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The Simpsons: Season 13
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Talk about lucky! Season 13 of The Simpsons arrives on Blu-ray and DVD with 22 hilarious episodes and tons of fun-filled extras, including audio commentaries, animation showcases, and featurettes. So grab a donut and pull up a couch to see Lisa becoming a Buddhist, Bart living in a plastic bubble, Homer doing community service (which lands him in the electric chair), and the Simpsons offending the entire nation of Brazil, plus your favorite couch gags and a slew of celebrity guest voices.
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My favorite episodes:
"The Parent Rap" - The villainous Judge Harm orders Homer and Bart to be shackled to each other as a punishment for Homer's bad parenting. The slap-fight between Homer and Bart is one of the funniest things I've seen on this show in years.
"Homer the Moe" - Going back to his roots, Moe returns to bartending school, but when he stylizes Moe's Tavern into the Eurotrashy "M," Homer, Lenny and Karl revolt and start their own bar...in Homer's garage. Homer forcing Lisa to cut lemons at 3 AM on a school night was classic Homer parenting.
"A Hunka Hunka Burns in Love" - Spurred by a fortune cookie written by Homer, Mr. Burns falls for the ex-girlfriend of Springfield's resident felon, Snake.
"She of Little Faith" - Any episode where Homer manages to burn down a church has got to be worth watching, and the guest appearance by Richard Gere as Lisa's Buddhist teacher is funnier than I expected ("You're lucky I've found enlightenment," he snaps at Lenny. "Or I'd be kicking your ---!")
"Jaws Wired Shut" - Whenever Homer returns to college, wackiness ensues. In this case a broken jaw leads him to become a better father and a more attentive husband, the problem being that everyone prefers the old, moronic, lazy, selfish Homer.
"The Lastest Gun in the West" -- Bart befriends a washed-up old Western star who turns out to be a raging alcoholic. This episode has some terrific one-liners ("Sorry don't suture my colon, son.").
"Blame It On Lisa" -- The Simpsons go to, and wreak havoc in, Brazil. This episode is worth watching just for the T-shirt Homer wears on the beach: A picture of Uncle Sam devouring the globe with the caption, "AMERICA - TRY AND STOP US."
"Weekend and Burnsie's" -- Homer on medical marijuana. Nuff said. (Except that the sequence where he is attacked by crows at the beginning is freaking hilarious).
"I Am Furious (Yellow)" - An instant classic. Bart creates a cartoon about Homer called "Angry Dad" which briefly becomes an Internet sensation. A great send-up of the dot-com bust of the 90s.
"Little Girl in the Big Ten" -- Lisa becomes a gymnast and is mistaken by her fellow girls as a college-age student, much to her delight. Unfortunately for her, Milhouse intervenes. This episode has one of the best and most ruthless Ralph Wiggum moments ever, and one of Homer's best manglings of a song lyric: "I take a whiskey drink! I take a chocolate drink! And when I have to pee, I use the kitchen sink!"
"The Frying Game" -- Although the ending of this episode is somewhat too ludicrous for a non-"Treehouse of Horror" story, the opening plot, involving a EPA-protected insect called a "screamapillar" which lives on the Simpsons' property, which of course Homer is forced to take care of, is so freaking funny I choked on my Duff.
As I said, this is not the greatest Simpsons you will ever see. A good barometer of where the show was going was the strength of the "Treehouse of Horror" episodes, and after season ten they were never quite as good, largely because the normal episodes became increasingly outrageous and thus weakened the impact of the Treehouse tales, whose strength was that they were not bound by the rules that governed the other stories. Also, this was the point where stories became more rigidly formulaic, to rely more on gags and one-liners than overall plots, and to depend too heavily on guest starts who very frequently brought nothing to the table. Having said all that, I laughed my butt off at more than half the episodes here and found Homer's stupidity and Bart's mischief to be just as engaging as it was back in the day. When Homer stares at Carmen Elektra's boobs and she indignantly says, "My face is up here, Homer!" he replies calmly: "I've made my choice." So have I. I'm moving on to Season 14.
270 1 "Treehouse of Horror XII November 6, 2001
271 2 "The Parent Rap" November 11, 2001
272 3 "Homer the Moe" November 18, 2001
273 4 "A Hunka Hunka Burns in Love" December 2, 2001
274 5 "The Blunder Years" December 9, 2001
275 6 "She of Little Faith" December 16, 2001
276 7 "Brawl in the Family" January 6, 2002
277 8 "Sweets and Sour Marge" January 20, 2002
278 9 "Jaws Wired Shut" January 27, 2002
279 10 "Half-Decent Proposal" February 10, 2002
280 11 "The Bart Wants What It Wants" February 17, 2002
281 12 "The Lastest Gun in the West" February 24, 2002
282 13 "The Old Man and the Key" March 10, 2002
283 14 "Tales from the Public Domain" March 17, 2002
284 15 "Blame It on Lisa" March 31, 2002
285 16 "Weekend at Burnsie's" April 7, 2002
286 17 "Gump Roast" April 21, 2002
287 18 "I Am Furious (Yellow)" April 28, 2002
288 19 "The Sweetest Apu" May 5, 2002
289 20 "Little Girl in the Big Ten" May 12, 2002
290 21 "The Frying Game" May 19, 2002
291 22 "Poppa's Got a Brand New Badge" May 22, 2002
Despite my waning love for The Simpsons, I still remembered to good times we shared so I bought the DVD sets when they were released. I have nearly every season on DVD up to Season 12 (I never really enjoyed season 1 so I never bothered to buy it). After watching the same episodes from Seasons 2-12 repeatedly over the years, I got a little restless and wondered if perhaps I was being too harsh in my judgement of the newer episodes. So I caved and bought Season 13 and 14 a week ago.
Since I haven't watched the show in years, a lot of the episodes from Season 13 are brand new to me. After watching them over the course a few days, I agree with other reviews that this is a pretty average season. There's not one episode that truly stands out. I think some of the stronger episodes in the season are "The Blunder Years", "Jaws Wired Shut", and "Half Decent Proposal". The weaker ones like "A Hunka Hunka Burns In Love" just didn't work for me because Mr. Burns isn't a strong enough character to sustain an entire episode (we get it, he's old and weak), "The Frying Game" was just irritating and "Tales From the Public Domain" reminds me of "Simpsons Tall Tales" which was only mildly funny. I actually didn't mind "Gump Roast" because Simpsons clip shows are usually pretty good (with the exception of "Another Simpsons Clip Show"...ugh), and the song "They'll Never Stop the Simpsons" was funny (and evidently true).
As for the packaging, that's been covered by many here too. I have nothing of real substance to add except to say that yeah, it is horrendous and annoying. I think whomever designed the packages for the newer seasons is trying too hard to be inventive when they should just stick to the classic, non-scratchy design. I guess we should be thankful that they didn't try to make those silly, plastic head shaped boxes happen again.
So, did I love Season 13? No, but it's The Simpsons and by virtue of it being The Simpsons, it is still enjoyable to a degree. Having said that, it is highly unlikely that I will buy future releases. While $21-22 isn't a huge sum of money, it's going to take a little more than a few decent episodes a season for me to shell out the dough again.