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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Various
Cast:
Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer, Tress MacNeille, Pamela Hayden, Marcia Wallace, Russi Taylor
Writing Credits:
Various

Synopsis:
The all-American dysfunctional family, beloved stars of the longest-running animated television series ever, returned for a sixth season on Fox. This season sees the adults of Springfield disappearing when Homer markets his libidinous wonderdrug. Meanwhile, Bart suspects aliens and conspiracy. Marge uncovers a repressed memory of her father when she encounters a flight attendant, and the family learns the reason behind the household's dearth of pictures of Maggie. Bart manages to offend the entire country of Australia, while both Homer and Marge decide it's time for a career change. Marge becomes a cop and sets about cleaning up Springfield, while Homer discovers the advantages and disadvantages of being a "professional" clown.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Fullscreen 1.33:1
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby 2.0
French Dolby 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 575 min.
Price: $49.98
Release Date: 8/16/2005

Bonus:
Disc One
• Audio Commentary for All Seven Episodes
• Deleted Scenes for Four Episodes
• “A Confession from Matt Groening”
• “Treehouse of Horror V, Act One” Animatic with Illustrated Commentary
Disc Two
• Audio Commentary for All Seven Episodes
• Deleted Scenes for Six Episodes
Disc Three
• Audio Commentary for All Seven Episodes
• Deleted Scenes for Seven Episodes
• Animation Showcase for One Episode
Disc Four
• Audio Commentary for All Four Episodes
• Deleted Scenes for Three Episodes
• Deleted Scenes Compilation with Optional Commentary
• “Springfield’s Most Wanted” Featurette
• “The Simpsons Plane” Featurette
• Commercials
• Special Language Feature
• Animation Showcase for One Episode
• “Intro with James L. Brooks” for One Episode
• “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” Animatic with Illustrated Commentary
• Original Sketches
• Suspect Profiles


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


The Simpsons: The Complete Sixth Season (1994)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 15, 2005)

Without any further ado, let’s dig into Season Six of The Simpsons. Presented in their original broadcast order, I’ll look at each show individually to document the lows, the highs, and the creamy middles. The plot capsules come straight from the DVD’s press release.

DVD ONE:

Bart of Darkness (aired 9/4/94): “During a very hot summer, Homer (voiced by Dan Castellaneta) installs a pool in the Simpson back yard. Bart (Nancy Cartwright) breaks his leg attempting to dive into it and is unable to use the pool while all the other neighborhood kids do. In a scene reminiscent of Rear Window, Bart sees Ned Flanders (Harry Shearer) bury something he thinks is Ned’s wife Maude (Maggie Roswell).”

Via “Darkness”, Season Six launches with… well, not with a bang, but not with a whimper either. The year opens with a show that has its moments but never quite soars. I really like the moments in which Bart turns weird – Cartwright’s disturbing guffaws are priceless – but I think the Rear Window moments get played a little too on the nose, especially when we see a Jimmy Stewart character. I’d call this one a solid “B” effort.

Lisa’s Rival (aired 9/11/94): “A new student (Winona Ryder) joins Lisa’s (Yeardley Smith) class and quickly becomes a rival to Lisa, both intellectually and musically. The competition between the two heats up to the point where Lisa enlists Bart to sabotage one of her rival’s projects. Meanwhile, Homer takes 100 pounds of sugar from an overturned truck and makes grandiose plans for it.”

Season Six immediately rebounds with the excellent “Rival”. Lisa-centered episodes aren’t usually my favorites, partially because they tend to be more sentimental and mawkish than most. Those trends don’t mar the cynical “Rival”, especially as we see Lisa turn surprisingly dark and rely on Bart. He may not be book-smart, but the boy shows real skill as a saboteur – despite a strange obsession with hose-soakings. Add the inspired – and bizarre – sugar subplot that comes complete with one of Homer’s best monologues/rants and “Rival” is a winner.

