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 temptations, envy and lost love. Can Homer manage to avoid the temptation of another woman? Can Bart find true love and can Lisa control her envy? Well, you'll just have to watch these episodes like the rest of us...
New Kid on the Block
When new neighbours move onto Evergreen Terrace, Bart suddenly discovers a strange new feelings rumbling inside. No, it's not that super-squishy he had at lunchtime, but after seeing the daughter of the new neighbour, it is his first love. Trouble is, Laura prefers a bit of a rebel and school bully Jimbo Jones fits the bill just right. Bart is gutted, is there anything he can do to win her heart? Perhaps a crank call to Moe's Tavern and a rampaging Moe will help sort things out.
Meanwhile, there's trouble in store at The Frying Dutchman, Springfield's latest all-you-can-eat restaurant, when they are forced to eject Homer and his massive appetite. It doesn't take long for local cheap-jack attorney Lionel Hutz to get on the case and claim that, even after eating a plastic lobster, Homer had not had "all-you-can-eat". Is this an open and shut case?
The Last Temptation of Homer
If you thought only Homer slept on the job, stole office stationary, charged room service to the company and ate all the donuts, just wait until you meet Homer's new co-worker Mindy Simmons. Homer is instantly smitten and starts hallucinating and can't stop talking about her. Can Colonel Klink, Homer's guardian angel, help guide the way or will the forthcoming Energy Convention in Capital City put a spanner in the works?
Meanwhile, is the reason behind Bart's misbehaviour and miserable school grades have been caused by a simple vision disorder? So it's off to the doctors where the optometrist diagnoses lazy eye and issues a set of large glasses, the dermatologist diagnoses dry scalp and prescribes a medicated salve to be rubbed into his scalp every half hour whilst the chiropodist diagnoses fallen arches and issues special boots. Naturally, Bart wont be singled out for bullying at school.
Bart After Dark
When Bart manages to damage the roof of a spooky old woman's house, a house where children suspect that an army of super zombies are being created by an evil witch, Bart is collared and frog marched home by the woman owner who demands that Bart should be punished. With Marge away on an environmental crusade with Lisa after an oil tanker ran aground, Homer is forced to think of a punishment. He decides to make Bart return to the house and help the house hold chores to pay for the damage. However, it turns out that this zombie production line is in fact the local burlesque house, complete with showgirls, gambling tables, the major and police chief. Just wait until Marge and Reverend Lovejoy hear about this!
There's no doubting that Lisa Simpson is Springfield Elementary's brightest and most hopeful pupil. However, that's all about to change when an extremely bright Alison Taylor turns up. Not only can she play a mean saxophone, but she's beating Lisa in every subject. Needless to say, Lisa is a little bit envious of the new school champion and all round teachers pet - that was her job! With their latest school assignment due for marking, and Lisa desperate to beat Alison, Bart hatches a devious plan that may even include a serious soaking with a hosepipe. But both Lisa and Alison hadn't banked on one Ralph Wiggum.
Meanwhile, a truck carrying sugar has jack-knifed and spewed its contents all over the road. Homer senses a money making scheme and fills the boot of his car with sugar, plus wreckage, with the intention becoming "The sugar man" and making door to door deliveries of sugar. But, as usual, his idea doesn't quite go to plan and he ends up battling with a bothersome British toff and a swarm of bees from the local honey farm.
With a series spanning over ten years and themed discs taking episodes from over this period, picture quality can occasionally be rather mixed. However, with these episodes in the collection coming from the later seasons, the budget has allowed a greater improvement in both the quality of the animation and the overall picture definition. As a result the picture is rich and colourful with a reasonable amount of detail without any signs of either artifacting or outlining. The quality of the transfer is also good with little picture noise or signs of print damage.
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 theme music is impressive.
The menu is a static and silent affair with little in the way of extras. The only real bonus is the addition of 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 the same, and now rather tiresome, generic trailers included from the previous releases. I think it's about time Twentieth Century Fox came up with some new material for these releases.
But just when you think you can criticise Twentieth Century Fox for releasing yet another shameless cash in with boring menus and extras, along comes another classic Simpsons collection you simply just can't ignore. With so many classic episodes it bad enough having to pick four to put on a release such as this, but New Kid on the Block, The Last Temptation of Homer and Bart After Dark must rate amongst the true classics. Only the Lisa's Rival episode is the slacker of the set, but even then its still good, it's just that the others are better.
It's also a shame that the extras are rather lame. At least previous releases in the collection contained a character featurette. It wasn't much, but it was better than the standard fare that keeps getting added to these releases. Still, at least these collections won't break the bank and you can stay happy whilst waiting for the extremely infrequent season box-sets come along.
The only real pain in the preverbal DVD neck is the number of copyright warnings. Sure, you can expect and cope with a few, but once the disc is inserted you get a whole host of warnings, which can't be skipped, in just about every convincible language in region two land. Oh, and just in case you're a nasty DVD pirate who hasn't taken heed of these warnings, you get another set of reminders at the end of an episode. Needless to say, if you didn't have a nervous tic beforehand, you'll be well on your way to getting one after putting up with all of these copyright notices.
- The Simpsons Generic Trailer
- The Simpsons Season 3 Collector's Edition Trailer