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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 Simpsons: Season 5 (1993-94) set is yet another collection of episodic gems, filled with the show's trademark biting humor and quotable dialogue, presented in broadcast order. Homer-sized sections of bonus features - including commentaries, deleted scenes, a Matt Groening introduction, and more - have become standard on Simpsons full-season sets, and fans will not be disappointed here. Cast members Dan Castellaneta (Homer) and Yeardley Smith (Lisa) provide commentary on "Bart's Inner Child," in which Homer buys a trampoline, and on "Boy-Scoutz 'n the Hood," wherein Bart and Milhouse drink Squishees made entirely of syrup and "Go crazy Broadway style!" Writer Conan O'Brien joins in three of the commentaries: "Homer Goes to College," in which Homer befriends three nerds; the annual "Treehouse of Horror IV" episode; and "Bart Gets Famous," an outing that features O'Brien as a character (animated, of course) rather than a writer. A featurette celebrates "Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadasssss Song," the series’ classic 100th episode, which finds Principal Skinner losing his job after Bart's dog gets loose in school. This is also the season that "Bart Gets an Elephant"; the Ramones celebrate Mr. Burns's birthday in "Rosebud"; Homer becomes an astronaut in "Deep Space Homer"; the proper way to pronounce "chowder" is chewed over in "The Boy Who Knew Too Much"; and Homer meets his match when new worker Mindy (Michelle Pfeiffer) arrives at the plant in "The Last Temptation of Homer." In a season of standouts, several all-timers merit special attention, such as Sideshow Bob’s homicidal return in "Cape Feare" (featuring Kelsey Grammer as Bob); "Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy," in which Lisa joins with Malibu Stacy's creator (Kathleen Turner) to create a new doll; "Homer's Barbershop Quartet," a musical delight that will have you singing "Baby on Board" over and over. Perhaps best of all, though, is "Homer and Apu," which finds Homer in intestinal distress after eating tainted meat at Apu’s store, and features the Emmy-nominated showstopper, "Who Needs the Kwik-E-Mart?"

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: 484 min.
Price: $49.98
Release Date: 12/21/2004

Bonus:
Disc One
• Audio Commentary for All Episodes
• “A Word from Matt Groening” Introduction
• Animation Showcase
• Animatic with Illustrated Commentary
• Deleted Scenes
• Commercials
• Original Sketches
Disc Two
• Audio Commentary for All Episodes
• Animation Showcase
• Animatic with Illustrated Commentary
• Deleted Scenes
Disc Three
• Audio Commentary for All Episodes
• Animation Showcase
• Animatic with Commentary
• Deleted Scenes
• Audio Outtake
• Original Sketches
Disc Four
• Audio Commentary for All Episodes
• Special Language Feature
• Animation Showcase
• Deleted Scenes
• Animatic with Commentary
• “A Look Back with James L. Brooks” Featurette


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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 Fifth Season (1993)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 21, 2004)

Call it progress: while it took more than a year between the releases of Seasons Two and Three of The Simpsons, Season Four followed barely nine and a half months later. That was amazing to fans, but the incredulity continues with Season Five. It hits the shelves a mere six months after its predecessor.

Hopefully this trend will continue, and we fans will gladly take it. I’ll dig into the programs that make up Season Five 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 booklet. Lastly, I’ll toss in a fun line from each episode; the quotes won’t always be me absolute favorite, but they’ll provide tidbits I find to be amusing that seem to work in the written context.

DVD ONE:

Homer’s Barbershop Quartet (aired 9/30/93): “While at a flea market, the Simpsons discover an old barbershop quartet album starring Homer (voiced by Dan Castellaneta). Homer reveals that he was once a singer/songwriter for a popular group known as the Be-Sharps, whose rise and fall eerily paralleled that of the Beatles.”

Season Five kicks off with a terrific bang via “Quartet”. Like the better Simpsons episodes, this one parodies a mix of subjects across various lines. It focuses on a music business spoof, with a slant toward Beatlemania; that element’s accentuated by the second of three Beatles cameos - and probably the best one - as George Harrison shows up here. It also tosses in some deft mockery of the mid-Eighties and other hilarious elements like the Homer doppelganger Marge creates.

