Fox // 1995 // 576 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Jennifer Malkowski (Retired) // January 16th, 2006
Marge to Lisa: "I think you're a little young to be investigating an
attempted murder. Why don't you try to solve the mystery of who put that mud in
Bart: [enters carrying two bowls of something brown] "Who wants chocolate ice cream?"
Homer: "Me! Me!"
Hi-dilly-ho, fan-a-ri-nos! Welcome to the seventh season of America's favorite TV comedy...or at least the part of America with good taste. The Simpsons was still riding its peak creativity streak at this point, so all the jokes are good and the plots are still vaguely plausible.
Let's start with a breakdown of this season's 25 episodes:
* "Who Shot Mr. Burns? (Part Two)"
Everything starts off with a bang (literally) in this much-anticipated conclusion to the previous season's cliffhanger finale. After many accusations and red herrings, we finally find out "who shot Mr. Burns." This is one of the most joke-packed episodes of the series.
Highlights: Too many to mention, but Moe's lie detector test and two gags with Dr. Colossus stand out!
Special Guest Voice: Tito Puente
* "Radioactive Man"
When a big-screen version of Bart's favorite comic book is being filmed in Springfield, every boy in town wants to play Radioactive Man's sidekick, Fallout Boy. An unlikely candidate lands the role...
Highlights: Krusty tries to prove his "range" to the casting director.
Special Guest Voices: Phil Hartman, Mickey Rooney
* "Home Sweet Homediddly-dum-doodily"
A series of unfortunate events compels the government to take the kids away from "negligent parents" Homer and Marge. But they don't take them far, placing them in foster care right next door with the Flanders clan. D'oh!
Highlights: Marge tells the kids that someday they'll have to be adults and take care of themselves, just before Homer comes to her about a spider near his car keys; Homer's note-taking at the remedial parenting class
Special Guest Voices: Joan Kenley, Marcia Wallace
* "Bart Sells His Soul"
Skeptical about the existence of the soul, Bart makes $5 by selling his to Milhouse, but then regrets it. In other news, Moe tries to increase business by converting his bar into a hokey family restaurant, "Uncle Moe's Family Feedbag."
Highlights: Homer thinks 40 seconds is too long to wait for his deep-fried buffalo.
* "Lisa the Vegetarian"
Eating lamb chops for dinner after seeing an adorable lamb at a petting zoo is too much for Lisa. Vegetarianism is the next logical step for the socially-conscious girl, but Homer's love of greasy, delicious animal flesh may get in the way. Mmmmm, flesh.
Highlights: The school's "independent thought" alarm; Troy McClure's Meat Council film
Special Guest Voices: Phil Hartman, Linda McCartney, Paul McCartney
* "Treehouse of Horror VI"
This installment of the fan-favorite Halloween specials includes three shorts: "Attack of the 50 ft. Eyesores," "Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace," and "Homer Cubed." These three stories feature giant rampaging advertisements, the ghost of Groundskeeper Willie killing children in their dreams, and Homer entering a three-dimensional world behind the living room bookshelf.
Highlights: "Lousy Smarch weather"; the kids realize in terror that the next time they go to sleep they could die, then Grandpa responds, "Ha! Welcome to my world!"
Special Guest Voices: Paul Anka, Marcia Wallace
* "King-Size Homer"
Tired of slaving away at the Nuclear Power Plant, Homer schemes to gain 61 pounds so that he can get on Disability. Bart happily conspires with him, but Marge and Lisa foresee a bad end to this plan.
Highlights: Homer's shopping trip to "The Vast Waistband" allows him to choose from a selection of "ponchos, muumuus, capes, jumpsuits, unisheets, muslin body rolls, academic and judicial robes..."
Special Guest Voice: Joan Kenley
* "Mother Simpson"
Homer fakes his own death to get out of Mr. Burns' mandatory volunteer day. The false news of his demise brings his long-lost mother back to Springfield.
Highlights: Homer falls into his own empty grave and shrieks, "Why does my death keep coming back to haunt me?!?"; Patty and Selma come over with a tombstone for Homer and tell Marge, "We've been saving for this since your wedding day!"
Special Guest Voice: Glenn Close
* "Sideshow Bob's Last Gleaming"
This season's obligatory Sideshow Bob episode finds Bob stealing a nuclear warhead. He threatens to detonate it unless Springfield rids itself of television, which apparently is his new nemesis now that we've grown tired of watching him try to kill Bart.
