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The Simpsons - The Complete Twentieth Season



DVD Release Date: January 12, 2010 (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)
MSRP: $49.98
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 21
Running Time: 456 minutes
Runtime of Special Features: 3 minutes
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese; English, Spanish, and Portuguese subtitles; Closed-Captioned.
Special Features: The 20th Anniversary Special Sneak Peek by Morgan Spurlock


D’oh! Somehow we’ve made it to the twentieth season of The Simpsons on DVD (don’t worry, you didn’t miss seasons 13 through 19, they are coming). Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Maggie, and the rest of the Springfield gang are back in the four disc set containing all 21 episodes from the twentieth year of The Simpsons, the season that brought the series into high-definition. This also marks the first release of the series on Blu-ray, although we will cover the DVD release here.

Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

The season begins with a St. Patrick’s Day themed episode (which aired in September) “Sex, Pies, and Idiot Scrapes,” where Homer becomes a bounty hunter. Bart sends the family on an international goose hunt after finding (and using) Dennis Leary’s cell phone in “Lost Verizon.” Joe Montana guest voices in “Double, Double, Boy in Trouble,” where he switches lives with a boy who looks exactly like him but also happens to be rich. “Treehouse of Horror XIX” continues the usual tradition of Halloween episodes of the series. Homer places a bet against Lisa in a crossword puzzle tournament in “Homer and Lisa Exchange Cross Words.”

Lisa gets a “mypod” and Bart befriends a Muslim kid (and Homer thinks that the kid’s father is a terrorist) in “Mypods and Broomsticks.” Fall Out Boy guest voices in “Lisa the Drama Queen,” where Lisa makes a new friend and gets a little too involved in an imaginary land called Equalia. The series moves to high-definition in the episode “Take My Life, Please,” where Homer views how his life would have been different had he been elected student body president in high school. The stakes are high for Springfield Elementary in “How the Test Was Won.”

The family gets a bailout from Flanders in “No Loan Again, Naturally,” but the bailout works out horribly for everybody. Ed Begley, Jr. guest voices in “Gone Maggie Gone.” The series celebrates St. Patrick’s Day again (sort of) in “In the Name of the Grandfather,” where the family goes to Ireland. Kelsey Grammer returns as Sideshow Bob in “Wedding for Disaster,” where somebody named “S.B.” ruins Homer and Marge’s renewal of their wedding vows. But is it Bob or another S.B.? Moe dates a woman who is three feet tall in “Eeny Teeny Maya, Moe.”

Anne Hathaway guest voices in “The Good, the Bad, and the Drugly,” where Lisa is put on antidepressants after realizing the future for Springfield is not positive at all. Homer gets in touch with his children after discovering the meals at the school cafeteria in “Father Knows Worst.” Bart and Lisa transfer to another school in “Waverly Hills 9-0-2-1-D’oh,” but Lisa’s efforts to fit in lead to disaster. The season ends with “Coming to Homerica,” where the series takes on the issues of stopping the Ogdenvillians from crossing the border into Springfield.


The packaging for this set is somewhat similar to the previous sets, but not completely similar. The biggest difference from the previous sets is that this set does not have any type of “head” packaging. Nobody has their face on the cover. Instead, the outer sleeve (which is made of plastic and is mostly all white) has the series logo and the words “The Complete Twentieth Season” (by the way, the word “complete” has been missing on the past few season sets, but returns for this one for some reason) with the main image on the cover being a silhouette of Homer choking Bart, forming the number 20. On the side of the outer sleeve, there are pictures of the family as they looked during their Tracy Ullman days. You can see through the number 20 on the outer sleeve to the cardboard inner sleeve, which contains a crowded snapshot with almost everybody in Springfield. The inner sleeve, to me anyway, seems rather pointless. Basically it is just another box inside the outer sleeve, and the only purpose that it really serves is to protect the folding panel that contains the discs. I don’t understand why this couldn’t be accomplished with just one sleeve. Additionally, the inner sleeve is a bit cumbersome to open, making it somewhat of a pain.

The folding panel that holds the discs inside contains six panels, and just as was the case for the season 11 and season 12 DVD sets, it is still a bad packaging design. At least, though, the discs aren’t packed in too tightly, and there is also a notch to make removing the disc a bit easier. Those were some areas of concern with the season 11 DVD set. The artwork inside isn’t all that special, with just large pictures of each of the main characters. The disc artwork is pretty general too, with the top of the head of each main character, with fireworks in the background, on each disc. Disc 1 contains Homer, Disc 2 contains Lisa and Maggie, Disc 3 contains Marge, and Disc 4 contains Bart. Disc 1 contains six episodes, while all of the other discs contain five episodes each.