Representative line: The Sea Captain: “Ah, I’ve nothing against ye, Squiddy. I just heard thar was gold in your belly.”

Cape Feare (aired 10/7/93): “An anonymous letter writer makes ominous threats to Bart (Nancy Cartwright). The Simpsons discover they were sent by Sideshow Bob (Kelsey Grammer) who, when released from prison, harasses the Simpsons and then attempts to kill Bart with a machete. But Bob’s vanity foils him yet again.”

The Simpsons rarely goes wrong with Sideshow Bob episodes, and “Cape Feare” fates as one of the best. It plays more as a straight parody than usual, but it doesn’t depend much on your knowledge of the two Fear flicks. It includes more hilarious moments than you can shake a stick at and turns into a classic. Even a moment created due to a short running time – the rake gag - becomes entertaining.

Representative line: Bart: “But who could hate me? I’m this century’s Dennis the Menace!”

Homer Goes to College (aired 10/14/93): “Homer must return to college in order to keep his position at the nuclear plant. He tries to turn his collegiate experience into a rowdy riot (ala Animal House) and nearly ruins the life of his kind, understanding dean - not to mention his three nerdy tutors, Gary, Doug and Benjamin.”

Don’t expect “College” to quite live up to its two predecessors this year, but it remains a strong show nonetheless. Actually, it starts a little slowly but builds steam along the way. It includes some classic moments of a Homer idiocy - hard to beat him chasing squirrels with a stick - and one of the better visual gags via Burns’ chair. Who can dislike a show in which Richard Nixon threatens Homer due to a drunken pig?

Representative line: Homer’s essay: “It was the most I ever threw up, and it changed my life forever.”

Rosebud (aired 10/21/93): “Mr. Burns (Harry Shearer) has a birthday party featuring a performance by the Ramones (themselves). Yet he is despondent, pining for his lost teddy bear, Bobo. Meanwhile, Maggie gets Bobo from Bart who finds it in a bag of ice. This leads to a furious struggle between Burns and the baby for possession of the bear.”

As with “College”, “Rosebud” fails to reach the highest echelon of Simpsons shows. That doesn’t mean it’s not another winner, though. The show boasts a funny look at Burns’ childhood, and every time it looks like it might turn too sappy, it produces something clever and witty.

Representative line: Mr. Burns: “Have the Rolling Stones killed.”

Treehouse of Horror IV (aired 10/28/93): Act 1: When Homer announces that he would sell his soul for a donut, the Devil, disguised as Ned Flanders (Shearer), shows up to take him up on his offer. Act 2: While riding to school, Bart believes he sees a malevolent gremlin on the side of the bus. Act 3: Mr. Burns is Dracula in a spoof of Francis Ford Coppola’s horror film.”

The show’s highest profile segment - “Dracula” - is easily the least effective. It presents some good moments but never quite takes flight. The donut scenario is mostly clever and funny, but the gremlin one works the best. We get the introduction of Uter the German exchange student and his Marzipan Joy Joys plus many other wonderful bits.

Representative line: Milhouse: “No way, Bart. If I bend over, I leave myself open to wedgies, Wet Willies, and the dreaded Rear Admiral.”

DVD TWO:

Marge on the Lam (aired 11/4/93): “Marge (Julie Kavner) goes out on a girls’ night with next-door neighbor Ruth Powers (Pamela Reed). When Chief Wiggum (Hank Azaria) attempts to pull Ruth over, she flees and reveals she stole the car from her ex-husband. Pursued by the cops, they drive over a chasm - only to land safely on a pile of garbage.”

Any episode that launches with a slam on Garrison Keillor is a-okay with me. I love the show even though I’ve never understood the gag about ballet involving a bear in a little car - is this some universal concept lost on me? It’s funny anyway, and Homer’s pathetic inability to get by without Marge is sweet. Count on another very good show.

