TITLE: THE SIMPSONS - THE ELEVENTH SEASON
DVD Release Date: October 7, 2008 (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 22
Running Time: 5484 minutes
Runtime of Special Features: appox. 50 minutes
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English, Spanish, and French; English and Spanish subtitles; Closed-Captioned.
Special Features: Commentaries on every episode; Deleted Scenes; In Line With Matt Groening; “The Many Faces of Krusty” featurette; Special Language Feature; “And Then There Were Menus” featurette; Art and Animation; Original Sketches
Move over, Mickey Mouse, because Krustyland is now open for business, and you can find it all in The Simpsons -- The Eleventh Season! This four-disc DVD set, complete with a collectable head of Krusty the Clown, contains all 22 episodes of the 1999-2000 season of the hit TV series. And of course, what would a DVD set of The Simpsons be without a healthy load of special features?
This is the season where the series marches out of the 1990s and into a new millennium, but who would have thought at the time that the series would still be with us as we prepare to march into yet another decade? The series is still able to hold most of the charm that it had 11 years earlier, but manages to develop on that and become a more modern series. So why wait? Join the family (and of course, Krusty) for 22 more fun-filled episodes!
Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:
Homer has a new friend--Mel Gibson--in “Beyond Blunderdome.” In “Brother’s Little Helper,” Bart goes on medication for ADHD (are you surprised?) and starts believing in a wacky conspiracy theory that may just be true. Marc McGwire guest stars. Homer becomes a food critic in “Guess Who’s Coming to Criticize Dinner,” but how will that backfire upon him? That whole Y2K problem destroys everything in “Treehouse of Horror X, in which Lucy Lawless, Dick Clark, and Tom Arnold guest star. Homer creates a new product that looks like a tomato (but has the addictive qualities of tobacco) in “E-I-E-I-(Annoyed Grunt).”
Can Homer bowl a perfect 300? Find out in “Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder.” Garry Marshall and Butch Patrick guest star in “Eight Misbehavin’,” where Apu becomes a father... of octuplets. John Goodman guest stars in “Take My Wife, Sleaze.” A new toy could result in disaster in “Gift of the Magi.” Tim Robbins and (of all people) Gary Coleman guest star. Could Bart and Homer have leprosy? That’s what Lisa wants them to think in “Little Big Mom.” Bart becomes a faith healer in “Faith Off.”
Britney Spears (don’t laugh...) guest stars in “The Mansion Family,” where the Simpsons move into Burns Manor. In “Saddlesore Galactica” Homer and Bart become the owner of a diving horse (which they make into a racehorse). It’s the end of Maude as we know it in “Alone Again, Natura-Diddily,” but Ned feels fine after he finds a new love interest, played by singer Shawn Colvin. Betty White guest voices in “Missionary: Impossible,” where she teachers Homer a lesson about screwing with PBS. Moe gets plastic surgery and gains a brand new life in “Pygmoelian.” In “Bart to the Future,” we get to see what the future holds for Bart and Lisa (and guess which one succeeds?).
In “Days of Wine and D’Oh’ses,” Barney decides to start a new life--a life without alcohol. Will it last? Kid Rock guest stars in “Kill the Alligator and Run,” where the family goes to Florida and kills a legendary alligator. Lisa takes up tap dancing in “Last Tap Dance in Springfield.” Parker Posey guest stars in “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge,” where Otto leaves a little something with the Simpsons--his bride. The season ends with “Behind the Laughter,” a parody of the VH-1 series “Behind the Music.”
The packaging for this season is almost what I’d call award-winning... winning an award for worst packaging of a season set of a show on DVD. Ever.
The outside isn’t bad at all, as we are once again presented with the choice of standard packaging or limited edition head packaging. But now, Fox has made the head packaging the obvious choice, as the head packaging is actually just the face of Krusty the Clown loosely attached to the standard packaging. All you have to do is just peel off a little bit of that gummy glue (you know, the temporary stuff that is used in all sorts of packaging) and Krusty’s plastic face comes off to reveal the standard box, that has a picture of Krusty on a blue background. The packaging isn’t very elaborate on the outside this time at all, but still nice and professional looking. And the packaging has been slimmed down significantly this time, to probably about half the size of some of the earlier seasons. So everything is nice, right?
WRONG. Just wait until you get inside that new and skinny box. There, you’ll find a brochure for Krustyland Theme Park. And, if you are anything like me, you’ll be asking yourself for about five minutes, “where are the DVDs?” Apparently, some genius decided to create a cardboard brochure for Krustyland as the packaging to hold the discs, and decided to cram the discs into cardboard slots that are hidden. In other words, if you unfold this brochure for Krustyland, you will NOT see any discs. If you jam your fingers underneath the cardboard (hopefully you won’t break a nail if you have them), then you can push a disc out from underneath one of these cardboard panels. And hopefully you won’t scratch the discs as you push them out. Sadly, this detracts from the fact that this “brochure” is actually very nice and creative outside of this major flaw.
