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The Simpsons - The Complete Sixth Season


TITLE: THE SIMPSONS - THE COMPLETE SIXTH SEASON


Info:

DVD Release Date: August 16, 2005 (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)
Color
MSRP: $49.98
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 25
Running Time: 575 minutes
Total Run Time of Special Features: 71 minutes (plus commentaries)
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English, Spanish, and French languages; Parisian French, Castilian Spanish, Czech, and Russian languages on "Who Shot Mr. Burns, Part One;" English and Spanish subtitles; closed-captioned
Special Features: Commentary tracks on every episode; A Confession from Matt Groening; Animatic for "Treehouse of Horror V" with optional illustrated commentary; Animatic and Storyboard for "Lisa's Wedding;" "Springfield's Most Wanted" special; Simpsons plane featurette; Commercials for Church's Chicken and 1-800-COLLECT, deleted scenes with optional commentary; special language feature for "Who Shot Mr. Burns, Part One;" introduction for "Who Shot Mr. Burns, Part One" by James L. Brooks


Introduction:

"Woohoo!" is about the simplest thing I can say. It is time for yet another season of America's favorite yellow family on DVD! 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is ready to unveil The Complete Sixth Season of The Simpsons, and what a great set they are releasing this time! Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Maggie, and the rest of the Springfield clan shine like they never have before in this 4-disc set that contains all 25 unedited episodes, loaded with special features from commentaries, animatics, commercials, and more! As Matt Groening says on this set (and the five that preceded it as well…), this is the greatest season of The Simpsons that has made it to DVD so far! With the characters already having been well established by about season four, we get to see many of the best moments of many of the characters from the show, and it all leads up to the one big moment, the famous "Who Shot Mr. Burns" cliffhanger! Well, maybe it doesn't lead up to that, but we all know that comes at the end of the sixth season, don't we?


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

Come on now, this is The Simpsons! Just about every episode that ISN'T a clip show (well there is one of those in this season unfortunately) is great! The season begins with the episode "Bart of Darkness," where Bart is spending the summer in his bedroom when all of a sudden he discovers that Ned Flanders kills his wife! Does Bart just have an overactive imagination or did Ned really kill Maude? Winona Ryder plays the title character in "Lisa's Rival." The family goes on a vacation that is full of fun, excitement, and murderous robots in "Itchy & Scratchy Land." Dr. Demento and Larry King have voice credits in "Sideshow Bob Roberts," an episode in which Sideshow Bob may become mayor of Springfield on promises to build a Matlock Expressway! No season is complete without a Halloween episode, and this season has "Treehouse of Horror V,” with James Earl Jones as the voice of… Maggie??? Meryl Streep plays Reverend Lovejoy's daughter, Jessica, who may be too bad even for Bart, in "Bart's Girlfriend." Homer gets a reputation as a sexual harasser when he grabs a gummy bear off of the babysitter's backside in "Homer Badman." Ted Danson, Woody Harrelson, Rhea Pearlman, Jon Ratzenberger, and George Wendt all (briefly) get together for a Cheers mini-reunion in "Fear of Flying." Homer joins a super-secret society that I won't even mention because, ehh, it's a secret, in "Homer the Great." Everybody in Springfield is worried that the world is about to end in "Bart's Comet." Talk show host Dick Cavett and football Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas make a guest appearance when Homer goes to clown college in "Homie the Clown." Mel Brooks and Susan Sarandon have brief appearances when Patty and Selma give Homer a loan after he loses money by investing in pumpkins in "Homer vs. Patty & Selma." Jon Lovitz makes a special appearance in "A Star is Burns," a crossover episode where he played his role of Jay Sherman from another Gracie Films show, The Critic. Lisa has to deal with the pain of death when Bleeding Gums Murphy dies in "'Round Springfield." Marge takes a job as a cop in "Springfield Connection." And FINALLY, after all of those episodes, we get to the final episode of the sixth season, the legendary "Who Shot Mr. Burns, Part One" episode! The episode begins with oil being discovered at Springfield Elementary School and Mr. Burns wanting a monopoly on the energy in Springfield, and all goes well for Mr. Burns until all of a sudden, somebody shoots him! Who did it? Well if you don't already know, you won't find out until "Who Shot Mr. Burns, Part Two" is released in The Complete Seventh Season!


