on April 11, 2004
If you're a true Simpsons fan, I think you'll agree with me in saying that this was one of the Finest seasons in the show's ongoing history. And Hey, its only taken 4 years for it to grace the DVD format...about time! But enough procrastinating, here are the goods, 22 episodes in all with a truckload of extras (like all Simpsons Boxsets) So here are the episodes and what happens in them if you need a little reminder. Enjoy!
Kamp Krusty - After making a deal with Homer to get good grades in school, Bart and Lisa go away to Kamp Krusty, "The Krustiest Place on Earth!" While they're initially excited about their summer, they soon learn that Kamp Krusty is a run-down prison run by the tyrannical Mr. Black and his C.I.T. henchmen, Dolph, Kearney and Jimbo Jones.
A Streetcar Named Marge - Marge is cast in the role of Blanche DuBois in Oh! Streetcar, the musical version of A Streetcar Named Desire directed by the flamboyant Llewellyn Sinclair at the Springfield Community Center.
Homer the Heretic - One Sunday morning, Homer decides that he'd rather sleep late than go to church. Marge is disappointed, but doesn't argue with him. While home alone, Homer dances in his underwear, drinks waffle batter and loafs around watching TV.
Lisa the Beauty Queen - To help Lisa get over her insecurities about her looks, Homer enters her into the Little Miss Springfield Pageant.
Treehouse of Horror III - In this year's scarifying special, the Simpsons gather for a Halloween party and exchange ghost stories.
Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie - Every kid in the world waits with bated breath for the Itchy & Scratchy movie, but Bart is the only one who's not allowed to see it.
Marge Gets A Job - When the Simpsons' house begins sliding off its foundation, Marge is forced to get a job to help make ends meet. Where else can she turn other than The Springfield Nuclear Power Plant?!
The New Kid on the Block - Evergreen Terrace welcomes two new neighbors, Ruth Powers and her lovely teenage daughter, Laura. Bart falls hard for Laura, but she thinks of him as just a little friend.
Mr. Plow - At the auto show, Homer impulsively buys a snow plow and starts a business as Mr. Plow. An incredibly snowy winter sets the business rolling, making Homer a success and earning him the key to the city from Mayor Quimby.
Lisa's First Word - While trying to get Maggie to say her first words, Marge tells Bart and Lisa about what they were like as babies.
Homer's Triple Bypass - In a series of terrifying X-ray shots of Homer's chest, we see that his heart is dangerously clogged with plaque and doughnut residue and that he is in need of a triple bypass operation.
Marge Vs. The Monorail - Mr. Burns is forced to pay a $3 million fine for illegally dumping toxic waste under trees in the park. At a town meeting where Springfield's citizens discuss how to best use the new fund. All agree on a Monorail.
Selma's Choice - Aunt Selma realizes that she might wind up dying all alone and thinks that having a baby can relieve her loneliness. She takes Bart and Lisa to Duff Gardens to test if she can handle Parenthood.
Brother from the Same Planet - When Homer leaves Bart waiting in the pouring rain after soccer practice, he must earn back his son's love. Bart expresses his anger by going to a Big Brother program and claiming to be an abandoned child so he can get a new "father".
I Love Lisa - Trying to be nice to Ralph Wiggum, Lisa gives him a Valentine's Day card. Ralph misinterprets the gesture and thinks that Lisa is in love with him.
Duffless - Lisa conducts a secret experiment for the Springfield Elementary School science fair to see who's smarter, Bart or a hamster. Meanwhile, Homer is forced to swear off beer after being arrested on a D.U.I.
Last Exit to Springfield - Homer finds himself filling in for the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant's union leader when it comes time to negotiate their new contract with Mr. Burns.
So It's Come to This: A Simpsons Clip Show - Bart's April Fools' prank backfires and lands Homer in the hospital in a coma. At Homer's bedside, The Simpson family reminisces about all of the good times they've had over the years.
The Front - Convinced they can write better Itchy & Scratchy scripts than the writers who currently work on the cartoon, Bart and Lisa set out to write their own shows.
Whacking Day - Everyone in Springfield is excited for Whacking Day, but as the holiday approaches, Lisa condemns it as violent.