Representative line: Mr. Burns: “Far too much dancing, not nearly enough prancing!”

Bart’s Inner Child (aired 11/11/93): “Homer buys a trampoline which injures many of the neighborhood children. To avoid future impulsive behavior on Homer’s part, Marge orders a videotape to help them communicate better. Brad Goodman (Albert Brooks), the tape’s host, comes to Springfield and recommends the townspeople should all get in touch with their inner child, like Bart - with disastrous results.”

A certified classic, “Child” mocks the self-help field and makes a good point along the way. Of course, it does all this with scads of clever moments and becomes a great show. As one who works in psychology, it’s hard to resist this program’s spoofery.

Representative line: Moe: “You really irritate me, Skinner, with your store-bought haircut and your good posture!’

Boy-Scoutz ‘N the Hood (aired 11/18/93): “Bart and Milhouse (Pamela Hayden) do the town after drinking extra syrupy Squishees and wake up to find they have joined the Junior Campers. Homer and Ned accompany the scouts on a father-son rafting trip, which goes awry thanks to Homer.”

Another brilliant show, “Hood” works from start to finish. We see what an amazing amount of goods and services one can purchase in Springfield with only $20, and we get a fun spoof of scouting. Add to that terrific rivalry moments between Bart and Homer and the show excels.

Representative line: Bart: “I’ve made my bed, and now I’ve got to weasel out it.”

The Last Temptation of Homer (aired 12/9/93): “Homer gets a beautiful new co-worker, Mindy Simmons (Michelle Pfeiffer), who likes the same things he does. When the two of them are sent on a business trip together, Marge fears for her marriage.”

Given Homer’s utter devotion to Marge, it may seem off-character for him to fall for Mindy. However, the show makes it fit, as his obsession doesn’t come across as inconsistent. The “B”-plot that turns Bart into a nerd is the funnier one, though I do love Marge’s discount T-shirt of herself.

Representative line: Homer: “What the hell was that? I probably shouldn’t have eaten that packet of powdered gravy I found in the parking lot.”

$pringfield (aired 12/16/93): “Springfield legalizes gambling, leading Burns to open a casino and Marge to become an addict. Burns grows more and more like Howard Hughes, while Bart turns his treehouse into a Vegas-style resort, complete with singer Robert Goulet (himself).”

This excellent episode includes a surprising number of concurrent plots. In addition to the three listed above, Homer also works in the casino and tries to care for the family without Marge. It balances them deftly and provides great laughs along the way.

Averted censorship note: after the real-life incident in which Siegfried and Roy’s Roy got mauled by a tiger, some folks worried an eerily similar scene in this show would get the boot. It doesn’t - the tiger chomps on the faux entertainers the same as always.

Representative line: Grampa: “I’m old - gimme gimme gimme!”

Homer the Vigilante (aired 1/6/94): “An elegant cat burglar (Sam Neill) terrorizes Springfield. Homer leads a mob of vigilantes who catch the thief but are unable to succeed until they learn from Grampa (Castellaneta) that their nemesis is actually an old man.”

After the many plots of the prior show, “Vigilante” maintains a much tighter focus. It’s not quite as wonderful an episode as its immediate predecessor, but it’s strong nonetheless. Much of the humor comes from Homer’s newfound power and abuse of it. If nothing else, it’s a great program due to Homer’s reaction to Lisa’s jug playing.

Representative line: Homer: “Can’t talk - robbed - go hell.”

DVD THREE:

Bart Gets Famous (aired 2/3/94): “Bart sneaks away from a field trip into the studio of Krusty the Clown (Castellaneta), who hires him as his assistant. Bart gets a part on a sketch, but inadvertently messes it up, saying ‘I didn’t do it’, a catchphrase which catapults him to celebrity and an appearance on Late Night with Conan O’Brien.”

