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DVD Review: The Simpsons – The Thirteenth Season

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The six-panel fold-out that contains the four-disc The Simpsons – The Thirteenth Season features most of the major characters involved in a video arcade. Each disk contains special features—every one of them includes audio commentary on all episodes and deleted scenes. I was actually afraid to put disc one in my DVD player—I didn’t think I’d be able to interrupt the 22 episodes  of hilarity The Simpsons – The Thirteenth Season presents (not to mention the extra features). The set also comes with a guide to the thirteenth season, episode by episode. This is a Simpsons junkie’s dream come true. Even the disc menus are entertaining.

I’m setting myself up for disappointment here—who doesn’t love The Simpsons? If you don’t, don’t tell me. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been a fan longer than some of my friends have been alive! (I’m counting back to the Tracy Ullman days.) From the opening strains of Danny Elfman’s theme, to the closing notes over the credits, I am transported. Don’t bother to call when The Simpsons is on; I won’t pick up the phone.

True to The Simpsons’ legacy, the thirteenth season is an ironic, satiric, hysterical romp filled with characters that can best be described as…um…cartoons. So much is happening in a Simpsons episode that watching two or three times may not be enough. Just a walk from the stairs to the courtroom at the juvenile courthouse is packed with gags—and they never disappoint.

The Simpsons has always delighted with cultural references, popular music integrated into episodes, guest stars, and wry twists on the clichés of life. Whether it’s Montgomery Burns sharing a spaghetti dinner a la Lady and the Tramp or the clever plays on words for each episode title (“Jaws Wired Shut,” “I Am Furious [Yellow]”), there are visual and intellectual treats for those paying attention. When Homer reads The Odyssey to Bart, Maggie, and Lisa, it is peopled with characters from Springfield, and “Greece is the word.” (The same episode combines two of the strongest female figures in history—Joan of Arc and Lisa Simpson—and gives us Bart as Hamlet.)

The extras are a treasure chest of gems. Picture-in-picture storyboards, technical explanations of various aspects and effects, two sketch galleries, video game animations, and Burger King commercials featuring the Simpsons, as well as a Sabritas Spanish-language commercial. Those who feel The Simpsons has declined over the years may not agree, but this collection of Simpsons episodes and extras is well worth having.

There is something to offend everyone in The Simpsons – The Thirteenth Season—especially Brazilians and fundamentalists—but it really is way too funny to be taken seriously. Pay attention to those menus; there are lots of ‘em, and the main menus include references to episode events.

Bottom Line: Would I buy/rent/stream The Simpsons – The Thirteenth Season? Buy! Yeah, I know I’ve sworn off buying DVDs, but—hey—this is The Simpsons!

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