The Simpsons: Backstage Pass (2002)
2nd June 2002
In between the releases of the season box sets on DVD, Fox has decided to tap the fans wallets and purses by releasing four similarly themed episodes on one disc. However, this is nothing new as they've been releasing them on video for years.
A Tale of Two Springfields
Homer becomes infuriated by a new area code, basically because he can't remember the additional three digits, so he goes on a mission to divide the town into two. As the major of West Springfield he wages a war with the East and even goes to the extent of building a wall between the two districts. However, when the &"The Who" is scheduled to play East Springfield, Homer decides to get the band on his side of the wall.
When Homer fears that he's become out of touch with the times he purchases tickets for Lisa, Bart and himself for the local Hullabalooza concert. Whilst he does his best to blend in with the teenage crowd, plus managing to embarrass his children even more than normal, it is a freak accident with a canon that catapults Homer into the limelight and the respect from the younger generation he longs for.
Homer's Barbershop Quartet
When Lisa finds an album in a junk sale with her father on the cover, Homer starts to reminisce on his days as the leader of chart topping, award winning, lady swooning and short lived barbershop quartet called the "The Be Sharps". And you thought that Barney's only talent was drinking beer?
The Otto Show
When Bart attends a Spinal Tap concert he dreams of becoming a heavy metal rock star with all of the trimmings. As an encouragement Homer and Marge decide to buy him an electric guitar. As is the case with most children's hobbies he soon gets fed up with his inability to play and claims it is broken. When Otto demonstrates that it is far from broken he causes the school bus to be delayed and attempts to make up lost time, loosing his job in the process.
Again, with the episodes coming for the later seasons the animation is much improved along with the overall picture quality. With the animation being made up of yellow, and other bright colours, there are no signs of artifacting or outlining. It certainly exceeds what can be offered by video and this improvement in quality and convenience of the format makes the additional expense more than justified.
With this being a television series there isn't much scope for excitement in the audio channels. Surround sound didn't appear in the series for a number of years and this disc only contains a stereo soundtrack. However, due to the nature of the programme there is no real justification for a surround sound extravaganza and what is presented here is more and adequate.
The menu is a static and boring affair with each episode available for selection either via the chapters or straight access. However, Fox still feels that it is unnecessary to supply a "Play all" option. With only an average running time it would be more than feasible to sit and watch this collection in one sitting. It becomes quite annoying to keep having to select the next episode. Let's hope Fox take note of this for future releases.
The extras can hardly be classed as ground breaking with a "featurette", similar to the clips on the first release of The Simpsons Film Festival on character Otto the school bus driver. As these themed discs continue to be released we can expect a different character on each disc.
This release is certainly better that the previous. With the disc including episodes for the latter seasons, and with its popularity now achieved, it has resulted in the rich and famous desperate to provide a voice over. In this collection this ranges from the members of "The Who" to the late George Harrison.
These themed releases will certainly keep you happy whilst you wait for the many seasons of The Simpsons to be released on DVD.
- Video Montage of Otto's Finest Moments