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FOX

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Various
Cast:
Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer, Tress MacNeille, Pamela Hayden, Marcia Wallace, Russi Taylor
Writing Credits:
Various

Synopsis:
Season 16 of the hit long-running Fox animated comedy.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 484 min.
Price: $59.99
Release Date: 12/3/2013

Bonus:
Disc One
• Audio Commentary for All Episodes
• Introduction from Matt Groening
• Deleted Scenes
• Sketch Gallery
• Bonus Episode: “Lisa’s Wedding”
• Easter Eggs
Disc Two
• Audio Commentary for All Episodes
• Deleted Scenes
• Sketch Gallery
• Special Language Feature
• Bonus Episode: “Bart to the Future”
• “Living in the Moment” Featurette
Disc Three
• Audio Commentary for All Episodes
• Deleted Scenes
• Animation Showcase for “Future-Drama”
• “Live! It’s The Simpsons” Table Read
• “Holidays of Future Passed” Bonus Episode
• Easter Egg


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EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


The Simpsons: The Complete Sixteenth Season [Blu-Ray] (2004)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 11, 2013)

When The Simpsons debuted on DVD in September 2001, the series was about to launch its thirteenth season on the air. 12 years later, the home video releases have caught up – a little. A pace of one per year would have us on Season 13, but we’re all the way up to… Season 16!

Maybe someday they’ll finally catch up, but that probably won’t happen until the series leaves the air – if that ever happens. As always, I’ll look at the shows in their original broadcast order, which is how they show up in the set. The plot capsules come straight from the package’s booklet.

Disc One:

Treehouse of Horror XV (aired 11/7/04): “This year’s Thrillology features ‘The Ned Zone’, in which a knock to the noggin of Ned Flanders enables him to foretell the future – or does it? - ‘Four Beheadings and a Funeral’, where a knife-wielding killer roams Victorian London, and ‘In the Belly of the Boss’, a fantastic journey (okay, voyage) through what can charitably be called the body of Mr. Burns.”

“XV” offers about half of a good episode. It’s starts well, as a funny Kang/Kodos spin on Eighties sitcoms opens the show and then “Ned” delivers a funny take on Steven King. However, “Beheadings” lacks much spark, and “Belly” falls somewhere between the two; it’s better than “Beheadings” but not all that memorable.

All’s Fair in Over War (aired 11/14/04): “This show depicts the havoc that erupts when the Simpsons remodel. Bart becomes enthralled by adult magazines – without the adult part, and remodels his lifestyle accordingly.”

Both sides of “War” work fairly well. Neither of them sizzles, and some elements seem like echoes of episodes past, such as when Bart puffs from a bubble pipe ala Hugh Hefner. Still, they offer decent entertainment and this becomes a fairly amusing show.

Sleeping with the Enemy (aired 11/21/04): “Bart and Lisa encounter two terrors of being a kid: Bart is tormented by a bully, whom Marge invites to live in their house, while Lisa fears she can never be thin enough.”

Season 16 hits a speedbump with the mediocre-at-best “Enemy”. The Lisa parts feel awfully preachy, and the integration of Nelson into the Simpson abode doesn’t offer much humor. Even a potentially funny Streisand spoof flops. A few moments of mirth emerge, but this ends up as a forgettable show.

She Used to Be My Girl (aired 12/5/04: “This episode shows Marge wondering what her life woul have been like had she pursued a career in journalism instead of having a family.”

S16 seems rather Lisa/Marge heavy so far. That’s not a bad thing in and of itself, but it hasn’t paid off with good material yet. It fares better than “Enemy” but not by a lot, so expect a spotty episode.

Fat Man and Little Boy (aired 12/23/04): “When Bart loses his last baby tooth, he suddenly feels old. He pours himself into a new business, making smart-alecky T-shirts for a bizarre, Willy Wonka-ish manufacturer named Goose Gladwell.”

“Fat” starts out fairly well, as the bits about Bart’s fear of aging and his attempts to become a T-shirt mogul provide decent laughs. However, the episode loses steam along the way, especially when it digs into its lackluster Willy Wonka parody. Still, the highs make it the best show in a while.