Packaging:

The Complete Sixth Season of The Simpsons is inside of… Homer's head! After the ordinary and plain boxes that were used for the first five seasons, Fox has decided to come up with a complete new packaging design that uses the heads of all five main characters from the show. The first thing that you will notice with the set is a transparent plastic cover, and if you are anything like me, this thing will frustrate you more than ANYTHING else with this set. The point of the plastic cover is so that you can place the DVD set on a shelf and be able to read the spine on the set so that you will know what it is. It is great that they included that, but it is very flimsy, is sometimes difficult to put back on the case, and begins to look horrible every time you touch it because it REALLY attracts fingerprints! In the few days that I've had this set, I have (as pathetic as this sounds) used Windex to wipe off my fingerprints because it makes the set look a little less than new. Once you remove the annoying plastic cover, however, things get much better. We finally get to the case in the set… Homer's head. One person on a certain website likened this head to an Altoids can, which is an accurate assessment I suppose. Some have complained that it is difficult to open, but really all that you have to do is put one hand on the front of the set and the other hand on the back of the set and pull at the top and it should open fairly easily. Inside, you'll find Homer's brain, with a crayon lodged in it, but more importantly, you will find a digibook that holds all four discs for the set. This is probably the nicest way that the Simpsons discs have been organized so far. The digibook has a "crime theme" (presumably because this is the season of the first part of the "Who Shot Mr. Burns" cliffhanger), with the cover having Homer's mouth covered with tape that says "The Complete Sixth Season." On the back, we have Maggie inside of a playpen that is turned upside down, almost like a jail cell. On the inside, of course, we have the four "pages” that hold the CDs, and on the back of the front cover, there is a folder that holds the episode booklet. Unfortunately, I did not receive an episode booklet for some reason, so I can only assume that the booklet is as nice as the booklets that were used on the first five seasons, with thorough episode descriptions, guest stars, and special features information. If I'm wrong on this, don't blame me; blame Fox for sending me an incomplete set.

Is this new packaging a good thing or a bad thing? It really depends upon how you feel about it. On one hand, the new packaging looks very nice and is very creative. On the other hand, the old style packaging was also nice and very uniform, and it would be nice to have all 17+ seasons lined up on the shelf, all looking the same. There is a rumor floating around throughout the Internet that the retail packages (not the review copy as I have received) contain an 800 number that you can call to order a traditional style box, as was used in the first five seasons. I have no details such as how much that what this traditional box looks like, how much it will cost (if anything), or even if this rumor is true (though I can only assume that it is), but it sounds like Fox is trying to accommodate fans that prefer creativity as well as fans that prefer the traditional style box. Personally, as much as I like the head, I think I would rather have the traditional box in my DVD collection.

Of course, he discs that are contained inside are much less controversial than the case that is provided. The disc art has the whole crime theme again, and has characters that appear to be in the process of being interrogated. Disc 1 has a picture of Mr. Smithers with a confession in front of him, Disc 2 has Barney making shadow puppets, Disc 3 has Moe performing some magic (or so it appears), and Disc 4 has Homer sweating while it appears that he is taking a polygraph test. Disc 1 contains episodes 1-7, Disc 2 contains 8-14, Disc 3 contains 15-21, and Disc 4 contains 22-25. This breakdown of episodes probably appears a little less even than previous sets that have been release, but bear in mind, Disc 4 contains many of the special features, more than the equivalent of 2 episodes worth of special features as a matter of fact, making the breakdown more like 7/7/7/6.


Menu Design and Navigation:

I have had complaints about the menus on many of the previous sets, simply because they are too involved and thus very slow to load. However, this time, the menus are done absolutely PERFECT! Just as the packaging has the whole "crime" theme, the menus have the same theme. The menus are of the same style that was used in The Complete Fifth Season. However, the crime theme makes them look so much better! On the main menu of all of the discs, the top half of the screen has a police lineup, with (usually) the main character from each episode standing in that lineup. The details are so well done that the characters in the lineup aren't just standing there, but are actually doing things, such as on Disc 1, where Homer uses an axe to chop of part of Sideshow Bob's hair. The characters also do smaller and insignificant things such as blinking and moving their head around. Very nice! On the bottom of the main menu screen (the top and bottom of the screen is cleverly separated by police tape that says "Season One, Disc X" by the way, where X is the disc number), there is a listing of all of the episodes. There are two small buttons next to each episode. The first button will play the episode and the second button will take you to an episode options menu (more on that shortly). At the bottom of the list, there is an option to play all episodes, with or without commentary. In addition, Discs 1, 3, and 4 have an Extras button that will take you to the Extras menu, and the main menu Disc 1 has an envelope that will take you to the "A Confession from Matt Groening" special feature.