Is there anything better than Skinner’s intense fascination with the box factory? Yeah, as lots of great moments pop up in this excellent program. Bart’s rise to fame sparkles via its deft parody of instant - and fleeting - fame, and many wacky bits show up along the way such as Homer’s fear that Bart got turned into a box. We also get what I believe is the series’ first use of “yoink!” It’d take a lot of space to fill in all the wonderful moments in this top-notch show. It’s maybe the series’ most quotable episode - I’ve used scads of this piece’s lines over the years. Am I the only one who can’t hear “U Can’t Touch This” and not rap “I didn’t do it!” instead? This might be Season Five’s best show.

Representative line: Box factory manager: “That’s just the TV studio where they film Krusty the Clown and other non-box-related programs.”

Homer and Apu (aired 2/10/94): “Homer goes undercover to reveal that Apu (Azaria) is selling tainted meat at his convenience store. Apu loses his job and lives with the Simpsons until he and Homer go to India to appeal to the head of the Kwik-E-Mart Corporation.”

The first episode to focus on Apu, this one works well. It’s not as good as “Famous”, but what is? Our glimpses of Apu’s sleaziness and culture are entertaining, and the “Who Needs the Kwik-E-Mart?” tune is one of the better musical numbers. And every time I go into a warehouse store, I try to find a 12-pound box of nutmeg. Also count James Woods as one of the all-time best guest stars, which is likely why he gets many more lines than the average cameo voice.

Representative line: Apu: “Silly customer! You cannot hurt a Twinkie!”

Lisa Vs. Malibu Stacy (aired 2/17/94): “Lisa gets upset by the sexism displayed by a Talking Malibu Stacy doll. She tracks down the creator of the doll with the aid of Springfield’s biggest Malibu Stacy collector, Mr. Smithers (Shearer). A new doll is created, modeled on Lisa (Yeardley Smith), but it proves unpopular.”

Back in the early Nineties, Mattel put out a talking Barbie. One of its lines? “Math class is tough!” The doll didn’t stay on the market long due to all the protests, and that incident led to this season’s big Lisa-centric show. It’s a good but not great one despite more than a few strong moments, like the hilarious shot of Bart at the gay rights parade. Most years this would be an “A”-list program, but it’s one of Season Five’s lesser lights despite a generally high level of quality.

Representative line: Malibu Stacy: “Don’t ask me - I’m just a girl!”

Deep Space Homer (aired 2/24/94): “In an attempt to send an average man into space, Homer and Barney (Castellaneta) are recruited as astronauts. Homer is sent into orbit on a voyage with Apollo 11 veteran Buzz Aldrin (himself). Homer saves the mission from disaster, but is dismayed when all the credit goes to an inanimate carbon rod.”

Hmm… I always remembered “Space” as a great episode, but it doesn’t quite live up to expectations. To be sure, it includes a lot of fine material - it’s just not as consistently stellar as I recalled. Nonetheless, I like it a lot and regard it as a strong show.

Representative line: Homer: “Default - the two sweetest words in the English language!’

Homer Loves Flanders (aired 3/17/94): “Flanders invites Homer to go with him to a football game and even gives him the game ball. Homer decides he’s been too hard on his neighbor and is overly kind to Ned, which Ned finds increasingly aggravating. But in the end, the natural order of the Simpsons universe reasserts itself.”

I always remembered “Loves” to be a great episode - and I recalled correctly. Sure, the show goes with a less than creative presence; it’s an easy story to make characters behave in atypical ways. However, the development of the theme is terrific, as we learn the friendship of Homer Simpson is worse than the antagonism of Homer Simpson.

Representative line: Ned: “What’s the cash value of those tickets so I can report it on my income tax?”

Bart Gets an Elephant (aired 3/31/94): “Bart wins an elephant in a radio giveaway. The elephant, which Bart names Stampy, turns out to be ill-behaved and uncontrollable, and the other Simpson pets feel neglected. Finally, the family places the petulant pachyderm in an animal refuge.”

As with shows like “Space”, Season Five includes plenty of programs with potentially cheesy concepts, and “Elephant” is one of them. However, it manages to easily overcome its possible flaws to turn into a very fine program. And it even includes the first appearance of Cletus!

