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.
Beyond Blunderdome - After winning tickets to a test screening of Mel Gibson's remake of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Homer is disappointed by the lack of gun fights and explosions and rates the film as a stinker. Upon reading the screening results Mel Gibson agrees with the comments and decides to hire him as a consultant for a major rewrite. A major blockbuster with Homer at the helm? What do you think!?
Itchy and Scratchy: The Movie - Marge and Homer decide to punish Bart for some particularly bad behaviour by forbidding him from seeing the animated film of the century. Whilst every child in Springfield is ranting and raving about the Itchy & Scratchy movie Bart becomes more and more desperate to view it.
22 Short Films About Springfield - Bart thinks that nothing ever exciting happens in Springfield, so we are taken on a whirlwind tour of the town. Apu takes a day off from the Kwik-E-Mart (well, OK, four and half minutes). Seymour Skinner burns his roast (and kitchen) whilst making up excuses in order to keep Superintendent Chalmers happy. There's even a brilliant parody of Pulp Fiction with local villain Snake and Chief Wiggum taken hostage by military antique store owner Herman. Oh, and poor Lisa has chewing gum stuck in her hair.
A Star is Burns - Marge manages to arrange a film festival in which the people of Springfield can display their work. Highlights include Barney's Pukahontas, a haunting reflection on his alcoholism and Apu's Bright Lights, Beef Jerky, a sad tale of a man working the late shift in the Kwik-E-Mart. Mr. Burns is planning the winning entry by spending a fortune and bribing the judging panel for his autobiographical A Burns for All Seasons. However, Homer has managed to find his way onto the panel and with the voting finely balanced he's going for Moleman's Man Getting Hit in the Groin by Football.
The menu is a static and boring affair with each episode available for selection either via the chapters or straight access. However, yet again, Fox feel 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" on character Troy McClure. As these themed discs continue to be released we can expect a different character on each disc. However, it is quite poignant to start with Troy as Phil Hartman who supplied the voice of Troy was murdered by his wife in 1998. A great shame as his character was one of the funniest on the show.
Although there are already plenty of themed Simpsons videos available, this is the first of many to find their way onto DVD. While the value for money is a little questionable, especially with the lack of extras and scored menus, it still only works out at a few pounds more than the video version.
The selection is across the many seasons and it gives you the opportunity to see how the characters have progressed in both drawing technique and personality traits. However, other than the 22 short films about Springfield episode they can hardly be classed as being classic Simpsons and only the real fans will be dashing for this disc.
You can really see how the series has gradually gone down hill with the latest of the episodes, Beyond Blunderdome, hardly raising a chuckle. Let's just hope that the later themed collections improve.
- Troy McClure's Finest Moments