The Episode Options menus that are available in this set are just as nicely done as the main menu. When you select the Episode Options for an episode, you get a menu that is designed like the main menu, except this time you get a mug shot of the character from that episode that appeared in the lineup. An even more interesting detail in the mug shot is the prisoner number that they get—the number is the episode production number! Leave it to these sets to get all of the fine details in! The Episode Options menus allow you to play the episode, turn the commentary on, turn on the deleted scenes (where applicable), select the language, go to the scene selection menu, or return to the main menu. And the details don't even end there! While the language selection menu is a little dull (you essentially just, well, select your language and/or subtitles), the scene selection menus are VERY creatively done, with Mr. Burns sitting in his chair watching his security cameras when Mr. Burns is mysteriously shot! On the cameras, you can see about 20 seconds from the beginning of each scene on the "security monitors." You can also select scenes by using the chapters that are placed throughout the episode. There are chapters placed at all of the commercial break points, as well as just after the opening credits and just before the closing credits. In addition, there is another chapter placed approximately four minutes into each episode, I am not sure why that is there as there has never been (to my knowledge) a commercial break there either originally or in syndication. Regardless, it is placed very appropriately at a scene change. The Extras menus are nicely done too, just like the other menus, with Chief Wiggum's desk on top of the screen with a ringing telephone that nobody is answering.


Video and Audio Quality:

This show is always very well done on DVD, and this set is no exception at all. The episodes are uncut, running at 22:30. And if uncut isn't enough for you, the special features give you more than you were ever intended to see even with the deleted scenes.

Video and audio quality is essentially a non-issue on this set. The picture quality is not as sharp as episodes that you may view that are broadcast throughout the nation, but there isn't a single flaw to be noted in the department of audio quality. Well, technically, some absolute purists could probably come up with one bad thing to say about the audio quality, but for the 99% of the rest of us, there is NOTHING to be concerned about at ALL. The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, and while it doesn't make use of all of the capabilities that it is given, it sounds EXACTLY like it is intended to sound, and that is all one should ask for in a TV on DVD release. The episodes all have Spanish and French audio tracks, and these sound excellent, and are just as flawless as the English audio track. And even further, the set has English and Spanish subtitles, as well as closed-captioning, which are great features to have in a DVD set.


Special Features:

The Simpsons NEVER ceases to amaze me with the special features! So many barebones sets are released these days, but The Simpsons sets are always loaded with special features that will keep you entertained for HOURS after watching each episode. First of all, Disc 1 begins with "A Confession from Matt Groening," (1:10) something that has become kind of a regular thing on these sets. Matt Groening basically just talks about the set and the season—and how it is the best season out of all of the ones that have been released so far (he says it on every season, and it is really true every time that he says it).

As great of a person as I'm sure Matt Groening is, he is NOT the spotlight of the special features on the set. What IS the spotlight of the special features are the commentary tracks that are on every episode! This is a Simpsons tradition that began when The Complete First Season was released, and shows no sign of being abandoned anytime soon. This is a great thing to have on just some episodes, but for every episode to have a commentary track is just amazing! The participants in each of the commentaries are as follows:

