DVD Release Date: December 21, 2004 (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment)
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 22
Running Time: 506 minutes
Total Run Time of Special Features: approx. 40 minutes
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English,
Spanish, and French
Audio; English and Spanish Subtitles; Closed Captioned
Special Features: A Word From Matt Groening, Audio
Commentaries (on every episode), Deleted Scenes (on
most episodes), Animatic Showcase, A Look Back with
James L. Brooks, Audio Outtake ("Deep Space Homer"
episode), Special Language Feature ("Sweet Seymour
Skinner's Baadasssss Song" episode), Featurette
("Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadasssss Song" episode)
Bart, Lisa, Homer, Marge, and the rest of the
residents of Springfield (don't ask which state) is
back, for a fifth season on DVD! And once again,
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment has put
together a set that no fan can resist, complete with
deleted scenes, outtakes, audio commentaries (for all
22 episodes!), and more!
There is no need to introduce the show. After all,
everybody (well, at least everybody that cares) knows
everything that they need to know about The Simpsons.
However, just like every fan was saying when the
2nd, 3rd, and 4th seasons were being released, it can
be said yet again that the 5th season is the greatest
season to be released, at least until the 6th season
is released. Some of the great episodes featured in
the fifth season include "Homer's Barbershop Quartet,"
"Homer Goes to College," "Boy-Scoutz 'n the Hood,"
"Springfield" (this is the episode with Marge's
gambling problem), "Deep Space Homer," and "Lady
Bouvier's Lover." Of course, there are many great
episodes in this set, but those are just some of my
favorites. The guest voice list for the fifth season
isn't quite as large as it is for other seasons, but
some of the guests include George Harrison, The
Ramones, James Brown, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert
Goulet, Buzz Aldrin, and James Taylor.
Fox has yet again placed this set in packaging similar
to the past releases. And really, that is a good
thing. For those that are in the process collecting
every season of The Simpsons that is released, it will
be nice to have a complete set someday that is in
similar packaging. The Simpsons sets always have a box
with a digipak with five separate panels that hold the
discs and episode booklet. The only thing that changes
each season is the color of the box, and for the fifth
season, the color of the box is red. As always, one of
the panels of the digipak has a special note from Matt
Groening talking about the season in general.
The episodes are spanned across four discs for the
fifth season. Discs One and Four contain five episodes
each and Discs Two and Three contain six episodes
each. Disc One. All episode specific special features
such as commentaries and animatics) are found on the
disc that the specific episode is located. All other
special features are found on Discs One and Four; more
details are provided a bit later in this review. Just
like the other seasons, a very highly detailed episode
booklet is included, complete with synopses, writers,
directors, guest stars, and numbers for chapter stops,
original airdates, run time, and special features
available for the particular episode.
Even the names of the people doing the audio
commentaries for each individual episode are included.
In general, the menus seem to get a little better with
each season that is released, but then again, every
time that one thing is improved, something else gets a
little bit worse. For this season, there are scenes
that show up on the main menu screen (a different one
on each disc), but what happens in the scene is
completely random. You never know what will happen,
and it changes every time you play the disc. This is
an improvement from the time-consuming animated
transitions that were included on the fourth season,
and these are actually more interesting to watch. The
main menu has all of the episodes, an option to Play
All episodes (with or without commentary), and an
option to go to the Extras menu. There is one problem
with the episode selection, however. Each episode has
two dots next to it to choose from once you have
figured out which episode you want to watch. But how
are you supposed to know which dot to select? There
are no headings for the dots! If you select the first
dot, it plays the episode. If you select the second
dot, it takes you to the special features menu for
that particular episode, where you can choose
languages, whether or not you want to watch with
commentaries, go to a scene selection menu, or go to
the other special features available for the episode.
Surely, you get used to it once you figure it out, but
would it have really hurt to explain what the
different dots are for?
The video quality and audio quality are basically
fine. If you can find a legitimate gripe here, then
perhaps you have a little too much time on your hands.
Obviously, nothing is ever perfect, and there will
always be a few quirks here and there (like jumping in
the animation), but for the sake of this set, it can
be said that everything is pretty good. The audio is
presented, just as in the past releases, in Dolby
Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, and is very loud and
clear. I honestly can not find any flaws in the audio
this time. Each episode runs an average of about 23
minutes, but before you start panicking, this is about
normal for a show from the mid-90s.
