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The Simpons : Season One Box-set (1989)

12th October 2001

Americas longest running primetime sitcom family from Springfield finally makes it to the shiny format that is DVD.
Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer
Comedy, Animation, Television/Series
1, 2
Unknown
5 Hours (Approx)

The man of the house, Homer, works at the local nuclear power plant doing the same dead end job he has done for years. In fact, Homer holds the plant record for the number of years worked at an entry level position. As a safety supervisor it is proven fact that safety improves whenever he is away on holiday or sickness - mainly because he causes most of the accidents in the first place. He is not the brightest light in the sky, but what he lacks in intelligence he makes up in the love for his family and food, especially donuts and Duff beer.

His faithful housewife Marge is the youngest of three sisters and puts up with Homers bungling plans and personal hygiene deficiencies and her many moral crusades in Springfield make her a pain in many peoples backs. She has her work cut out looking after Homer and their three children Bart, Lisa and Maggie. It has also been known for her to drink alcohol and to be tempted by other men.

Bart is the hell cat of the house and Marge's "special little guy". He's a constant worry for Homer. Forever the practical joker and trouble maker, mayhem and madness follow him wherever he goes. Not a day goes by without him getting into trouble, especially at school where he is a particular pain in the side of the long suffering principle Skinner. Bart also suffers from the same problem 'Simpsons' gene as his father and is not graced with the highest of IQs.

Lisa is the black sheep of the family with a high IQ and first-rate school grades. Hopes are high at Springfield Elementary that they'll finally get a graduate with good grades. As well be being intelligent and a vegetarian, Lisa is musical minded and plays a mean saxophone. However, she doesn't get much opportunity to practice before Bart starts annoying her and Homer is shouting for her to stop making a racket.

Maggie is the youngest member of the family and although she has been greatly encouraged by Marge she is still yet to utter her first word, preferring to suck on her pacifier. She has been known to roam and at her tender young age has already been implicated in the attempted murder of Mr. Burns, the owner and tyrant operator of the nuclear power plant, for steeling her lollypop.

Together with their two pets, "Snowball II" the cat (the first one being run over) and "Santa's little helper" the dog, they form the family known as the Simpsons who live in Evergreen terrace in the town of Springfield.

Season One Episode Guide

  • Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire
  • Bart the Genius
  • Homers Odyssey
  • here's No Disgrace Like Home
  • Bart the General
  • Moaning Lisa
  • The Call of the Simpsons
  • The Telltale Head
  • Life on the Fast Lane
  • Homer's Night Out
  • The Crepes of Wrath
  • Krusty Gets Busted
  • Some Enchanted Evening

With this being television broadcast material you won't be really expecting anything special from these discs. However, it is pleasantly surprising to see quite a clean and bright picture with an above average bit-rate, although it can suffer from colour bleeding from the many intense colours. Fox have either cleaned up the episodes or the episodes seen on television and digital satellite in the UK are extremely sub-standard.

The original television series was broadcasted in standard stereo and wasn't updated to surround sound for a number of seasons, but for this box-set Fox have remixed the soundtrack to Dolby Digital. However, this sort of series doesn't really benefit from the Dolby touch, although the dialogue is clear and precise in the centre channel with the musical score being slightly improved by the new soundtrack.

The menu system is disappointingly bland, although it is scored with the theme music. I was expecting some sort of animated masterpiece, but the menus are static and, if anything, clumsy to navigate around. However, the menus are themed to the character related to the episode. If, like myself, you are an avid Simpsons fan then you'll probably already own a vast collection of Simpsons videos. If you were a little undecided about buying this box-set because of your video collection then the improvement in picture quality alone makes the investment worth while. However, if that doesn't convince you then the massive number of extras will convince you to dash out and buy a copy.

Each episode is accompanied by an interesting audio commentary with the team behind the Simpsons having a great time and letting the viewer in on all of the shows in jokes. If you are a fan of the series then you'll be amazed at the amount of information that can be obtained. Disc one also features two of the original scripts with remarks from the writers whilst a third script is on the second disc.

The third disc contains the most extras including an Animatic feature that describes the animation process, character sketches and a rather dull "multi-language" section where you can see the family dubbed in a number of different languages. Although the extras are informative and useful, they do tend to have a "rushed" feeling about them and they are just to short, especially if you consider that the original BBC documentary was nearly 60 minutes in length.

This three disc box-set is a tasty entree for the later seasons to come. As is the case with most expensive American television series, the first season nearly always runs to a mere twelve or thirteen episodes, and only once it has become established and profitable does it get extended to a more standard twenty plus episodes. It is certainly no mean, and inexpensive, feat to create an animated season of the Simpsons. Unlike the various videos released by Twentieth Century Fox, the episodes are provided in their proper order with the first ever episode, and one of my personal favourites, Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire. Like many series, it gradually introduces us to the various cast members and the hopelessness that is Homer. I'll admit to the first season not being one of the best, but there's still plenty of classic episodes to raise a smile. Classics include Bart becoming a genius and the Simpsons venture into the great outdoors with Homer getting mistaken for Bigfoot!

You can certainly tell that these episodes are from the early days of a series created on a limited budget. Although the characters we know and love in today's episodes are clearly animated with familiar voices, the earlier Simpsons episodes have poorer animation and voices, even though the same actors still provide the voices. Mind you, this is no reason not to enjoy this superb box-set and you can see just how the character animations and their voices have developed over the many successful years. You may be surprised to learn from the cast list above that so few of the actors provide most of the characters voices, so many in fact I can't really list them all. I'm sure that Twentieth Century Fox pay them handsomely because without them, the Simpsons would be nothing.

There may not be many reasons for thanking Tracy Ullman, but the existence of the Simpsons is due to her and for that she is to be spared being locked up and the key thrown away. Like the Flintstones before them, the Simpsons is one of the few animated series that are less aimed at children but to a more mature audience. Mind you, there's certainly no reason why children shouldn't watch and enjoy the Simpsons, but the older audience will be able to pickup the excellent satire. Why else would TIME magazine vote it the best show of the 20th century?

Woooohoo!! (Sorry, a Simpsons review just wouldn't be complete without one)

  • Commentaries on Each Episode
  • Bart the Genius : Original Script
  • Bart the General : Original Script
  • Moaning Lisa : Original Script
  • Some Enchanted Evening: Original Script
  • Unaired Episode with Optional Commentary
  • Animatic: Bart the General
  • Outtakes
  • America's First Family BBC Special
  • Bart T-shirt Controversy ABC News
  • Tracy Ullman: Good Night Simpsons
  • Seven Foreign Language Clips
  • Still Gallery of 100 sketches
  • 12 stills and magazine covers
  • Commentaries on Each Episode
  • Bart the Genius : Original Script
  • Bart the General : Original Script
  • Moaning Lisa : Original Script
  • Some Enchanted Evening: Original Script
  • Unaired Episode with Optional Commentary
  • Animatic: Bart the General
  • Outtakes
  • The Making of The Simpsons "Americas first family"
  • Bart T-shirt Controversy ABC News
  • Tracy Ullman: Good Night Simpsons
  • Five Foreign Language Clips
  • Early sketches stills gallery
  • Magazine covers
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