As has been the tradition with previous sets, there is an episode booklet that doesn’t disappoint, although there isn’t anything special about the design of the booklet this time. Still, it continues the tradition of having a page for each episode on the set, with complete details, production crew information, guest cast details, original airdates, runtime, and a snapshot from each episode. The episode booklet is not a disappointment at all.

Menu Design and Navigation:

The menus are similar to the previous sets, but much like everything else in this set, not nearly as elaborate as in the past. The same design is still in place, with a main menu that has a listing of all of the episodes on the bottom half of the screen with a play button and a (+) button next to each episode. On the top half of the menu, there is a black screen with a white sketch that draws out while you are selecting what you want to view. The (+) button allows you to play the episode, go to the language selection menu, or go to the scene selection menu for the episode. Disc 4 also has a single option for the lone special feature contained on the set. Chapters are placed throughout each episode.

Video and Audio Quality:

The video and audio quality on this set is, to say the least, superb. As previously mentioned, this was the first season of the series to air in high definition, but it did not switch to high definition until the middle of the season. The episodes from the first half of the season look very good on DVD, but once you get in to the high definition episodes -- there is a major improvement in video quality, which is impressive, as they are building on something that was good to begin with. The standard definition episodes are presented in full screen, while the high definition episodes are presented in widescreen. The audio quality is great as well, being presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. There are also audio tracks for Spanish, French, and Portuguese audio, as well and English, Spanish, and Portuguese subtitles. Closed-captioning is also available for each episode.

The episodes all appear to be unedited, running anywhere from 21 minutes to 22 minutes. Exact runtimes are as follows:

Disc 1:
1. Sex, Pies, and Idiot Scrapes (21:58)
2. Lost Verizon (21:39)
3. Double, Double, Boy in Trouble (21:37)
4. Treehouse of Horror XIX (21:48)
5. Dangerous Curves (21:58)
6. Homer and Lisa Exchange Cross Words (21:58)

Disc 2:
7. Mypods and Broomsticks (21:47)
8. The Burns and the Bees (21:38)
9. Lisa the Drama Queen (21:26)
10. Take My Life, Please (21:02)
11. How the Test Was Won (21:28)

Disc 3: 12. No Loan Again, Naturally (21:27)
13. Gone Maggie Gone (21:59)
14. In The Name of the Grandfather (21:57)
15. Wedding for Disaster (21:47)
16. Eeny Teeny Maya, Moe (21:57)

Disc 4:
17. The Good, the Sad, and the Drugly (21:47)
18. Father Knows Worst (21:37)
19. Waverly Hills 9-0-2-1-D'oh (21:56)
20. Four Great Women and a Manicure (21:56)
21. Coming to Homerica (21:26)

Special Features:

Usually on a release for The Simpsons, I could carry on for days with a list of special features. But I can’t this time. This time, there is one lone special feature, and it isn’t even that good. All that we have on this set is a preview (not even the whole thing) of the 20th Anniversary Special that already aired on Fox before this set was even released. It only lasts 3 minutes and 31 seconds. I think it is questionable as to whether this preview could even be considered a special feature, as it is nothing more than a promo really, and worse yet, a promo for something that had already happened BEFORE this was even released. There are no commentaries, no animatics, no bonus footage, no behind the scenes footage, no special words from Matt Groening, none of that stuff that we are accustomed to on these sets. That really hurts this set, a lot.

Final Comments:

This isn’t a bad set, but it is most definitely not a release like the ones that we have become accustomed to for this series. The biggest oversight is the fact that this set has no commentaries, compared to every other set having commentaries on every episode. The lack of any involvement by Matt Groening in this set is troubling. This set, while the quality of the episodes is great and it is nice to see the new high definition animation on DVD, seems to have been rushed to stores too fast, and probably should have waited until it was truly ready instead of the quick job that was done on the set. The only question is whether or not Fox will re-release this set again once they hit season 20 in chronological order. While it would be nice to see a better set in the future, it would be a slap in the face to those who have bought this set now. A better option for the 20th anniversary would have been to perhaps release a “best of” compilation featuring fan favorites as opposed to this.

All in all, I would have to suggest that fans wait a little while on this set. The high definition aspect of it is not enough to justify rushing out to get it, and, even though nobody knows what a studio has planned five years down the road, a better set could be in the works a few years down the road. Even if a better set doesn’t come along, this set will probably still be available in the future.

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

Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 0.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
Overall: 4/5

-- Reviewed by skees53 on 02/04/10

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