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  Specs
  • Full Frame
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English - Hearing Impaired, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish
  Extras
  • Additional footage
  • 22 Audio commentary
  • 2 Featurette
  • Photo gallery
  • Animated menus
  • 2 Music video - Do the Bartman, Deep Deep Trouble
  • 3 TV spot - Butterfinger commercials
  • 2 Interviews
  • Storyboards

The Simpsons - Season Two

20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 489 mins . PG . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Nowadays it’s a rare thing for an animated series to have any sort of longevity outside a ‘cool’ period of a year or two, yet The Simpsons hasn’t just bucked this trend, it has sent it hurtling into orbit around a planet that Kodos and Kang probably haven’t even clapped eyes upon in their lifetimes.

So, with the likes of Ren & Stimpy and South Park having had their brief moments in the spotlight before becoming yesterday’s news, just what has made The Simpsons’ popularity so enduring since the beginning of the ‘90s? Well, this collection of the entire second season is one of the best examples. It’s an animated series that has the usual gags, catch phrases and silliness - however it has an emotional reality that people have really connected with – be it the dumb but well-meaning Homer, the somewhat put-upon but always loving Marge, the brat that part of us all wish we could get away with murder like in Bart or the underappreciated overachiever Lisa. I’ll plump for the latter...

The shorter first season saw the family quickly evolve from the rather crudely realised original characters in what spawned the series, a set of shorts for the Tracey Ullman Show, with voices changing and even characters changing (a black Smithers anybody?) along the way. Some of that evolution is still on display here - with subtle differences in characters (Homer's squiggly hair early on, for one) and new characters destined to become favourites introduced such as Dr Hibbert, lawyer Lionel Hutz and big screen action hero McBain - however generally the mould had been struck by the second season, with a successful combination of often fiendishly clever and multi-layered humour of such a range and rapid-fire delivery that there’s something to appeal to most everybody - and when you add that aforementioned depth of emotion, the Simpson family and those within their world have justifiably been elevated above being just simple cartoon characters for so many the world over.

Season two includes a number of all-time classic episodes, more specifically all those featured are...

Disc 1

  • Bart Gets an F
    Summary: Faced with repeating the fourth grade, Bart enlists the help of a Prince in exchange for de-nerding him...
    Classic line: "Part of this D-minus belongs to God." - Bart.
    MMMmmm... beer.

  • Simpson and Delilah
    Summary: Homer with hair? Praise be to Dimoxinil! Soon he’s promoted and even gets his own secretary...
    Guest voice: Harvey Fierstein.
    Classic line: "Just between us girls, well... he hasn’t been this frisky in years! " - Marge.

  • Treehouse of Horror
    Summary: In three separate tales the family move into an extremely haunted house, they’re kidnapped and very well fed by Kodos and Kang, and Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven gets Simpsonsified...
    Guest voice: James Earl Jones.
    Classic line: "It chose to destroy itself rather than live with us. You can't help feeling a little rejected." - Lisa.

  • Two Cars in Every Garage, Three Eyes on Every Fish
    Summary: Faced with his nuclear plant being shut down, Burns tries to skirt the issue by running for governor...
    Classic line: "Keep those mutants comin’ Homer!" - Bart.

  • Dancin’ Homer
    Summary: Homer becomes the Isotopes’ mascot, but soon gets poached by a team from the Windy Apple...
    Guest voices: Tony Bennett, Tom Poston.
    Classic line: "A Simpson on a T-shirt – I never thought I’d see the day!" - Marge.

  • Dead Putting Society
    Summary: Bart and Todd Flanders both face pressure from their feuding fathers to win a miniature golf tournament...
    Classic line: "Son, this is the only time I’m ever gonna say this – it is NOT okay to lose... " - Homer.

Disc 2

  • Bart vs. Thanksgiving
    Summary: After being accused of ruining Thanksgiving, Bart runs away...
    Classic line: "Oh Lord, be honest – are we the most pathetic family in the universe, or what? " - Homer.

  • Bart the Daredevil
    Summary: Inspired by Captain Lance Murdock’s daredevil antics, Bart tries his hand at being a stuntman...
    Classic line: "If you miss this you’d better be dead... or in jail. And if you’re in jail, break out! " - The Truckasaurus ad.

  • Itchy & Scratchy & Marge
    Summary: After Maggie tries to knock some sense into her father, Marge campaigns against violence in cartoons...
    Classic line: "You heard me, I won’t be in for the rest of the week... I told you! My baby beat me up. Oh, it is not the worst excuse I ever thought up!" - Homer.