Representative line: Homer: “Marge, I agree with you in theory. In theory, communism works. In theory.”

DVD FOUR:

Burns’ Heir (aired 4/14/94): “Burns holds auditions for an heir, and after Bart vandalizes his mansion, the old man chooses him. Burns tutors his protégé in all his evil ways, but when forced to choose between his patron and his family, Bart chooses the latter.”

“Heir” features such a great concept that it’s a surprise no went for it earlier. It occasionally veers on the edge of mushiness, but it avoids becoming too sentimental. It’s a blast to see Burns’ world from Bart’s point of view.

Representative line: “Being abusive to your family is one thing, but I will not stand idly by while you feed a hungry dog!”

Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadassssss Song (aired 4/28/94): “In the 100th episode of the series, Bart’s dog gets loose in the school, and the ensuing havoc is so great, Principal Skinner (Shearer) loses his job. Ned Flanders Skinner and Skinner returns to the Army, but when Flanders brings his Christianity into the public school, a guilty Bart is able to get Flanders fired and get Skinner his old job back.”

When I was in second grade, I got a puppy for Christmas. I still recall the excitement when my Mom brought her into school for the others to see, and the first segment of “Sweet” reflects the atmosphere caused by a doggie visit. The rest of the episode gets into Skinner’s life nicely. Toss in a great Alien reference and “Sweet” offers yet another solid show. It’s easy to love a show that features a memory of Ned’s beatnik father.

Representative line: Martin: “My raisin roundies!”

The Boy Who Knew Too Much (aired 5/5/94): “Bart plays hooky and witnesses a dispute between a waiter and Mayor Quimby’s spoiled nephew Freddy (Castellaneta). Freddy is accused of beating the waiter and goes on trial, with Homer enjoying himself in the jury. Bart can exonerate the accused - but only by admitting he skipped school.”

Freddy Quimby may well be the most unpleasant character to grace the series - in an amusing way, though Freddy’s edginess makes him less amusing than his uncle. It’s rather startling to see Skinner so rapidly resume his dislike of Bart after the last episode, though. It’s fun to see his superhuman powers in the pursuit of Bart, and the mystery aspects of the show help make it a very good one. Add to that Homer on jury duty for even more entertainment.

Representative line: Bart: “Oh my God - he’s like some kind of non-giving-up school guy!”

Lady Bouvier’s Lover (aired 5/12/94): “Marge’s mother (Kavner) is wooed by both Homer’s father and his boss. She nearly marries Mr. Burns, but when she sees the true evil of his nature, she decides to run off with Grampa instead.”

On one hand, I don’t like Marge’s mother; she’s one of the series’ less interesting characters, which is probably why she appears so rarely. On the other, Grampa’s always fun, and it’s nice to see him in an ebullient mood, at least for a while. I like the show’s mockery of collectibles via Bart’s purchase of an Itchy and Scratchy cel, and this adds up to a generally good program, though not one of the year’s best.

Representative line: Lisa: “Doesn’t this family know any songs that aren’t commercials?”

Secrets of a Successful Marriage (aired 5/19/94): “Homer goes to take an adult education class, but decides to teach one instead. He reveals intimate secrets about his marriage which, when Marge learns about them, infuriate her. Homer moves into Bart’s treehouse until Marge’s wrath dies down - which is finally does when he promises not to betray her again.”

Season Five ends on a high note with “Marriage”. Homer’s insensitive gossiping about his relationship presents lots of good bits. It completes this excellent year well.

Representative line: Homer: “This is a place of learning, not a place of hearing about things!”


The DVD Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B/ Bonus B

The Simpsons: The Complete Fifth 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. Eventually the series should produce an improvement in picture quality when it goes digital, but for now, we get about the same visuals an in the past.

