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The Simpsons - The Thirteenth Season



Release Date: August 24, 2010 (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)
Color / 2001 - 2002
MSRP: $49.98 (DVD); $59.99 (Blu-ray)
Packaging: Folding Cardboard Case (DVD); Multi-disc Blu-ray Case (Blu-ray)
Number of Discs: 4 (DVD); 3 (Blu-ray)
Number of Episodes: 22
Running Time: 484 minutes
Running Time of Features: Approx. 40 minutes (plus commentaries)
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Spanish, and French
Subtitles and Captioning: English and Spanish Subtitles (Blu-ray Disc and DVD); Closed-captioned (DVD only)
Special Features: Commentaries (every episode); Animation Showcase; A Token From Matt Groening; Ralphisms; The People Ball; The 13th Crewman; Blame it on the Monkeys; The Games; The Sweet Life of Ralph; Sketch Gallery; Deleted Scenes; Special Language Feature; Commercials


D'oh! It is lucky number 13 for The Simpsons with The Simpsons - The Thirteenth Season, now available on DVD and Blu-ray! Now fully into the new millennium, The Simpsons continues to bring more laughs in this collection of 22 episodes from the 2001-2002 season as aired on Fox.


Pierce Brosnan and Matthew Perry guest star in the season premiere "Treehouse of Horror XII." Bart is arrested for joyriding in "The Parent Rap," but perhaps Homer is the one getting the real punishment. Jane Kaczmarek makes her first series appearance as Judge Constance Harm. Homer starts his own bar in "Homer the Moe," and somebody big might just be performing in that bar--but as big as R.E.M.? Mr. Burns finds love in "A Hunka Hunka Burns in Love," but her first love happens to be none other than Snake! Homer has nightmares about a dead body that he saw as a child in "The Blunder Years." Lisa has a religious identity crisis in "She of Little Faith." A family brawl gets out of control in "Brawl in the Family."

Ben Stiller guest stars in "Sweets and Sour Marge," where Marge wants to ban sugar in Springfield after the town is deemed to be the fattest town in the world. Homer is unable to speak in "Jaws Wired Shut," but is this the Homer that Marge really wants? In "Half-Decent Proposal," Homer is offered a million dollars to "loan" out Marge for the weekend to her old beau, Artie Ziff (guest star Jon Lovitz), but could this mean the end to Homer and Marge? Bart doesn't care about his girlfriend (played by Reese Witherspoon) until he dumps her and Milhouse takes her in "The Bart Wants What it Wants." Marge and Bart try to bring a faded western star back to a more positive life in "The Lastest Gun in the West." The Simpsons are going to Branson in "The Old Man and the Key," where Grampa borrows (and wrecks) Homer's car and flees to Branson with Bart. We get to learn about Homer's Odyssey (not the minivan that he owned), Joan of Arc, and Hamlet in "Tales from the Public Domain." The Simpsons go to Brazil after Bart creates a huge phone bill in "Blame it on Lisa."

Phish guest stars in "Weekend at Burnsie's," where Homer becomes addicted to pot. It's a roast in Homer's honor in "Gump Roast." In "I Am Furious (Yellow)," Bart creates an Internet cartoon that is a success, but how will Homer react when he realizes that it is based upon him? Apu has an affair in "The Sweetest Apu." Can Lisa pass for a college student? She tries just that in "Little Girl in the Big Ten." In "The Frying Game," Homer could be a murderer! But is he, really? The season ends with "Poppa's Got a Brand New Badge," where Homer ends up as the head of a private security agency that puts the police department (and Wiggum) out of business, but will it really all work out so well for Homer?