Marge in Chains - Marge gets busted for shoplifting at the Kwik-E-Mart and is sentenced to thirty days in prison.
Krusty Gets Kancelled - After the most successful advertising campaign Springfield has ever seen, The Krusty the Clown show gets bumped in the ratings by Arthur Crandall, a droll ventriloquist, and Gabbo, his excitable dummy. Krusty puts together a huge TV Special to rival Gabbo after word his show would be cancelled.
EXTRAS - We can be guaranteed the Commentaries on each episode, Featurettes, Early Drawings, Animatics, TV Specials and so forth. Forget about the Extras though, that's just the glazing on the Donut so to speak. What you want this set for is the...
...EPISODES. This is a definite MUST HAVE. Some of the greatest episodes ever created are in this box set. Do what Homer would do and act on impulse by pre ordering this baby ASAP. You will not regret it!
on October 19, 2004
What a DVD. Season 4 is easily the best of the bunch thus far, and if you are at all a Simpsons fan, you MUST purchase it! It perfectly reflects why I hold 'The Simpsons' as my favorite TV show of all time.
There are so many great episodes here, it's unbelievable. You've got three of 'The Simpsons' great directors working on this one: Rich Moore, Mark Kirkland, Jim Reardon, as well as other greats Carlos Baeza, Wes Archer, David Silverman, Jeff Lynch. I mention the three in a different category only because their episodes in particular ooze dripping quality through every animated cell, but truly, the others listed are nearly just as good. Then, of course there is the fantastic writing, courtesy of a handful of brilliant comedic minds.
My personal favorite episodes -- and it's really so difficult, there are so many -- are probably those directed by the three directors listed above. It's quite interesting too, as most of the directors had been with the show from the first and second seasons, so you can really get a glimpse of them really finding their niche. The dry-wit and cynicism is ever-growing, and the jokes really do come at you at breakneck speed. The animation, which HAS to be credited for the show's uproarious laugh count, has really become sublime. And I don't just mean camera angles and backgrounds, but even more so character expressions and movement, which add infinite substance to the already great writing and voice acting. It all gels together so beautifully by this point, it's a sight to behold.
The commentaries, while not "that" interesting, are fun to listen to, and I've been through them all about twice. I just like hearing the guys (primarily Groening, Jean, and Reiss) talk about a great show whilst watching it. It's a very enjoyable experience. Interesting commentaries worth noting are the two in which Conan O'Brien appears; it's quite obvious the rest of the crew hold the man in sort sort of awe, as they laugh (appropriately) at his every word. The same could be said for Jon Lovitz, who is hysterical always, and the one audio track he has ("A Streetcar Named Marge") is appalingly funny, enough for me to go out and get the "Critic" DVD simply to hear him talk spontaneously (and make homosexual remarks to Jean and Reiss).
All in all, this is just a great step up from the seasons before it. By this point, the show had lost most of its emotional value, but its the comedic strength that made this show what it was, not the more sentimental aspects (though those are always intact and certainly shouldn't be dismissed). It's also probably the most endearing show I've ever seen, and even though it's the biting, jaded cynisicm that I come back for, the show ultimately holds a dear place in my scathed heart.
on May 20, 2005
Here are ten reasons why season 4 of the Fox animated series The Simpsons is quite possibly the funniest season of comedy ever on television:
1). Troy McClure: "Hello everybody. I'm Troy McClure, star of such films as "P is for Psycho" and "The President's Neck is Missing."
2.) Apu: "I have a shrine to Ganesha, the god of worldly wisdom, located in the employee lounge."
Homer: "Hey, Ganesha, want a peanut?
Apu: "Please do not offer my god a peanut."
3.) Krusty, lending his pre-taped support to the Little Miss Springfield Pageant: "I heartily endorse this event or product."
4.) Bart, after Homer kills Flanders, who has been turned into a zombie: "Dad, you just killed the Zombie-Flanders!"
Homer: "He was a zombie?"
5.) Captain Kirk, in Star Trek XII: So Very Tired: "Captain's Log, Stardate 6051. Had trouble sleeping last night...my hiatal hernia is acting up. The ship is drafty and damp. I complain, but nobody listens."