Highlights: At the air show Milhouse plays in a fighter jet, pretending to bomb his parents for making him see a psychiatrist -- "Take that, Dr. Sally Waxler!"
Special Guest Voices: R. Lee Ermey, Kelsey Grammer
* "The Simpsons' 138th Episode Spectacular"
Another clip show, of sorts. Actually, this one now seems more like a collection of DVD extras before there were such things. It includes not only clips, but early Simpsons shorts, deleted scenes, and the alternate endings to "Who Shot Mr. Burns? (Part Two)." Apart from the creative material, what really makes this one shine is the hilarious hosting by Troy McClure.
Highlights: All of McClure's lines; the "file photos" of Matt Groening, James L. Brooks, and Sam Simon
Special Guest Voices: Buzz Aldrin, Glenn Close, Phil Hartman
* "Marge Be Not Proud"
Bart wants the new videogame Bonestorm so badly that he resorts to shoplifting when he thinks he won't get it for Christmas. Caught, he fears that Marge no longer loves him.
Highlights: Bart's snowman -- made from the dirty, leftover snow under the car -- is amazingly pathetic
Special Guest Voices: Phil Hartman, Lawrence Tierney
* "Team Homer"
Avid bowler Homer forms his own team, but needs to include the horrendously bad Mr. Burns to secure the registration fee. Meanwhile, Springfield Elementary introduces school uniforms after Bart wears a T-shirt with an inflammatory slogan to class.
Highlights: Smithers narrows down the list of possible Poppin' Fresh impostors to Homer Simpson or Pops Freshenmeyer; Homer ends a phone conversation with the highly quotable line, "I gotta go. My damn wiener kids are listening."
Special Guest Voice: Marcia Wallace
* "Two Bad Neighbors"
When former president George Bush Sr. moves in across the street from the Simpsons, Homer fears he will lose his role as king of Evergreen Terrace. Plus, Bart plays Dennis the Menace to Bush's Mr. Wilson.
Highlights: The introduction of Disco Stu, who doesn't buy Homer's "Disco Stu" jacket because, as he says, "Disco Stu doesn't advertise."
* "Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield"
Marge buys an ultra-discounted Chanel suit at an outlet store. She happens to be wearing it when she runs into an old high school classmate who is now a wealthy socialite. The suit is Marge's ticket into high society at the Springfield Country Club, but can the whole family keep up this upper-class charade?
Highlights: Mr. Burns's demand for his tires to be revulcanized
Special Guest Voice: Tom Kite
* "Bart the Fink"
Bart unwittingly uncovers Krusty's massive tax fraud and lands him in the poorhouse (or was that crazyhouse?). This main plot feels a little familiar and disappointing, but there are some decent jokes along the way.
Highlights: Homer comforts Bart after Krusty's death by assuring him that he, too, could wake up dead tomorrow; Handsome Pete
Special Guest Voices: Phil Hartman, Bob Newhart
* "Lisa the Iconoclast"
It's time for Springfield's Bicentennial Parade honoring the town's history and its founder Jebediah Springfield. With all the citizens excited and Homer working as the Town Crier, Lisa busies herself researching Jebediah. But she discovers some horrible truths that may make him -- and her -- far less popular.
Highlights: Lisa wakes up in the night shouting, "I want to help you, George Washington!" Bart responds, "Even your dreams are square."
Special Guest Voices: Phil Hartman, Donald Sutherland, Marcia Wallace
* "Homer the Smithers"
When Smithers takes a mandatory vacation, Homer fills in doing the "2,800 small jobs" that encompass caring for Mr. Burns. Unfortunately, Homer doesn't understand 2,700 of them.
Highlights: The brief scenes we see of Smithers on vacation, at a resort where "they don't allow picture-taking"
* "The Day the Violence Died"
While trying to help a bum reclaim his artistic creation, Bart and Lisa accidentally destroy their favorite cartoon, Itchy and Scratchy.
Highlights: In the Itchy and Scratchy copyright trial, Lionel Hutz stalls for time by calling all of his surprise witnesses again: a ventriloquist and his dummy, Santa Claus with a broken leg, a Barney-looking stranger, Ralph Wiggum, and the fattest twins in The Guinness Book of World Records.
