Fox // 1994 // 565 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Ryan Keefer (Retired) // August 29th, 2005
"I feel like a kid in some kind of store." -- Homer, upon arriving at the candy convention in "Homer: Bad Man."
In its sixth season of existence, The Simpsons was creatively still knocking it out of the park. Aside from giving some fun stories for each character, the show was enjoying a wide variety of celebrity voice cameos. But what makes The Simpsons such a brilliant show is that it didn't go for the cheap joke. Even when it comes to discussing the huge events of the times, like the O.J. Simpson trial, you can count on one hand the number of carefully chosen references. And oh by the way, there was a cliffhanger to end the season. So how did things pan out?
Skipping over the fluff and nice introductory words, the episodes in the Sixth Season are as follows:
* "Bart of Darkness"
Never mind the parody of Joseph Conrad's novel in the title, the satire here is straight from Rear Window. Bart breaks his leg when attempting to jump from his treehouse into a pool. While recovering at home, he witnesses a murder, committed by someone you'd least expect.
* "Lisa's Rival"
In another example of why there should be more episodes devoted to Homer, consider this: is the episode more memorable for Lisa's school rival (voiced by Winona Ryder, Heathers), or for Homer finding some sugar from a truck along the side of the road? Okay, move along.
* "Another Simpsons Clip Show"
The episode title pretty much says it all. The family shares previous experiences of love found and lost, and other moments good and bad. Even for a Simpsons clip show, this was lacking.
* "Itchy & Scratchy Land"
This has made a bit of a resurgence lately, which isn't bad at all, as the family goes to a Disney-themed park devoted to the cat and mouse. All you have to do is think of Westworld and go from there.
* "Sideshow Bob Roberts"
A play on Tim Robbins' excellent film, Kelsey Grammer (Frasier) returns as everyone's favorite exiled children's sidekick. Bob returns to Springfield with the help of a local radio talk show host not unlike Rush Limbaugh. While Bob wins an election and some political power, Bart and Lisa smell foul play and will try to expose Bob in any way possible.
* "Treehouse of Horror V"
One of the better "Treehouses," it holds up well after ten years. Includes a hilarious version of Kubrick's The Shining, err, "Shinning" touching on all the memorable highlights from the film. Even though "Nightmare Cafeteria" borders a little on Soylent Green, the "Time and Punishment" segment with Homer's time-traveling toaster makes up for it.
* "Bart's Girlfriend"
Perhaps the episode has been spoiled by several hundred viewings in syndication. In it, Bart has a crush on Reverend Lovejoy's daughter Jessica (voiced by Meryl Streep, Adaptation.), but finds out she's more than he bargained for when she steals a collection plate full of money. The first of a couple references to The Silence of the Lambs in this season appear.
* "Lisa on Ice"
This is one of the few episodes centered on Lisa that I enjoy watching. Lisa fails a gym class, and as a result may be held back a year unless she finds a sport she can play. She suddenly finds a talent as a hockey goalie, opposing a team that Bart plays on. With the hockey scenes, you can pretty much see a Slap Shot reference coming, but it's worth it.
* "Homer: Bad Man"
Homer goes to a candy convention, and a misinterpretation by the kids' babysitter portrays him as a sexual harasser. With a nice look at how too much media coverage is a bad thing, along with a TV movie featuring Dennis Franz (NYPD Blue), this episode could use some more airplay in syndication.
* "Grandpa vs. Sexual Inadequacy"
Okay, the title may make you cringe a little bit, but this is a joyful tale of Grandpa and Homer as they hit the road to promote a tonic to improve Homer's love life. Springfield also takes to the tonic well, and the lack of parents in town leads Bart to think of alien conspiracies.
* "Fear of Flying"
Homer is thrown out of Moe's and eventually earns the family some free airfare, which forces Marge to confront an old phobia. With the cast of Cheers appearing (except for Grammer, ironically) and a funny spoof of North by Northwest, the episode is much better than you would expect.
* "Homer the Great"
It's nice to finally see the Stone Cutters episode again after so long, as Homer unknowingly becomes the chosen one in the great society. But he finds out that fame isn't too satisfying. With a guest appearance by Jean-Luc Picard himself (Patrick Stewart) and with a brief nod to The Last Emperor, this episode has got a lot of laughs in it, along with a Steve Guttenberg appearance.
* "Bart's Comet"
Bart has to go to school early with Principal Skinner for an astronomy lesson. However, he unfortunately discovers a comet heading for Springfield, and the town reacts as you would expect them to.
* "Homie the Clown"
In a turn more inspired than Damon Wayans's character on In Living Color, Krusty the Clown decides to open a clown college because he's out of money. Betting against the Harlem Globetrotters will do that. When Homer decides to become a clown, he gets some of the rewards and takes some of the flack, for being Krusty. This episode features one of the more amusing stunts to cap an episode, as well as another appearance by Fat Tony (Joe Mantegna, The Rat Pack).