Midnight RX (aired 1/16/05): “Mr. Burns throws a party for the power plant workers only to announce he is terminating their prescription drug program. Grampa and the seniors realize their only hope for affordable pills is smuggling drugs from Canada.”

“RX” probably seemed pretty topical nine years ago, and maybe the 2013 debate about health care should give it a charge. However, it doesn’t, so the episode seems more dated than usual; most Simpsons programs hold up well over the years, but this one shows its age. A scene with a Canadian Flanders delights, but that’s the only real highlight.

Mommie Beerest (aired 1/30/05): “When the health inspector dies, Moe discovers his successor is not as friendly. To help Moe save his bar, Marge converts it into an English pub, but Homer begins to fear that Marge and Moe are having an ‘emotional affair’.”

Role reversal episodes aren’t anything new, so don’t expect wonders from “Beerest”. That said, it includes a mix of reasonably amusing moments and keeps us with it most of the time. Nothing terrific develops, but there’s a decent level of entertainment.

Disc Two:

Homer and Ned’s Hail Mary Pass (aired 2/6/05): “Homer develops a business encouraging pro athletes to develop creative taunts, while Ned is so outraged by the indecency on TV that he makes a movie of his own.”

The two threads followed here labor to connect, but that’s not a big problem, as the show produces more than enough comedy to make those concerns irrelevant. Homer’s parts work the best, and the guest stars are unusually fun. This becomes one of the year’s best episodes.

Pranksta Rap (aired 2/13/05): “Bart is forbidden by his parents from attending a hip-hop concert, but does anyway. To cover up his lie, he pretends to be kidnapped – and Chief Wiggum takes this as an opportunity to do the best police work of his life.”

Though reminiscent of Season Three’s “Radio Bart”, “Rap” still does fine on its own. It gives Wiggum a good role and uses Milhouse’s dad in an unusual way. All of these elements turn it into a likable show.

There’s Something About Marrying (aired 2/20/05): “An amiable public television journalist finds Springfield to be the most unfriendly town he’s ever met. To restore its tourist business. Springfield legalizes gay marriage and Homer becomes an online minister.”

Like a few other episodes from this year, “Marrying” comes with some dated qualities; while gay marriage is still “news”, it’s not the controversy it was in 2005, so some aspects of the program show their age. Those issues aside, “Marrying” provides pretty good comedy. It moves at a nice pace and turns into one of the season’s better programs.

On a Clear Day I Can’t See My Sister (aired 3/6/05): “When Bart embarrasses Lisa during a school field trip, she decides to get a restraining order against him. Bart at first is skeptical (and Marge watches an instructional video on restraining orders hosted by Gary Busey) but is dismayed at how hard it can be to stay no closer than 20 feet from his sister.”

Plenty of Simpsons episodes seem contrived, but this one goes a little farther than most. Bart shows an abnormally high level of meanness toward Lisa, and the Wal-Mart parody feels forced. We still get some decent laughs, but the whole package seems flawed.

Goo Goo Gai Pan (aired 3/13/05): “Selma learns that she is going through menopause, with the help of a video narrated by Robert Wagner. Realizing she’ll never have a baby of her own, she decides to go to China to adopt a child.”

Only two shows after “Marrying”, it seems awfully soon for another Patty or Selma-based episode. It takes a different path than its predecessor, largely because it feels like an excuse to take the Simpsons to China. This generates occasional amusement but seems too erratic for my liking.

Mobile Homer (aired 3/20/05): “After Homer has a disastrous encounter with spiders in the garage, Marge worries about what they’d do for money after Homer is gone. She becomes very penurious, and an aggravated Homer retaliates by purchasing a mobile home.”

“Mobile” comes with the roots of a good episode, and it occasionally capitalizes on its potential. However, it packs in too many lackluster moments along the way. That leaves it as a spotty show.

The Seven-Beer Snitch (aired 4/3/05): “A Frank Gehry-inspired concert house proves unpopular when the residents of Springfield discover they hate classical music. Mr. Burns buys the hall and repurposes it as a prison. Meanwhile, Lisa discovers her cat has a double life.”

