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The Simpsons 20 Years – The Complete Twentieth Season (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 21, 2010 by  



“The Simpsons” television series makes its Blu-ray debut! But compared to other Simpsons season box sets that come with a lot of special features, this one is a barebones release.

Images courtesy of © 2009 Twentieth Century Fox.  All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Simpsons 20 Years – The Complete Twentieth Season

DURATION: 456 Minutes (21 episodes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: Episodes 1-9 (1080p upconverted), 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish, Portuguese and French Dolby Digital 5.1, AVC@19MBPS, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, Portuguese, 9 episodes Full Screen (1:33:1), 12 Episodes Widescreen (1:78:1)

COMPANY: 20th Century Fox

RELEASE DATE: January 12, 2010

Created by Matt Groening

Executive Producer: James L. Brooks, Matt Groening and Sam Simon

Directed by Mark Kirkland, Mike B. Anderson, Nancy Kruse, Chris Clements, Matthew Faughnan, Ralph Sosa

Written by MAtt Selman, Ian Maxtone-Graham, John Frink, Tim Long, Michael Price, Daniel Chun, Kevin Curran, Mar Whitmore, Caryolyn Omine, Joel H. Coen

Music by Alf Clausen

Edited by Don Barrozo, Lee Harting, Kurtis Kunsak

Casting by Bonita Pietila

Starring:

Dan Castellaneta as Homer Simpson

Julie Kavner as Marge Simpson

Nancy Cartwright as Bart Simpson

Yeardley Smith as Lisa Simpson

Harry Shearer as Ned Flanders

Hank Azaria as Chief Wiggum

Pamela Hayden as Milhouse Van Houten

A show that has remained culturally significant and hugely popular with audiences for over 20 years, the latest DVD collection features every outrageous episode from the 2008-09 season, including the family’s hilarious trip to Ireland, Homer and Ned’s turn as bounty hunters and Bart trading lives with a multi-millionaire lookalike of himself. The show’s impressive who’s who of guest stars continues with the likes of Denis Leary, Joe Montana, Marv Albert, Mark Cuban, Emily Blunt, Anne Hathaway, Ellen Page, Jodie Foster and Kelsey Grammer, returning for his 11th time as Bart’s nemesis, Sideshow Bob.

“The Simpsons” Season 20 includes a total of 21 hilarious episodes and features “The Twentieth Anniversary Special Sneak Peak” by Academy Award nominee Morgan Spurlock.

“The Simpsons” makes its debut on Blu-ray!  With the 20th Year anniversary of “The Simpsons” completed earlier in Spring 2009 and now on their 21st season, FOX has taken a break from its consecutive DVD release and instead of releasing the 13th Season, to coincide with the 20th Anniversary special shown on television, “The Simpsons 20 Years – The Complete Twentieth Season” is being released Blu-ray and DVD.

Since 1989, “The Simpsons” which was created by Matt Groening and is currently on its 20th Season on FOX. Derived from shorts shown on the The Tracey Ullman Show back in 1987, “The Simpsons” has broadcast over 450 episodes and has amassed 24 Primetime Emmy Awards, 26 Annie awards and a Peabody Award. And also has received the recognition of being America’s longest running sitcom and animated program. Needless to say, the animated series is part of American pop culture and inspired many trends in American culture.

“The Simpsons 20 Years – The Complete Twentieth Season” includes the following episodes on two Blu-ray discs:

Disc One:

  • EPISODE 421 – Sex, Pies and Idiot Scrapes – Homer and Flanders become bounty hunters who catch bail jumpers.  Meanwhile, Marge gets a job at a bakery, but doesn’t know its an erotic bakery.
  • EPISODE 422 – Lost Verizon – Bart wants a cell phone badly and somehow ends up with Dennis Leary’s cell phone.
  • EPISODE 423 – Double, Double, Boy in Trouble – Bart encounters a rich version of himself, Simon Woosterfield and both trade places.
  • EPISODE 424 – Treehouse of Horror XIX – It’s the annual Halloween episode and features a Transformers parody, a killer Homer and a parody of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”.
  • EPISODE 425 – Dangerous Curves – Homer and Marge celebrate their dating years and realize that their past was full of lies.
  • EPISODE 426 – Homer and Lisa Exchange Cross Words – Lisa becomes obsessed with crossword puzzles and enters a competition.
  • EPISODE 427 – Mypods and Boomsticks – Bart has a new friend who is Muslim and Homer thinks his friend and the family are terrorists.
  • EPISODE 428 – The Burns and the Bees – Mr. Burns his building a new stadium where Lisa is taking care of a a bee colony.
  • EPISODE 429 – Lisa the Drama Queen – Lisa and her friend Juliet begin writing stories about a fantasy world.

