Friday, April 20, 2012

The Simpsons: Season 14 Blu-ray Review

The Simpsons Season 14 Blu-ray is loaded with bonus features including the incredible 300th episode starring Tony Hawk and blink-182. Additionally, the Blu-ray is packed with deleted scenes, features and never-before-seen footage, audio commentaries, sketch galleries, original animated menus, a special language feature and much more.Other guest stars throughout the season include rock ‘n’ roll legends Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Lenny Kravitz, Tom Petty, Elvis Costello and Brian Setzer who open up a Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp.  Also paying Springfield a visit are Elliott Gould, Marisa Tomei, Little Richard and the dynamic duo of Adam West and Burt Ward.

Film (4 out of 5 stars) 

The longest-running American primetime scripted show in television history, The Simpsons (now in it’s 23rd year) will celebrate their historic 500th episode in February 2012.  This show is a powerhouse and has won 27 Emmy Awards, released a successful feature film, created a “Krustyland,” received a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame, and even has it’s own rollercoaster in Universal Studios.  As if that wasn’t enough, it’s also been named the “Best Show of the 20th Century” byTime Magazine.
I’ve been a fan of the show for years but somewhere around the eighth season, I kept missing shows and eventually I just stopped watching since I wanted to see them in order, so these season sets have been welcome with open arms in my house.  Watching the show again, it seems like not much has changed but in some ways the show has evolved since it appears that some characters like Maude Flanders are gone.  Just like with the earlier seasons there’s some really funny episodes and some that aren’t as strong, but all of them have at least a couple of laughs.
I was worried that by the 14th season that there wouldn’t be any edgy episodes like the earlier seasons, but episodes like “Pray Anything,” where Homer ends up owning the Springfield church after suing them for an accident, probably upset a lot of people.  The episode definitely skirts some touchy areas which makes it even funnier.  The show still takes funny shots at Fox Broadcasting, Republicans, Democrats, and the U.S. Government among others.  For my money, as long as the show isn’t afraid to go after any target, then it’s still a relevant show since that sharp humor is the secret to the show’s longevity.  Here’s the complete list of the 14th season’s episodes:
  • How I Spent My Strummer Vacation
  • Bart vs. Lisa vs. 3rd Grade
  • Large Marge
  • Helter Shelter
  • The Great Louse Detective
  • Special Edna
  • Dad Who Knew Too Little
  • Strong Arms o the Ma
  • Pray Anything
  • Barting Over
  • I’m Spelling As Fast As I Can
  • A Star is Born Again
  • Mr. Spritz Goes to Washington
  • C.E.D’oh
  • ‘Scuse Me While Miss the Sky
  • 3 Gays of the Condo
  • Dude, Where’s my Ranch?
  • Old Yeller Belly
  • Brake My Wife, Please
  • The Bart of War
  • Moe Baby Blues
This season won two Primetime Emmy Awards including one for “Three Gays of the Condo” and another Emmy win for Hank Azaria for his multiple roles in “Moe Baby Blues.”  The show also won four Annie Awards with a twelfth consecutive win in the Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Television Production category.  Even the music was honored since the show received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Music and Lyrics for the song ”Everybody Hates Ned Flanders” (music by Alf Clausen, lyrics by Ian Maxtone-Graham andKen Keeler) from “Dude, Where’s My Ranch?”  I’m not sure how good the show is now that it’s in it’s 23rd season, but during this season it was still going strong.

Video (4 1/2 out of 5 stars) 

This 1080p (1.33:1) transfer is a nice upgrade over the previous DVD sets that I have of the show.  Detail is sharper and colors are a lot more vivid and just pop off the screen.  With the wide variety of colors this show has on display that’s a welcome improvement.  Black levels are solid and the contrast is excellent.  There are no scratches, blemishes, or any other artifacts that detract from this image.

Audio (4 out of 5 stars) 

The Simpsons Season 14′s DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is also wonderful and a huge improvement over both the television broadcasts and the previous DVDs.  The dialogue is clear and clean which is essential for a joke filled show like this.  The front channels deliver the dialogue while the rear channels offer some nice ambiance and music from Alf Clausen.  There’s also some nice directional effects that work very nicely.  Hearing Danny Elfman’s The Simpsonstheme in 5.1 makes me happy.

Special Features (4 out of 5 stars) 

I wish there were more extras on here but having audio commentary on every episode is pretty cool.
  • Audio Commentaries – Each episode has it’s own commentary which I highly commend but there’s so many people on the tracks that it’s difficult to know who is talking or to hear everyone.  It’s great that so much effort is put into these commentary tracks but I wish they at least added a subtitle of whoever is talking to the show like the Lord of the Rings movie commentaries had.
  • A Haunting Invite from Matt Groening – Groening talks about the season and how he felt about it.
  • In the Beginning – An interesting rundown of every Treehouse of Terror opening sequence up until this season.  It’s kind of cool to see the old stuff.
  • It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll – A talk with all of the rock stars about making the  ”How I Spent My Strummer Vacation,” episode.
  • Sketch Gallery – Sketches and artwork for “How I Spent My Strummer Vacation.”
  • The 300th Episode – “Barting Over” – A short look at the 300th episode with interviews from guest stars from the episode like Tony Hawk.
  • Sketch Gallery II – Here’s even more sketches for those that are interested.
  • The Halloween Classics – A look at some of the scenes from the series’ Halloween specials.
  • Deleted Scenes –  A collection of deleted scenes for the following episodes: “Treehouse of Horror XIII,” “How I Spent My Strummer Vacation,” “Large Marge,” “Helter Shelter,” “The Great Louse Detective,” “Special Edna,” “The Strong Arms of the Ma,” “Pray Anything,” “Barting Over,” “A Star is Born-Again,” “Mr. Spritz Goes to Washington,” “‘Scuse Me While I Miss the Sky,” “Dude Where’s My Ranch?,” and “The Bart of War.”
  • Animation Showcase: “Moe Baby Blues” - An optional way to see additional storyboards and sequences.
  • Foolish Earthlings – Look at the Kang and Kodos appearances.
  • “Treehouse of Horror V” – A bonus episode!
  • “Treehouse of Horror VI” – Another Halloween bonus episode!

Final Thoughts (4 out of 5 stars) 

If you still enjoy watching Homer get hurt and the rest of the town’s crazy yet well-defined characters get into strange situations, then you should enjoy this set.  While it may not be as strong as the earlier seasons, this season is still a lot of fun and made me laugh often.  The show’s guest stars are also fun to watch since they get a lot of big stars who are happy to make fun of themselves.  This upgrade to Blu-ray just makes the show even better and easier to recommend.
Order your copy today!

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