Judge Ryan Keefer's reign of terror is over, please welcome Judge Armin Tamzarian!
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 Tenth Season (published August 29th, 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.
"Sorry son, I didn't know you, Jay Leno, and a monkey were bathing a clown."
The general consensus seems to be that creatively, at least, The Simpsons star began to fade a little bit as it approached double digit seasons. With all that's been written and praised about the show, it managed to hit a landmark with its 200th episode. Live action shows rarely get that mark, and prime time animated shows that hit it are one in a million. In its ninth year of life, how do the 25 episodes of this version of The Simpsons stack up?
Facts of the Case
I'll dispense with the prattle and let you know what episodes are on here:
• "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson"
• "The Principal and the Pauper"
• "Lisa's Sax"
• "Treehouse of Horror VIII"
• "The Cartridge Family"
• "Bart Star"
• "The Two Mrs. Nahasapeemapetilons"
• "Lisa the Skeptic"
• "Reality Bites"
• "Miracle on Evergreen Terrace"
• "All Singing, All Dancing"
• "Bart Carny"
• "The Joy of Sect"
• "Das Bus"
• "The Last Temptation of Krust"
• "Dumbbell Indemnity"
• "Lisa the Simpson"
• "This Little Wiggy"
• "Simpson Tide"
• "The Trouble with Trillions"
• "Girly Edition"
• "Trash of the Titans"
• "King of the Hill"
• "Lost our Lisa"
• "Natural Born Kissers"
On a whole, Season Nine of The Simpsons was one of those where it hit the ground running. However, for the most part, the quality of the writing in the season seemed to be on cruise control. Compared to other seasons, there's maybe one or two standout episodes from the season, and the 200th really isn't worth writing home about. Many of the episodes are in the "good but nothing special" category, and it's clear that more and more, the episode stories appear to be recycled without too much inspiration brought to the table.
On the creative side, it was almost as if Matt Groening, James Brooks and Sam Simon were trying out a few different writers, hoping to find someone that could stick. Folks like Greg Daniels and Conan O'Brien had long since gone, to be replaced by people like Ian Maxtone-Graham (he who co-produced The Hot Chick) and Larry Doyle (he who wrote and co-produced Duplex). Some of the longtime writers were still contributing like John Swartzwelder and Mike Scully, but overall the smart satire just wasn't coming across like it used to.
And that's just the creative stuff. When watching Season Nine it just didn't look as sharp as other seasons have been. The video looks a little more rough and jagged than other seasons and the color looked a lot less uniform than previous seasons. If there's a saving grace, it's that the boys at Fox have perpetually loaded up these seasons with a ton of material. This time, commentaries on all episodes (including a quick spot from Leno about his guest appearance), deleted scenes, storyboard comparisons, and the usual interactive features that are designed to make any Simpsons fans jump for joy.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
OK, so back when Season Six came out, I (and many other people) vilified the decision to release an aesthetically clunky head of Homer that housed all the discs. So all praises should be returned to Fox for giving the consumer the choice in subsequent seasons of which one they wanted. However, not to sound like a sweaty-palmed mouth-breathing fanboy for a second, but the catalog lists "The Cartridge Family" and "Bart Star" as being on Disc Two when they're not. Maybe I worked in a QA lab in a previous life, but there you go.
Overall the quality of the show does clearly slip from Season Six, but it's still is good form for the better part of the season. The extras appear to be a little more robust as well, and despite an apparent slight dip in video quality, it's another solid addition to your Simpsons video library.
On the whole, the cast and creative team of The Simpsons are found not guilty. As for science vs. religion, I am issuing a restraining order. Religion must stay 500 yards from science at all times.
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Scales of Justice
• A Special Introduction from Matt Groening
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