Each disc (there are four of them) contains one of the main cast members looking into an amusement park mirror that distorts how they look. Disc One has Homer trimming his figure in a mirror, Disc Two has Marge enlarging hers, Disc Three has Bart distorting his image, and Disc Four has Lisa also distorting her image. Disc Two and Disc Three each contain six episodes, while Disc One and Disc Four each contain five episodes.
Of course, what Simpsons set would be complete without a nice episode booklet? This set contains one that is designed to look like the program for a circus, and it once again contains a page for every single episode in the season. The booklet contains complete descriptions, original airdates, guest star listings, and much more information. This is one of the best features of these sets.
Oh, there is one little bonus available in this set for a limited time... an Express Pass ticket (which will get you to the front of the line) for The Simpsons Ride at Universal Studios! It is good for up to four people at either Universal Studios park in the United States. It is good through the end of 2009.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menus are designed the exact same way that they have been for quite some time (since the fifth season or so), where you have a main menu that lists all of the episodes and gives you on option of play (>) or episode special features (+). There is a button that you can select that gives you the special features on the main menu. And of course, the top half of each screen gives you a scene from Krustyland, the theme for this season.
The menus are pretty straightforward, and the episode options menu will give you options of scene selection, languages, deleted scenes, commentaries, and any other episode related special features.
There is one problem with the menus, though. It is hard to see what you have highlighted on the menu before you select it, as they have decided to use this light blue color that is difficult to see on the screen. Other than that, it isn’t a huge problem.
Video and Audio Quality:
Beyond the first three seasons (which we never reviewed on this site, as they predated our DVD reviews), these DVD sets have been great on video and audio quality. It does improve with each season (mostly because the episodes originally looked better as the seasons progressed), but there aren’t any big problems. The audio is presented in Dolby Digital surround sound in English, French, and Spanish. There are also English and Spanish subtitles, as well as closed-captioning.
Fans will notice that this set is called “The Eleventh Season,” and NOT “The Complete Eleventh Season.” Why? I have no clue. My guess is that the word “complete” was just too much to put on the set, as I have yet to see any reports of missing material (if there is anything missing, an observant fan would inform the world). The episodes are very consistent, all running at exactly 22:32, except for “Bart to the Future,” which runs at 22:26.
Of course, this set would not be complete without special features, although they are slightly falling off in this set. Still, they are pretty good to see.
The set, of course, starts with “In Line with Matt Groening” (3:44), where the creator talks about this season of the series. This is always a nice way to start out each set, and nice to see. It is especially nice with this season, because he makes very few commentary appearances this time.
One thing that has not changed with this set is the fact that we actually HAVE commentaries on every episode in this set. Hopefully, this will continue for all of the remaining seasons. As always, we hear a lot of insightful information here and learn everything we’d ever want to know (and much more) about each and every episode.
Beyond Blunderdome - Mike Scully, Ian Maxtone-Graham, George Meyer, Ron Hauge, Matt Selman and Steven Dean Moore
Brother’s Little Helper - Mike Scully, George Meyer, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Matt Selman, Mark Kirkland and Tim Long
Guess Who’s Coming To Criticize Dinner? - Mike Scully, Al Jean, George Meyer, Dan Greaney, Matt Selman and Nancy Kruse
Treehouse Of Horror X - Mike Scully, George Meyer, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Ron Hauge, Donick Cary, Tim Long, Matt Selman and Pete Michels
E-I-E-I (Annoyed Grunt) - Mike Scully, Ian Maxtone-Graham, George Meyer, Matt Selman and Rob Baur
Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder - Mike Scully, Al Jean, George Meyer, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Matt Selman and Mike B. Anderson
Eight Misbehavin’ - Mike Scully, George Meyer, Matt Selman, Julie Thacker, Gary Marshall and Steven Dean Moore
Take My Wife, Sleaze - Mike Scully, George Meyer, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Julie Thacker, Dan Castellaneta and Neil Affleck
Grift Of The Magi - Matt Groening, Mike Scully, George Meyer, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Tom Martin, Matt Selman, Tim Long and Lance Kramer
Little Big Mom - Mike Scully, George Meyer, Matt Selman, Carolyn Omine and Mark Kirkland
Faith Off - Mike Scully, George Meyer, Matt Selman and Nancy Kruse
The Mansion Family - Mike Scully, George Meyer, Ron Hauge, Matt Selman, Tim Long, Michael Polcino, Donick Cary and Pete Michels
Saddlesore Galactica - Matt Groening, Mike Scully, George Meyer, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Tim Long, Matt Selman, Tom Martin and Lance Kramer
Alone Again, Natura-Diddily - Mike Scully, George Meyer, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Matt Selman, Jim Reardon and Mark Kirkland
Missionary: Impossible - Mike Scully, George Meyer, Ron Hauge, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Matt Selman and Steven Dean Moore
Pygmoelian - Mike Scully, George Meyer, Larry Doyle, Matt Selman, Caroline Omine and Mark Kirkland
Bart To The Future - Mike Scully, George Meyer, Dan Greaney and Matt Selman
Days Of Wine And D’oh’ses - Mike Scully, George Meyer, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Dan Castellaneta, Deb Lacusta and Neil Affleck
Kill The Alligator And Run - Mike Scully, George Meyer, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Matt Selman, Julie Thacker, Dan Castellaneta, Diedrich Bader and Steven Dean Moore
Last Tap Dance In Springfield - Mike Scully, George Meyer, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Julie Thacker, Yeardley Smith and Nancy Kruse
It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge - Mike Scully, George Meyer, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Matt Selman, Larry Doyle and Steven Dean Moore
Behind The Laughter - Mike Scully, George Meyer, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Matt Selman, Tim Long and Mark Kirkland
But of course, that isn’t all of the special features. The set has the usual introduction from Matt Groening, “A Line from Matt Groening” (3:18), where the creator of the show himself talks about the tenth season.
