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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Comedy > Children > TV > Simpsons - Season Four

The Simpsons: Season 4


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: A-     Episodes: A+



The Simpsons seasonal DVD sets are making their way slowly but surely out to the thousands of fans who can’t wait to get their grubby, little hands on them.  The only reason for the slow turnout is because the same people working on the show are the same people working on the DVD and, of course, the show takes precedent.  But when they do such an amazing job as they do with their DVD releases, it’s hard to fault them for taking their time to release something spectacular.


The Season 4 set sees a lot of changes, both good and bad.  On the plus side, you get some pretty snazzy and kick-ass menus that are more animated than the earlier sets.  The menus are similar to those of Futurama in which you’ll get random animations simply by viewing the menu.  The major problem with these improved menus is that they eventually get repetitive and annoying.  Every time you make a selection on the menu, an animation happens that seriously starts to slow down the time it takes to start viewing the episode.  Sure, it’s cute and funny to begin with, but eventually it becomes tiresome.  The set still comes in the standard 4-Disc Digi-Pak, but this time it comes in a sharp-looking metallic blue color.  The booklet that comes with the set comes chock full of info as well.  It provides episode information as well as a legend to all the supplements that can be found on each disc.


The video is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio of 1:33 to 1.  Unfortunately, the video quality for this release really shows its age.  Coming from a time when the show was still colored in and done by hand, there is a considerable amount of fading as opposed to the newer episodes that are colored in by computer.  As well, there is still some dust and grain that are visible in some places.  Also, the black lines aren’t as thick and dark as they should be, and occasionally get broken up.  On the plus side, though, is that there is little to zero problems with interlacing errors that has plagued other shows like Family Guy and Futurama.


The Simpsons DVD sets continue to be one of the few shows that include Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and it’s nice to see the tradition keeps on going with this set.  But it’s not just English in 5.1, it’s French and Spanish too!  Huzzah!  The majority of the time the surround sound isn’t that important as most of the dialogue comes through the center channel, but it’s still nice to have, especially during the opening title song and when there are directional sound effects.  Also available are English and Spanish subtitles, but then how come no French?


There are extras a plenty on this set just as there have been on the previous ones.  One of the trademarks of The Simpsons season sets is that every episode comes with a commentary track from the show’s producers, writers, and directors.  This is one of the reasons the sets take forever to complete since it’s so hard to congregate all the people.  But damn if it isn’t worth it!  The commentaries are insightful and hilarious and well worth a listen.  While it would be nice to get some of the voice actors to do commentary as well, this set provides a rare treat in giving fans great commentaries from Jon Lovitz and Conan O’Brien.


There’s a featurette entitled “Bush vs. Simpson,” which goes into detail over how ex-President George Bush said families need to be more like The Waltons and less like the Simpsons, and the show’s response to the President.  It’s a very interesting look at something that was way overblown, but it’s genuinely interesting as well.  The only problem is that this should have been included on the third season set to correspond with “Stark Raving Dad,” the episode that spoke back at Bush.


Other extras include “A Word from Matt Groening” (the show’s creator) who introduces the fourth season, “The Cajun Controversy” which chronicles the controversy surrounding a song in “A Streetcar Named Marge,” art and animatics for three episodes, a foreign language feature for “Kamp Krusty,” deleted scenes for two episodes, commercials, and a featurette that gives info on the characters, the show, and some of the storylines.  All are excellent and give the average viewer a greater depth into the history of the show.


Many people agree that the fourth season is where the show really took off and cemented its place into television history.  Several of what are considered “the greatest episodes” comes from this season, including “Last Exit to Springfield,” which Entertainment Weekly voted the #1 episode of the series.  The great thing about the show is that it has stood the test of time even with the show still in production.  With the show having completed fifteen seasons, with at least two more seasons and a movie on the way, it may take forever to get the entire show released on DVD.  But with the quality and quantity that you get with each set, this happy fan will sit back and relax for months, knowing that greatness is on its way.



-   Antonio Lopez: The Simpsons Geek


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