Simple suggestions to improve future SIMPSONS DVDs

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Vince Maskeeper, Aug 20, 2002.

  1. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    I know there will be some immediate grumbling about suggesting additional materials because the sets "as-is" are taking a very long time to actually see the light of day. However- I really think these suggestions will be simple to implement and shouldn't delay these releases any longer... yet would add a good deal of value to the already excellent sets.
    1) The main thing missing from these discs is a "play all" option. While the Simpsons are great to be examined as a per episode presentation: I think this disc would also be wonderful to put on "play" and let them run. It would be nice if the discs would play all 4-6 episodes without a break rather than repeatedly returning to the menu.
    This is just as simple as creating a title pointing to the episodes in succession and adding a menu icon for it. A simple authoring decision offering viewers an additional way to enjoy the discs.
    2) I was hoping to see some short documentaries on the various wonderful characters of the Simpsons universe. It seems like a no brainer to do a short segment on the Voice Actor (and their inspiration for the voice), maybe show some dialog being recorded for this character, The character design and art, and the possible evolution of a character design, information on the character model, and a few trivia tidbits about the character in the Simpsons universe (maybe pointing out facts like First Appearance, Episodes Which Prominently feature this character.)
    I would imagine a segment like this would take little time to compile, and each one could have a 10-15 minute running time if included interviews with the staff and animators. There are so many characters that it would be possible to include a character bio piece on each disc of the upcoming sets.
    3) I would like to see some information similar to the episode quick lists be incorported into the future discs. Adding elements similar to the "Didja Notice?", "References" and "Freeze Frame Fun" from the internet compiled Quicklists to the episode menus would take no time, but add a great element of info to the episodes.
    These sections don't necessarily need to be "copied" verbatim, but using these elements that fans have compiled as a guideline, I would imagine the producers at Fox could compile similar information and add these as extras for each episode: boil down the the interesting elements into "Episode Trivia" and "Hidden Gags".
    For Trivia, I'm sure it would be relatively easy to get additional input on the various cinematic and literary references from the writers and staff (many of these are mentioned in the Commentaries)...
    Do the "Hidden Gags" section and add a screen capture and time code for funny "freeze frame" jokes in the episodes, etc.
    This would really take no time at all to add quite a bit of info about the series.
    Two of the most interesting (and overlooked) elements of the Simpsons are how rich it is with cinematic, literary and cultural references and the wealth of hidden background gags: it seems a little viewer guide to provide background for each episode would be a natural!
    Neat details like in "Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment":
    - Homer jumps in front of the cable truck to try to flag it down-- an allusion to a similar scene in Hitchcock's 'North by Northwest', and the license plate on the truck is 1NBNW.
    - In the open "Old Testament" sequence, the character of Zoar the Adulterer is based upon Jacques the adulterer bowler from season one.
    -In Homer's panic sequence, his prison number is 7734. 7734 is known to kids everywhere because if you type it on a calculator and turn it upside down, it spells "hELL".
    etc, etc, etc
    Any thoughts?
    -Vince
     
  2. Brett Miles

    Brett Miles Stunt Coordinator

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    re: #2

    I seem to remember there being some mention before the release of the first set that there would be no behind the scenes features with the voice actors so as not to "ruin the illusion" (or something like that).
     
  3. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    This is interesting since they did a live stage presentation of the simpsons at the Comedy Arts fest in Aspen-- sort of like a radio play with a live audience, with the voice talent doing the voice live on stage. Hundreds of people saw the entire cast perform live on stage.

    Even if they didn't show the actual recording of dialog, I've seen Dan Castellaneta do several interviews where he talked about the evolution of Homer's voice from Season one to Season Two, complete with on camera examples from each version of Homer's voice.

    The inspiration and evolution of the character voice seems like something any one of the voice actors could do a short interview about...

    -V
     
  4. jacob w k

    jacob w k Stunt Coordinator

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    I'd like to see some different people involved in a few of the commentaries. I think that it would be interesting to hear from the actors on the show as well as the directors, producers, etc. I can't imagine Matt Groening and company are going to have much left to say by the sixth season or so.
     
  5. Richard Harvey

    Richard Harvey Stunt Coordinator

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    Vince,

    You may be on to something here, particularly item #3. I own a book entitled "The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to our Favorite Family" that was compiled by the creators. For each episode, it gives you a brief synopsis, things you might have "missed" (newspaper headlines, bulletin boards, scenery in the distance, etc.), when specific phrases or recurring characters first appeared (which is crudely covered in the DVD Set 2 pamplet), links and relations to previous episodes (such as pointing out a continuing history or theme), how certain names or locations were derived from staff names, friends, or family, etc. Why can't they take all this wonderful almanac material from their book products and roll them into the DVD to make this the "ultimate" Simpsons reference collection?

    I can't complain -- the quality of the video and sound are the best I've ever seen the Simpsons, but the sets don't have alot of meat, and what it would take to fill them out is very minimal effort. Instead of spending their time on the spinning heads intro in Set #2, why not spend this effort on useable extras? The spinning heads were kinda neat.... once.
     
  6. Craig_T

    Craig_T Second Unit

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    I've been wanting a "play-all" option ever since I popped in the first Season 1 Simpsons disc. Unfortunately, more people seem to care about stupid crap like animated menus and the like. So instead of useful features we get spinning heads. I do like one change they made for season 2, and that was with most of the episodes, you can skip the title sequence just by hitting the chapter skip button. Very nice.
     