There are also deleted scenes (as there often are) for most of the episodes (the only ones that lack deleted scenes are “Lard of the Dance,” “Treehouse of Horror IX,” “Lisa Gets an A,” “Mayored to the Mob,” and “Marge Simpson In: Screaming Yellow Honkers”), and you can also watch these as one big deleted scenes reel on Disc 4, with or without commentary from Al Jean and Mike Reiss (15:47).
If you want to see Bart and Lisa call Moe’s Tavern and ask for Seymour Butts (along with other prank calls), you’ll find some of these on the set (5:28), from several of the seasons... but they are just what you see on the episodes.
The set also includes a few commercials, as they so often have. There are four commercials for CC’s Potato Chips (0:48), five for Butterfinger (1:55), and there is even an old Intel commercial (0:32) where you’ll discover that Homer’s brain has an Intel inside. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as to what that says about Intel.
“Sunday, Cruddy Sunday” has the usual languages special feature, where you can watch the episode in other languages. The choices this time include Czech, Japanese, Portuguese, and Ukranian.
Finally, there are the usual art and animation special features which, I won’t lie, I think it is all getting old by now. However, I think Fox understands that we too are getting tired of them, as the only episodes that feature these animation showcases this time are “Lard of the Dance” and “Homer to the Max.” Original sketches can be found on Disc 4. These are what we have come to expect, and run at seven minutes each.
That isn’t all, though. We have “The Many Faces of Krusty” (7:14), which shows how Krusty the Clown has evolved over the years in his appearance. Actually, it is just clips from the first 11 seasons with no narration or anything like that.
The episode “Beyond Blunderdome” has the usual languages special feature, where you can watch the entire episode in Czech, Portuguese, Italian, or German.
“A Star on Hollywood Boulevard” (2:36) is a brief featurette about when the series got a star on Hollywood Boulevard. There is a brief interview from Matt Groening included in this and it shows the actual presentation of the star.
“Original Sketches” (1:14) isn’t really all that much. Basically, it is just original sketches from the episodes from the season. It is interesting only if you like that kind of thing.
The animatics and storyboards are back--for those that care--on just two episodes. Among these are “Beyond Blunderdome” (7:16) and “The Mansion Family” (6:25). These were interesting at first, to see the behind-the-scene elements, but it eventually gets old.
“And Then There Were Menus” (1:49) is perhaps one of the oddest behind-the-scenes items I’ve EVER seen on a DVD set--it talks about the making of the MENUS for this DVD set. Still, it is interesting to see.
One of the greatest special features would have to be the deleted scenes. Only two episodes do NOT have these this time (“E-I-E-I-(Annoyed Grunt)” and “Behind the Laughter”). You can watch these while viewing the episode, or play them all as one reel on Disc 4 (19:58). You can watch these with or without commentary.
Finally, there is one more special feature that is... a mystery. Supposedly there is a “Did You Know?” featurette for the “Behind the Laughter” episode, but I was unable to find this featurette anywhere in the menus. This is typical of these sets, though, as they always like to hide one special feature.
Well, the packaging alone is a major detractor for this set. It is honestly very nice looking and very creative, but I don’t know how they seriously expect anybody to get the discs out without either destroying the packaging or the discs. It is just totally impractical. It is also a shame to see that special features are slowly fading as the seasons march on with this show. The deleted scenes are great, as are the commentaries on every episode, but beyond that, this set doesn’t really have anything exciting in the special features department.
Don’t let that fool you though. This set is, of course, well above an “average” DVD set, with great episodes and great video and audio quality. Some fans say that the series “dropped off” around this time, but I don’t really buy into that personally. Although the series has, at times, gone into rough patches (and I would say that the last season or so is among those), it always manages to rebound anyway, and even the rough patches have some gems of episodes. It is just a funny series that the whole family can enjoy, which is ironic, as it was considered highly controversial back when the series began in 1989 and is now rather tame compared to most series.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 5/5
Special Features: 4/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
-- Reviewed by skees53 on 10/09/08
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