Another Simpsons Clip Show (aired 9/25/94): “Marge (Julie Kavner) is inspired by the book The Bridges of Madison County to try to teach her children about romance. She describes her near-affair with bowling instructor Jacques (Albert Brooks) while Homer relates his almost-fling with co-worker Mindy (Michelle Pfeiffer).”

Absolute fact: clip shows suck. The best of them work only because of their interstitials; for example, the April Fool’s one had some funny moments when Homer and Bart fought each other. “Another” lacks that factor. The romance related storyline fizzles. That leaves us with a good collection of clips, but since we can already watch them in their original episodes, why bother with this cheap excuse for product?

Itchy & Scratchy Land (aired 10/2/94): “Bart and Lisa ask their parents to take them to Itchy & Scratchy Land – “the violentest place on earth”. While there, Homer and Bart are arrested, and malfunctioning Itchy and Scratchy robots attack the Simpsons ala Westworld.”

To this day, I can’t enter an amusement park gift shop and not look for a “Bort” license plate. “Land” starts a smidgen slowly but really cranks into high gear when the family arrives at the park. It presents one great gag after another and culminates in an excellent little action sequence to make this a very strong show.

Sideshow Bob Roberts (aired 10/9/94): “While listening to a conservative radio host (Shearer) reminiscent of Rush Limbaugh, Lisa is startled to hear a call from Sideshow Bob (Kelsey Grammer). Bob uses the call-in show to help secure his release from prison and then runs for mayor as the candidate of Springfield’s Republican party.”

Sideshow Bob episodes rarely falter, and “Roberts” is yet another winner. Limbaugh’s an easy target, but Shearer’s terrific parody of him really shines, and all of the elements connected to the election also work well. From start to finish, this is a top-notch show.

Treehouse of Horror V (aired 10/30/94): “Act 1: the Simpsons are employed on Mr. Burns’ (Shearer) country estate - and Homer goes insane. Act 2: Homer’s attempts to repair a toaster lead him repeatedly back into the past – and he inadvertently changes the future. Act 3: The school cafeteria turns to an unusual source of food – and schoolchildren start mysteriously disappearing.”

While the first few “Treehouse of Horror” shows were decidedly lackluster, the Halloween tradition became more memorable after a while, and “V” continues that upward swing. All three segments work well, though I think I like the inspired anarchy of the time-travel piece the best. Chalk this up as one of the better “Treehouse” episodes.

Bart’s Girlfriend (aired 11/6/94): “Bart begins a romance with Jessica Lovejoy (Meryl Streep), the misbehaving daughter of the local minister (Shearer). He is blamed and ostracized for her theft of money from the church collection plate.”

We don’t often see Bart in a sympathetic light, so shows like this one are fun. “Girlfriend” reminds me of Season Four’s “New Kid on the Block” since it also featured Bart in love, though the programs differ since here the girl reciprocates. Streep does nicely as the bad kid and we get many fine moments in this memorable program.

DVD TWO:

Lisa On Ice (aired 11/13/94): “Blessed with the natural ability to stop flying objects, Lisa becomes a hockey goalie. Bart plays for another team and the rivalry between them grows, culminating in a climactic game.”

Wow – two shows in a row with a fairly sympathetic Bart! He’s less so here, but I do feel bad for him as he loses out to Lisa in yet another way. The program pours on some heavy-handed elements related to the pressures created by parents, but it has more than a few good bits and turns into a fairly good show.

Homer Badman (aired 11/27/94): “While driving the Simpsons’ babysitter home, Homer notices a gummy Venus de Milo stuck to her rear and grabs it. His actions are mistaken for an inappropriate sexual advance and Homer is vilified around town.”

Both political correctness and the excesses of TV news get lampooned in this strong program. The show gets into a loose reality for some of these barbs, but it stays in the spirit of the series and never quite becomes over the top. The spoof of the candy convention is a gas, and the rest of the program continues along those lines.

