Unlike Homer Simpson, Appellate Judge Mac McEntire is not going to reveal his middle name to the world. At least not until after he changes his name to "Mac Power."
Our reviews of Christmas With The Simpsons (published October 30th, 2003), The Simpsons: The Complete First Season (published September 19th, 2001), The Simpsons: The Complete Third Season (published December 15th, 2003), The Simpsons: The Complete Fourth Season (published July 12th, 2004), The Simpsons: The Complete Fifth Season (published February 23rd, 2005), The Simpsons: The Complete Sixth Season (published August 29th, 2005), The Simpsons: The Complete Seventh Season (published January 16th, 2006), The Simpsons: The Complete Eighth Season (published August 21st, 2006), The Simpsons: The Complete Ninth Season (published January 22nd, 2007), The Simpsons: The Complete Thirteenth Season (Blu-Ray) (published September 6th, 2010), The Simpsons: The Complete Fourteenth Season (Blu-ray) (published December 19th, 2011), The Simpsons: The Complete Fifteenth Season (published December 24th, 2012), The Simpsons: The Complete Twentieth Season (Blu-Ray) (published January 21st, 2010), The Simpsons: Bart Wars (published June 30th, 2005), The Simpsons Christmas 2 (published December 24th, 2004), The Simpsons Gone Wild (published December 8th, 2004), The Simpsons: Kiss And Tell (published March 29th, 2006), The Simpsons: The Complete Twelfth Season (published September 9th, 2009), The Simpsons: The Fourteenth Season (published December 22nd, 2011), and The Simpsons' Treehouse Of Horror (published November 20th, 2003) are also available.
"Larry Flynt is right!"
And The Simpsons hits the decade mark. This 10th season box set includes all 23 episodes from the 1998-1999 season, after producer Mike Scully had taken over show-runner duties from departing producers David Mirkin, Josh Oakley, and Bill Weinstein.
A lot of folks like to whine and bitch and moan and complain about how The Simpsons isn't "as funny as it used to be." And yet, if I were up to you and say something like "Max Power" or "Bi-Mon-Sci-Fi-Con" or "Super Bowl episode" or "Canyonaro" or "Simpsons Bible Stories" or "Knife goes in, guts come out," you'd probably smile and nod, wouldn't you?
Facts of the Case
Homer and Marge Simpson live in the quaint small town of Springfield with their three children, Bart, 10, Lisa, 8, and Maggie, 1. They have many adventures. For example:
• "Lard of the Dance"
• "The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace"
• "Bart the Mother"
• "Treehouse of Horror IX"
• "When you Dish Upon a Star"
• "D'oh-in' in the Wind"
• "Lisa Gets an 'A'"
• "Homer Simpson in: 'Kidney Trouble'"
• "Mayored to the Mob"
• "Viva Ned Flanders"
• "Wild Barts Can't be Broken"
• "Sunday Cruddy Sunday"
• "Homer to the Max"
• "I'm with Cupid"
• "Marge Simpson in: 'Screaming Yellow Honkers'"
• "Make Room for Lisa"
• "Maximum Homerdrive"
• "Simpsons Bible Stories"
• "Mom and Pop Art"
• "The Old Man and the 'C' Student"
• "Monty Can't Buy Me Love"
• "They Saved Lisa's Brain"
• "Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo"
Returning again to the topic of Internet whining, it was only until recently that there were many disparaging opinions among bitter fans as to what year they felt the series had gone from brilliant to sucktastic. A lot of those discussions ended with the Season Nine DVDs came out. The extras there revealed how many of the longtime producers and writers left to pursue other projects. Many commentaries on the Season Nine set had someone saying, "This was the last episode I worked on." I, on the other hand, feel that new faces behind the scenes don't necessarily make the show worse. Different, yes, but not worse.
Instead of 23 great episodes, what we have in Season 10 is 23 episodes with great moments. Even if your initial reaction is, "This episode isn't one of the early classic ones," keep watching and you'll see or here something that'll crack you up, guaranteed. It could be a sharp witticism, a venomous critique on society, a huge piece of slapstick, a movie spoof, or, yes, something gross and lowbrow. The Simpsons know good comedy, and there's plenty of it here.
Another common online complaint is, "Why buy DVDs when the show is on TV seven days a week (if not more)?" Aside from not having to look at network promos on the bottom of the screen, it appears to me that these discs are an improvement over what's broadcast. Comparing these to a 2003 episode on my Tivo, the colors seem just slightly brighter on the DVDs. The less eye-stinging colors, such as the gray of Moe's hair, have a slight haze to it. On disc, though, Moe's hair is a more consistent, clean-looking shade of gray. The sound work continues to be nice, in 5.1 surround that is similarly clean and free of flaws.
The commentaries are another reason to pick up these discs instead of relying on syndication. Every single episode has one, with producers, writers, animators, voice actors, and the occasional guest star. These tracks are not only wildly funny, but they also reveal a lot of little details to look for, and they provide a solid look into the creative process that goes into each episode. Each commentary is a must-listen.
For other extras, creator Matt Groening offers a brief intro to the season, the deleted scenes with commentary provide some extra laughs, and others show the animation in a rougher form, such as animatics and storyboards. It's fascinating to see just how rough the early drawings are. In some, Homer doesn't look like Homer at all, and Bart is represented as a simple red rectangle, with details to be "filled in" later in the process. There are a bunch of commercials the characters have appeared in, including a few from Australia. This is followed by a foreign-language featurette and a compilation of Bart's prank calls to Moe. Finally, there's a very funny deleted scene from The Simpsons Movie.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
There are a lot of laughs, and a lot of really big ones, in this season, but I'll admit there is something missing. On previous season DVD sets, the show's creators talked about the desire to do stories with heart, ones that, along with the comedy, had an emotional core to them. Not all of the episodes this season are like that, though. When the Simpsons go to Japan, there are non-stop laughs, but where is the emotional element to the story? What do the characters learn? How do they change? Even a ridiculous comedy cartoon like The Simpsons has to ask these questions. This time around, though, only the better episodes do.
Look, most everybody likes the show, right? And everybody likes to laugh, right? In The Simpsons: The Complete Tenth Season, you'll laugh and laugh a lot. Not guilty.
I'm a billionaire tyrant. Get out of my skybox!
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