  • Bart Gets Hit by a Car
    Summary: Homer sues Burns after he runs over Bart and offers only $100 compensation...
    Classic line: "You can CHING! CHING CHING! cash in on this tragedy!" - Lionel Hutz.

  • One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish
    Summary: Told he only has 24 hours to live after a mishap at the Happy Sumo restaurant, Homer sets about tidying up a few loose ends...
    Guest voices: Larry King, George Takei.
    Classic line: "Hey Burns! Eat my shorts! " - Homer.

  • The Way We Was
    Summary: Desperate for entertainment with no TV, Marge and Homer turn to conversation, and recall how they first met...
    Classic line: "Marge’s dates get homelier all the time..."
    ”Mmmmf, that’s what you get when you don’t put out.”
    - Patty and Selma.

Disc 3

  • Homer vs. Lisa and the Eighth Commandment
    Summary: Homer and Lisa fail to see eye to eye when the Simpsons get an illegal cable TV connection...
    Classic line: "Man, I wish I was an adult so I could break the rules... " - Bart.

  • Principal Charming
    Summary: An attempt to match lovelorn Selma with Principal Skinner goes awry when he only has eyes for Patty...
    Classic line: "Kiss me Patty – I don’t have cooties." - Seymour Skinner.

  • Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?
    Summary: After a heart attack, Grampa reveals to Homer that he has a half brother named Herb. Homer finds him and gets to build a car...
    Guest voice: Danny DeVito.
    Classic line: "Right now I’m thinking about holding another meeting... in bed." - McBain.

  • Bart’s Dog Gets an F
    Summary: After eating one too many wrong things, Homer threatens to get rid of Santa's Little Helper unless he passes at obedience school...
    Guest voice: Tracey Ullman.
    Classic line: "I’m sorry sir, our warranty doesn’t cover fire, theft or acts of dog..." - Shoe store guy.
    MMMmmm... maca-ma-damia nuts.

  • Old Money
    Summary: Grampa loves Beatrice – but sadly it doesn't last. After inheriting $100,000, Grampa has to decide how to best use it...
    Classic line: "You know, Grampa kinda smells like that trunk in the garage where the bottom’s all wet... " - Bart.

  • Brush With Greatness
    Summary: Marge rekindles her passion for painting, wins a contest and is commissioned to create a portrait of Monty Burns...
    Guest voice: Ringo Starr.
    Classic line: "Thanks for not making fun of my genitalia." - Monty Burns.
    "I thought I did..." – Marge.

Disc 4

  • Lisa’s Substitute
    Summary: With Ms Hoover off sick, Lisa’s class gets a substitute in the form of Mr Bergstrom. Lisa is smitten, seeing all in him that she doesn’t in her father...
    Guest voice: Sam Etic (Dustin Hoffman).
    Classic line: "You’ll never go broke appealing to the lowest common denominator." - Lisa.

  • The War of the Simpsons
    Summary: After Homer embarrasses Marge and himself at a dinner party, it’s off to a marriage retreat. But Homer would rather go fishing...
    Classic line: "Seven feet tall with arms like tree trunks and his eyes were like steel – cold and hard..." - The bait shop guy describing Homer.
    MMMmmm... Hors d’ouvers

  • Three Men and a Comic Book
    Summary: Bart, Milhouse and Martin form a partnership to get their hands on the first ever Radioactive Man comic book...
    Guest voice: Cloris Leachman.
    Classic line: "One hundred bucks? For a comic book?! Who drew it, Micha-ma-langelo?" - Homer

  • Blood Feud
    Summary: Bart has the same rare blood type that Monty Burns needs, so Homer tries to milk the situation for financial gain...
    Classic line: "As usual you’ve been the sober yin to my raging yang." – Monty Burns.

  Video
Contract

Woohoo! After the relative disappointment of the first season’s transition to DVD, it’s a pleasure to report that things are a lot better this time around. This isn’t to say there aren’t what some people would possible define as problems; however the majority of these appear to be caused by the animation process rather than any faults in conversion or compression. Colour is generally glorious, with the vivid world of The Simpsons coming to life brightly, solidly and better than you’ll have ever seen it before. It is here that some of the animation limitations are on display, with odd cels used in certain episodes seemingly painted in slightly different hues – for example in Principal Charming there’s a scene where you can notice Patty’s hair change colour slightly for a second or two. There are also very slight wobbles on occasions, which also appear due to the animation process – after all, we’re talking thousands of hand done drawings individually photographed and then animated, plus as this is high turnover, made for television animation it’s completely unrealistic to expect Disney-esque big budget quality stuff.

