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DVD REVIEW

Simpsons, The - Complete Season 3

 

Rating: NR

Distributor: Fox Home Entertainment

Release Date: August 26, 2003
Review posted: September 26, 2003

 

Reviewed by Dennis Landmann

 

Synopsis

 

The Simpsons offers satiric adventures of a working class family in the misfit city of Springfield. You know the rest.

 

Critique

 

As creator Matt Groening puts it in his introduction letter, "[Season Three] makes Season Two look like Season One." And heís right. The Simpsons is now in its 15th season on Fox and still going strong. Aside from being the longest-running cartoon itís also the most recognizable, but not just in the States, worldwide! With such a huge audience following the show on TV and now on DVD Fox decided to release all 24 episodes from Season Three in a 4-disc set on August 26, 2003. Despite a long wait and endless delays for this set, Season Three proves itís getting much better; the animation is locked and finalized (no more weird drawings), each episode is funny and special (not even one stinker in sight), the voice talent finds its groove, guest stars now play themselves instead of second-rate characters, and the Simpsons prove to be Americaís most beloved and idiosyncratic (animated) family.

 

I donít need to tell you The Simpsons is hilarious. Everyone should know that. But what you might not realize at first sight is that all 24 episodes are unique and really fun to watch. Take the following highlights for example. In Bart the Murderer, Bart (voiced by Nancy Cartwright) misses out on a fieldtrip to a chocolate factory and instead becomes a Goodfella under Springfield mob boss Fat Tony (guest Joe Mantegna). And when Principal Skinner (voiced by Harry Shearer) disappears, Bart becomes a suspect. This is the fourth episode in the season and in one scene Skinner makes like MacGyver to free himself from being trapped under stacks of books and other things.

 

Following it is Homer Defined where Homer (Dan Castellaneta) saves the nuclear plant from a meltdown by accident, and Bart realizes why heís not invited to Millhouseís birthday party. Surprise guest stars include Magic Johnson, who refers to a lucky break as ďpulling a Homer,Ē and legend LA Lakers broadcaster Chick Hearn (RIP). Space aliens and Bartís incredible powers make up The Simpsons Halloween Special II, but the funniest thing about it is when Mr. Burns puts Homerís brain inside a robotís body only to discover the robot is now as lazy as Homer.

 

Homer gives Moe an idea for a new cocktail in Flaming Moeís. The secret ingredient is cough syrup, and when the recipe turns out to be a big hit, Moeís bar attracts a cool crowd including guest stars Aerosmith. Burns Verkaufen Der Kraftwerk sees Mr. Burns selling the plant to German investors. But when they find outdated security measures and Homerís abilities are seriously limited, the Germans are forced to sell the plant back to Mr. Burns. This is a really funny episode, especially because German characters are always great for laughs. Phil Hartman guest stars. Also note that the episode title is incorrect German. It should read Burns Verkauft Das Kraftwerk, but I guess the error is part of the joke.

 

Other noteworthy episodes include I Married Marge, here we get a look-back at the wedding of Homer and Marge, Radio Bart, Bart plays a cruel joke on Springfield citizens by pretending to be a boy who fell into a well, Homer Alone, the stress of life finally gets to Marge who suffers a breakdown, and Homer at the Bat, where Homer rules the company softball team with a homemade bat and a team of professional baseball players fall victim to misfortune, leaving the game in Homerís hands (and head). I also liked The Otto Show in which Spinal Tap (Harry Shearer, Michael McKean, and Christopher Guest) visits Springfield, and Otto loses his license to only move in with the Simpsons. These are just a few highlights, mind you.

 

Overall, Season Three is a great time. Not one episode is unfunny or boring. Theyíre all great. Itís The Simpsons, for Peteís sakes. Thatís just how it is, at least with this season, and upcoming seasons prove likewise. Fans of the show will definitely want to own this Season Three DVD set.

 

Below is a breakdown of all 24 episodes.

