TITLE: THE SIMPSONS - THE TWELFTH SEASON
DVD Release Date: August 18, 2009 (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 21
Running Time: 473 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, A Comic Moment With Matt Groening; Special Language Feature; Commercials; Art and Animation; Comic Book Guy: Best Moments Ever; The Global Fanfest
The Simpsons returns to DVD once again with The Twelfth Season! The animated sitcom that has demonstrated staying power on the FOX Sunday night lineup over the past two decades comes back for another season on DVD, presenting all 21 episodes of the 2000-2001 season on a four disc DVD set. This season pushes us even further into the early 2000s era of the series and is the first season of the series to air entirely in the 2000s. While some say that the series had a slip in quality in this era, others will disagree and say that it actually improved in some areas. In this season, the series further immersed itself into modern pop-culture and developed the characters in ways never before seen.
Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:
We’ve now gotten to the point in the series where each season kicks off with the annual post-Halloween “Treehouse of Horror” episode, and this season begins with the November 1, 2000 episode, “Treehouse of Horror XI,” where Homer wants to go to Heaven, dolphins are on the verge of controlling the universe, and Bart and Lisa become fairytales, literally. United we stand, divided by an area code, Springfield falls, in “A Tale of Two Springfields.” The Who and Gary Coleman guest star. Krusty might have to pay child support when he finds out that he has a daughter (voice by Drew Barrymore) in “Insane Clown Poppy.” Lisa takes the environmentalist thing to the extremes in “Lisa the Tree Hugger.” Mr. Burns begins to admire Homer in “Homer vs. Dignity,” but as the episode title suggests, will Homer give up his principles to gain Mr. Burns’ respect?
Homer discovers this new thing called the “internet” in “The Computer Wore Meneace Shoes.” Edward Norton guest stars in “The Great Money Caper,” where Homer finds out how to con people out of money, with the assistance of Bart. The kids get trapped at school during a snowstorm in “Skinner’s Sense of Snow” and show Skinner who is truly in charge. It turns out that Homer isn’t as dumb as we thought in “HOMR,” and an operation turns him into the intelligent man that he is, but will the “real” Homer be satisfied with himself? In “Pokey Mom,” a convict is moving into the Simpson home. Bart and Milhouse become the new Comic Book Guy in “Worst Episode Ever” when the real “CBG” has a heart attack. Meanwhile, Comic Book Guy decides the best way to fix a broken heart is to find romance, but is Skinner’s mother the woman for him?
Bart becomes a tennis pro in “Tennis the Menace,” where Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, and the Williams sisters all guest star. Kelsey Grammer reprises his recurring role of Sideshow Bob in “Day of the Jackanapes,” where he once again is determined to kill Bart, Krusty, or even both of them. In “New Kids on the Blecch,” Bart, Milhouse, Nelson, and Ralph are about to become the newest boy band. ‘N Sync guest stars. Homer goes on a hunger strike in order to save a baseball team from moving out of Springfield in “Hungry, Hungry Homer.” Lisa does a scientific experiment on nerds in “Bye, Bye, Nerdie.” The family loves to travel, as we have seen in many other episodes, and they hit Africa in “Simpson Safari,” where Bart and Lisa expose a monkey exploitation operation.
Homer cuts off his thumb, Lisa builds a robot, and Bart and Milhouse get involved in illegal fireworks--and we see the whole story three times from three different perspectives--in “Trilogy of Error.” Flanders decides to memorialize his deceased wife with an amusement park in “I’m Goin’ to Praiseland.” Shawn Colvin guest stars. Homer starts a daycare center in “Children of a Lesser Clod,” and proves to be great at dealing with kids--expect for his own. The season ends with “Simpsons Tall Tales,” where we hear three (the magic number) stories of the family in mythical stories.
The story regarding the packaging is somewhat good news, but it could certainly be better. It is best to get the bad news out of the way first. The folding panel that holds the discs is still there. For those who remember the season 11 DVDs, this packaging was a nightmare and impossible to deal with. The studio did make a few changes to it this time, however, and as a result, it is not nearly as bad as the previous release. The pocket that holds each disc is not nearly as tight this time, and is loose enough to remove the discs when necessary. Additionally, there are notches placed in the packaging that allow the viewer to remove the discs without cramming their fingers into the cardboard sleeve.
