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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Simpsons: The Complete Eighth Season
The Simpsons: The Complete Eighth Season
Fox // Unrated // August 15, 2006
List Price: $39.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted August 15, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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Highly Recommended
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The Movie:



The eighth season of America's favorite animated family isn't considered one of the show's finest seasons by many, but it is packed with a bunch of episodes I consider classics, including one of my favorite (if not my all-time favorite) "Simpsons" episodes of all time, "El Viaje de Nuestro Jomer." The episode has Homer excited about the local chili cook-off, much to Marge's dismay, as he usually winds up drunk (her response leads to one of the best Homer lines ever, "Well, everything looks bad if you remember it.") However, when Homer eats some chilis from an insane asylum deep in the jungle, he goes on a spirital journey that through a surreal land that makes him question whether or not Marge is his soulmate. Another classic line comes towards the end when Homer is standing in front of the light in a lighthouse. Spotting the outline of Homer in the light, Lisa asks Bart if that's Homer. His reply: "Either that, or Batman has really let himself go." The bizarre dreamworld that Homer finds himself in is beautifully animated and Johnny Cash provides a memorable guest performance as a talking coyote.

Every season has to have a "Treehouse of Horror" episode and this season's is one of the better editions. Although it starts off with a segment that doesn't have much of a comedic payoff that has Bart and Lisa finding that there's a mutant twin to Bart, the other segments (Lisa creates a miniature society out of a science experiment, then has to figure out how to protect them from Bart and another segment where aliens Kang and Kodos try to take over Earth disguised as Bill Clinton and Bob Dole) get more laughs.

There's plenty of other brilliant moments found throughout this set, starting with "Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala (D'Oh!) cious." While this could have been another take on "Mary Poppins", it manages to be a sharp and funny episode that throws out some unexpected laughs. The episode has the Simpsons hiring a nanny named Sherry Bobbins, who they manage to wear down over the course of an episode. The episode's ending is one of the meaner moments I can think of in "Simpsons" history, but it still gets a good laugh. Great line from Burns after a lightning bolt restarts his heart: "Oooh, that takes me back." The episode also includes a few great musical numbers.

"You Only Move Twice" features another wonderful vocal performance from Albert Brooks as Hank Scorpio, who offers Homer a job and a new house in a luxury community, but turns out to be a "Bond"-ian villain interested in taking over the world - a fact that Homer remains oblivious to. "Brother From Another Series" is one of the finest Sideshow Bob (Kelsey Grammer) moments, as the episode sees Bob released from prison into a program working for brother Cecil (David Hyde Pierce). "Homer Versus the 18th Amendment" is another superb effort that sees Homer providing beer to the townsfolk as the secretive "Beer Baron" when the town suddenly brings back prohibition - and brings in new top cop Rex Banner.

While this season does include some of my favorite episodes, it also includes an episode that I consider one of the worst: "The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase." The episode is a parody of variety shows, but it really isn't able to mine much humor out of the situations. Although there are a couple of average episodes also found on this season ("My Sister, My Sitter" and "Grade School Confidential"), "Spin-Off" is the one episode from this season that continues to not work for me at all.

While there are a few stumbles on this season, the best thing I can say about it is that many of the best episodes included here (and there are quite a few) are incredibly rewatchable. With "Simpsons" episodes having been in syndication for years now, even some of the better episodes have lost their freshness a bit after frequent viewings, but many of Season 8's great moments still strike me as just as funny as when I first saw them.

Note: This set is available in regular packaging or a collectable "Maggie Head" package. The set also includes great set-specific animated menus and a very nice insert booklet detailing the episodes and the set.

Treehouse of Horror VII
You Only Move Twice
The Homer They Fall
Burns, Baby Burns
Bart After Dark
A Milhouse Divided
Lisa's Date With Density
Hurricane Neddy
El Viaje de Nuestro Jomer
The Springfield Files
The Twisted World of Marge Simpson
Mountain of Madness
Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala (D'Oh!) cious
The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show
Homer's Phobia
Brother From Another Series
My Sister, My Sitter
Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment
Grade School Confidential
The Canine Mutiny
The Old Man and Lisa
In Marge We Trust
Homer's Enemy
The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase
The Secret War of Lisa Simpson

The DVD

VIDEO: "The Simpsons" is presented once again here in 1.33:1 full-frame, the show's original aspect ratio. The picture quality is again quite good, even looking somewhat better than they currently do in syndication. Sharpness and detail remained perfectly fine, as the animation remained crisp and clean looking throughout.

Shimmering was really the only issue with the presentations. Although it wasn't distracting, some minor shimmer was spotted in several scenes. Edge enhancement wasn't noticed, but there were a couple of brief traces of pixelation. The elements used seemed to be in terrific shape, with no instances of wear present. Colors looked bright and vivid, with excellent saturation and no concerns. Colors seemed even a tad more vibrant here than they do when broadcast in syndication.

SOUND: The seventh season of "The Simpsons" is once again presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. While these repurposed soundtracks are not terribly aggressive or dynamic, they do open up the audio of the show a bit, with a nice spread largely across the front speakers. Dialogue remains crisp and clear through the center channel.