Disc Two:

  • EPISODE 430 – Take My Life, Please – Homer’s high school rival Vance is being honored for the Springfield Wall of Fame.  Thus making Homer jealous.
  • EPISODE 431 – How The Test Was Won – Somehow Bart gets a perfect score on the standardized test making Lisa wonder if Bart may be smarter than her.
  • EPISODE 432 – No Loan Again, Naturally – The family loses their home because Homer has been taking out home equity loans to pay for parties.
  • EPISODE 433 – Gone Maggie Gone – A parody of the “Da Vinci Code”
  • EPISODE 434 – In The Name of the Grandfather – Homer takes Grampa Simpson to a pub in Ireland.
  • EPISODE 435 – Wedding for Disaster – Homer and Marge’s wedding appears to be invalid and now the two must remarry.
  • EPISODE 436 – Eeny Teeny Maya Moe – Moe finds love on the Internet.
  • EPISODE 437 – The Good, The Sad and The Drugly – Bart and Mihouse’s friendship is tested after Bart falls for a girl named Jenny.
  • EPISODE 438 – Father Knows Worst – Marge discovers a sauna inside their basement and becomes addicted to it.
  • EPISODE 439 – Waverly Hills – Marge comes up with an idea to have Bart and Lisa attend Waverly Hills Elementary.
  • EPISODE 440 – Four Great Women and a Manicure – It’s the Simpson’s anthology show with Queen Elizabeth, Snow White, MacBeth and the Fountainhead.
  • EPISODE 441 – Coming to Homerica – The economy has plummeted and now the citizens of Ogdenville go to Springfield for jobs leading the Mayor of Springville to institute a border patrol.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“The Simpsons” makes its debut on Blu-ray but its important to emphasize that the first nine episodes on Disc 1 are 1080p upconverted and in 1:33:1 standard and although it may look better than what you see on your television, it doesn’t look all that great as a Blu-ray presentation.  The PQ is a bit blurry, there is combing and aliasing and  for the most part, it’s not going to look too great.   But once you switch to disc 2 and that is where you notice a huge difference as the series is now 1080p.  The 12 episodes are now widescreen and colors are vibrant, cleaner and look very good (not perfect as it has its share of aliasing but still much better than what we see from the first disc).

So, you’re going to get inconsistent picture quality on both discs but for fans of “The Simpsons”, the fact the show has gone HD and widescreen is wonderful.

As for audio, the episodes are presented in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish, Portuguese and French Dolby Digital 5.1.  The show is front and center-channel driven and dialogue and music is crystal clear.  Certain sounds really jump out from the front channels (and I never heard “The Simpsons” television series this good before) and there is occasional LFE but this is the best that I have heard the series sound.  It would have been great if it utilized the surround channels but for an animated television series, it’s a pretty good lossless soundtrack.  Not too immersive but “The Simpsons” fans should be happy with the shows entry to Blu-ray.

Subtitles are in English SDH, Spanish and Portuguese.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Simpsons 20 Years – The Complete Twentieth Season” comes with a four minute special feature titled “The Twentieth Anniversary Special Sneak Peak by Morgan Spurlock”.   The Twentieth Anniversary Special shown on television is not included on this Blu-ray release nor are the usual commentary tracks, storyboards or extra features typically seen in Simpsons releases.

I have to say that when I first heard that “The Simpsons 20 Years – The Complete Twentieth Season” would be released on Blu-ray, you can’t help but be excited.  Especially if you grew up along with the series.

But I have to admit that I was a bit surprised with this Blu-ray release because every release that we had of “The Simpsons” has been loaded with special features.  Tons of audio commentary, fun menus, deleted scenes, commercials, storyboards and featurettes.  For some reason, this latest box set for Blu-ray (and DVD) are devoid of special features.  Yes, there is a promo for the Morgan Spurlock Fox special but it’s barely four minutes long and the special is not even included in the release.  So, this was a bummer for this release.

As for the Blu-ray, as mentioned with the picture quality, the video is going to be inconsistent from disc 1 to disc 2 because they were presented differently but the fact that they made the shift to HD is great and the fact that the final 12 episodes look so vibrant with its colors will definitely make the Blu-ray fans of “The Simpsons” happy.  While hardcore Blu-ray fans will be a bit upset because of the PQ differences.  But the HD presentation of those episodes and to hear the lossless audio, definitely brings this new added depth to the series.

For over 21-years even since “The Tracy Ullman Show”, I’ve found “The Simpsons” to still be entertaining, witty, fun and just enjoyable.  I know that there are fans who have had issues with the quality of the show but for me, I’m still watching it and as long as each episode remains fresh and still manages to be fun and entertaining, I’ve been cool with it.  I do feel that the series now in HD and also being available on Blu-ray is definitely a positive step forward and knock on wood, the next Blu-ray release comes with plenty of special features, all in 1080p and a more immersive soundtrack.

Overall, if you are a hardcore fan of the series, “The Simpsons 20 Years – The Complete Twentieth Season” is worth picking up!

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