In between the extremely infrequent releases of The Simpsons season box sets on DVD, Twentieth Century Fox has decided to tap the fans wallets and purses by releasing four similarly themed episodes on one disc. In this collection we have four episodes related to computers and Homer's complete lack of knowledge of how to use them. As a result, it's all in a days work for the Simpson family as chaos, destruction and complete madness ensue.
Treehouse of Horror X
It's the annual Halloween episode so that means it time for another special collection of horror parodies within a single Simpsons episode. This year we've got I Know What You Diddily-Iddly-Did where Ned Flanders gets run over and killed by Marge during one of his fog walks. But is he really dead or just a werewolf? Next up is Desperately Xeeking Xena where Bart and Lisa obtain super powers from an x-ray machine and come to the aid of Lucy Lawless after she is kidnapped by the evil Collector. Finally, in Life's a Glitch, Then You Die Homer has been put in charge of sorting out any Y2K bugs in the nuclear power plant computers. Any failures in the system would result in a global computer meltdown. Did Homer fix the problem? What did you think...
Homer Goes to College
When the Nuclear Regulatory Commission turn up at Springfield nuclear power plant for a surprise test of worker competence, Smithers rounds up the "less gifted" members of staff, which naturally includes Homer, and leads them to the basement where they've been placed in charge of looking after a bee in a jar. It doesn't take long for the bee to escape and Homer soon finds himself in a simulator to test his highly specialised skills. But after causing the simulator to meltdown the commission decide to send Homer back to college to learn basic physics. But fed on a diet of campus comedy films, such as School of Hard Knockers, Homer is shocked to learn that campus life is not just one long joke. We'll soon see about that...
Homer is feeling left out of the dotcom boom, even if he has no idea what it is, so after learning that Ned Flanders has his own internet company he decides that he should form his own company CompuGlobalHyperMegaNet. Meanwhile, together with their class mates, Bart and Lisa are heading off to a state wide model UN convention. But when the school bus crashes off the road and floats off into the sea the children find themselves marooned on a deserted island with no food. Cue a parody of Lord of the Flies and a witch hunt for the person who ate all of their supplies. Back in Springfield, Bill Gates has learned about Homer's new company and decides that the time is ripe for a take over. Will Homer accept his offer?
Itchy and Scratchy Land
In a parody of Jurassic Park and Westworld, the Simpsons take their annual vacation in Itchy and Scratchy Land. And as all Simpsons fans will know, these two cartoon characters are far from being best friends, as their violent antics proved. The hi-tech theme park is based around their daily cartoon violence and has area names such as Unnecessary Surgery Land and Searing Gas Pain Land, and with rides to match. But when Professor Fink's Ichy and Scratchy robots go berserk it's left to the unique mayhem of the Simpsons to save the day.
With a series spanning over ten years and themed discs taking episodes from over this period, picture quality can occasionally be rather mixed. However, the episodes on this classics disc mainly come from later seasons so the animation and general picture quality is on the better side.
Colours are rich and colourful with yellow, naturally, playing a large part in the proceedings. Picture noise is kept to a minimum throughout and there's no sign of either artifacting or outlining. There is the occasional problem with print damage, but closer examination reveals that these problems are part of the animation process. Never the less, it's certainly one of the better releases of late and Twentieth Century Fox have finally realised that they can't just release poor image quality material which is no better than VHS.
As the soundtrack is limited by bandwidth of the broadcast medium there's never going to be much scope for a dramatic or dynamic soundtrack. However, this isn't really a problem as The Simpsons is not a series that would benefit from a fully blown 5.1 soundtrack, after all most of the gags are visual. Never the less, the dialogue on the 192Kbps Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack remains clear enough throughout whilst the opening and closing theme musical is clear and powerful.
The menu is a static and silent affair with little in the way of extras. However, after many complaints in the previous reviews of these collections Twentieth Century Fox has added a Play All option to the menu. But don't worry, if you only want to watch a particular episode then it can be easily selected from the menu as well as opting to view trailers, select an alternate audio track or subtitles.
Extras wise, there's very little of interest. There's a short Think Frink featurette which simply contains a number of clips of Professor Frinks inventions plus a trailer for the season three box-set (hang on guys, isn't season four just about to be released?!) as well as a generic trailer for the DVD releases. It's nothing to write home about, but it's better than nothing. If its extras you want then get hold of the season box-sets instead.
Since Twentieth Century Fox have decided to release the full season box-sets at such a snails pace these classic collections are currently the best way for fans to own The Simpsons on DVD. Naturally, these episodes will eventually overlap the season box-sets, but at the current rate of release by the time the entire collection is available on DVD you'll probably have retired, or worse.
Even if you've decided to stick to your guns and wait for all of the box-sets to be released, Twentieth Century Fox have had the cunning foresight not to price these titles out of the market. With an RRP of £12.99 (and even cheaper on-line) these classic collection titles come in at a price which is very hard to resist. Go on, you know you want to....
- Think Frink Featurette
- The Simpsons Generic Trailer
- The Simpsons Season Three Collector's Edition Trailer