Aside from this, the packaging is fine. The cover art resembles the previous sets, with a pinkish red color scheme and a picture of Comic Book Guy on the front. The entire set takes on a comic book theme. The six-panel packaging that holds the disc contains a collage of the “Bi-Mon-Sci-Fi-Con” that is occasionally mention on the series. And, as is appropriate for a comic book themed DVD set, the episode booklet is designed like a comic book, with a page for each episode. There are even pictures from the episode to resemble an actual comic book. The only thing that I can’t understand is why they went with such a minor character as Comic Book Guy.
Of course, there is an “alternate” packaging too, with a plastic head cover on it, but as was the case with The Eleventh Season, this can easily be removed for placing the DVDs on the shelf.
The disc artwork contains each member of the family dressed as fictitious comic book heroes, with Homer on Disc 1, Marge and Maggie on Disc 2, Lisa on Disc 3, and Bart on Disc 4. Disc 1 contains episodes 1-5, Disc 2 contains episodes 6-11, Disc 3 contains episodes 12-17, and Disc 4 contains episodes 18-21.
Menu Design and Navigation:
Not much has changed through most of these sets as far as the menu design, which is good, since the DVD producers have found a design that works for these sets. The main menu has an animated scene from the “Bi-Mon-Sci-Fi-Con” with different characters as related to the episodes on the disc. At the bottom of each screen, there is a listing of all of the episodes, with a play button and a (+) button which allows you to go to the episode options. At the bottom of the main menu, there is an option to play all episodes, with or without commentary, and there is an option on the side of the main menu to go to the Extras. If you select the (+) button for an episode, you can play the episode, turn on the commentary, go to the language selection menu, go to a scene selection menu, turn on deleted scenes, or go to other episode related special features. On the top of the screen, Sideshow Bob, Sideshow Mel, and Krusty are watching scenes from the episode. Oh, and not to spoil anything, but see if you can highlight Sideshow Mel’s bone in his hair on some episodes... you may just get a special treat! Chapters are placed throughout each episode.
Video and Audio Quality:
There really aren’t any video or audio quality issues of note, and this is probably one of the best releases yet as far as this area is concerned. It is important to note that this was basically the first season of the series to air on Fox as the TV-on-DVD era began (in fact, the first season of the series was released in September 2001, which was basically after the twelfth season ended but before the thirteenth season began), so by now, I’m sure that the producers were considering the preservation of the episodes for home media. The image on the episodes is nice and clean, with few problems. The audio, presented in English in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, is nothing fancy, but it certainly does the job. The audio is also presented in Spanish and French, and there are also subtitles in English and Spanish. Additionally, each episode is closed captioned.
