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The Simpsons - The Complete Seventh Season


TITLE: THE SIMPSONS - THE COMPLETE SEVENTH SEASON


Info:

DVD Release Date: December 13, 2005 (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)
Color
MSRP: $49.98
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 25
Running Time: 571 minutes
Total Run Time of Special Features: approx. 70 minutes (plus commentaries)
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English, Spanish, and French languages; English and Spanish subtitles on a few episodes; closed-captioned Special Features: Commentary tracks on every episode; Deleted scenes on 20 episodes; Animation Showcase for "Home Sweet Home-Diddly-Dum-Doodily" and "Raging Abe Simpson and His Grumbling Grandson in The Curse of the Flying Hellfish;" Illustrated Commentary for scenes from "The Day the Violence Died" and "Summer of 4 Ft. 2;" Languages feature for "22 Short Films About Springfield;" "An Invitation from Matt Groening" introduction to the set; "Homer in the Third Dimension" featurette; Recipe for Paul and Linda McCartney's lentil soup; Original sketches


Introduction:

D'oh! It's time to get the Complete Seventh Season of The Simpsons, one of the greatest shows of all time, on DVD! Available in two different packaging styles (Marge's head or standard packaging), you can get all of the great episodes of yet another great season of the show. You can find out who shot Mr. Burns, why Lisa became a vegetarian, who Homer's mother is, what Evergreen Terrace is like with a former president living in the neighborhood, and much, MUCH, more in 25 great episodes! And once again, the set is loaded with special features to keep you occupied for hours!


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

There are always tons of great episodes in each season of The Simpsons—and naturally, this season is no exception! Just about every single episode is great in its own way.

Disc 1 on this set begins with "Who Shot Mr. Burns?, Part Two," which is the second part to the mystery that was presented in the sixth season. Try to solve the mystery—do YOU know who shot him? The only way to find out (assuming you don't already know, and if you don't know, then you don't know ANYTHING about The Simpsons) is to watch! Mickey Rooney has a guest voice role in "Radioactive Man," where Bart and Milhouse compete to become Fallout Boy in a movie based upon their favorite comic book character. Homer and Marge are found to be unfit parents, and Ned and Maude Flanders become the foster parents for the kids in "Home Sweet Home-Diddly-Dum-Doodily." Milhouse takes the one thing that means EVERYTHING to Bart in "Bart Sells His Soul." Paul and Linda McCartney (playing themselves) give Lisa support when she becomes a vegetarian in "Lisa the Vegetarian." The annual tradition of the Treehouse of Horror episodes continues this season in "Treehouse of Horror VI."

Disc 2 starts with "King-Size Homer," where Homer decides that his key to happiness in life is to become morbidly obese so that he can work at home. Glenn Close makes her first appearance as Homer's mother in "Mother Simpson." Also look for Harry Morgan in this episode, playing a role that is almost identical to his role on the television series "Dragnet." Kelsey Grammer reprises his role as Sideshow Bob, and once again has the goal to murder Bart in "Sideshow Bob's Last Gleaming." In the (mostly clip show) episode "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular," you can see clips from the very old shorts from "The Tracy Ullman Show," as well as alternate endings to the episode "Who Shot Mr. Burns?, Part Two." Springfield's newest resident is… well… former President George Bush when he buys a house across from the Simpsons and doesn't quite get along with Bart and Homer in "Two Bad Neighbors."

Over to Disc 3, Marge tries to get the family involved in high society and country clubs after she buys a discounted Chanel suit in "Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield." Bob Newhart has a voice role in "Bart the Fink," in which Bart accidentally gets Krusty the Clown in trouble for tax evasion. When Smithers takes a much needed vacation, Homer must become Mr. Burns' personal slave in "Homer the Smithers." Kirk Douglas, Alex Rocco, and Suzanne Somers have voice roles when Bart and Lisa accidentally cause Itchy and Scratchy to be cancelled, and must find a way to get it back on the air in "The Day the Violence Died." Selma's latest husband is Troy McClure, who has only married her to put the spotlight back onto his faded career in "A Fish Called Selma." Bart, Milhouse, Nelson, and Martin decide to get a rental car with Bart's fake ID that he obtained from the DMV and attend Knoxville's 1982 World's Fair—in 1996—only to encounter other disasters besides the fact that the sun sphere is now the wig sphere in "Bart on the Road."