Grampa Vs. Sexual Inadequacy (aired 12/4/94): “Marge and Homer’s sex life hits a rough patch, but Grampa (Castellaneta) perks things up with a homemade revitalizing tonic. He and Homer go on the road to sell their elixir and Grampa reveals that Homer’s conception was not planned.”

Strange – I didn’t remember this as a very good episode, but it actually turns out to be quite strong. The initial plot in which Homer and Marge can’t get it together offers plenty of funny moments – “Enchiladas!” – and the scenes in which Homer battles with his dad offer depth and much humor. It’s also hard to beat the children’s fears of the “reverse vampires”.

Fear of Flying (aired 12/18/94): “Homer is awarded free airline tickets only to discover that Marge is afraid to fly. Marge enlists the aid of a therapist, Dr. Zweig (Anne Bancroft).”

Here’s another show I didn’t recall fondly but that works exceedingly well. I hadn’t realized how many quotes I’ve stolen from this one: the name “Guy Incognito”, the dog with the puffy tale, “a burden coupled with a hassle”. The show makes little sense in regard to continuity since Marge has flown during prior shows, but it’s consistently very funny and entertaining.

Homer the Great (aired 1/8/95): “Homer becomes the leader of a Masonic cult with immense secret power known as the Stonecutters.”

Secret societies get a good ribbing in this fine show. It features one of the series’ best musical numbers along with an excellent guest voice appearance by Patrick Stewart. I think it peters out a bit as it progresses; the best moments show the influence of the Stonecutters, and the show drags a little toward the end. Nonetheless, it still offers a solid piece of work.

And Maggie Makes Three (aired 1/22/95): “Lisa is surprised to discover there are no photos of Maggie in a family album. In a flashback, Homer explains why by telling the story of Maggie’s birth.”

Flashback episodes of The Simpsons usually work well, and “Maggie” is no exception to that rule. Actually, at this point it’s one of my favorites, but that’s partially because of overexposure to some of the others. In any case, this one has many hilarious moments – such as the scene that explains Homer’s hair loss.

Bart’s Comet (aired 2/5/95): “As punishment for a prank, Bart must assist Principal Skinner (Shearer) with his astronomy. He discovers a comet which turns out to be on a collision course with earth.”

During this program’s audio commentary, executive producer/show runner David Mirkin notes that “Comet” is one of his all-time favorite episodes. I don’t share the same level of enthusiasm for it, but I think it provides a consistently strong show. It stretches reality a bit, but that’s not a problem – or unusual for the series – and the program ends up as a positive one.

DVD THREE:

Homie the Clown (aired 2/12/95): “Krusty (Castellaneta) opens a clown college in which Homer enrolls. Homer is not a great clown, but he looks remarkably like Krusty, leading to many life-enhancing opportunities.”

Chock full of fun bits, “Clown” offers a truly terrific show. It’s hard to resist a program with a clever Close Encounters reference, and the ways that it ties together Krusty’s mob connection with Homer works nicely. It’s a real winner.

Bart Vs. Australia (aired 2/19/95): “Bart makes a collect call to an Australian boy which winds up costing $900. He is ordered to come to Australia to apologize and receive a boot on the butt.”

The hits keep coming with the excellent “Australia”. The series has occasionally gotten in trouble with its lampoons of other nations – if I recall correctly, Brazil wasn’t too wild about the family’s “visit” – but the Aussies seem to have a sense of humor, as I recall no outrage over this spoof. Perhaps that’s because it’s so darned funny.

Homer Vs. Patty and Selma (aired 2/26/95): “Homer runs up a debt that he can only repay by borrowing money from Marge’s sisters. Patty and Selma (Kavner and Kavner) constantly humiliate him until he finds a way to forgive their loan. Meanwhile, Bart takes ballet and is surprisingly good.”

Homer’s disdain for Marge’s sisters – and vice versa – has always led to terrific sparks, and “Vs.” provides another great round in their eternal battle. It’s hilarious to see Homer indebted to the Terrible Two, and the subplot in which Bart gets into ballet also works – where else can we see a modern character drink a Tab?