As for non-animation-induced quibbles, there are some slight examples of shimmer on occasions, usually on fine lines, and you will witness the occasional speckles, with some episodes falling victim more than others – however the edge enhancement and MPEG gremlins that plagued the first season are mercifully absent, and all else looks pretty darned spiffy (hi Dr Nick!) and quite reasonably detailed. Needless to say all is in full frame, as originally aired. Meanwhile, all the discs are dual layered, however things are very well placed so as no irksome layer changes interrupt proceedings.

  Audio
Contract

As with the first season release, all has been remixed lovingly into Dolby Digital 5.1. Don’t expect any earth-shattering, building levelling sonic gymnastics however, as it’s all done rather subtly. You’ll really notice it on the theme and some of the additional music from that genius Alf Clausen - whose amazing stylistic range certainly deserves much apple sauce, erm, applause - but elsewhere basically the original surround format has simply been beefed up a little. There’s some effective but un-showy rear surround usage, and even Santa’s Little Helper’s distant cousin the subwoofwoof gets a little bit of action at times – door slams and the like being one of its specialties. Most importantly all dialogue is delightfully clear throughout the entire season, and is all perfectly balanced with music and effects. Seeing how this is a cartoon and all, if you’re concerned about lip synch then it may be suggested you get a life... hey, it’s pretty darned good for the format, OK?

  Extras
Contract

Monty Burns in a dress? Oh, it’s just a little puzzle when you insert the disc, where you can press the ‘enter’ button to match the four featured characters up properly. Ah, but I’ll be one Waylon Smithers was excited at reading that...

Apparently this swappable head thing is in keeping with the style of the packaging (even if it doesn't have an onion tied to its belt), something which unfortunately we weren't graced with.

Anyway, each of the four discs has such an intro, which is kind of neat as well as kind of pointless, but those impatient souls out there can simply press the ‘menu’ button to bypass it and get straight down to the action. Each episode has its own nicely themed menu, most with specific sound clips and many with small animations – very nice. But we want more than window dressing, don’t we? So, what’s in store?

Audio commentaries: In what must surely be a record for a television series release, all 22 episodes here have individual commentary tracks. This review would turn into a thesis were every one delved into in great detail – in fact ANY detail – so suffice to say there’s a veritable treasure trove of information awaiting fans of The Simpsons from those in the know – writers, directors, producers and Mr Groening himself - covering not just the technical issues, but much about the cultural impact of the show, behind the scenes stuff and allusions to goss that we wish had been elaborated upon. It is one of the latter pieces that appears to have been removed from the commentary of the episode Simpson and Delilah in the British release (a whole 15 seconds). The BBFC simply and unhelpfully define the offending piece as being a "compulsory cut required to sexual references", so it's hard to determine exactly what the British version misses out on, however we have an inkling that a reference to semen stains in the region 4 release just may be the culprit.

Anyway, to be more specific, here’s a rundown of who does what now in the commentary stakes...

  • Bart Gets an F
    Matt Groening, James L. Brooks, Al Jean, Mike Reiss and David Silverman

  • Simpson and Delilah
    Matt Groening, Jon Vitti and Al Jean

  • Treehouse of Horror
    Bad Dream House - Matt Groening, Al Jean and Mike Reiss
    Hungry are the Damned - Matt Groening, James L. Brooks, Jay Kogen, Wallace Wolodarsky and Al Jean
    The Raven - Matt Groening, Al Jean, Mike Reiss and David Silverman

  • Two Cars in Every Carage and Three Eyes on Every Fish
    Matt Groening, Al Jean and Mike Reiss

  • Dancin' Homer
    Matt Groening, David Isaacs, Ken Levine, Mike Reiss and Mark Kirkland

  • Dead Putting Society
    Matt Groening, Jeff Martin, Al Jean, Mike Reiss and Rich Moore

  • Bart vs. Thanksgiving
    Matt Groening, James L. Brooks, George Meyer, Al Jean, Mike Reiss and David Silverman

  • Bart the Daredevil
    Matt Groening, Jay Kogen, Wallace Wolodarsky, Al Jean and Mike Reiss

  • Itchy & Scratchy & Marge
    Matt Groening, Al Jean, Mike Reiss and Jim Reardon

  • Bart Gets Hit by a Car
    Matt Groening, Mike Reiss and Mark Kirkland

  • One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish
    Matt Groening, Nell Scovell, Al Jean and Mike Reiss

  • The Way We Was
    Matt Groening, James L. Brooks, Al Jean, Mike Reiss and David Silverman

  • Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment
    Matt Groening, Steve Pepoon, Al Jean, Mike Reiss and Rich Moore

  • Principal Charming
    Matt Groening, Mike Reiss and Mark Kirkland

  • Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?
    Matt Groening, Jeff Martin, Al Jean and Mike Reiss