Special Guest Voices: Kirk Douglas, Phil Hartman, Alex Rocco, Jack Sheldon, Suzanne Somers
* "A Fish Called Selma"
Troy McClure bribes his way into a driver's license by offering Selma a date. When press pictures of them together boost his sagging movie career -- as evidence that he may not be a fish fetishist after all -- he proposes marriage to her.
Highlights: Troy adapts his usual introduction by reminding Selma, "I'm Troy McClure. You may remember me from such dates as 'Last Night's Dinner'"; every second of the musical version of Planet of the Apes
Special Guest Voices: Jeff Goldblum, Phil Hartman
* "Bart on the Road"
Spring breeeeaaaaakkkkkk!!! (Well, when are we gonna get rowdy?) Bart, Milhouse, Nelson, and Martin rent a car and drive to Knoxville, TN. Meanwhile, Lisa accompanies Homer on "Take Your Daughter to Work Day."
Highlights: The unexpected excitement of Milhouse's trip to the cracker factory; Patty and Selma explain their job at the DMV: "Somedays we don't let the line move at all." "We call those weekdays."
* "22 Short Films About Springfield"
A series of mini-stories about Springfield's many goings-on in a single day. There aren't quite as many as the advertised "22 short films," but that number brings out the reference to Thirty-Two Short Films about Glenn Gould.
Highlights: A day in the life of Bumblebee Man; Smithers' bee sting
Special Guest Voice: Phil Hartman
* "Raging Abe Simpson and His Grumbling Grandson in 'The Curse of the
Grandpa and Mr. Burns are the last surviving members of an old WWII pact. Whoever lives longest will receive a number of priceless paintings that their army unit found during the war, so the two old codgers battle it out for possession of the goods. The Simpson codger gets some help from Bart.
Highlights: Grandpa wields his "slippers and an oatmeal spoon."
Special Guest Voice: Marcia Wallace
* "Much Apu About Nothing"
Springfield is suddenly up-in-arms about illegal immigrants and threatens to pass a proposition to deport them all. Homer backs it 100 percent until he finds out his friend and cashier Apu would be one of those deported.
Highlights: Homer tries to teach Apu American history (watch for his relevant and complex diagram of "stovepipe hat").
Special Guest Voice: Joe Mantegna
Homer notices that young people don't like the classic '70s rock he still treasures. To try to recapture his cool, he goes to Hullabalooza and accidentally gets hired for the freak show. The without-a-doubt, definitive low point of the season.
Highlights: When asked about his religion, Homer says it is "the one with all the well-meaning rules that don't work out in real life...you know, Christianity."
Special Guest Voices: Cypress Hill, Peter Frampton, The Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth
* "Summer of 4 ft. 2"
The family (plus Milhouse) goes on vacation to the Flanders' beach house, which Lisa sees as an opportunity to reinvent herself. But when Bart feels he is being overshadowed, he plots his sister's downfall. Almost every joke works, and the animation is unusually beautiful.
Highlights: Every Milhouse moment, particularly his yearbook message to Lisa, "See you in the car!"; the "Mystery Date" board game session
Special Guest Voices: Christina Ricci, Marcia Wallace
This is a really solid season that contains quite a few classic episodes and hardly any duds (except for Milhouse, as Homer labels him in the finale). I enjoyed seeing a return in this season to the winning formula of killer jokes balanced out by semi-gooey character moments. For every instance of Grandpa's pants falling down, Homer faking his own death, or Patty and Selma sucking dead crustaceans out of seashells, there is an instance of Bart making amends for shoplifting, Homer's mother hugging him goodbye, or Lisa finding her first real friend. Laughs are plentiful in The Simpsons, but some of these episodes made me tear up a little, too...and then laugh again hard enough to squirt milk out of my nose. In particular, this season boasts three of the all-time best Lisa episodes. "Lisa the Vegetarian," "Lisa the Iconoclast," and "Summer of 4 ft. 2" all demonstrate the great, often unrealized, potential of this hard-to-write-for character.
The only gripe I can really make with the content of the seventh season concerns the one blemish on its otherwise glorious visage: "Homerpalooza." I'm not sure how other fans feel about this one, but for me it painfully foreshadows the parade of "humor-killing celebrity guest stars" that marred later seasons. Unless one is a fan of these particular bands, it is neither funny nor entertaining to simply watch them perform on the show and then flatly recite poorly scripted lines. Compare the role of The Smashing Pumpkins in this episode to Mickey Rooney in "Radioactive Man," for example. The former is painfully dull, while the latter is great. What's the difference? Rooney's appearance is brief, well-integrated, and playfully self-mocking in a way that actually makes me laugh. "Homerpalooza" also suffers from a plethora of of-the-moment music and culture references that don't age well, which the commentators admit have "expired."