A Star Is Burns (aired 3/5/95): “Film critic Jay Sherman (Jon Lovitz) comes to Springfield for a local film festival. Entries include an artistic effort by Barney (Castellaneta), an overproduced piece of propaganda from Mr. Burns, and Homer’s favorite – Moleman (Castellaneta) getting hit in the crotch with a football.”

When I first saw “Burns”, I feared the worst as it seemed like little more than a cheesy piece of cross-promotion to tout The Critic. The show tries to have its fun with the concept via some self-referential gags, but it really is a cheap way to promote the other series. It manages some funny moments – and who doesn’t refer to “Senor Spielbergo” ever since? – but I think it lacks a lot of spark or real humor.

Lisa’s Wedding (aired 3/19/95): “The Simpsons visit a local fortune teller who describes Lisa’s wedding in the future. She is engaged to a charming British man but her family inadvertently mucks it up.”

I was surprised to learn that “Wedding” won an Emmy, as I never considered it to be one of the year’s better episodes. Fantasy shows are a tough sell, and this one has aged worse than others; it takes place in 2010, which isn’t quite so far off anymore. (It also has gags that don’t seem improbable, like a Stones tour and a film festival for Jim Carrey.) I really don’t like the bit about Maggie’s chattiness, and this episode leaves me cold.

Two Dozen and One Greyhounds (aired 4/9/95): “The Simpsons’ dog impregnates another greyhound, leaving the Simpsons with a litter of 25 puppies. Mr. Burns attempts to get the little dogs for purposes which turn out to be quite nefarious.”

Disney comes in for massive spoofing here. The influence of 101 Dalmatians is obvious, but we also get jabs at Lady and the Tramp and Beauty and the Beast. Add to these the most bizarre references to Rory Calhoun imaginable and you have a fine show.

The PTA Disbands (aired 4/16/95): “When Principal Skinner implements new budget cutbacks at Springfield Elementary, the teachers go on strike. Lisa and even Bart start to miss the school, and local parents must step in to teach classes.”

At times “Disbands” reminds me a little too much of the episode in which Skinner got fired, but it goes off on enough tangents to form its own identity. I especially like the contrasts between how Bart and Lisa accept the strike. The show doesn’t quite manage to soar consistently, but it has more than enough to make it positive.

DVD FOUR:

’Round Springfield (aired 4/30/95): “Bart gets appendicitis from a box of Krusty-O’s cereal. While visiting him in the hospital, Lisa is dismayed to learn that her idol, jazzman Bleeding Gums Murphy (Ron Taylor), is also being treated there.”

“Moaning Lisa”, the Season One episode that introduced Bleeding Gums, has long been one of my least favorite. “’Round” doesn’t do anything to make that character more endearing to me. Some of the moments connected to Bart’s illness are funny, but I really hate that “Jazzman” song and don’t care for the Bleeding Gums parts.

The Springfield Connection (aired 5/7/95): “Marge confronts a street hustler who takes $20 from Homer and enjoys it so much that she decides to become a cop. She discovers the work is not as much fun as she anticipated.”

After the dull “’Round”, Season Six rebounds with the pretty good “Connection”. I can’t quite figure out how Marge stays in such good shape, but her escapades as a cop are funny, and the episode works best when she arrests Homer. I especially like his refusal to remain silent.

Lemon of Troy (aired 5/14/95): “When a popular Springfield lemon tree is stolen by kids from Shelbyville, Bart vows to get it back. He learns the tree has been moved to an impound lot.”

For Season Six’s penultimate program, we get one of the year’s better – and weirder – shows. The parts that contrast Shelbyville with Springfield are unquestionably highlights, especially via quirky and clever touches like the voice of Bart’s main rival. The whole concept of the precious lemon tree is amusingly strange, and this episode comes chock full of nice biys.