Didn’t we just have an episode in which the town tries to raise money? “Snitch” veers off on different paths, but it’s still a little soon for that theme to arise again. While we get a smattering of good scenes, the episode doesn’t have a lot of life to it.

Disc Three:

Future-Drama (aired 4/17/05): “Professor Frink builds a machine that claims to predict the future. We see a world where Milhouse is muscle-bound, Marge is dating Krusty, and Bart is suddenly bound for Yale.”

What is this, like the 97th time travel episode of The Simpsons? Those tend to be spotty, and that remains true for “Drama”. It’s probably the weakest show in a while.

Don’t Fear the Roofer (aired 5/1/05): “Homer keeps putting off fixing a leaky roof. After being nagged by Marge, he is happy to meet a friendly contractor. As time passes, however, the rest of the family begins to doubt if the contractor really exists.”

I guess that’s a reasonably fresh concept for the show, but it doesn’t tend to go much of anywhere. The subplot at the retirement castle offers more laughs, while the main story fails to take flight. As usual, some laughs occur, but they’re not frequent.

The Heartbroke Kid (aired 5/1/05): “The school assigns its vending machine contract to unhealthy snacks, with the mascots ‘Scammers and Z-Dog’. Bart becomes particularly addicted to the sweets, and unusually for a 10-year-old, has a heart attack.”

Moralizing Simpsons doesn’t tend to be good Simpsons, and that becomes an issue here. We get it: fatty snacks are bad for kids. “Heartbroke” beats that theme into the ground and lacks the humor to make it palatable, though a guest spot from Albert Brooks briefly brings it to life.

A Star Is Torn (aired 5/8/05): “Lisa enters a ‘Li’l Starmaker’ contest, but is dismayed to discover how tough the competition really is. Homer becomes an overprotective stage parent, so abusive that Lisa fires him. Homer goes to work for Lisa’s main competitor, and Lisa wonders just where her heart truly lies.”

Oof – Bart’s joke about a character who sings like “Whitney Houston brought to life” doesn’t look as good in 2013 as it did in 2005. An American Idol spoof doesn’t shine, either, and there’s not much to dig into here. The laughs seem few and far between in this mediocre episode.

Thank God It’s Doomsday (aired 5/8/05): “A film about the rapture convinces Homer the end of the world is near. He draws the rest of Springfield into his beliefs, only to be terribly disappointed when the chosen hour comes and nothing happens.”

With only a few shows left in S16, I keep hoping it’ll rebound, but “Doomsday” doesn’t provide that bounce. The series doesn’t tend to handle religious subjects very well, and that trend mars this show. It doesn’t go anywhere and it lacks many laughs.

Home Away From Homer (aired 5/15/05): “Two sexy young women board at Flanders’ house put their daily, titillating life online, unbeknownst to Ned. When he learns the town was mocking him behind his back, Flanders decides to move.”

While not a great episode, “Home” shows signs of life. How can I dislike a program that mocks NPR, pretentious films and Hummel figures in its first few minutes? The rest doesn’t live up to the opening, but it’s still a pretty good show.

The Father, The Son and The Holy Guest Star (aired 5/15/05): “When Willie releases rats at the school Medieval Festival, Bart is blamed and expelled. He goes to Catholic school where he befriends a cool priest named Father Sean and to Marge’s dismay considers converting.”

S16 finishes with another religion-related episode. That’s not a promising notion, and “Father” does tend toward a lackluster sensibility. It’s funnier than “Doomsday” but still a lackluster finale.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

The Simpsons: The Complete Sixteenth Season appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on these Blu-ray Discs. While not stunning, the episodes consistently looked pretty good.

The only minor concerns connected to sharpness, as wide shots could be a little on the soft side. However, those instances weren’t a big deal, so the majority of the material appeared concise and distinctive. I noticed no issues with shimmering or jagged edges, and the shows lacked any source flaws.

Colors looked positive. They never become brilliant, but they seemed fairly dynamic and rich. Blacks were dark and tight, and shadows showed nice clarity. All in all, the season demonstrated mostly high-quality visuals.