The special features are always great on every set of
The Simpsons! There is one problem though--the same
types of special features are being repeated for each
and every set. It would be foolish for me to say that
I have a better suggestion for future sets, but it
would be nice to see some different special features
once in a while. But regardless, the special features
were still pretty good.
To start off, every single episode has audio
commentaries. The audio commentaries include a wide
range of people, and it would not be practical to list
each and every single one here, but these people
include producers, directors, and writers of the show.
Matt Groening, by the way, can be heard on almost all
of these commentaries. Once again, the voice actors
are almost invisible in the commentaries, although Dan
Castellaneta and Yeardley Smith are included in two of
the commentaries. They seem to almost be running out
of things to say by the fifth season, but it is still
great to have these commentaries on each episode. One
thing to note is that unlike seasons 3 and 4, this set
does not, at least as far as I can tell, have any
Easter egg "bonus commentary" tracks for episodes.
That is okay though, usually the bonus commentaries
were about the same as the regular commentaries.
However, there is one great (though it can not be
described as "new," it can be described as "enhanced")
thing on this set, and that is the deleted scenes!
More than half of the episodes in this set (a total of
fourteen!) include scenes that were deleted from the
show, scenes which never aired in the history of the
show. It looks as if an effort to include as many as
possible was made this time. Some of the scenes have
no audio and others have audio that was dubbed in by
voices other than the actual voice actors,
specifically for the DVD set. The scenes have to be
turned on from the options menu for specific episodes,
or you can watch all of the deleted scenes together on
Disc Four in a 22 minute reel of just deleted scenes!
Also, if you use the audio button on the deleted
scenes reel on Disc Four, you can even find an audio
commentary by Al Jean discussing the deleted scenes,
and why each one was deleted.
More animation showcases and animatics are provided
for select episodes on this set. Basically, these are
just "behind the animation" showcases for individual
episodes that show the processes that were used to
make certain episodes. They are somewhat interesting
to watch the first time around, but you pretty much
get the idea after one time, and they are not quite as
exciting after that. Or maybe it is just me; you can
be the judge of that. However, there are illustrated
commentaries on two of the animatics, which are very
interesting to watch. These include commentary teams
(similar to those found on the actual episodes) giving
commentaries for the animatics, as well as drawing
pictures on the screen to point out specific
interesting things. There is also a slightly less
interesting special feature of original sketches on
two of the episodes. Basically, these are just
sketches of various scenes drawn by the animators.
The "Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadasssss Song" episode
(the 100th episode of the series) contains an option
where you can watch the episode in several different
languages. This is always interesting to watch,
because even though a languages feature has been
offered in every season set so far, the languages
change in each and every season. Besides the obvious
Spanish and French, you can watch this episode in
Italian, Polish, Czechoslovakian, or Hungarian.
There are commercials on this set (about 2 minutes
worth), just as there have always been on other sets.
There are two Butterfingers commercials, one T.G.I.
Friday's commercial, a Ramada Inn commercial, and a
THX trailer. These are always worth looking at, if for
nothing else, due to the fact that they are old
commercials. After all, doesn't everybody like
watching commercials from the past?
Disc One contains a two minute introduction by Matt
Groening, that is very similar to the introduction
that he gives on the panel of the digipak. Also, Disc
Four contains a special "A Look Back with James L.
Brooks" featurette that runs about four minutes, where
James L. Brooks discusses the fifth season as well as
the show in general.
Now for the special features that I couldn't find! The
episode booklet says that there is a featurette on the
"Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadasssss Song" episode...
but I could not find a featurette! Also, there is
supposed to be an audio outtake on the "Deep Space
Homer" episode. I spent a half hour looking, hoping
that I would find them, punching in random numbers on
my remote control, and never found any featurete!
Maybe these are hidden Easter eggs? Or maybe they were
right there in front of my face on the menu screen and
I somehow overlooked them? I don't know I'll leave it
up to you to find them.
So, simply put, this is a great set for each and every
fan of The Simpsons, even a casual fan of The
Simpsons. There is no need for me to hype it up; I
think the set speaks for itself. Hopefully, the
remainder of the series will be released at a
reasonable pace, and will include the special features
included in all of the sets that have been released so
far as well as some new and more creative special
features. So, why bother with a fancy closing? Buy
this set: I can assure you that you won't regret it!
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):
Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 5/5
Special Features: 4.8/5
Menu Navigation/Design: 4/5
-- Reviewed by skees53 on 12/18/2004.
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