• "Bart of Darkness": David Mirkin, Greg Daniels, Jim Reardon, David Silverman, David S. Cohen, and Matt Groening
• "Lisa's Rival": Matt Groening, Mark Kirkland, Dan Castellaneta, Yeardley Smith, David Mirkin, and Mike Scully
• "Another Simpsons Clip Show": Matt Groening, David Mirkin, and David Silverman
• "Itchy & Scratchy Land": David Mirkin, Yeardley Smith, Dan Castellaneta, Wes Archer, and Matt Groening
• "Sideshow Bob Roberts": Matt Groening, David Mirkin, Josh Weinstein, and Bill Oakley
• "Treehouse of Horror V": David Cohen, Jim Reardon, Greg Daniels, David Mirkin, and Matt Groening
• "Bart's Girlfriend": David Mirkin, Jonathan Collier, David Silverman, Susie Dietter, Julie Kavner, and Matt Groening
• "Lisa on Ice": David Mirkin, Mike Scully, Bob Anderson, and Matt Groening
• "Homer Badman": Matt Groening, David Mirkin, Greg Daniels, David Silverman, Jeffrey Lynch, and Julie Kavner
• "Grandpa vs. Sexual Inadequacy": Wes Archer, Josh Weinstein, Bill Oakley, and David Mirkin
• "Fear of Flying": David Mirkin, Mark Kirkland, and Matt Groening
• "Homer the Great": David Mirkin, Yeardley Smith, Dan Castellaneta, and Matt Groening
• "And Maggie Makes Three": David Mirkin, Swinton Scott, David Silverman and Matt Groening
• "Bart's Comet": Yeardley Smith, Dan Castellaneta, Bob Anderson, Matt Groening, and David Mirkin
• "Homie the Clown": Matt Groening, Mark Kirkland, David Mirkin, and David Silverman
• "Bart vs. Australia: David Mirkin, Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein, and Wes Archer
• "Homer vs. Patty & Selma": David Silverman, David Mirkin, Mark Kirkland and Matt Groening
• "A Star is Burns": Al Jean, James L. Brooks, Mike Reiss, Jon Lovitz, Dan Castellaneta, Susie Dietter, and Ken Keeler
• "Lisa's Wedding": David Mirkin, James L. Brooks, and Greg Daniels
• "Two Dozen and One Greyhounds": Matt Groening, David Mirkin, Mike Scully, and Bob Anderson
• "The PTA Disbands": Matt Groening, David Silverman, Swinton Scott, and David Mirkin
• "'Round Springfield": Al Jean, Mike Reiss, Joshua Sternin, Jeffrey Ventimilia, and Steven Moore
• "The Springfield Connection": Dan Castellaneta, Yeardley Smith, David Mirkin, John Collier, Matt Groening, and Mark Kirkland
• "Lemon of Troy": Matt Groening, David Mirkin, Greg Daniels, Jim Reardon, David Silverman, and David S. Cohen
• "Who Shot Mr. Burns, Part One": David Mirkin, Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein and Jeffrey Lynch

Now I would just settle for commentaries on every episode in this set, that is a great special feature just by itself. But the DVD producers didn't stop there by any means! There are also deleted scenes throughout the set. Now these aren't "deleted scenes" such as scenes that originally aired on Fox but were removed from syndication, but rather scenes that have never before been aired! The episodes containing these deleted scenes are "Bart of Darkness," "Itchy & Scratchy Land," "Sideshow Bob Roberts," "Treehouse of Horror V," "Homer Badman," "Grandpa vs. Sexual Inadequacy," "Fear of Flying," "Homer the Great," "And Maggie Makes Three," "Bart's Comet," "Homie the Clown," "Bart vs. Australia," "Homer vs. Patty & Selma," "A Star is Burns," "Lisa's Wedding," "Two Dozen and One Greyhounds," "The PTA Disbands," "'Round Springfield," "The Springfield Connection," and "Who Shot Mr. Burns, Part One." That is 20 episodes out of a grand total of 25 episodes that has deleted scenes! Can you ask for more than that? You can view these deleted scenes through the individual episode options menu by turning deleted scenes "on" in that episode (which really doesn't "reinsert" them in the show so to speak, but instead prompts you to hit Enter on your remote when a golden pair of scissors comes up to indicate a deleted scene while you are watching the episode) or by viewing the deleted scenes reel (27:59) on Disc 4. This reel even gives you an option to listen to commentary by David Mirkin as he explains WHY each scene was deleted from the show!