Finally, on Disc 4, "22 Short Films About Springfield" gives viewers a view of what life is like for the other residents of Springfield (as well as Lisa's misfortune of getting gum stuck in her hair). Springfield has decided to outlaw illegal immigrans, and the Simpsons are determined to save their friend Apu in "Much Apu About Nothing." The Smashing Pumpkins, Cypress Hill, Sonic Youth, and Peter Frampton all have voice roles in "Homerpalooza,' where Homer becomes part of the freak show. Finally, the season concludes with "The Summer of 4 Ft. 2," where the Simpsons rent a summer cottage and Lisa is set out to make new friends that don't know of her nerdy ways—but will a jealous Bart make sure that they find out?


Packaging:

There seemed to be quite a few fans that were unhappy with the Homer's head packaging that was used for The Complete Sixth Season, and this time, Fox has made things even more confusing for fans. They have realized that many people would like a standard packaging that fits nicely on our bookcase, but at the same time, they have realized that many people think the heads are great and want to collect all of them. The problem is, the biggest fans of the show are going to want BOTH, and the only way you are going to get both is to buy both. At the price that is being charged for this set, that is probably not a great idea. So basically, you'll probably just have to pick one and be happy with that.

The set that I obtained for this review had the standard packaging. A lot of fans have had thought that this would be exactly like the digipak packaging used for the first five seasons, but it is NOT the same, although the outer box is of a similar style. The outer box has somebody (Marge? I'm not sure, there is a little confusion in how the box is designed) holding a camera, though in the camera "viewfinder" (which is an open window on the box), you can clearly see Marge's eye. The outer box is in an overall dark purple color scheme. This outer box is about as sturdy as the older boxes the digipaks. Once you get inside, however, you'll notice something that LOOKS like a digipak, but isn't exactly a digipak. Instead, it is a three panel piece of cardboard that holds the discs in a digibook fashion in the interior center panel. The background of the interior shows a movie audience, that has many of Springfield's residents. On the far right panel of the interior, there is a "popcorn box" that holds the episode booklet for the set.

Presumably, the head packaging is very similar to the head packaging that was used for Homer's head in the sixth season, with the plastic shell of Marge's head on the outside and a similar "digibook" inside. Supposedly, this is a "limited edition" head box, so this may not (or maybe it will, limited edition doesn't exactly mean a whole lot sometimes) be available forever.

Both sets include a booklet, and I would assume they are the same regardless of which set you get. And I have to say, the booklet that is included this time is one of the greatest of all of the sets that have been released so far! The booklet is supposed to be a spoof of Variety, only it is called "Vanity" instead. It is a 32 page mini-booklet (yes, 32 pages!) that has a page for every single episode in the set! Each episode title is designed to look like a headline on a given page, and some pages even have pictures that look like actual columnist pictures of the main character in the particular episode. In addition to a thorough episode description, you can also find the original airdate, the guest stars, special features related to the episode, scene selection points, and a picture from the episode—very complete! I've never seen such a good episode booklet for ANY show.

The episode breakdown is as follows: episodes 1-6 on Disc 1, 7-13 on Disc 2, 14-20 on Disc 3, and 21-25 on Disc 4.


Menu Design and Navigation:

The menus have become somewhat standardized since the fifth season, and that is a positive thing. The menus are all done with a "movie" theme this time, which is even nicer to see. Basically, when the main menu comes up, all of the episode titles are listed on the screen, with two buttons for each episode (|>) and (+). If you select the (|>) button, the episode will begin playing, and the (+) will bring up the episode options menu (which I'll explain a bit later). The menus generally have one character from each episode on that disc on the top half of the menu, waving as if they are on the red carpet going to an awards ceremony. There is also a "movie ticket" on the main menu labeled "Extras," which of course takes you to the Extras menu. If you have the time, you can select Play All Episodes, with or without commentary, from the menu menu.