  • Bart's Dog Gets an F
    Matt Groening, Jon Vitti, Al Jean and Jim Reardon

  • Old Money
    Matt Groening, Jay Kogen, Wallace Wolodarsky, Al Jean and David Silverman

  • Brush With Greatness
    Matt Groening, Brian K. Roberts, Al Jean and Jim Reardon

  • Lisa's Substitute
    Matt Groening, Jon Vitti, Al Jean, Mike Reiss and Rich Moore

  • The War of the Simpsons
    Matt Groening, Mike Reiss and Mark Kirkland

  • Three Men and a Comic Book
    Matt Groening, Jeff Martin, Al Jean and Mike Reiss

  • Blood Feud
    Matt Groening, Al Jean and David Silverman

Music Videos: Yay! The specially made clips for both Do the Bartman (6:03) and Deep Deep Trouble (5.02) are included in all their early ‘90s pop/r&b/rap styled glory – in fact, Do the Bartman is even billed as the director’s cut. Both come with commentaries – Matt Groening is the common denominator, joined by director Brad Bird (who later went on to do The Iron Giant) for Do the Bartman (and we’re told what we all suspected – it WAS a Michael Jackson song!) and Gregg Vanzo for Deep Deep Trouble, along with a rather hairy discussion. If you play either of these without commentary, the extended periods of black at the end will be explained by pressing your ‘audio’ button...

Featurette – 1991 American Music Awards (2:22): Aye carumba! It’s a rather pregnant Nancy Cartwright in a very dodgy Bart suit, accompanied by some country chick who SO does not want to be there and presenting an award for best soul/R&B single. This also features a commentary.

Featurette – 1990 Emmy Awards Presentation (2:59): This is more like it, the family as they should be – animated (albeit in a somewhat wonky fashion) – present an award for best actor in a comedy, and they’re all gussied up for the occasion.

TV spots – Butterfinger commercials (1:27 total): Three separate specially animated advertisements for what must be one of the sickliest chocolate bars in the world. Video quality isn’t always great, but these are a fabulous inclusion nonetheless.

Interview – David Silverman on the creation of an episode (6:14): The senior director for season two speedily guides us through the steps taken to get The Simpsons from script to screen. Some behind the scenes footage is included, along with some fascinating animatics – the storyboard pencil sketches roughly animated to give a guide as to how things flow. This is fascinating for those into animation, it just isn’t anywhere near long or thorough enough.

Interview – Matt Groening and James L. Brooks (10:16): The two speak of the transition The Simpsons made from Tracey Ullman Show short to prime time series, back around 1991. Some great stuff is covered, such as origins of the character names, connections between the show and Matt’s cartoon strip Life in Hell, the importance of actors in the whole scheme of things and we’re even given a quick introduction to the family. All this is interspersed with clips from season two episodes that don’t look nearly as nice as those we get on these here discs.

Galleries – Art of The Simpsons: This leads to three sub-menus - storyboards, which features 20 from Bart Gets an F and four from Bart vs. Thanksgiving, framed by silhouettes of Marge and Homer plus Burns and Smithers; early sketches and drawings, 39 such beasties from season two episodes including the occasional funny annotation; and finally magazine covers, of which there are 18, including such esteemed titles as Time and Newsweek. All of these are stepped through using the ‘chapter forward’ button.

Foreign language clips: Five takes on the one identical scene from Two Cars in Every Garage, Three Eyes on Every Fish (1:25), giving insight into just how The Simpsons sounds in French, German, Hungarian, Portuguese and Spanish.

Easter eggs: After much fiddling about six were found... to have them handed to you on a platter (MMMmmm... platter!) just pop over to our Easter eggs section.

  Overall  
Contract

It’s been almost a year’s wait since the release of season one, but the best news of all is that it’s been well worth holding out for season two - even if at this current snail-like rate the mind boggles more than Homer’s when trying to open a child-proof jar as to when the current season (13 at the time of writing) will ever make its way to little shiny disc.

So, fans of The Simpsons rejoice – and get ready to storm the Monstro Mart and damage the old plastic yet again. With great presentation and enough extras to keep you entertained and informed for many an extra hour on top of the 22 episodes we’re treated to, this set is simply a must have for anybody with a penchant for those fabulous digit-challenged yellow folk with the cute bulbous eyes, dramatic overbites and seriously questionable hair. Well, except for Homer – sorry hon, but a comb over will simply never work when you only have two hairs... then again there’s always the Dimoxinil...


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      And I quote...
    "Fans of The Simpsons rejoice – and get ready to storm the Monstro Mart and damage the old plastic yet again..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
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