the lines in the animation are solid and without artifacts. Each episode has been divided into 6 chapters.



Audio Rating: 4.5/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is surprisingly immersive for a television cartoon series. The music is constantly filtered throughout the soundfield, and the sound design makes sure that occasional sound effects and incidental dialogue pan out through various front and rear channels as appropriate, often to impressive effect with the directionalized dialogue. You’ll also be impressed with the power of the LFE channel on occasion when things blow up or when music takes on a heavy bass beat. Since the show is heavily-dialogue centered, it’s important that the dialogue has been masterfully recorded, and it mostly lands in the center channel.



Special Features Rating: 4.5/5

Audio Commentaries: every episode contains an audio commentary with a large number of the episode’s creative personnel in attendance led by executive producer Al Jean. This doesn’t make for the most organized or informative of discussions, but the comments are occasionally enlightening. Some feature discussion during the entire episode while others find lots of moments where the participants just watch and laugh at their show or at their own asides. Only occasionally do actors such as Dan Castellaneta, Yeardley Smith, Nancy Cartwright, or Hank Azaria take part. Guest star Kim Cattrall takes part in the episode 4 commentary which she guested on.

The menu for each episode offers the viewer the option to view the episode with deleted scenes which had been completed added back into the show. (Sixteen episodes contain deleted scenes. A scissor icon appears in the episodes to denote the cut footage, usually only seconds long.)

Greetings, Junior Scienteers! (2:35, HD): features creator Matt Groening introducing this season’s efforts.

Sketch Galleries (both 2:14, HD): one discs one and two, each offers a montage of rough pencil art for various episodes.

Bonus Episodes (22:34, 22:28, 21:41, HD): one each per Blu-ray disc in the set: “Lisa’s Wedding” from season 6, “Bart to the Future” from season 11, and “Holidays from Future Passed” in widescreen from season 23.

Deleted Scene Montage (11:08. HD): can be viewed with optional commentary by Al Jean.

Special Language Feature (22:10, HD): for the episode “Pranksta Rap,” four additional language tracks including Italian, German, and Portuguese may be selected by the viewer.

Living in the Moment (3:38, HD): brief commercial skits featuring the core characters

Animation Showcase (7:47, HD): allows the viewer to use the “angle” button on the remote to switch from storyboard to animatics to finished animation for a sequence from the episode “Future-Drama.”

Live! It’s The Simpsons (36:00, HD): the table read for episode 19 is presented in audio only with the pages of the script they’re reading from presented simultaneously.

26-Page Booklet: makes a welcome addition to the set and is chock full of information about each episode.



Overall Rating: 4.5/5

The Simpsons is in the midst of its twenty-fifth season on the air, an industry record for a prime time entertainment series. While the sixteenth season was an improvement from some seasons which immediately preceded it, America’s favorite cartoon family gets a nice box set with an eclectic selection of bonus material and a helpful and most welcome booklet to guide the viewer through each episode. Recommended!


Reviewed By: Matt Hough


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#2 of 2 OFFLINE   uVSthem

uVSthem

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Posted December 13 2013 - 03:13 AM

Are the episodes from this season upscaled? Was there even source material to make native 1080p content?







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