One erratic variable stemmed from sharpness. Most of the time the shows looked reasonably concise and accurate, but more than a little variation occurred. Close-up shots were always fine, but once we got beyond that realm, the images occasionally turned soft and a bit fuzzy. This never seemed terrible, but the shows lacked the definition I’d like. Some jagged edges and shimmering showed up along the way, and a few signs of edge enhancement also appeared, though these didn’t seem too severe.

As with prior seasons, a mix of source flaws cropped up at times. Most of these seemed related to weak clean-up animation, as the majority of them looked like specks and marks that weren’t erased along the way. Although these bits popped up throughout the shows, they weren’t terribly intrusive and they stayed pretty minor.

Colors remained inconsistent but acceptable. The tones periodically looked a little heavy and thick, but they were fairly vivid and distinctive much of the time. Black levels also stayed consistent with past seasons. Though they failed to present great depth, they seemed reasonably tight and full. The occasional low-light shots seemed slightly too dark, but they never were terribly opaque. Season Five maintained the same standards as the prior year and offered decent but unexceptional visuals.

In addition, the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio of The Simpsons remained fairly consistent with the sound heard during the first four seasons, and that seemed fine to me. Overall, the soundfield maintained an emphasis on the front speakers. Occasionally, the surrounds added some general reinforcement, but they remained passive as a whole; they maintained general ambience and that was about all. At times, I heard elements move from the front to the rear, but environmental elements dominated. Some good material showed up during bits like the THX promo, and Season Five was a bit more active than its predecessors, but not to a radical degree.

Within the forward domain, the audio seemed pretty lively and active. Score and other music demonstrated very nice stereo imaging, and the environmental elements popped up on the sides whenever logical. Because the programs remained dialogue-based overall, the mixes didn’t go nuts, but they added a good sense of space and environment to the presentation.

Audio quality also seemed very good. I noticed a little more edge to some speech than I’d like, but usually the lines sounded natural and distinct, and I heard no concerns related to intelligibility. Effects remained a fairly minor part of the mix, but those elements seemed accurate and lively throughout the shows, and they also provided decent bass response when necessary. Music appeared quite bright and rich. From the score to various songs, these elements appeared vivid and dynamic and really came across well. Ultimately, The Simpsons provided a very satisfying auditory experience for this sort of program.

As with the first four packages, The Complete Fifth Season includes a moderate roster of extras. All 22 episodes provide audio commentaries. These tracks present an ever-changing roster of participants, though a few constants occur. Writer and creator Matt Groening appears in 20 of the tracks; he only misses “Secrets of a Successful Marriage” and “Homer and Apu”.

In addition, we greet others intermittently. The tracks feature director Mark Kirkland (1, 6, 13, 15, 18), writer Jeff Martin (1), Season Four show runner Al Jean (1, 2), Season Four show runner Mike Reiss (1), writer Jon Vitti (2), executive producer James L. Brooks (3, 5, 12), show runner David Mirkin (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22), supervising director David Silverman (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 22), writer/guest actor Conan O’Brien (3, 5, 12), director Jim Reardon (3), director Wes Archer (4, 9, 16, 21), writer Greg Daniels (5, 13, 22), writer Bill Oakley (5, 10, 14, 19, 21), writer Josh Weinstein (5, 10, 14, 19, 21), writer George Meyer (7), director Bob Anderson (7, 19), director Susie Dietter (12), writer David Richardson (16), writer Jace Richdale (18), and voice actors Dan Castellaneta (7, 8), Yeardley Smith (7, 8), Jon Lovitz (1) and Hank Azaria (1).

Unsurprisingly, the commentaries will remind fans of the tracks found on the prior four sets. That means a lot of general notes and asides but not an incredible amount of information about the shows and the series. A lot of story notes pop up, with comments about inspirations for various episodes and character development. The participants relate that they wanted more personality to the relationships in this season and go into those details.

Mostly the tracks seem anecdotal, and the loose structure generally makes them fun. I consistently enjoyed them and thought they went by quickly. Objectively, they don’t present terrific coverage of the shows, and they tend to focus on “I like that gag” comments a lot of the time. Nonetheless, they seem fun, at least for die-hard fans like me. I can’t call the commentaries great, but I think they’re very entertaining overall.