Who Shot Mr. Burns? Pt. 1 (aired 5/21/95): “Mr. Burns attempts to take the oil from beneath Springfield Elementary School and then blocks out the sun, enraging local residents. Soon after, Burns is mysteriously shot in the chest – and there is no shortage of suspects.”

Though “Shot” is more plot-driven than most episodes – so it can push the cliffhanger mystery – it still manages many funny components. Homer’s ongoing frustration with Burns’ inability to remember him works well, and the show has fun with its obvious suspense moments. “Shot” finishes the year well and acts as a good cliffhanger.


The DVD Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B/ Bonus B

The Simpsons: The Complete Sixth Season appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on these single-sided, double-layered DVDs; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The visuals of The Simpsons have improved mildly as the years have passed, so while Season Six was the best of the bunch, I didn’t see anything remarkably superior to past sets.

As usual, sharpness varied. Many shots displayed pretty solid delineation and definition. However, more than a few exceptions occurred, particularly in wider shots; those often looked moderately vague. Occasionally signs of jagged edges and shimmering manifested themselves, and I also noticed a little edge enhancement.

Seen in the form of specks and small marks, source flaws popped up sporadically. These mostly seemed connected to lackluster clean-up animation, and the instances of defects decreased from prior sets. Nonetheless, they still occurred and created some distractions.

One improvement came from the quality of the colors. They looked a bit brighter and more dynamic here. They still appeared a little messy at times, but overall I thought the tones were stronger than in the past. Black levels failed to present great depth, but seemed reasonably tight and full. The occasional low-light shots appeared slightly too dark, but they never were terribly opaque. The minor improvements meant I upped my grade from a “C+” to a “B-“.

I also thought the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio of The Simpsons was a little better than what I heard in prior years, though I didn’t discern enough of a difference to change my grade. As always, the soundfield focused on the front channels. In that realm, they offered quite good breadth and movement. Panning was always strong, as the elements crossed the channels cleanly. These elements helped open up the soundscape and make it convincing.

Though the surrounds usually stayed with basic ambience, they kicked into life more actively on a few occasions. I even noticed some directional effects from the rear speakers, something I didn’t recall from prior years. The Season Six soundfields didn’t dazzle, but they seemed to open up matters just a little better than in the past.

The quality of the sound stayed consistent with the other DVDs. A smidgen of edginess marred some of the speech, but the lines usually came across as crisp and concise. Music showed very nice definition. Scores and songs were consistently dynamic and lively. Effects also added some pep to the package. Those elements appeared tight and clean, with pretty good low-end when necessary. Despite the improvements, I still couldn’t quite see this as a “B+” set of soundtracks, so I stayed with the same “B” as in the past. However, I felt growth occurred and was pleased with that.

As with the first five packages, The Complete Sixth Season includes a moderate collection of extras. All 25 episodes provide audio commentaries. These tracks present an ever-changing roster of participants, though a few constants occur. Writer and creator Matt Groening appears on most of the tracks; he misses “Grampa Vs. Sexual Inadequacy”, “Bart Vs. Australia”, “A Star Is Burns”, “Lisa’s Wedding”, “’Round Springfield” and “Who Shot Mr. Burns”. Executive producer/show runner David Mirkin pops up frequently as well; he’s only absent for “A Star Is Burns” and “’Round Springfield” since he didn’t work on those shows.

Other participants show up as well. The tracks feature producer/writer Greg Daniels (1, 6, 9, 19, 24), director Jim Reardon (1, 6, 24), supervising director David Silverman (1, 3, 7, 9, 13, 15, 17, 21, 24), writer David S. Cohen (1, 6, 24), director Mark Kirkland (2, 11, 15, 17, 23), producer/writer Mike Scully (2, 8, 20), director Wes Archer (4, 10, 16), writer Bill Oakley (5, 10, 16, 25), writer Josh Weinstein (5, 10, 16, 25), writer Jonathan Collier (7, 23), director Susie Dietter (7, 18), director Bob Anderson (8, 14, 20), animation director Jeffrey Lynch (9, 25), director Swinton O. Scott III (13, 21), show runner Al Jean (18, 22), show runner Mike Reiss (18, 22), executive producer Jim Brooks (18, 19), writer Ken Keeler (18), animation director Steve Moore (22), writer Josh Sternin (22), writer Jeffrey Ventimilia (22), and voice actors Dan Castellaneta (2, 4, 12, 14, 18, 23), Yeardley Smith (2, 4, 12, 14, 23), Jon Lovitz (18) and Julie Kavner (7, 9).