The episodes all appear to be unedited, with runtimes as follows:

1. "Treehouse of Horror XII" (22:32)
2. "The Parent Rap" (22:33)
3. "Homer the Moe" (22:32)
4. "A Hunka Hunka Burns in Love" (22:32)
5. "The Blunder Years" (22:32)
6. "She of Little Faith" (22:31)
7. "Brawl in the Family" (22:32)
8. "Sweets and Sour Marge" (22:32)
9. "Jaws Wired Shut" (22:33)
10. "Half-Decent Proposal" (22:33)
11. "The Bart Wants What It Wants" (22:32)
12. "The Lastest Gun in the West" (22:33)
13. "The Old Man and the Key" (21:37)
14. "Tales from the Public Domain" (22:31)
15. "Blame it on Lisa" (22:05)
16. "Weekend at Burnsie's" (22:28)
17. "Gump Roast" (21:33)
18. "I Am Furious (Yellow)" (22:22)
19. "The Sweetest Apu" (21:52)
20. "Little Girl in the Big Ten" (22:01)
21. "The Frying Game" (21:36)
22. "Poppa's Got a Brand New Badge" (21:51)


Both the DVD and Blu-ray Disc version of this set appear the same on the front of the package. The cover art has a picture of Ralph Wiggum holding a bunch of tickets (as if he is in an arcade) with a purple background. From there, though, it all changes quite a bit. The packaging styles for the DVD set and Blu-ray Disc set are very much different.

On the DVD version, we have that annoying accordion-style packaging that has been used for the past few seasons again. One side depicts the entire family (plus Ralph, and for some reason, Groundskeeper Willie) playing video games in an arcade, while the other side has a mural of several residents of Springfield in the arcade. The case is all cardboard, and there are little notches to remove the discs, as has been the case since the eleventh season. Disc 1 has a picture of Homer, Disc 2 has a picture of Marge, Disc 3 has a picture of Lisa, and Disc 4 has a picture of Bart. Disc 1 contains episodes 1-5, Disc 2 contains episodes 6-11, Disc 3 contains episodes 12-17, and Disc 4 contains episodes 18-22.

There is one more note of interest for the DVD set. For those that have been collecting the "head" packages, there is one for this season as well, with the head being Ralph Wiggum this time.

The packaging on the Blu-ray Disc is a much more standard packaging style, but is better than the annoying accordion-style packaging in my opinion. Basically, the Blu-ray set just uses a standard multi-disc Blu-ray Disc case that is both simple and functional. The case includes a cardboard sleeve that has the exact same artwork as the case itself. Inside the case, there is some really basic animated video-game style artwork that depicts some clouds, the nuclear power plant, and a moon that has the face of Krusty the Klown (I don't understand why, but it is there). There are only three discs in the Blu-ray set, with Homer on Disc 1, Marge on Disc 2, and both Bart and Lisa on Disc 3. Disc 1 contains episodes 1-7, Disc 2 contains episodes 8-15, and Disc 3 contains episodes 16-22.

Finally, there is an episode booklet included in BOTH versions of the set this time. Some fans will remember that the Blu-ray version was spared a nice, detailed booklet for the season 20 release (while the DVD did have one), but this time, they both have essentially the same detailed booklet, just with a few minor modifications (to reflect the different episode breakdown and the Blu-ray booklet is a bit smaller to fit in the Blu-ray case) between them. As usual, this is a very nice booklet, with a page for each episode, and includes runtimes, writing and directing credits, commentators, and scene selection details for every episode on the set.

Menu Design and Navigation:

The main menu on Disc 1 of both sets has different characters dancing on the "Rev Rev Dance-olution" (obviously a play on Dance Dance Revolution) with different songs playing that sound awfully similar to real songs (but aren't). I don't have an issue with them using soundalikes here, though... after all, it wouldn't be worth paying extra for music that wasn't originally in the series anyway. Disc 2 on the DVD (this menu is not on any of the Blu-ray discs) has different characters playing air hockey in the arcade. On Disc 3 of the DVD and Disc 2 of the Blu-ray, different characters are standing in line to play "Rock Guitar Band Hero." Finally, on Disc 4 of the DVD and Disc 3 of the Blu-ray has different characters playing the arcade game "Gun Blaster."

The DVD set has menus that are similar to the previous sets, with a listing of all of the episodes and a Play All option at the bottom of the main menu that allows you to play all episodes with or without commentaries. There is also a button for Extras on the main menu. Next to each episode, you can select Play or Episode Menu, where you go to a submenu for each episode. From there, you can find deleted scenes, commentaries, and language options. On this menu, Ralph is sitting in an arcade airplane watching a clip from the episode on a big TV in front of him. It is a very nice touch! There are chapters for each episode, as well as a scene selection menu.