6.) Barney, waving goodbye to Adam West as he drives away in the Batmobile: "So long, Superman!"
7.) Chief Wiggum: "This is Papa Bear. Put out an APB for a male suspect, driving a...car of some sort. Heading in the direction of, um, you know, that place that sells chili. The suspect is hatless. I repeat...hatless!"
8.) Homer, telling Marge about the family of possums that live in the rotted innards of the Springfield monorail: "I call the big one, Bitey!"
9.) TV Announcer: "The following is a public service announcement. Excessive alcohol consumption can cause liver damage and cancer of the rectum."
Homer. "Mmmm, beer."
10.) Bart, watching Homer attempt to remove a plunger stuck to his head: "What are you going to change your name to when you grow up?'
Lisa: "Lois Sanborn."
Bart: "Steve Bennett."
OK, Number 10 is a personal choice. When that episode (The Front) aired in April 1993, I knew someone named Steve Bennett. And when Bart, who had become America's favorite underachiever, uttered Steve's name, he was the envy of all who knew him. I'm not sure if Steve ever found a way to record the line onto his phone answering machine, but if not, he should still be trying.
As much as Season 3 saw The Simpsons find its groove in terms of the writing, animation, timing and vocal performance, Season 4 was when the show achieved a level of humor and sophistication that no sitcom has ever matched. It became rife with pop culture and political references. Steamboat Willie (the first cartoon featuring Mickey Mouse), Franklin Roosevelt, A Streetcar Named Desire and supposed Communist Alger Hiss all worked their way into episodes. Creatively, the show seemed completely locked in: from the jokes (which seemed to come faster than the sitcom average of three-a-minute), to the music, by underappreciated Simpsons composer Alf Clausen. Like Season 3, the storylines were occasionally silly, but the show was never ashamed to have the family show affection for one another and no one completely broke character because it would help sell an episode. In total, Season 4 represents the Golden Age of the Simpsons' brand of comedy and Fox Home Video's 4-disc set, The Simpsons: The Complete Fourth Season is an essential purchase for anyone who claims to love TV comedy.
The episodes included are Kamp Krusty, A Streetcar Named Marge, Homer the Heretic, Lisa the Beauty Queen, Treehouse of Horror III, Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie, Marge Gets a Job, New Kid on the Block, Mr. Plow, Lisa's First Word, Homer's Triple Bypass, Marge vs. the Monorail, Selma's Choice, Brother from the Same Planet, I Love Lisa, Duffless, Last Exit to Springfield, So It's Come to This: A Simpsons Clip Show, The Front, Whacking Day, Marge in Chains and Krusty Gets Kancelled.
Video: How Does The Disc Look?
As with the previous three Simpsons DVD releases, Season 4 is presented in its original TV aspect ratio of 4:3. In the early 90s, the show was still totally hand drawn, as opposed to computer assisted. As such, object outlines do have a hand-drawn feel and background colors can waver ever so minutely. But (minor) flaws and all, color is accurately represented on the DVD. After all, unless Fox wants to commission a completely useless frame-by-frame restoration, these discs will never be better than their source material. All colors are as saturated as they were when originally drawn: the Simpson family has the deeper colors, the yellow of their skin or the blue of Marge's hair. Obviously, no color strays past its outline and every color has a nice smoothness. Print flaws get increasingly rare as the series continues and here there is nary a spot or a speck. Darker backgrounds, like the night sky or the blue set of Krusty's Comeback Special have just a smidge of haze, but that's just nitpicking. Contrast is good and detail, so essential to a sneaky show like The Simpsons, is getting better with every DVD release. There are no compression artifacts to be found, even during the slower fades. The shows looks great and as subsequent seasons are released, and computer-assisted animation takes over, the show threatens to look almost perfect.
Audio: How Does The Disc Sound?