Do you like to see how the show was made? Well, once again, this set brings back the animatics! There aren't as many animatics this time (only two episodes have them), but they are very interesting to see. In case you don't know what an animatic is, here it is in the simplest possible terms—it is a way to view how the show looks in the process of being made. The first animatic is on Disc 1 and is part of the "Treehouse of Horror V" episode. In this animatic (9:25), you can even get optional ILLUSTRATED commentary from Jim Reardon, David Silverman, Matt Groening! The other animatic isn't QUITE as impressive, but nonetheless is still great. It is on Disc 3 on "Lisa's Wedding" episode. With this one (7:14), you can use the Angle button on your DVD remote (bet that is one you don't use too often) to toggle between the animatic and the animated storyboard, which is nice to see, but maybe a LITTLE bit (dare I say it?) boring.

This season contained the well-known episode "Who Shot Mr. Burns, Part One," and this set recognizes the importance of this episode to the series! There is a whole slew of bonus features related to just this one episode. The first is a special introduction by James L. Brooks (0:56). It really isn't that great, and the stuff that it addresses is also in the commentary track, but it is nice to have it regardless. Next, we have a Special Language feature on this episode. Besides the typical English, Spanish, and French, you can watch this episode in four additional languages! These include Parisian French, Castilian Spanish, Czech, and Russian. That is quite impressive! But the fun doesn't end there! Perhaps the greatest gem related to this episode is the Springfield's Most Wanted special (21:12) that Fox aired just before the premiere of the seventh season of the show! This is a special that was hosted by John Walsh (of America's Most Wanted) that tries to track down exactly who it was the shot Mr. Burns. In many parts of the country, this special was even preempted by football coverage, so that means some people may be seeing this for the VERY first time! I found this to be an interesting special, and it has Dennis Franz and others in it as well. All of these features can be found on Disc 4.

Finally, a type of special feature that I tend to enjoy—promotional material! Just like other sets, there are commercials featuring characters from The Simpsons on this set, but no Butterfinger commercials this time! Instead we have two commercials for Church's Chicken, one called Picnic (0:21) and other called "Piggy Bank (0:21), as well as a commercial for 1-800-COLLECT (0:31). I find it interesting that this set has Church's Chicken commercials featuring the family while another recent set had a KFC commercial. The commercials all (surprisingly) looked and sounded great, unlike a Ramada Inn commercial that was of poor quality that was included on a previous set. Additional, there is a Simpsons Plane special feature (1:58). This is promotional video for Western Pacific Airlines for an airplane that they designed with a Simpsons theme. It is kind of interesting, and it even has commentary on it by Matt Groening and David Mirkin. These can also be found on Disc 4.

That is about it for the special features—but could you POSSIBLY need more? I really don't think so, but there are probably even MORE special features available in the set! In the "A Word from Matt Groening" introduction to the set on Disc 1, Matt Groening says that there are some Easter Eggs on the set. Now I have no clue what they are or how to get to them (they make some of the Easter Eggs so hard to find on these sets, I still haven't been able to access many on the previous sets), but I am sure Matt Groening is probably correct in saying that there are some Easter Eggs in the set. One thing is certain though: there are no hidden commentary tracks in this set. In many of the previous sets, there were some episodes that had more than one commentary track, one which could be accessed from the episode menu and the other which required the use of the audio button on the remote. I have checked all 25 episodes, and sorry, there are no bonus commentaries. But then again, if you don't think that it is enough to have 25 episodes that each have exactly one commentary track, then maybe the whole TV on DVD concept is wrong for you.


Final Comments:

Once again, another great set of The Simpsons has been released! There really aren't too many bad that I can say about this set, which considering how many DVD sets have been turning out lately, is a strong compliment for this set. I can't say that I'm overly thrilled with the packaging, but the fact that the powers that be at 20th Century Fox realize that not everybody will be thrilled with it and are willing to provide the old style packaging solves that problem. EVERY fan of The Simpsons MUST own this set, there is no excuse not to own it. Even if you are only a semi-regular viewer of The Simpsons, you'll want this set. Not too many television shows get released with the same dignity that The Simpsons deserves and receives. I honestly can't ask for anything different in future releases, why mess with a good thing? I suppose that maybe they could find some more creative special features to add, but they have already done that for all of the releases so far, and they are much more creative in their selection than I would be. Bottom line (if you haven't already got the point yet)—this set is a must own set for all DVD collectors.


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 5/5
Special Features: 5/5
Menu Navigation/Design: 5/5
Overall: 5/5

-- Reviewed by skees53 on 08/06/2005.

To order the DVD click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0009NZ2VU/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20


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