The episode menus all have a short scene from the episode playing on the top of the screen, on a movie screen with a few people actually "seeing" the movie (you can't actually see them, but you can see their shadows). On the menu, the options include Play Episode, Commentary On/Off, Deleted Scenes On/Off (where applicable), Language Selection, and Scene Selection. Language Selection once again has the top half of the screen inside of a movie theater, where the movie goers are watching advertisements (in various languages) while you select the language (subtitles can not be turned on through this menu on the few episodes that actually have them). Scene Selection has a series of television monitors with scenes from 6 different points on each episode playing. Mr. Burns sits there and watches the monitors while you select, just as he does at the nuclear power plant. Scenes are placed at all of the appropriate places (after the opening credits, before the closing credits, and at all commercial break points) in each episode.

Finally, the Extras menu… the options on it obviously vary with each disc, but each one has on top, the teenager with the pimples (who has no official name) working at the concession stand at the movie theaters on the top of the screen, and he encourages you to hurry up if you don't select a scene fast enough. I just love the touches like this that are included on the menus!


Video and Audio Quality:

Just to start with the basics, every episode on this set runs at 22:50, so they are all unedited episodes. Thus, there is no reason to worry about this. And once again, there are deleted scenes from almost every episode (scenes that never actually aired) included in the set (though not physically inserted back into the episodes).

Now for the actual video and audio.quality… it is basically fine. The video isn't incredibly sharp, and the audio level can be a bit low if you are watching this one a television that does not have great audio capabilities. Generally, though, it is nothing to be concerned with. The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. As far as audio, you can watch every episode in English, Spanish, or French, and additionally the episodes are closed-captioned for the hearing impaired. However, there is one thing that I can't quite understand about this set, and that is the subtitles. The other seasons included English and Spanish subtitles for every episode. This set, though the outer packaging claims that it has those for every episode, seems to be missing them for MOST episodes. There are no menus anywhere on the set (at least none that I can find) to turn subtitles off and on, and only on certain episodes does the Subtitle button on the DVD player remote do anything. Very strange, although it really is only going to make a difference if a Spanish speaking hearing-impaired person needs to see the Spanish subtitles.


Special Features:

Most TV shows on DVD have no commentary tracks. Some have 1 or 2. Others have more. The Simpsons sets, however, don't play by that model. They just have commentary on EVERY SINGLE EPISODE, with no exceptions. It is amazing that this tradition is still holding up in the 7th season. Hopefully it'll be this way for all future releases as well. The commentaries are still interesting, with stories that you often hear for the first time only on the commentaries. The commentators for each episode are as follows:

• "Who Shot Mr. Burns?, Part Two:" Matt Groening, David Mirkin, Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein, Wes Archer, David Silverman
• "Radioactive Man:" Matt Groening, David Mirkin, Susie Dietter, David Silverman
• "Home Sweet Home-Diddly-Dum-Doodily:" Matt Groening, Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein, John Vitti, Susie Dietter
• "Bart Sells His Soul:" Matt Groening, Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein, Craig Daniels, Wesley Archer, David Silverman
• "Lisa the Vegetarian:" Matt Groening, David Mirkin, David S. Cohen, Mark Kirkland
• "Treehouse of Horror VI:" Matt Groening, Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein, David S. Cohen, Bob Anderson, David Silverman
• "King-Size Homer:" Matt Groening, Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein, Dan Greaney, Jim Reardon, David Silverman
• "Mother Simpson:" Matt Groening, Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein, Richard Appel, David Silverman
• "Sideshow Bob's Last Gleaming:" Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein, Dominic Polcino
• "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular:" Matt Groening, Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein, Jon Vitti, George Meyer
• "Marge Be Not Proud:" Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein, Mike Scully, Steven Dean Moore, David Silverman
• "Team Homer:" Matt Groening, David Mirkin, Mike Scully, Mark Kirkland
• "Two Bad Neighbors:" Matt Groening, Bill Oakley, Josh Weinsten, Ken Keeler, Wes Archer
• "Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield:" Matt Groening, Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein, Susie Dietter
• "Bart the Fink:" Matt Groening, Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein, David S. Cohen, Jim Reardon, David Silverman
• "Lisa the Iconoclast:" Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein, Jonathan Collier, Yeardley Smith, Mike Anderson, David Silverman
• "Homer the Smithers:" Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein, Steven Dean Moore
• "The Day the Violence Died:" Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein
• "A Fish Called Selma:" Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein, Jeff Goldblum, David Silverman
• "Bart on the Road:" Matt Groening, Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein, Richard Appel, David Silverman
• "22 Short Films About Springfield:" Matt Groening, Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein, Richard Appel, David S. Cohen, Rachel Pulido, Yeardley Smith, Jim Reardon, David Silverman, James Oakley
• "Raging Abe Simpson and His Grumbling Grandson in The Curse of the Flying Hellfish:" Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein, Jonathan Collier, Jeffrey Lynch, David Silverman
• "Much Apu About Nothing:" Matt Groening, Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein, David S. Cohen, Susie Dietter
• "Homerpalooza:" Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein, Brent Forrester, Wesley Archer, Ken Keeler
• "Summer of 4 Ft. 2:" Bill Oakely, Josh Weinstein, Dan Greaney, Yeardley Smith, David Silverman