The Blu-ray set has very different menus. Although the top of the menu is as described previously, the bottom has a joystick, and there are options of Episodes, Set Up, Search, and Extras. Episodes will pop up a menu that lists each episode one-by-one, and it gives you a text description of the episode along with options to Play All Episodes, Play Episode with Commentary, Play Episode With Deleted Scenes, or (the default option) simply Play Episode. Set Up allows you to turn on subtitles and alternate languages. Search allows you to go to any bookmarks that you may have inserted into the episodes. Finally, Extras gives you all of the special features. Since this is a Blu-ray, you can access this menu while playing any episode. Oddly enough, there are no scene selection menus on the Blu-ray set, but there are chapters in all of the appropriate places.

Video and Audio Quality:

The video quality on the DVD is just as good as the previous releases, with no real problems of concern. In fact, the Blu-ray set looks just as good as the DVD set. Both sets are presented in fullscreen mode. As for the audio, it is loud and clear without any real problems on both sets as well. The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 English, with alternate audio tracks in Spanish and French, and subtitles in English and Spanish.

The question that remains, though, is this: is there enough of a difference that it is really worth buying the Blu-ray over the DVD on this set? For this set, I'm not so sure that it necessarily is. The video and audio quality between the Blu-ray and DVD really isn't that much different for these episodes, so whichever one you pick will be just fine.

Special Features:

By this point, it almost goes without saying that there are commentaries on every episode (although they did pull a nasty trick on us with season 20 having NO commentaries). No need to worry, there are commentaries on this set... and they are still fresh and insightful as they have been from the beginning! Episodes and commentaries are as follows:

1. "Treehouse of Horror XII" - Mike Scully, Al Jean, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Matt Selman, Carolyn Omine, John Frink, Don Payne, Joel Cohen
2. "The Parent Rap" - Matt Groening, Mike Scully, George Meyer, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Matt Selman, Tim Long, Dana Gould, Joel Cohen, Kevin Gould
3. "Homer the Moe" - Matt Groening, Mike Scully, George Meyer, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Matt Selman, Tim Long, Dana Gould, Joel Cohen, Kevin Gould
4. "A Hunka Hunka Burns in Love" - Mike Scully, Al Jean, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Matt Selman, Tom Gammill, Max Pross, Lance Kramer
5. "The Blunder Years" - Mike Scully, Al Jean, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Carolyn Omine, John Frink, Don Payne, Matt Selman, Steven Dean Moore, Joel Cohen
6. "She of Little Faith" - Al Jean, Matt Selman, John Frink, Tom Gammill, Max Pross, Bill Freiberger, Pamela Hayden, Steven Dean Moore
7. "Brawl in the Family" - Al Jean, Joel Cohen, Max Pross, Delroy Lindo, Matt Warburton, David Silverman
8. "Sweets and Sour Marge" - Al Jean, Carolyn Omine, Matt Selman, Tom Gammill, Max Pross, Mark Kirkland, Matt Warburton
9. "Jaws Wired Shut" - Matt Groening, Al Jean, Matt Selman, Carolyn Omine, Dana Gould, Joe Mantegna, Pete Michels
10. "Half-Decent Proposal" - Al Jean, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Matt Selman, Tim Long, Dan Castellaneta, Lauren MacMullan, Matt Warburton, James Lipton
11. "The Bart Wants What It Wants" - Al Jean, Matt Selman, Tim Long, John Frink, Tom Gammill, Max Pross, Joel Cohen, Pamela Hayden, Michael Polcino, Steven Dean Moore, Bill Freiberger
12. "The Lastest Gun in the West" - Al Jean, Max Pross, Joel Cohen, Matt Warburton, David Silverman
13. "The Old Man and the Key" - Al Jean, Matt Selman, Carolyn Omine, Tom Gammill, Max Pross, Matt Warburton
14. "Tales from the Public Domain" - Al Jean, Matt Selman, Tim Long, John Frink, Don Payne, Joel Cohen, Matt Warburton, Mike B. Anderson
15. "Blame it on Lisa" - Matt Groening, Al Jean, Matt Selman, Tim Long, John Frink, Don Payne, Joel Cohen, Steven Dean Moore, Matt Warburton, David Silverman, Mike B. Anderson
16. "Weekend at Burnsie's" - Matt Groening, Al Jean, Matt Selman, Don Payne, Jon Vitti, Tom Gammill, Max Pross, Mike Reiss, David Silverman
17. "Gump Roast" - Matt Groening, Al Jean, Matt Selman, John Frink, Don Payne, Deb Lacusta, Tom Gammill, Max Pross
18. "I Am Furious (Yellow)" - Matt Groening, Al Jean, Matt Selman, Don Payne, Tom Gammill, Max Pross, Mike Reiss, Stan Lee, Chuck Sheetz, David Silverman
19. "The Sweetest Apu" - Al Jean, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Matt Selman, Tim Long, Dan Castellaneta, James Lipton, Matt Warburton
20. "Little Girl in the Big Ten" - Al Jean, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Matt Selman, Tom Gammill, Max Pross, Robert Pinsky
21. "The Frying Game" - Matt Groening, Al Jean, Matt Selman, John Frink, Don Payne, Tom Gammill, Max Pross, Michael Polcino, Deb Lacusta
22. "Poppa's Got a Brand New Badge" - Al Jean, Matt Selman, Dana Gould, Carolyn Omine, Joe Mantenga, Pete Michels

