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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Comedy > Children > TV > The Simpsons Christmas 2

The Simpsons Christmas 2


Picture: C      Sound: C+     Extras: B     Episodes Overall: A



While the good people over at 20th Century Fox are taking their time and putting in hard work on the season sets of The Simpsons, they’re taking some time out to put out single-disc compilation sets featuring four episodes that share a common theme.  The best part about these sets comes from the fact that they feature episodes from more recent seasons.  And since at the time of this review, only five seasons out of sixteen seasons (with more new seasons to come) have been released, it is nice that fans can get their hands on the more recent episodes without having to wait years for those season sets to be released.  The latest in these compilation discs is The Simpsons Christmas 2, with the common theme of, yup, you guessed it, Christmas.  In a follow up to last year’s The Simpsons Christmas, this set includes season twelve’s “Homer vs. Dignity” and “Skinner’s Sense of Snow,” season fourteen’s “Dude, Where’s My Ranch?” and season fifteen’s aptly named “’Tis the Fifteenth Season.”


Now, here’s where it gets a little odd, though.  Traditionally, Christmas themed episodes of The Simpsons come a few weeks before December 25th to tie in nicely with the holiday season.  “Dude Where’s My Ranch?” did not air until the end of April 2003, making it four months late on celebrating the festivities.  But to add to the oddity of the episode, only the first few minutes of the show actually deal with Christmas, as Homer quests to write a new Christmas song in order to rake in the royalties.  The rest of the episode deals with him escaping his own song and the countless covers/remixes it has inspired by vacationing on a dude ranch with his family.  Therefore, to even think of it as a Christmas episode is a pretty big stretch.  And the oddness continues with the fact that “Homer vs. Dignity” and “Skinner’s Sense of Snow” only mention Christmas for a very few minutes of the episode.  The only true Christmas episode is “’Tis the Fifteenth Season” as it deals fully with Christmas.  Phew!  Confused yet?  I know I am.  While all these episodes are hilarious and well done, it seems odd, when you actually look hard at it, to really think of them belonging together on a Christmas compilation disc.  Oh well, I guess.


The four episodes come on a single-disc in a “Simpsons’” shade of yellow Amaray case.  There is no insert included with the disc.  Unfortunately, unlike the menus on the season sets, the menus for this disc are not animated and are spread thin on variety.  Each episode contains a sub-menu for audio set-up options, and each episode uses the same image for its background.  The only variety in sub-menus comes with the only extra on the disc.  Continuing their tradition, each episode is split into chapters and the entire disc can be watched with the “Play All” option.


The video is presented in its standard television broadcast ratio of 1.33:1.  Alas, the quality of the video here is far less than the wonderfully remastered video included on season sets.  While there are not overall glaringly horrible mistakes, the number of minor mistakes adds up to make for a poor presentation of the episodes.  There are moments of minor dirt and dust.  Occasionally there will be black and/or white spots on the image.  Black lines, while solid and dark for the most part, have some instances where they break up.  In “Homer vs. Dignity,” there was a few moments where there was a haloing effect around Homer and Burns’ eyes.  But perhaps the worst instance of video mistakes came in “Dude Where’s My Ranch?” and “’Tis the Fifteenth Season,” where multiple times, if there were any black lines on a diagonal, or a slant, or a curve, there would be a flickering effect that made it look like rainbows were coming from them.  This is the result of poor NTSC analog encoding and interlacing errors that just shouldn’t happen anymore.  However, not to completely bludgeon and diminish the video, the best thing it has going for itself is the fact that the colors are rich and solid, showing no sides of deterioration or fading.  This comes from the fact that these episodes are more recent and some of them are colored by computer.  This is not quite the same as black and white films and cartoons being colorized, but can have the same problems.


The audio is presented in a variety of way.  “Homer vs. Dignity” and “Skinner’s Sense of Snow” offer English, French, and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo Surround with the option of English or Spanish subtitles.  “Dude Where’s My Ranch?” and “’Tis the Fifteenth Season” offer English and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo Surround with the option of English, French, or Spanish subtitles.  I honestly don’t know why there is a variety amongst the episodes.  Logically, it seems like all four episodes should be presented with the same audio options.  The show uses the center channel for the most part for dialogue and sound effects.  The bad part is that often times it seems like that the sound effects in the center channel are a bit too loud and overshadow dialogue.  The left and right stereo speakers are used well and make good use of music (particularly the opening credits), directional sound effects, and off-screen dialogue.  But this mix is no 5.1 Dolby Digital mix that has been remastered like the one available on the season sets.


The only extra on this set is an animatic for the first act of “’Tis the Fifteenth Season.”  The animatic comes with a Picture In Picture feature that displays the storyboards and final product for the first act in two boxes on the lower right-hand and left-hand corners.  Using the “Angle” button on your DVD remote allows you to rotate the Picture In Picture to have the storyboards as the main video with the final product and animatic in the lower boxes, or to have the final product as the main video with the animatic and the storyboards in the lower boxes.  The animatic is a nice treat for this set, as in previous compilation discs all you got were montages of specific characters on the show.  However, the one problem with the animatic and the Picture In Picture is that with three different things being displayed at once, it becomes hard to concentrate and focus on each one.


Considering that fans know that the video will be remastered and the audio given a 5.1 Dolby Digital mix for the season sets, it seems almost insulting for FOX to give fans such a shoddy product.  While I had mainly good things to say in my The Simpsons Gone Wild (the previous compilation disc) DVD review, I feel like I can no longer endorse these single-disc sets when the time and effort that is put into them doesn’t equal the time and effort put into the season sets.  Don’t get me wrong; I love The Simpsons and I absolutely love the season sets for the show, but these single-disc sets don’t serve the show justice.  I implore Fox (network and studio) to stop making these single-disc sets when they could focus all their time and energy on the quality season sets and getting them to the fans as quickly as possible.



-   Antonio Lopez  - The Simpsons Geek


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