Edited episodes have not been a problem with this series, and based upon what I can tell, the episodes are all in their original form. It really helps that I remember a lot of these from when they originally aired, and there was nothing that jumped out to me as being missing. This is important to note, because some conspiracy theorists worry about the word “complete” being missing from the DVD set title. Honestly, I believe that they are omitting it because it allows less clutter for the title on the packaging. By this season, we’ve hit the 22:30 standard for unedited episodes (as opposed to the 24 minute episodes from earlier seasons). Runtimes are as follows:
1. Treehouse of Horror XI (22:32)
2. A Tale of Two Springfields (22:16)
3. Insane Clown Poppy (22:32)
4. Lisa the Treehugger (22:32)
5. Homer vs. Dignity (22:21)
6. The Computer Wore Menace Shoes (22:31)
7. The Great Money Caper (22:32)
8. Skinner’s Sense of Snow (22:32)
9. HOMR (22:32)
10. Pokey Mom (22:32)
11. Worst Episode Ever (22:33)
12. Tennis the Menace (22:31)
13. Day of the Jackanapes (22:32)
14. New Kids on the Blecch (22:32)
15. Hungry, Hungry Homer (22:32)
16. Bye, Bye, Nerdie (22:33)
17. Simpson Safari (22:32)
18. Trilogy of Error (22:35)
19. I’m Goin’ to Praiseland (22:32)
20. Children of a Lesser Clod (22:32)
21. Simpsons Tall Tales (22:32)
Special features are always a high point on the releases of this series, and this one is no exception. We begin with the commentaries, and nothing has changed from the previous sets here. We still have insightful commentaries for each and every episode on the set from the crew of the series, and in a few cases, cast members. You’ll even find a member of a well-known late 90s boy band doing a few commentaries. What I love about these most of all is that it gives them an opportunity to explain each and every detail of each episode, which is especially helpful at those “huh?” moments that we often see on TV series. Episodes and commentators are as follows:
Disc 1: Treehouse of Horror XI -- Matt Groening, Mike Scully, Rob LaZebnik, John Frink, Don Payne, Carolyn Omine, Matt Selman
A Tale of Two Springfields -- Matt Groening, Mike Scully, George Meyer, Al Jean, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Don Payne, Matt Selman, Dan Castellaneta, Shaun Cashman, Roger Daltrey, David Silverman
Insane Clown Poppy -- Mike Scully, Ian Maxtone-Graham, John Frink, Don Payne, Tom Martin, Matt Selman, Dan Castellaneta, Joe Mantenga, Bob Anderson, Joel Cohen
Lisa the Tree Hugger -- Mike Scully, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Matt Selman, Don Payne, Tom Gammill, Tim Long, Yearley Smith, Steven Dean Moore
Homer vs. Dignity -- Matt Groening, Mike Scully, Rob LaZebnik, Carolyn Omine, Don Payne, Matt Selman, Max Pross
Disc 2: The Computer Wore Menace Shoes -- Mike Scully, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Don Payne, John Frink, Matt Selman, Tom Gammill, Max Pross, Mark Kirkland, Joel Cohen
The Great Money Caper -- Mike Scully, Al Jean, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Carolyn Omine, Don Payne, Matt Selman, Tom Gammill, Chuck Sheetz
Skinner’s Sense of Snow -- Matt Groening, Mike Scully, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Tim Long, Matt Selman, David Mirkin, Max Pross, Lance Kramer
HOMR -- Mike Scully, Al Jean, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Matt Selman, Tom Gammill, Max Pross, Mike B. Anderson
Pokey Mom -- Mike Scully, Ian Maxtone-Graham, John Frink, Don Payne, Tom Martin, Matt Selman, Dan Castellaneta, Joe Mantenga, Bob Anderson, Joel Cohen
Worst Episode Ever -- Mike Scully, Al Jean, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Larry Doyle, Matt Selman, Tom Gammill, Max Pross, Hank Azaria, Chris Kirkpatrick
Disc 3: Tennis the Menace -- Mike Scully, Al Jean, Ian Maxtone-Graham, John Frink, Don Payne, Matt Selman, Max Pross, Phil Rosenthal
Day of the Jackanapes -- Mike Scully, Al Jean, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Matt Selman, Tim Long, Yeardley Smith, Michael Marcantel
New Kids on the Blecch -- Matt Groening, Mike Scully, Al Jean, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Tim Long, Matt Selman, Tom Gammill, Max Pross, Hank Azaria, Steven Dean Moore, Chris Kirkpatrick
Hungry, Hungry Homer -- Mike Scully, Ian Maxtone-Graham, John Frink, Don Payne, Matt Selman, Max Pross, Phile Rosenthal, Ben Rosenthal
Bye, Bye, Nerdie -- Mike Scully, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Don Payne, Matt Selman, Tim Long, Tom Gammill, Yeardley Smith, Lauren MacMullan, Steven Dean Moore
Simpson Safari -- Mike Scully, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Matt Selman, Tim Long, Yeardley Smith, Mark Kirkland, Michael Marcantel
Disc 4: Trilogy of Error -- Matt Groening, Mike Scully, Al Jean, Ian maxtone-Graham, Rob LaZebnik, Matt Selman, Tim Long, Max Pross, David Mirkin, Mike B. Anderson
I’m Goin’ to Praiseland -- Mike Scully, Al Jean, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Carolyn Omine, Don Payne, Matt Selman, Tom Gammill, Chuck Sheetz
Children of a Lesser Clod -- Mike Scully, Al Jean, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Matt Selman, Tom Gammill, Max Pross, Mike Polcino, Mike B. Anderson
Simpsons Tall Tales -- Mike Scully, Ian Maxtone-Graham, John Frink, Don Payne, Matt Selman, Tom Gammill, Max Pross, Bob Anderson, Joel Cohen
Of course, commentaries are only the “meat” of the special features. We have more, beginning with “A Comic Moment with Matt Groening” (1:21), where we have an audio introduction from Matt Groening to the twelfth season of the series.