No surprises came with the decent DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio. As usual, the soundscapes tended toward general atmosphere. On occasion, they opened up more, as various episodes’ “action elements” could bring some pizzazz. However, those remained in the minority, so expect information that fleshed out the speakers in a low-key but satisfying manner.

I felt the audio quality was good. Speech appeared natural and concise, with no obvious edginess. Music was peppy and dynamic, while effects seemed accurate and robust. The tracks suited the shows.

Fans will know what to expect in terms of extras, and all 21 episodes provide audio commentaries. These tracks present an ever-changing roster of participants. Though he used to pop up for all the tracks, series creator Matt Groening appears on just six commentaries here: “All’s Fair in Over War”, “Fat Man and Little Boy”, “Homer and Ned’s Hail Mary Pass”, “On a Clear Day I Can’t See My Sister”, “The Seven-Beer Snitch” and “Thank God It’s Doomsday”. Producer/show runner Al Jean and co-executive producer Matt Selman pop up for all 21 commentaries.

As for the other personnel, the tracks feature supervising producer Bill Odenkirk (1, 13, 14), co-executive producers Tim Long (1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 11, 13, 18, 19, 20, 21), Michael Price (2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 14, 17, 19, 21), J. Stewart Burns (6, 10), Dana Gould (9, 12, 16, 17), Kevin Curran (16), Ian Maxtone-Graham (2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 16, 17, 19), Carolyn Omine (17, 20), and Tom Gammill (1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 21), producers Max Pross (1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 21). Mike Reiss (3), and Mike Scully (2, 5), co-producer Matt Warburton (21), supervising director David Silverman (1, 6, 9, 11, 12, 16, 17, 19), directors Raymond S. Persi (1, 13), Mike B. Anderson (2, 3, 9, 15, 16), Lauren MacMullan (3, 15), Nancy Kruse (6), Michael Marcentel (11, 19), Lance Kramer (12, 17), Steven Dean Moore (12, 14, 17), Mark Kirkland (16), and Michael Polcino (21), writers Joel H. Cohen (2, 5, 6, 10, 18, 20), Jon Vitti (3, 15), and Jeff Westbrook (6, 10, 11, 19), and actors Kim Cattrall (4), Hank Azaria (7, 21), Tress MacNeille (7, 21), Dan Castellaneta (8, 14), Nancy Cartwright (9, 16) John DiMaggio (15) and Yeardley Smith (18),

As usual, some of the participants wear multiple hats on the series, and sometimes, they even discuss episodes on which they didn’t work. I picked one job description per person and left at that so I wouldn’t go (more) insane.

16 seasons in, you should know what kind of content to expect here. Across the tracks, we learn about topics such as cast and performances, story inspirations and narrative elements, cultural references, animation, and a mix of connected topics.

Just like you should know what sort of content these tracks will cover, you should also anticipate the quality of the commentaries, as they’ve changed little over the years. At their best, these pieces can be informative, and they’re usually pretty engaging. Occasionally we get stuck with little more than the sound of the participants as they laugh at the episodes’ gags, but they usually manage more than that; even when they don’t give us a lot of hard facts, they tend to keep us entertained.

I like to try to pick a single best commentary from the bunch but couldn’t do so for S16. If pressed, I’d probably go with the “Treehouse” track, if just because it moves the fastest; with three sub-stories to discuss, it goes at a fast pace and comes packed with more info than usual.

Some of the discussions with voice actors in attendance also work nicely. I especially like Nancy Cartwright’s remarks during “Pranksta Rap”, as she includes some interesting notes about her inspirations and performances; I especially like her comments about the differences between Rod Flanders and Ralph Wiggum. Only a couple of tracks seem like relative duds; most of them prove to be pretty worthwhile.

A mix of other supplements spread across all three discs. 16 of this release’s 21 episodes include Deleted Scenes. We fail to find bonus sequences for “She Used to Be My Girl”, “There’s Something About Marrying”, “Goo Goo Gai Pan”, “Mobile Homer”, and “The Father, The Son and The Holy Guest Star”. That’s a higher percentage than usual.

