The Simpsons – The Fourteenth Season, which originally aired from 2002 to ’03, is now available on Blu-ray and DVD in a well-supplemented edition that has a Halloween-theme. Two bonus episodes of “Treehouse of Horror” are included (making their high definition debut) along with a few other “Treehouse of Horror” themed features. The long-running show has had a somewhat erratic Blu-ray release schedule, with seasons thirteen and twenty having been released on the format last year. The twentieth season was problematic for many fans in that it was released with almost no supplemental features. The Fourteenth Season has no such problems, as I will detail below. All 22 episodes are contained on three Blu-ray discs, housed in a standard-sized Blu-ray case.
As a very casual fan of The Simpsons, I simply don’t have the overall perspective that devotees of this show – currently in its 23rd season – have. I agree that the earlier seasons were funnier and more consistent. But I don’t have any firm opinions on when the show’s classic years ended, nor can I argue that with any degree of passion whether season 14 was prime or not. Watching the 14th season, I was struck by how many episodes just didn’t do anything for me. “Helter Shelter” is an example of one that I just didn’t find funny. As with any parodical humor, the shelf life varies based on the on-going relevancy (or lack thereof) of its targets. I think spoofing reality television shows feels just kind of played out, especially some eight years after the episode first aired.
There are some really fun episodes however, such as “Bart of War” which pits Bart against Milhouse after the two ruin Flanders’ Beatles collection. All the Beatle references are pretty funny, but possibly because I’m a fan myself. I think people often respond differently to The Simpsons based on their own interests and areas of specific knowledge. Even diehard fans of the series are likely to miss a considerable number of references, simply because the shows are so deeply embedded with a wide range of them. I thought “Old Yeller Belly” was a pretty clever episode, with their dog becoming a Spuds MacKenzie type of mascot for Duff beer. I don’t know how many younger viewers got the reference but I found it worth a chuckle.