EXTRAS:

Commentaries:
Treehouse of Horror VII with Commentary by: Matt Groening, Josh Weinstein, David X.Cohen, Dan Greaney, Ken Keeler, Dan Castellaneta, Mike B. Anderson.
You Only Move Twice with Commentary by: Matt Groening, Josh Weinstein, Ken Keeler, Dan Castellaneta, Mike B. Anderson
The Homer They Fall with Commentary by: Matt Groening, Josh Weinstein, Dan Castellaneta, Yeardley Smith, Mark Kirkland, David X. Cohen, George Meyer
Burns Baby Burns with Commentary by: Matt Groening, Josh Weinstein, George Meyer, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Mark Kirkland, David X. Cohen
Bart After Dark with Commentary by: Matt Groening, Josh Weinstein, Richard Appel, Dominic Polcino, David Silverman, Ken Keeler
A Milhouse Divided with Commentary by: Matt Groening, Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein, Steve Tompkins, Steven Dean Moore
Lisa's Date With Density with Commentary by: Matt Groening, Josh Weinstein, Mike Scully, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Susie Dietter, and special guest star Alex Rocco
Hurricane Neddy with Commentary by: Josh Weinstein, George Meyer, Steve Young, Bob Anderson
El Viaje Misterioso De Nuestro Jomer with Commentary by: Matt Groening, Josh Weinstein along with Molly and Simon Weinstein, George Meyer, Jim Reardon
The Springfield Files with Commentary by: Matt Groening, Al Jean, Mike Reiss, Reid Harrison, Steven Dean Moore, David Silverman
The Twisted World of Marge Simpson with Commentary by: Matt Groening, Josh Weinstein, Chuck Sheetz
Mountain of Madness with Commentary by: Matt Groening, Josh Weinstein, Dan Castellaneta, Jim Denton "Contest Winner"(Portrayed By Dave Thomas), Mark Kirkland, David Silverman
Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious with Commentary by: Matt Groening, Al Jean, Mike Reiss, Chuck Sheetz, David Silverman
The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show with Commentary by: Matt Groening, Josh Weinstein, David X. Cohen, Yeardley Smith, Steven Dean Moore, and special guest star Alex Rocco
Homer's Phobia with Commentary by: Matt Groening, Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein, Ron Hauge, Steve Tompkins, Mike B. Anderson, and special guest star John Waters
The Brother From Another Series with Commentary by: Matt Groening, Josh Weinstein, Ken Keeler, Pete Michels, and special guest star Kelsey Grammer
My Sister, My Sitter with Commentary by: Matt Groening, Josh Weinstein along with Molly and Simon Weinstein, Yeardley Smith, Jim Reardon, George Meyer
Homer Vs. The Eighteenth Amendment with Commentary by: Matt Groening, Josh Weinstein, Dan Castellaneta, Dave Thomas, Bob Anderson, David Silverman
Grade School Confidential with Commentary by: Matt Groening, Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein, Rachel Pulido, Susie Dietter
The Canine Mutiny with Commentary by: Josh Weinstein, Ron Hauge, Dominic Polcino, George Meyer
The Old Man and The Lisa with Commentary by: Matt Groening, Josh Weinstein, George Meyer, David X. Cohen, Dan Castellaneta, Yeardley Smith, Mark Kirkland
In Marge We Trust with Commentary by: Matt Groening, Josh Weinstein, Donick Cary, Yeardley Smith, Steven Dean Moore, David X. Cohen, Alex Rocco
Homer's Enemy with Commentary by: Matt Groening, Josh Weinstein, Hank Azaria, Jim Reardon
The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase with Commentary by: Matt Groening, Josh Weinstein, David X. Cohen, Dan Greaney , Ken Keeler, Yeardley Smith
The Secret War of Lisa Simpson with Commentary by: Matt Groening, Josh Weinstein, Yeardley Smith, Mike B. Anderson

For those who have listened to the commentaries on previous seasons, you'll be familiar with the kind of fun found within. The show's crew energetically discusses each episode and has a lot of fun joking about some of the bits within each episode, behind-the-scenes stories and changes. The commentaries are a great deal of fun and it's very nice to see more guest stars joining in the fun, with Kelsey Grammer and John Waters joining in on the commentary tracks for their episodes.

Also included are deleted scenes (about 18 minutes worth) with commentary, promotional spots, a featurette on a real-life version of the Simpsons' house, an intro from Matt Groening, animatics for some episodes, illustrated commentaries on some episodes ("A Bit From the Animators"), sketches and a multi-language featurette.

Final Thoughts: While there are a few stumbles on this season, the best thing I can say about it is that many of the best episodes included here are incredibly rewatchable. With "Simpsons" episodes having been in syndication for years now, some of them have lost their freshness a bit after frequent viewings, but many of Season 8's great moments still strike me as just as funny as when I first saw them. The DVD presentation once again offers fine audio/video quality, along with a great deal of supplements. Highly recommended.
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