The Simpsons – Bart Wars
Sound: C+ Extras: C+ Episodes: B-
While I may not be the carnosaur of knowledge as our
famous Simpson’s Geek critic for this site, The Simpsons hold a special
place in my memory bank as well, which is why I was glad to be able to review Bart Wars. This is a single disc collection of four Simpsons
episodes, which is a bizarre entry considering that Fox has been issuing The
Simpsons as seasons on DVD for quite some time, although they are certainly
taking their good ole’ time about it.
Perhaps, this is a solid sale for someone who doesn’t want to drop half
a fortune on an entire season, but would still like to have a few episodes to
frequently revisit and reminisce.
For me, going back on some of these episodes reminded me
of how much the show gradually shifted over its course in time as these
episodes range from 1992 up to around 1998.
One thing is for certain is that by the time 1992 came around the show
had drastically shifted from what it’s initial conception was either before it
became it’s own show or even season one.
You can find reviews for the seasons on this site as our Simpson’s Geek
can further elaborate on the actual show.
I will not even dare to try to drone on with infinite
knowledge about the show, but my memories of its earlier days were well
sealed. I remember how huge the show
was and very controversial, yet I also remember the barriers the show broke
down as it charted new territory as an animated show that was …a family
show? Was it a family show? Perhaps at first it was almost like an
animated version of Married With Children, but then the show evolved
into a much smarter, tighter, and all the more funnier show as it began to
parody and mock just about everything pop culture and cult culture alike. Let’s face it …the show covered almost
everything. It is no wonder why the
show has remained a hit on some level for so long.
Going back to this particular DVD release, it’s strange
that Fox would issue something like this and the way that it is marketed is
even more bizarre. First as most can
tell the title Bart Wars is a
obvious intention to play with the Star
Wars idea and even the front cover has Bart (Luke Skywalker) in a sword
fight with Homer (Darth Vader) and the back cover has Marge (Obi Won) with Lisa
(Princess Leia) and Maggie (Yoda) on it.
However, none of the episodes actually have this content, although one
episode does feature a little bit of Star War’s intervention in a Sci-Fi convention
with Mark Hamill.
Dog of Death - A very funny episode in which
everyone wants to play the huge jackpot lottery and the Simpson clan is no
exception, however Santa’s Little Helper ends up sick and needs and expensive
operation. They agree to cut back some
of their spending in order for the dog to have the operation, which he gets and
is all better, but the things that everyone gave up to save the dog end up
causing them to have a bit of spite towards Santa’s Little Helper, so he runs
off finding new refuge with Mr. Barns, who (in A Clockwork Orange
fashion) turns the dog against the world as an attack dog. Is the family’s love strong enough to win
back their dog though?
Secret War of Lisa Simpson - Bart and Lisa end up in a military school
together where Lisa is put to the test of her abilities. What she thought would be the perfect place
for her due to the strong disciplinary guidelines ends up causing her more
strife than she thought. Can she be the
next G.I. Jane? Or will Bart save her
from her own torment?
Not Proud - This is one of those more ‘message’ oriented episodes in
which Bart is caught stealing the hottest video game and ends up disappointing
Marge. Marge realizes that Bart is
growing up and can’t keep treating him like a child anymore. There are some really great moments in this
one though that really plays off of society and marketing.
to the Mob - This is a great episode that really tackles that nature
of Homer Simpson the best. He ends up
saving Mark Hamill at a convention, which earns him the new position of
bodyguard and begins taking the role a bit too serious, which has the entire
family in upheaval. Will they settle
for Homer’s new role, or will the family end up needing a bodyguard to keep
them from one of their own?
While these episodes do hold charm, it is doubtful that
many will really want just a sample of fun.
After watching these four you become thirsty for more. There is also one little extra as well,
which is an animated breakdown and storyboard version of Mayored to the Mob, which enables the viewer to better appreciate
the animation process from initial conception to final product. This was pretty cool!
All of the episodes are kept to their original broadcast
TV aspect ratio of 1.33 X 1 and look ok, but certainly not stellar. You can notice a bit of interlacing problems
that occur with this ‘combing’ effect that happens occasionally. You may not notice it depending on what you
are watching it on. A tube television
may not be nearly as bad, but anything that is High Definition, projection, or
even Flat Panel might cause a problem.
I even noticed, and this could be the animation, that colors were often
a bit off. Even during the opening
title sequence you can see parts where the green glowing radiation stick is not
always green, but at times looks yellow.
Also, the car when pulling into the driveway does not stay a consistent
color, which once again this could be the difference between seasons.
I also noticed that the show appears to have a washed out quality
at times that I never remember the show having during broadcast, which could be
a problem in the transfer or perhaps the conversion from that source onto
DVD. Overall, colors seem weak,
softness is abundant, and detail is not very sharp all of which make for a
rather so-so experience. We are able to
have some forgiveness with the understanding that this is animated and also
over 10 years old in certain episodes, but is a restoration possible or some
sort of cleanup?
The sound is also nothing to fly a flag high about as the
shows are presented in a Dolby Surround setting, which is more Stereo in it’s
origins anyway. Since the shows are
mostly dialogue based this is forgiving and the shows never had a huge sound
design to begin with, but there is some minor fidelity issues and even a bit of
distorted sound here and there. While
this is nothing overly detrimental I would suspect it was just a matter of not
have a totally clean source to begin with.
If you can’t wait for all the seasons to come out and/or
don’t feel like dumping a ton of money into the franchise, than this may be a
decent disc to have in your collection.
Serious fans will have it just to have it, but the majority of people
will probably see right through what seems like a marketing scheme to just
throw a few shows onto a disc just to get it out there in time for the release
of Star Wars Episode III. Let’s hope Fox stays away from that trend.
- Nate Goss