A mix of other supplements spread across all four DVDs. 14 of the release’s episodes include Deleted Scenes. You can check these out via two methods. You can watch them as parts of the appropriate shows; you need to look for a scissors icon while you check out the various episodes. When it appears, hit “enter” to branch off to the cut sequences. The clips are good and entertaining to see. I especially like that they come in the form of finished animation, which is rare; usually eliminated scenes didn’t get that far.

In addition, a full collection of the scenes appears on DVD Four. This puts all 41 scenes - which last a total of 21 minutes and 21 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 and the new material color; that helps us tell which part was deleted.

If you check out the deleted scenes via the big package on DVD Four, you also can listen to some commentary. We hear from Al Jean for the first few while David Mirkin handles the rest. Both tell us why they cut the sequences as well as some specific notes.

For four 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, animatics and the finished product for “Treehouse of Horror IV”, “$pringfield”, and “Bart Gets an Elephant”, and “Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadasssss Song”. It’s a fairly fun interactive way to check out the stages of completion.

We get animatics on all the discs. These appear for “Treehouse of Horror IV” (nine minutes, 43 seconds), “$pringfield” (5:53), “Bart Gets an Elephant” (5:33), and “Seymour Skinner’s (6:07). The first two come with commentary from Wes Archer and David Silverman, who also use a telestrator to illustrate some points. That pair plus Groening, character layout artist Paul Wee and background design supervisor Lance Wilder show up for “Elephant”. Lastly, Silverman, director Bob Anderson, assistant director Mike Anderson, character layout artist Lance Kramer, and Groening appear for “Sweet”. They tell us a little about variations between the animatics and the final show, various techniques, and how they use the animatics to shape the end product. Actually, they barely touch on anything related to “Treehouse” as they mostly draw and talk about character looks and animation techniques. Other gags pop up along the way in the goofy tracks; “Elephant” and “Sweet” offer the most focused look at the techniques.

DVDs One and Three include collections of Original Sketches by Silverman. We see 45 of these on the first platter and five of them on disc three. They present a nice look at early visual concepts.

On DVD One, we get A Word from Matt Groening. This 95-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.

Five commercials also show up on DVD One. These include two for Butterfinger and one each for TGI Friday’s, Ramada Inn, and THX. They’re fun to see.

Disc Three presents an audio outtake. Or at least it claims to have one. The package notes we’ll get an outtake with guest actor James Taylor, but I couldn’t figure out how to access it.

One featurette appears on DVD Four. A Look Back with James L. Brooks gives us a three-minute and 50-second piece. In it Brooks chats over show clips. He talks about the series’ origins, its early success and magazine cover appearances, and its longevity. The parts about the covers are interesting, but otherwise this is a fairly uninformative chat.

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 “Sweet” in Czechoslovakian, Italian, Polish or Hungarian. It’s a cute option but not terribly useful. The Polish option is unusual in that it doesn’t remove the original voices; one guy simply narrates the show, which means no different voices. (You can also access the various languages while you watch the episode proper; just cycle through the audio options.)

Minor Easter eggs come along the menus for each disc. Click up to the character images at the top of the screen to highlight various objects. One or two of these objects per screen can be clicked on to do various minor activities. These aren’t very interesting. Other eggs may appear, but I wasn’t able to locate them.

Inside the DVD’s case, we get a funny introductory note from Matt Groening. He provided a similar statement for the first four sets. The package also tosses in a booklet with chapter stops, story synopses, and notes about the supplements.

Arguably the series’ best year ever, Season Five of The Simpsons doesn’t include a single bad - or even mediocre - episode. The shows vary from good to excellent and never fail to entertain. As for the DVD, it presents the usual erratic but decent visuals plus generally good audio and a complement of nice extras. I liked the prior four sets, so another recommendation is definitely in order here, especially since this is probably the best package of the bunch.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.45 Stars Number of Votes: 20
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