The Simpsons has been part of the TV landscape for over 20 years. Sprung from characters created for The Tracey Ullman Show, the series is currently in its 21st season. The show has won numerous awards, made all types of record lists over its long run, and you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t know about at least a few of the antics of Bart, Homer, Marge, Lisa, Maggie, and the many characters who populate Springfield.
There are some out there who have given up on The Simpsons, claiming its best years are behind it, but like any long-running show there are ups and downs. I will admit though that the annual Halloween “Treehouse of Horror” episode hasn’t been funny for awhile and that maybe it’s time to retire that portion of the series.
That being said, there are some great episodes included in the 20th season, like "How the Test Was Won," where Homer forgets to mail in the insurance payment and must keep himself accident free until 3pm. It is quite a task considering how accident prone Homer tends to be. There is also a parody of the Saw movies and more flashbacks of Homer and Marge when they were just starting out, which allows for plenty of nostalgic pop culture references.
There are some episodes that fail to work in this set, the Da Vinci Code parody for one. However, that doesn't dampen my overall enthusiasm for the series, which has somehow also managed to instill itself in the mind of my three-year-old.
As always, The Simpsons still attracts many celebrities to do guest spots. Season 20's celebrities include Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Denis Leary, Ed Begley, Jr., Anne Hathaway, Jodie Foster, and more.
The season contains 21 episodes, and it is in the middle of the season — starting with the 10th episode, "Take My Life, Please" — that The Simpsons began airing in HD. At this point, the show gets an updated opening, showcasing more of the characters (and a new TV in the family living room). Even though this set is a standard definition DVD, the overall look of the show is still improved following the transition to HD.
In terms of extras, there is a sneak peek at filmmaker Morgan Spurlock’s 20th Anniversary Special which runs a few minutes, but since this DVD has been released after the special aired, it’s not really a sneak peek, is it? Unfortunately that’s the only “extra” on this set.
The Simpsons: The Complete Twentieth Season feels like a cash-grab by FOX as this is their first opportunity to release a DVD and Blu-ray set and the standard extras including commentaries, deleted scenes, animatics, and more are wholly absent from the release. Additionally, season 12 was the last Simpsons set to be released prior to this one, which makes it very likely that the studio will now fill in the missing years with proper DVD releases featuring all the extras that we’ve come to expect.
While this set is absolutely worth renting if you haven’t seen these episodes or want to see them again, it is not worth spending your money on this weak DVD release.