The presentation of this set is top-notch. Gone is the sixth-season's cumbersome, plastic Homer-head packaging that elicited many a "D'oh!" from fans (though the companion Marge-head packaging is available for those couple of souls who liked the Homer-head...and for those thousands of obsessive collectors like me who may grudgingly buy it anyway). Fox returns to the standard fold-out case that slips into the exterior box, but with a pleasant twist: instead of many awkward panels, the interior of the fold-out contains four clear plastic DVD-holders that are bound together like pages of a book. All the artwork on the packaging and the disc menus -- with its red carpet movie-premiere theme -- is fantastic, too. New animations of the acne-teen working a concession stand in the "Extras" menus or Mr. Burns sitting in a director's chair in the foreground of the "Scene Selection" menus actually contain a few short jokes that made me chuckle -- which is way more than I expect from my menu screens. From a technical standpoint, the discs succeed, as well, with bright colors, smooth motions, and a nice audio presentation. My only technical complaint is that I found a strange shading glitch on the far right side of the English subtitles that remained there in every episode. But nit-picking about that puts me at risk for Comic-Book-Guy level geekdom -- a Simpsons characterization that probably hits too close to home for many of us.
The extras, as in previous sets, are plentiful and entertaining. As always, there is a commentary track on every single episode, which never ceases to impress me. The commentaries are done by a nice mix of writers, directors, producers, animators, cast members, and even guest stars. Plus, Groening himself is present for most of the commentaries, too. Previous commentaries have sometimes lapsed into the participants simply laughing at the jokes and marveling at how long ago these episodes aired, but this time the comments offer a nice mix of behind-the-scenes info and inside jokes explained. This show is filled with so many references that no one person could possibly get them all...except for me. I understood every one of them. Not really, but listening to the commentary tracks was a great way to figure out those allusions and jokes that I didn't get the first time around. The tone of the commentaries is jovial and everyone is having fun. I wonder whether that will change once the releases get into the worse seasons or if it will just get...awkward. The extras also provide the run of deleted scenes from this season, either as links from the spots they would have occupied in the episodes, or all together as a special feature. Many of them are really quite funny. My favorite is from "Lisa the Vegetarian": when Lisa runs away, Bart exclaims, "She's gone?!? Dibs on Lisa's...umm...ah, she doesn't have anything good." Some of the most interesting extras are the "A Bit from the Animators" features. In these, a few of the directors and Groening comment specifically on the directorial and animation guidelines for creating the visual world of The Simpsons. The format is nice, using a single act of an episode as the subject and giving the commentators special tools to draw lines on the screen as they talk...you know, like those football announcer guys. These bits are both informative and surprisingly funny (one of the participants mocks the project by circling
Bart's eyes and announcing, with a tone of self-importance, "this is called 'open eyes'").
I've been a fan of The Simpsons since the very first episode, which I discovered at the ripe old age of six. But I don't think I'm being particularly biased when I say that these are classic episodes chock-full of hilarious jokes and surprisingly tender moments. And with its improved packaging and generous special features, this set is a must-buy.
Despite the failure of their lawyer, Lionel Hutz, to appear in court (or deliver on his "your case won in thirty minutes or your pizza is free" promise), The Simpsons: The Complete Seventh Season is cleared of all charges.
Review content copyright © 2006 Jennifer Malkowski; 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 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 576 Minutes
Release Year: 1995
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Commentary Tracks on all 25 Episodes
* 42 Deleted Scenes
* Animation Showcases (with Storyboards and Animatics)
* Original Sketches
* "An Invitation from Matt Groening"
* "Homer in the Third Dimension"
* "Paul and Linda's Lentil Soup" Recipe
* Two Installments of "A Bit From the Animators"
* "22 Short Films About Springfield" is also viewable in Italian, Japanese, Brazilian, Portuguese, and German
* Official Site
* The Simpsons Archive
* Season One Review
* Season Three Review
* Season Four Review
* Season Five Review
* Season Six Review