  7. Dan Brecher

    Dan Brecher Producer

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  8. David Illingworth II

    David Illingworth II Second Unit

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    I think all your suggestions are great, Vince. I'm a little disappointed with the extra features so far, but I figure that since there are about 8 more seasons to go, eventually they will start putting some more stuff on there. I'm looking forward to more cut sequences like they had on that one show hosted by Troy McClure. And, surely, it would be great to see a feature on Phil Hartman, since so many great characters were lost with him.
    By the way, does anybody know when Season 3 is planned for? I'm sure it'll get delayed, but we all know that the quality really took off with Season 3. I was originally planning on waiting till then, but Season 2 really does have a lot of gems as well.
     
  9. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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    Vince: Brett is right about number two. I know we've heard them do voices on tons of talk shows and so on, but that's the word from (IIRC) Al Jean himself around the release of the Season 1 set. I know it doesn't make any sense, but that's the concensus from the production team. It obviously wasn't Matt Groening's progative since the R2 Futurama set features cast audio commentary.
     
  10. Neil M

    Neil M Stunt Coordinator

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    I like a lot of the ideas presented here. I think the lack of documentaries is because there were no plans back in the beginning of releasing the series on any format and therefore, they didn't film anything or plan for it. There were some best of tapes but that was it. Any documentary made today would just rehash many of the things they say in the commentaries and therefore wouldn't add too much. Maybe there will be more in future seasons. Or maybe they will go all out in the end and create a special set featuring all the behind the scenes stuff that people want. As for listing all the gags-there really is no point. They already have the books so they want you to buy them. Plus its more fun finding the references yourself. The bulk of the extras should be in the last set or in a special set of its own. A Play All feature would be nice but its not really that important to me. One thing that should be noted is that everyone involved with the show is working on the show right now so there might not be time to film many interviews or create many extras. Just listening to the commentaries shows that they didn't plan much for them. They probably got together when there was a break and recorded them. Personally, i just want the episodes. Anything beyond that is an extra treat.
     
  11. Mitty

    Mitty Supporting Actor

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    RE: #3 - I would love to see a text commentary with trivia accompany the episodes on a subtitle track, a la 'The Abyss.'
    Sort of like a less annoying "Pop-Up Video" version of the show, without the bloop sound. [​IMG]
    Oh and regarding "shattering the illusion" FOX has interstitials they run (at least they do on KCPQ from Seattle) where they interview various cast members, so maybe some of the creators are concerned with that element (I can certainly understand it), but FOX TV ain't concerned.
     
  12. Louis-Olivier

    Louis-Olivier Stunt Coordinator

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    They also did the same thing this summer in Montreal!
     
  13. Scott Weinberg

    Scott Weinberg Lead Actor

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    Vince,
    Before reading your initial post, my answer to your question would have been "Hey, theses sets are already solid!"
    But after reading your suggestions...I'd like to see them ALL implemented. I'm a huge fan of the Simpsons characters, and I think doing 'Springfield Spotlights' would be fantastic!
    A 'pop-up video' kind of trivia track would also prove very popular among Simpons freaks.
    And how about having a few of the actors participate in the commentaries?
    Aside from the snailish way in which they're being released, I have no complaints about the two Simpons DVD sets. But if Fox opts to include some of these features in future sets, I'd be willing to drop an extra few bucks! [​IMG]
     
  14. Scott Bell

    Scott Bell Stunt Coordinator

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    I would definitely like more stuff added, but it looks like the extras are specific for each season.
     
  15. Wes C

    Wes C Supporting Actor

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    Numbers 1 and 3 are the ones that really grab my attention. I've been dreaming of something like a "pop video" for quite sometime. One of the things that makes The Simpsons so rewatchable are those hidden things. It would be great to be pointed to some I've never noticed, and I'm sure there are millions.
     
  16. ChrisLee

    ChrisLee Stunt Coordinator

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    I would suggest that they put the first chapter break imediately following the openning theme on ALL the episodes. Then again Fox should do this with all their tv products on DVD.
     
  17. DerrickRemmert

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    If you want to watch all the episodes at one time just program your DVD player to play each title on the disk. Ex: title one = episode one, etc. It only takes a few seconds to do this.
     
  18. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    Almost every DVD player I've ever owned did not allow programming, not even chapter orders, for DVD titles
    (although, the first 4 players I owned were Panasonic, and I think the lack of programming was exclusive to their players).

    This has been changing lately (newer players allow programming of chapter order)- but I checked all 3 players I have in the house, and none had any option to program it to jump around titles.

    I would assume that this ability exists in less than 25% of players (I would guess it's under 10%). What player do you have that allows this? And when you do it, how do you figure out which titles are the episodes without manually trying each title on the disc?

    I would imagine that few would argue that if your player does manage to have this feature, figuring out which title numbers are the episodes and programming them in would take decidedly longer than clicking "PLAY ALL".

    -Vince
     
  19. streeter

    streeter Screenwriter

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    The main thing I'd like to see on the future sets is involvement from the cast. I e-mailed Harry Shearer to ask him about it but his mailbox was full. Then I e-mailed Nancy Cartwright about the same thing. I'll keep you posted.
     
  20. Jeff Jacobson

    Jeff Jacobson Cinematographer

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    I like all of the ideas mentioned here. I'd also like to add another suggestion. (Not only for future Simpsons sets, but also future Futurama sets, as well as the R1 versions of the Futurama season sets already released in the UK, if that ever happens.)
    Some episodes have alternate scenes or dialogue, where things (such as lines of dialogue) were changed from the original airing when the episodes were rerun.
    There is a list of many such changes listed on the IMDb for The Simpsons and Futurama. The first few things listed for the Simpsons are just stuff cut out in syndication or censored in other countries. (This is not what I'm talking about. )But there are other things in the list as well such as:
     

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