Once again, Fox has provided a nice, if slightly unnecessary 5.1 Dolby Digital mix. It does seem as if there is more play with the directional effects than in previous DVD releases. The sound of characters running across the room will travel from left to right. The songs are a bit fuller than last season and dialogue is cleaner and less mushy than in previous DVD releases. When watching the show on TV, characters talk so fast and are mixed with music and effects that sometimes dialogue is hard to understand. This is not a problem on the DVD, as dialogue comes like a laser, usually from the center speaker. No one will ever mistake a Simpsons DVD (or Simpsons episode on TV) as an enveloping aural experience, but what's provided here is true to the show and true to the original presentation.
Episodes also include French and Spanish Dolby 2.0 surround tracks. Subtitles are available in French and Spanish, along with English Closed Captions.
Supplements: What Goodies Are There?
There are more supplements on these 4 discs than there are jars of expired baby food at the Kwik-E-Mart. Luckily, as the program got more popular, it became better documented. One of the few complaints about the first three DVD sets was that there's scant little information on how an episode is created and how the voices are recorded. More of the former is presented here, while the latter will always be a beautiful, never-realized dream (Note to Fox: The Holy Grail of Simpsons supplements will be having the voice over recording in the corner of the screen while the episode plays out). Barring that, here we go:
Disc One begins with a Word from Matt Groening, which involves the show's creator introducing the set by voicing over some clips.
The meat of the first disc are the audio commentaries, which are provided for every episode: Kamp Krusty, A Streetcar Named Marge, Homer the Heretic and Lisa the Beauty Queen. For Kamp Krusty, the producers admitted that co-creator Matt Groening liked the episode so much, he wanted to save the plotline for the Simpsons movie. But the producers had enough problems getting the episode to its minimum length, let alone padding it out to 80 minutes. Also, Jon Lovitz joins in on the audio commentary for A Streetcar Named Marge.
Elsewhere on Disc One, we've got Art and Animation: A Streetcar Named Marge. Clicking that option reveals a submenu that includes Animatic Showcase, where a section of the finished episode shares screen space with the animatic and the storyboards. Use the Angle button to decide which element gets the full-screen. This allows you to see how much the episode changed during the long production process. You can also watch just the animatic by itself or with audio commentary by Rich Moore and David Silverman. You can also see the episode with just full-frame storyboards, accompanied by the final voice recordings.
The Cajun Controversy is a two-minute look at how the city of New Orleans (over)reacted to seeing their fair city lambasted in the episode A Streetcar Named Marge. Writer Jeff Martin narrates this brief, but fun look. Martin wrote the lyrics himself and he explains that Sweeney Todd starts with a song that denigrates London and that Martin was "just copying that. I certainly wasn't setting out to insult New Orleans."
Special Language Feature: Kamp Krusty gives us the entire episode in your choice of Brazilian Portuguese, Italian, Japanese or Castilian Spanish. However, instead of taking the time to find this menu, just play the episode and cycle through with your Audio button.
Next is Bush vs. Simpson. Narrated by series co-creator Jim Brooks, it recounts a 1990 People Magazine story about then-First Lady Barbara Bush that claimed "She loves American's Funniest Home Videos but remains baffled after sampling The Simpsons. "'It was the dumbest thing I had ever seen', she says." Brooks sent a response to Mrs. Bush, that is read in its entirety by Julie Kavner, the voice of Marge Simpson. It reads, in part, "I try to teach my children Bart, Lisa and even little Maggie always to give somebody the benefit of the doubt and not talk badly about them, even if they're rich. It's hard to get them to understand this advice when the very First Lady in the country calls us not only dumb, but 'the dumbest thing' she ever saw." Surprisingly, on October 9, 1990, Mrs. Bush replied. Her remarks included the line, "how kind of you to write. I'm glad you spoke your mind, I foolishly didn't know you had one." She ends with "please forgive a loose tongue." The "feud" culminated with President George H.W. Bush speaking to a convention of religious broadcasters and saying American families need to be more like the Waltons and less like the Simpsons. It's a neat, 5-minute piece and Brooks remembers the feud with respect and good humor towards the First Family.
Finally on Disc One is Promotional Stuff, which is a 13-minute Fox-generated look at how the Simpsons is produced. Fans of the show will want to skip the first half, which recounts old information about how the show came to be. The second half includes brief clips of table reads and voice over sessions.