Additionally, the commentary on "Team Homer" actually goes a little bit longer than the episode itself, by about 45 seconds, for David Mirkin's farewell message.

There are deleted scenes (scenes that were not originally scene in the original airing) on almost every episode on the set as well. In fact, it is a lot easier to just say which episodes do NOT include deleted scenes, and those are "Radioactive Man," "Home Sweet Home-Diddly-Dum-Doodily," "Sideshow Bob's Last Gleaming," "Marge Be Not Proud," "Raging Abe Simpson and His Grumbling Grandson in The Curse of the Flying Hellfish," and "Homerpalooza." That doesn't mean those episodes are inferior, it just means that the complete broadcast episode is there and that there are no scenes that had to be removed (or perhaps they just weren't included on the DVD set, although I don't know why they would be withheld if there were any). Additionally, Disc 4 has a Deleted Scenes feature (19:10) that presents ALL of the deleted scenes in one long reel, with the option to listen to commentary on the deleted scenes.

As always, there are Animation Showcases included, which show rough sketches of the episode in the production process. I'm honestly becoming bored by these, but I'm sure some fans still love them. They are included for "Home Sweet Home-Diddly-Dum-Doodily" (6:40) and "Raging Abe Simpson and His Grumbling Grandson in The Curse of the Flying Hellfish" (7:25).

What is a more interesting is the animators pointing out all of their own flaws and other interesting facts in the "A Bit from the Animators" commentaries. Basically, these are commentaries for specific parts of specific episodes, EXCEPT the commentators can control the episode… they can fast forward, rewind, and pause when needed, and they have the ability to draw things on the screen to point your attention to certain details. This is a very nice feature! These are included for "The Day the Violence Died" (15:07) and "Summer of 4 Ft. 2" (10:03).

Once again, the languages special feature has returned. This time, you can watch the "22 Short Films About Springfield" episode in Italian, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, and German.

But that isn't ALL of the special features! On Disc 1, we have "An Invitation from Matt Groening" (1:58), in which the creator of the show introduces the season (as he does on every season that is released). There is a "Homer in the Third Dimension" feature (6:11), which is a commentary track that talks about the 3D computer animation that was done for the "HOMER3" segment on the "Treehouse of Horror VI" episode. It is interesting to see how much work it took the creators to do that one little segment on the episode. There is even a recipe for Paul and Linda's Lentil Soup, which was mentioned in the "Lisa the Vegetarian" episode! Finally, on Disc 4, there is an Original Sketches special feature, which basically just shows you various sketches from different episodes.


Final Comments:

I don't know what to say here… by now, either you are collecting these sets or you aren't. And if you are a fan of the show and you are NOT collecting these sets, then what is your excuse? Few shows get the level of respect that this show gets on DVD, and this show is just so great that fans SHOULD be collecting the DVD sets. Sure, the show is in its 17th season on Fox now, which means that there will be more than 10 additional season sets that will be released in the future. However, these sets are worth it for the great episodes that are included as well as the special features, and this particular set is no exception to that rule. What I would really like to see for this show is a faster release schedule. Two seasons released per year is fast for some shows, but with this show having so many seasons, it needs three releases per year, maybe even four. But for now, just enjoy the sets as they do come out.


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

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

-- Reviewed by skees53 on 12/23/2005.

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http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000BQPC42/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

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http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000BQPC4C/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20


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