There are plenty of deleted scenes to be found throughout the set. In fact, the only episodes lacking deleted scenes are “Homer vs. Dignity,” “Tennis the Menace,” and “Simpson Safari.” You can play these by going in to the special features menu for the episode and turn on deleted scenes, which allow you to go to the deleted scene by hitting Enter on the remote when the pair of scissors pops up on the screen. You can also access these on one “reel” on Disc 4 (24:33), with or without audio commentary.
You can watch the episode “Homer vs. Dignity” in one of four additional languages, including Hungarian, Portuguese, Ukrainian, and Italian... which is good if you know any of the languages. Otherwise, it is just an interesting way to hear how the voices sound in other languages.
You can find storyboards and animatics (these are just featurettes that show the making of the episodes) for “Treehouse of Horror XI” (8:18) and “Day of the Jackanapes” (3:59). Just as in the past, you can use the “Angle” button on the remote to change the view between the animatic and the final product. Along the same line, there are the “A Bit from the Animators” featurettes for “Lisa the Tree Hugger” (13:15), “HOMR,” (11:36), and “I’m Goin’ to Praiseland” (11:26). On these, we see video from the episodes while the animators talk about drawing the characters and scenery. The animators even draw on the screen while they talk about the animation. These are certainly more interesting than the animatics. Additionally, Disc 4 has a “Sketch Gallery” (00:48), where we see rough sketches from various episodes.
On Disc 2, we have “Comic Book Guy: Best Moments Ever” (9:38), where we get a chance to go through twelve seasons beginning with season one to see the greatest moments of the guy that this set is about. Unfortunately, it doesn’t show us any of the other seasons that have aired to date.
On Disc 4, “The Global Fanfast” (7:28) takes us to a backlot event from the year 2000 celebrating the success of the series up to that point. We get to see the series orchestra at work, we get the see the writers tested on their knowledge of Simpsons trivia, and general discussion of the series. It would have been nice to have seen more of this.
Disc 4 also has a few commercials (1:38), including two Butterfinger commercials, a foreign Burger King commercial, and a commercial for a foreign restaurant called Red Rooster. It is especially nice to see the tradition of including these Butterfinger commercials continue on these sets.
Finally, and I won’t go into great detail on these, but there are Easter eggs that can be accessed from some episode options menus. These can be accessed by highlighting the bone in Sideshow Mel’s hair. Mostly these are just short bits and pieces related to the episodes, such as posters or additional deleted scenes.
I have pretty much gotten to the point now where I don’t even think to myself whether or not the next DVD release of The Simpsons on DVD will be a good release, but instead, I ask myself how good of a release it is going to be. And this set proves that line of thinking does not need to be altered anytime soon. This is another all-star set that the series is very much deserving of. While the series may not be as popular as it once was, and now tends to be overshadowed by another FOX animated comedy (Family Guy), it still has the legacy of being the dominant animated series for well over a decade, and still maintains significant pop culture success. Still, I’d like to see a LITTLE more creativity with special features on future sets. There really hasn’t been anything “new” lately, and certainly they can find something. I absolutely, positively, do NOT want to see the commentaries disappear on the sets. But for now, enjoy these episodes, and remember, “yvan eht nioj” (you’ll understand what I’m saying later if you don’t get it now).
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 4.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 5/5
-- Reviewed by skees53 on 09/25/09
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