Disc Two contains more audio commentary for all the episodes, Treehouse of Horror III, Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie, Marge Gets a Job, New Kid on the Block, Mr. Plow and Lisa's First Word. The commentary for New Kid on the Block includes talk show host Conan O'Brien who participated from New York, while the other audio commentators were recorded simultaneously in Los Angeles. By the fourth season, writers began to leave the show and had to be replaced. O'Brien was hired after two other writers turned it down. The participants reminisce about O'Brien's horrible office (which is now a storage room) and how he was constantly energetic and funny, no matter how many hours they had worked that day.
Also on Disc Two are four TV commercials, which can be played individually or all at once. They include 2 Simpsons promos, a Butterfinger spot and a KFC spot. More interesting is Animation Showcase: Itchy & Scratchy The Movie. As in the other Animation Showcases, you can watch the episode unfold in storyboard form and compare it to the finished product.
Disc Three contains audio commentaries for every episode, Homer's Triple Bypass, Marge vs. the Monorail, Selma's Choice, Brother from the Same Planet, I Love Lisa and Duffless. There are two audio commentaries for Marge vs. the Monorail. The second one includes Conan O'Brien, who wrote the episode. According to O'Brien, Marge vs. The Monorail was the third idea he ever pitched after being hired. He also talks of how he'd crack up the staff by filling his mouth with Coke and then shaking his head until foam came out of his mouth. It's a fun commentary, probably the best on the entire four-disc set.
Other extras on Disc Three include four Deleted Scenes from Homer's Triple Bypass. Frankly, these discs should include many more deleted scenes, but we'll take what we can get. None are over 16 seconds are none are particularly funny. A fun option is to watch the finished episode with the deleted scenes inserted in their proper place. Also check Art & Animation from Homer's Triple Bypass. This includes an animatic showcase similar to the one A Streetcar Named Marge. You can also watch just the animatic, with or without an audio commentary from David Silverman and Rich Moore. What's interesting here is that Silverman is equipped with a telestrator, similar to the one used on Monday Night Football. However, he only uses it once, at the very beginning of the episode.
The final disc contains audio commentary for all episodes, Last Exit to Springfield, So It's Come to This: A Simpsons Clip Show, The Front, Whacking Day, Marge in Chains and Krusty Gets Kancelled. As in the other commentaries, everyone seems very happy to be there and they impart lots of fun tidbits. Krusty Gets Kancelled, is notable for all the celebrity voice involved, including Johnny Carson and Bette Midler. By that time in the show's history, there was a backlog of famous folks who wanted to do a voice. But of course, when the call actually came, everyone was too busy or out of town. In fact, they were a day away from scrapping the celebrity angle of the episode. Disc Four also includes six deleted scenes from The Front, none over 25 seconds. As in the deleted scenes from Homer's Bypass, you can watch the episode with the excised bits seamlessly reinserted. The other extra is Art & Animation: So It's Come to This: A Simpsons Clip Show. This includes yet another Animation Showcase, in which deft handling of the Angle button provides the ability to simultaneously watch the storyboards, animatics and the finished episode. You can also watch the episode with finished audio over full-frame storyboards. Or, if you choose, finished audio with full-frame animatics.
The whole magilla comes in the same type of packaging as the other Simpsons boxed sets. This time, the color of the cardboard packaging is a cobalt blue. The menu system includes lots of brief, :06-:10 animations that take the viewer from menu to submenu to sub-submenu. Although the animations are funny, it does get tiresome to have to constantly sit through them, especially considering how deep the menu system is. Next time, let's just go quickly from menu to submenu, eh Fox?
DVD-ROM Exclusives: What do you get when you pop the disc in your PC?
There are no ROM extras on the disc.
If you're a fan of The Simpsons and don't immediately buy this disc, you are not a fan of the Simpsons. During season 4, the show moved effortlessly from just plain hilarious to one of the funniest shows ever on television. As for the DVD, the extras are getting more interesting and every audio commentary is worth a listen. Additionally, the video and audio are slightly improved over previous releases. So, to paraphrase Bart in the episode Kamp Krusty, "my chunky brothers! Gorge yourselves at the trough of The Simpsons: The Complete Fourth Season!"
Thank you dvd video