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'Simpsons' victorious on DVD

BY MICHAEL PASSMAN
For the Daily
Published January 10, 2006

3D Homer, Radioactive Man: The Movie, Alf Pogs, Hullabalooza, Bonestorm and the Pin Pals.

TV/New Media Reviews
The Simpsons greet Yao Ming. (Courtesy of 20th Century Fox)

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These are just a few of the indelible references the seventh season of "The Simpsons" ingrained into pop-culture history. Widely regarded as one of the crowning achievements or TV's longest-running sitcom, "The Simpsons: The Complete Seventh Season" includes classic shows in a package that rivals any other TV show currently on DVD.

Featuring 25 of Matt Groening and company's finest efforts, the actual episodes alone are reason enough to own this collection. Some of the more enduring episodes include "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" the conclusion to season six's cliffhanger season finale and "Bart Sells His Soul," which finds Bart selling his soul to his friend Millhouse.

Even devoted fans might not realize it, but beyond reducing the audio and video quality of each episode, syndication removes actual content from the original broadcast. In order to fit each episode into a commercial-friendly time slot, executives took creative license to chop up the original broadcasts. To the advantage of fans, the DVD contains only the original episodes and, via commentaries, highlighted instances where material was cut.

Each episode also features a full-length commentary from "Simpsons" creator Groening as well as executive producers, directors, writers, guest stars and voice actors. Unlike the dead-air commentaries on many DVDs, these are informative and entertaining; beyond the usual technical jargon, there's a surprising amount of anecdotes that detail what went into making each show happen.

Due to the infamous "Homer-head" fiasco caused by the cheap plastic packaging of the show's sixth season, Fox decided to release the seventh season in two different forms. The more common set includes a glossy construction-paper casing and plastic sleeves, and it's the better of the two options. The other version is essentially the same as the sixth season Homer head (this time it's Marge); it's nondurable and a sorry excuse for a so-called "collector's edition."

As executive producers Josh Weinstein and Bill Oakley point out in the commentary, the goal of season seven was to bring "The Simpsons" back to the family. But of course, when your family is the Simpsons, returning home is always hilariously complicated.

 

Show: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Special Features: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars


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