 

Disc 1:

Stark Raving Dad; Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington; When Flanders Failed; Bart the Murderer; Homer Defined; Like Father, Like Clown

 

Disc 2:
Treehouse of Horror II; Lisa's Pony; Saturdays of Thunder; Flaming Moe's; Burns Verkaufen Der Kraftwerk; I Married Marge

 

Disc 3:
Radio Bart; Lisa the Greek; Homer Alone; Bart the Lover; Homer at the Bat; Separate Vocations

 

Disc 4:

Dog of Death; Colonel Homer; Black Widower; The Otto Show; Bart's Friend Falls In Love; Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?

 

The Video

 

Fox presents The Simpsons in standard 1.33:1 fullscreen format. However, for some reason the menus are presented in widescreen. Shimmer appears in some images, although the colors are sharp and pretty solid. Lines are smooth and evidence of bleeding isnít the case. Problems occur, however, around the edges, and some shakiness in the video that may be due to production issues. The video is 12 years old now and shows its age, so from episode to episode you can see differences in presentation quality. In the overall sense this show looks good and Foxís presentation is fitting to the material.

 

The Audio

 

Fox presents The Simpsons in English 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound. This presentation is not using all of the channels; in fact, the two front channels seem to be the only ones working. Rear speakers donít sound off even during some of the musical numbers. Dialog is clear and easy to understand, coming out of the front speakers at all times. Thereís no problem with that. The sound effects donít add any depth to the presentation, as these are also emitted from the front. Despite an overall front-heavy presentation for each episode, the audio is still in good shape and perfectly well-suited for this type of show. You can also choose to view each episode in Spanish & French Dolby Surround.

 

The Extras

 

This 4-disc set comes in a purple packaging identical to the Season 2 set; four double-density discs in a fold-out box set. Inside the package is a booklet containing episode synopsis and chapter listings, as well as a four-paragraph introduction letter from creator Matt Groening.

 

The main attraction here is the audio commentaries for all Episodes with the showís cast & crew. Matt Groening participates in all sessions, while Al Jean, James L. Brooks, Mike Reiss, Rich Moore, Dan Castellaneta, Nancy Cartwright, Julie Kavner, Yeardley Smith, and episode directors, as well as other crew members, appear only on select episodes. The general feedback from these tracks is great. These people obviously have a good time looking back at the show and commenting on the episodes. Many tidbits and funny information comes through here. All tracks are well worth a listen.

 

Additional extras include Storyboards, Commercials, Easter Eggs, and Sketches spread over all four discs. Disc 2 features a Multi-Language presentation as well as Bart Balloon: Macyís Thanksgiving Day Parade. Disc 3 features an Easter Egg, Audio Outtakes with the showís voice talent. Finally, disc 4 features a Colonel Homer Pop-Up, a Jukebox feature with thirteen songs, unseen promo footage for Colonel Homer, and an Interactive Game Trailer.

 

Some of the Easter Eggs are downright impossible to find without spending hours and hours searching for them; I was unsuccessful most of the time. I donít understand the philosophy behind Easter Eggs nowadays. When theyíre easy to find, such as moving over an image in the background or something, then itís fun to look for them. But if you have to enter a specific series of numbers or crap like that, itís really annoying. But anyway.

 

The DVDís menus are easy to navigate, but look totally dull against a simple black background. Each episode has its own submenu, and the main menu transitions are funny. Also, the Language Selection and Caption & Subtitles menus are kind of funny, too.

 

You can select to view the episodes with optional English and Spanish subtitles. Each episode runs approximately 23 minutes and is organized into six chapters.

 

Overall

 

Season Three improves on the quality of episodes from Seasons One and Two. Guest star appearances are great and storylines are completely fresh and funny. Video/audio is decent, but works for this type of show. The commentary tracks in the extras section are a lot of fun, although the Easter Eggs affair gets a bit tiring here. Fans of the show will definitely want to own this Season Three DVD setóhighly recommended.

 

RATINGS SUMMARY

 

THE SHOW/SEASON 10
THE VIDEO 7

THE AUDIO

7

THE EXTRAS

7

OVERALL (not an average)

8

 

VERDICT: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

 


 

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ALSO AVAILABLE

Season 1 DVD

Season 2 DVD