You can check these out via two methods. You can watch them as parts of the appropriate shows or in a separate compilation on Disc Three. That compilation puts all 21 scenes - which last a total of 11 minutes and 45 seconds - in one place. In a nice touch, we get the portion of the show that precedes the cut scene right before it to remind us where the snippet would have appeared. Those bits are black and white while the new material appears in color; that helps us tell which parts were deleted.

In the past, the deleted scenes tended to be short additions to existing scenes. That remains the circumstance here, as we find no truly unique material; we just get little snippets trimmed from shots that did make the final cut. That’s fine, as they’re still fun to see.

If you check out the deleted scenes via the big package on Disc Three, you also can listen to optional commentary from Al Jean; he provides a very short intro as well as a tribute to the late Don Payne. Jean’s prior deleted scenes tracks didn’t tell us much, and that remains the case here. Actually, he covers a little more territory than usual, but he still tends to simply identify the shows in question; he rarely relates why the shots got the boot. The commentary’s painless but not especially informative.

Sketch Galleries show up on Discs One and Two. Disc One’s collection runs two minutes, 14 seconds, while Disc Two’s goes for two minutes, 35 seconds. Both let us see various character designs, and they’re nice glimpses of the art.

Taken from Season Six, we get a bonus episode of The Simpsons. It’s not one of the series’ better shows, but it’s a painless addition to this set.

Every other Simpsons set includes an intro, so this one follows suit. Greetings, Junior Scienteers! runs two minutes, 35 seconds as the series’ creator gives us an overview of what we’ll see. Prior entries were useless, and that continues to be the case here.

Within the Special Language Feature on Disc Two, we get the same kind of multi-language clip we’ve found on prior sets. We can watch all of “Pranksta Rap” in Czech, Hungarian, Portuguese or Italian. It’s a cute option but not terribly useful.

On Disc Two, Living in the Moment provides two components. “The Longest Daycare” goes for 50 seconds and refers to an animated short that originally ran in front of 2012’s Ice Age: Continental Drift. This promo simply tells us how to vote for what Maggie will wear to the Oscars. “Tapped Out” provides ads for the “freemium” game of the same name.

Disc Two finishes with another bonus episode. Here we find Season 11’s “Bart to the Future”. It’s a decent but unexceptional program.

Disc Three gives us an Animation Showcase for “Future-Drama”. This allows us to use the “angle” feature to check out some scenes at different levels of completion, as we can flip between storyboards and animatics. The final product appears in a small box down in the lower right corner. This remains a fun way to inspect the different stages of animation.

Live! It’s The Simpsons goes for 36 minutes and provides a table read for “Thank God It’s Doomsday”. We don’t see video of the event, though; instead, we hear the audio as we view script pages and related material. This would’ve been more fun if we watched the cast at work, but it’s still a cool addition to the set.

Another bonus episode shows up on Disc Three. This time we get “Holidays of Future Passed” from S23. Since that season has yet to appear on home video, it’s a more valuable addition than the other two “bonus episodes”.

As usual, we get Easter Eggs, though they differ from what we found on prior sets. In the past, some episodes would throw in additional deleted scenes, but that’s not the case for S16. Instead, some bonus material pops up in the main menus – just click to the side and you’ll find these easily.

On Disc One, we find a written invitation sent to Groening to entice him to attend the commentary sessions; since he only went to a few of those, apparently it didn’t work. Disc One also shows a few episode-related ads and memorabilia related to S16. Finally, Disc Three gives us a four-minute. 56-second compilation of unused animation created for the menus.

As with all the prior sets, this one comes with a booklet. It features an intro from Groening along with details about all 21 episodes. These present credits as well as info about each show’s special features. This one spotlights Professor Frink and offers design elements that reflect that character.

As The Simpsons progresses, it becomes more and more erratic, so don’t expect consistency from Season 16. Still, it offers reasonable entertainment and occasionally reminds us why we came to love the series in the first place. The Blu-rays presents pretty good visuals, audio and bonus materials. I wouldn’t buy Season 16 if I didn’t already own the series’ strongest years, but active fans should feel happy with the set.

Viewer Film Ratings: 5 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main