The biggest change – and improvement, in my book – comes from the greater presence of Mirkin. Actually, he talked through the same number of commentaries for Season Five, but for some reason, he didn’t make as much of an impact on me there. Maybe I was too used to the occasionally-drab Al Jean from the first four seasons to absorb the difference made by Mirkin.

But Mirkin definitely makes these commentaries more entertaining. Granted, they were already a lot of fun, but he brings some energy and wit not found in prior sets. He also lends an amusingly nasty tone to many of his comments; there’s a charge to his discussions absent in the past.

The quality of the content remains similar, though. Among general notes, some highlights include information about the impact of the Northridge earthquake on the series, battling Fox over cartoon violence for “Itchy and Scratchy Land”, and the components of the “Burns” mystery. I think the commentaries possess more insight than usual, as we find nice notes about character design and execution, the development of stories and gags, and the various premises behind the shows. We also learn which character is Groening’s least favorite.

Surprisingly, one of the best commentaries accompanies “Clip Show”. Since there’s not much new content to discuss, the participants give an overview of the path stories take to get to the screen. This proves quite illuminating and ends with a hilarious capper from Mirkin.

In the “disappointment” category, the track about “A Star Is Burns” lacks much depth. Apparently there was a lot of controversy that surrounded the episode due to its Critic crossover, but we hear nothing about that here. In addition, the commentaries peter out somewhat as the year progresses. Some exceptions occur, but the tracks for the last handful of shows aren’t as good as the prior ones, especially since praise starts to dominate. Nonetheless, I really like these commentaries as a package and think they’re mostly very entertaining and useful.

A mix of other supplements spread across all four DVDs. 20 of this release’s episodes include Deleted Scenes. Only these five programs lack deleted scenes: “Lisa’s Rival”, “Another Simpsons Clip Show”, “Bart’s Girlfriend”, “Lisa On Ice”, and “Lemon of Troy”. You can check these out via two methods. You can watch them as parts of the appropriate shows or in a separate compilation on DVD Four. Obviously, not all the scenes are winners, but I like being able to see them. Many are quite enjoyable and amusing; most easily would have worked in the final cut of the shows. I especially like that they come in the form of finished animation, which is rare; usually eliminated scenes didn’t get that far.

The DVD Four compilation puts all 55 scenes - which last a total of 27 minutes and 10 seconds - in one place. In a nice touch, we get the portion of the show that precedes the cut scene right before it to remind us where the snippet would have appeared. Those bits are black and white while the new material appears in color; that helps us tell which parts were deleted.

If you check out the deleted scenes via the big package on DVD Four, you also can listen to some commentary from David Mirkin. He tells us why they cut the sequences as well as some specific notes. Al Jean provides remarks about his two episodes: “A Star Is Burns” and “’Round Springfield”. Listening to the contrast between the dowdy Jean and the peppy Mirkin reminds me again why this year’s commentaries are better than those from prior seasons. This area also begins with an introduction from Mirkin.

For two episodes, we get an Animation Showcase. This allows us to use the “angle” feature to check out some scenes at different levels of completion. We can flip between storyboards and animatics for “Lisa’s Wedding” and “Who Shot Mr. Burns?”. The finished product always appears in a small box down in the lower right corner. It’s a fairly fun interactive way to check out the stages of completion.