* "Bart vs. Australia"
All the Australian jabs you expect to have here are present. Crocodile Dundee? Yep. The Road Warrior? Here too. Bart's international incident is hilarious, from top to bottom. The phone calls he makes to other countries (particularly Buenos Aires) are fantastic. This is one of the more underappreciated episodes in the series's run.
* "Homer vs. Patty and Selma"
I've never been a fan of episodes centering on Patty and Selma. After Homer loses some money and asks for a loan from the sisters, he resorts to driving a limousine to get the family's savings back, and to get around Patty and Selma's IOU.
* "A Star is Burns"
Marge thinks that the town should hold a film festival to lure visitors to Springfield. Despite the appearance of Jon Lovitz as Jay Sherman from the short-lived series The Critic, the episode is hilarious, with Mr. Burns deciding to try and win the festival using work from directing talent "Steven Spielbergo."
* "Lisa's Wedding"
Like the episode where Lisa is President, this episode is weak, as a fortune teller shows Lisa who she marries later in life. This pained me to watch again.
* "Two Dozen and One Greyhounds"
Totally not related to 101 Dalmatians. Really. When Santa's Little Helper has puppies with a female dog, Mr. Burns is taken with them, for reasons that Bart and Lisa find suspicious.
* "The PTA Disbands"
As a result of cuts in the school's budget, Springfield's parents start to teach and run the school, giving Bart both his ideal school and a problematic issue at the same time when he meets his new teacher.
* "Round Springfield"
When Bart has to go to the hospital for eating a metal cereal piece, Lisa finds her jazz hero Bleeding Gums Murphy there also. Bleeding Gums has a humble request for Lisa to fulfill before he passes over.
* "The Springfield Connection"
Wanting more adventure in her life, Marge decides to join the Springfield Police. She has a conflict, however, when Homer takes her new position for granted.
* "Lemon of Troy"
This episode has gotten more enjoyable since it first aired, and it's full of everything that makes the show successful. A lemon tree is stolen by some of the neighboring town's teenagers, and Bart, Milhouse and Nelson try to get it back with the help of their parents. This episode is easily one of the best of the season.
* "Who Shot Mr. Burns? Part One"
Further proving The Simpsons's popularity, the cliffhanger (and subsequent contest activity) generated enormous interest. No one could wait for the summer to end to find out the answer to this question. Memorable for all the right reasons.
The thing that has made The Simpsons so welcome on DVD is the fact that the episodes look great and are free of any of the small edits and trims done for syndication through the years. There is a minor problem with one episode in the set that had the brightness drop out and conversely return in a span of seconds, but it appears to be an isolated issue.
Creatively, the show was arguably still at its peak. While the show still had the occasional work of James L. Brooks and Sam Simon, some of the original creative team had scaled down their work, or just flat out left for other projects, Conan O'Brien being the prime example. In the years following Season Six, writers were leaving for other animated projects like King of the Hill and Futurama, while others like Brad Bird (The Iron Giant) or O'Brien were going to projects outside the animated half hour sitcom. To prove how popular and far-reaching The Simpsons was, the hysteria that came about with the "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" episode cemented its place in TV for several years. Granted, the show seems to get poked at a little more in recent years by competitors (witness The Family Guy, along with South Park's excellent episode "Simpsons Did It" from their sixth season). At the end of the day, however, The Simpsons second squad beats a lot of other shows' starters, so to speak.
As is the case with previous years, Season Six of The Simpsons comes loaded with extras, deleted scenes, animatics and other goodies. Each episode comes with commentary tracks featuring various combinations of writers and vocal talent. All of these commentaries are good. The commentaries are spread out across the right and left speakers, so the listeners feel as if they are in the middle of the conversation, which is a nice touch.
This has been a touchy subject with collectors, fans (and Fox reps) alike: the Homer head box. Thankfully, Fox provides an 800 number to call (along with an online link) should a viewer desire a more traditional case. Note to Fox: if you're going to make shoddy packaging, be prepared for the wrath of the video buying consumer. Take the lumps, release alternate packaging with the subsequent head sets, and go from there. Having said that, I'm surprised to admit that the case fits on my shelf. However, it takes up a little bit more space than I'd prefer, so I'm paying the shipping and handling fee anyway, because I like free stuff.
Quite frankly, everyone who should pick this season up probably has done so, as well as voiced concern about the packaging. With the usual home runs the writing team hits, it's great to have the peak seasons start appearing for sale.
Any verdict other than acquittal would be travesty, and the court is not about to set precedent here. Court adjourned.
Review content copyright © 2005 Ryan Keefer; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 565 Minutes
Release Year: 1994
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Introduction by Creator Matt Groening
* Audio Commentary on All Episodes
* "Springfield's Most Wanted" TV Special
* "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" Suspect Gallery
* Insight from James L. Brooks
* Deleted Scenes
* Illustrated Commentaries
* Multi-Angle Animation Showcases
* Original Sketches
* Special Language Feature
* Official Site
* The Simpsons Archive
* Season 1 Review
* Season 3 Review
* Season 4 Review
* Season 5 Review
* Replacement DVD Cases