Case Number 18141


Fox // 2008 // 456 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 21st, 2010

The Charge

"Flowers, the painted whores of the plant world."

Opening Statement

Twenty years and counting. It's been a while since I spent some time with Fox's everlasting animated family, and I had my reservations about indulging in Season 20 (!). But, hey, I laughed...some.

Facts of the Case

20 episodes worth of Simpsons shenanigans, including a Prince and the Pauper take-off starring Bart and his snobbish counterpart, a what-if episode looking at how Homer's life would have been different he had become senior class president, Ned Flanders' predictable self-inflicted wound-due-to-his-compassion, an okay "Treehouse of Horror," Lisa's anxiety over a standardized test, and the greatest backyard Mardi Gras party ever.

Plus, The Simpsons make the leap to HD!

The Evidence

I can't remember the last time I tuned into a new episode of this show. I do know that, whenever it was, I came away fairly unimpressed, the recent adventures paling in comparison to the brilliance of the show's earlier seasons. So it was with skepticism that I fired up these Blu-ray discs. The good news: these shows are funny. Not the iconic material of yesteryear (what show is?) but funny nonetheless, and easy to recommend.

By this time, the actors are so in tune with their characters, and the writers dealing with the most established properties in the history of television, it comes easy. Homer? He's always good for a laugh and Dan Castellanetta is, of course, money. And this season features some prime Homer grist, as we see him attempt to vote on a rigged voting machine, negotiate a new mortgage rate (to no avail), alienate Ned once again, and hound his former principal on the golf course, demanding the truth over his failed bid to become senior class president 20 years ago.

The ensemble is just as effective. Again, no surprise, because these guys are pros who have been doing this for two decades (still crazy to get my head wrapped around the fact that this show came out when I was 12). It's obvious that everyone is tuned in to the same wavelength, so what it really comes down to is the writing. The scripts are hit-and-miss, but the funny outweighs the blah. Combined with on-the-nose performances, I do so declare that Season 20 of The Simpsons is a success.

Their debut on Blu-ray? Not so much. First off, there is just one quasi-special feature and it's essentially a commercial for Morgan Spurlock's 20th Anniversary Special. Blecch. The technical side is mixed. The first nine episodes are transferred in full frame, and the last 11 feature the switch to high-def. When the HD hits, the show looks great; clean, bright and vivid. Too bad it merely accounts for half the season. Sound comes courtesy of a nice DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix, the only high-def constant in the set.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Wow, Al Gore is just as painfully unfunny in two-dimensions as he is in three.

Closing Statement

Season 20 is enjoyable, but I'm not sold on the value of this Blu-ray set. You're basically paying a premium for 50% worth of high-def and no worthwhile extras.

The Verdict

The season gets a Not Guilty, but the set is slapped with an ankle monitor.

Review content copyright © 2010 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Video: 80
Audio: 90
Extras: 0
Acting: 90
Story: 80
Judgment: 80

Perp Profile
Studio: Fox
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)

Audio Formats:
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Portuguese)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)

* English (SDH)
* Portuguese
* Spanish

Running Time: 456 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* None

* IMDb

* Official Site