Fox // 2003 // 484 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // December 24th, 2012
Let's d'oh it again.
There aren't many fictional shows on television that premiered the year before I entered high school. The Simpsons is that rare breed that has found success for over two decades; it's weird to think that some viewers who weren't born at its inception are now married with children. Anyhow, The Simpsons makes its return to DVD (a bi-yearly ritual, it seems) with The Simpsons: The Complete Fifteenth Season, courtesy of Fox Home Entertainment.
After fifteen years, the Simpson clan is still going strong with many tales to tell as bumbling Homer (Dan Castellaneta, The Pursuit of Happyness), his ever-patient wife Marge (Julie Kavner, Rhoda), their precocious son Bart (Nancy Cartwright, The Twilight Zone: The Movie), child prodigy Lisa (Yeardly Smith, As Good As It Gets), and baby Maggie traverse the town of Springfield and its wacky assortment of characters. See Homer become a TV sensation! Witness Krusty the Klown become a real Jew! Thrill to Marge and Homer going on a second honeymoon, only to be pursued (North by Northwest style) by their kids! The laughs come fast and furious in this fifteenth season of The Simpsons!
The Simpsons is like a Timex watch: it takes a licking and keeps on ticking. It's a show that's started out as a fad, then became a Sunday night staple, and is now a part of Americana. I don't think it's much of a stretch to say The Simpsons has become an institution. The show is going on almost twenty-five years on the air, the longest-running sitcom in television history. In fact, The Simpsons has become so popular that the United States Post Office decided to give the Simpson family its own postage stamps. Take that, Desperate Housewives!
The Simpsons: The Complete Fifteenth Season may have come after the show's "golden age" (often cited as Season Three through Season Nine, give or take), but it still packs a lot of laughs into each of its twenty-two episodes. Some of the episodes are more amusing than others, but on the whole, this is a very solid season. This DVD set starts off with the annual "Treehouse of Horror" episode, which guest stars comedy legend Jerry Lewis (The Nutty Professor) as Professor Frink's long-lost father, who becomes one of the funniest Frankenstein monsters every assembled. It's one of the funniest episodes of the season, although the Halloween shows are usually always one of the most amusing episodes of any season of The Simpsons. Other above-average episodes include Bart visiting juvenile hall ("The Wandering Juvie"), a glimpse into Homer and Margie's past during their time at a summer camp together ("The Way We Weren't"), and a great episode where Homer is attacked by a bear and mocked by the local townsfolk for being a coward.
The voice talent is at their top of the game during this fifteenth season. Dan Castellaneta's Homer is at his borderline mentally impaired best while Julie Kavner's raspy drawl serves Marge to a tee. Yeardly Smith and Nancy Cartwright are the ever-amusing Simpson kids, Bart and Lisa. Even more impressive is the supporting cast, made up almost entirely of Hank Azaria (Godzilla) and Harry Shearer (This is Spinal Tap). Creating characters from Mr. Burns to Moe the Bartender to Otto the bus driver, Azaria and Shearer do a great job at bringing the town of Springfield to life, giving each character a distinct personality. One of the many fun attributes about The Simpsons is the fact that it has such a vast array of characters to cull from; while the show focuses mostly on the Simpson family, it also spends a great deal of time on peripheral characters (Disco Stu as a co-talk show host? Awesome!). Guest stars aplenty are also on display: Glenn Close (Fatal Attraction) returns as Homer's mother, Isabel Sanford (The Jeffersons) has an amusing cameo, and '80s pop icon Mr. T (The A-Team) pops up along with comedian Jackie Mason in a show about a Bat Mitzvah!
The Simpsons offers up a lot of laughs. Whatever it may do wrong during each season (more Mr. Burns!), it tends to get right twofold. I've heard a lot of rumbling on the internet for the past decade that the show reached its zenith long ago and has become almost passé (Fox's other family based comedy show, the crude and far less sophisticated Family Guy, is the golden child of the moment). While The Simpsons may never reach the dizzying heights it once knew, it's still a show that packs more laughs -- and surprising heart -- into 22 minutes than most shows pack into an entire series run.
Each of these twenty-two episodes of The Simpsons: The Complete Fifteenth Season is presented in standard definition 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers look good; the image is clean and crisp with bright colors that pop off the screen. For a standard DVD version, Fox has done an appropriately nice job on these transfers. The soundtracks are each presented in Dolby 5.1 Surround in English (as well as Dolby 2.0 in French and Spanish). Each sound mix is mostly front heavy, although a few surround sounds pop up from time to time. Also included on this set are English and Spanish subtitles.
The Simpsons: The Complete Fifteenth Season includes audio commentaries on every episode by Al Jean, Matt Groening, and various cast and crew members, a few featurettes on the making of the show ("The Unusual Ones," Living in the Moment"), two sketch galleries, some deleted scenes with optional commentary, a few bonus episodes ("It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge," "The Otto Show," "Das Bus"), an animation showcase, and an introduction by Matt Groening,
The Simpsons: The Complete Fifteenth Season is an easy recommendation for anyone who's gone out of their way to purchase the first fourteen seasons (you know who you are). The Simpsons is still one of the most consistently funny shows on television, and I'm glad Fox has taken the time to release each season on DVD. Recommended.
The yellow-skinned clan is still going strong after all these years.
Review content copyright © 2012 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 484 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Bonus Episodes
* Deleted Scenes
* Original Sketches
* Animation Showcase
* Official Site