We get animatics for “Treehouse of Horror V, Act One” (nine minutes, 25 seconds) and “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” (8:05). These offer some cut material – more than two minutes of it in the case of “Horror” – and are nice to see. We can watch “Horror” with telestrator commentary from Jim Reardon, Matt Groening, and David Silverman; “Burns” includes those three plus Jeffrey Lynch. In “Horror”, we hear about Kubrick references and similarities between Krusty and Homer, while “Burns” looks at drawing techniques, the secrecy of the mystery and its execution, Both animatics are interesting and entertaining.

On DVD One, we get A Confession from Matt Groening. This two-minute and nine-second clip offers a simple introduction to the set. Basically Groening tells us how terrific the year was and a little about what we’ll find on the discs. It sounds like a sales pitch, which is odd since we already bought the package.

DVD Four offers an Intro with James L. Brooks for the “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” episode. This 56-second clip tells us a little about how the storyline was pitched. His comments aren’t that interesting, but we see a bunch of ads created for the cliffhanger mystery, and those are a lot of fun.

Two featurettes appear on DVD Four. The more substantial of the two, Springfield’s Most Wanted gives us a 21-minute and 12-second piece. In it we learn more about the “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” cliffhanger. America’s Most Wanted host Jon Walsh spoofs his normal gig in this promotional program that purports to examine the Burns mystery. We get remarks from Vegas bookmaker Jimmy Vaccaro, Beverly Hills psychiatrist Lydia Hansen, and former LAPD Chief Daryl Gates. We also get opinions from actors Dennis Franz, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Kevin Nealon, Chris Elliott, and Andrew Shue. Aired right before the debut of “Who Shot Mr. Burns? Part Two”, the show exists solely to tout the cliffhanger. It’s cute and nice to have for archival reasons, but that’s about it.

Next comes a short clip called The Simpsons Plane. This 117-second piece shows footage of a Western Pacific jet painted with series characters and insignias. We see cast and crew as they gather for its initial flight. Groening and Mirkin provide amusing commentary that reveals why they refused to get on the jet.

Within the Special Language Feature on DVD Four, we get the same kind of multi-language clip we’ve found on prior sets. We can watch all of “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” in Czechoslovakian, Parisian French, Castilian Spanish or Russian. It’s a cute option but not terribly useful. The Russian option is unusual in that it doesn’t remove the original voices; what sounds like a pair of actors – one male, one female – do all the voices on top of the original dialogue. Even more oddly, there’s always a delay; the voices appear after the English lines. (You can also access the various languages while you watch the episode proper; just cycle through the audio options.)

A couple more features connect to the “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” episode. Original Sketches presents 87 basic drawings created for the show; they’re surprisingly uninteresting. Suspect Profiles gives us descriptions of 26 Springfield residents and why they may have shot Mr. Burns. Written by David Cohen, they’re very entertaining and well-done.

Since all prior Simpsons releases included Easter eggs, I assume this one does as well. However, I couldn’t locate them. Perhaps I didn’t try hard enough, but if they’re here, they’re tougher to find than usual.

The first five releases included booklets. Each had a funny introductory note from Matt Groening. plus chapter stops, story synopses, and notes about the supplements. This probably appears in the Season Six package as well, but my review copy didn’t provide one, so I can only speculate.

One definite change comes from the packaging. The Simpsons goes gimmicky with Season Six, as the discs come in a plastic case shaped like Homer’s head. This sounds cool but I don’t care for it, at least not as executed here. The plastic seems cheap, and it’s awkward to get into it and deal with the discs. Happily, Fox will make replacement cases available for those who want packages like the old ones. A note in the box should include information about this, though I’ve heard the number is incorrect; apparently the inset lists it as an 800 number, while the accurate prefix is 888.

Another great year of The Simpsons, Season Six probably isn’t as strong as the excellent Season Five. However, it does still represent the series at or near the top of its game, as the hits far outweigh the duds. The DVDs present picture and audio that slightly improve on prior packages, and the extras continue to entertain and inform. I recommended the first five releases, so it should come as no surprise that I do the same for Season Six of The Simpsons.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.5172 Stars Number of Votes: 29
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