There are deleted scenes on nearly every episode that you can watch within the episode, or if you prefer, you can watch them all at once on the final disc of each set (14:12). When you watch them all together, you can even watch them with a brief introduction and commentary. These are always fun to watch on any set.

If you like animatics (and honestly, I think they are getting a little old myself), they can be found on "Sweets and Sour Marge" (6:23) and "The Parent Rap" (7:18). Also, there is a stills gallery for character designs (3:10) and for the costumes on "Tales from the Public Domain" (3:10).

Of course, that is hardly all of the special features. They are all the same for both the DVD and Blu-ray, beginning with the usual Matt Groening introduction on Disc 1, this time called "A Token From Matt Groening" (1:50). This is basically a brief introduction to the set itself. Also on Disc 1, in "Ralphisms" (2:40), we get to see some of Ralph's greatest moments from the series. But if you want more of Ralph, there is another bonus feature (Disc 4 on DVD, Disc 3 on Blu-ray) called "The Sweet Life of Ralph" (6:11). As usual, there is also the special languages feature, where you can watch an episode (this time it is "Treehouse of Horror XII") in different languages, with the offerings of German, Czech, and Portuguese.

We also have a short featurette called "The People Ball" (1:10) from "Sweets and Sour Marge" that discusses some animation from that episode. "The 13th Crewman" (1:40) is a featurette of some sailers putting Bart on the sail of a boat. This one is kind of boring, in all honesty. I really liked the next featurette, "Blame it on the Monkeys," (1:39), where they talk about the backlash from the Brazil episode, and how their government threatened to sue over the episode "Blame it on Lisa."

Of course, there are plenty of commercials (2:20) on the set, featuring the characters advertising products not just in the United States, but around the world. And finally, there is a special feature called "Games" (8:00), which gives you a look into the many different Simpsons video games, going all the way back to 1991 up until 2009. It is interesting to watch the evolution of video games over that time period.

Look for Easter eggs on the set... they're there but you just have to find them! I'm not going to spoil them here...

Final Comments:

This is another great set for The Simpsons, and it is fine whether you go with the DVD or the Blu-ray set. If you have a Blu-ray set, you'll definitely want to go ahead and get that one (you can find it online for nearly the same price as the DVD), but if you just have a DVD player, this set isn't exactly the one that you'll want to run out to hurry up and upgrade your DVD player for. That isn't to say that the Blu-ray is bad--it isn't--but the DVD is perfectly adequate for this season of the series. As for the episodes themselves, this is one of the points where the series really starts to change from where it began, but I still find it fun and enjoyable by this season. It is hard to believe that even THESE episodes are now ten years old, and that the earliest episodes of the series are over twenty years old now--d'oh!

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

Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 4.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

-- Reviewed by skees53 on 10/10/10

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