“The Simpsons” The Fourteenth Season might not be the best the show has had to offer but there are more than a few laughs to be had. The stories do get a bit repetitive but if you’re a die-hard fan, you’ll probably get more out of it than I had.
Genre(s): Animation, Comedy
Fox | NR – 483 min. – $59.99 | December 6, 2011
Directed by: Various
Writer(s): Matt Groening (created by)
Cast: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kramer, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria
Features: Episode Commentaries, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, 2 Bonus Treehouse of Horror Episodes, Original Sketches
Number of Discs: 3
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Full Frame 1.33
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 3.25/5
“The Simpsons” has never been primary viewing for me, though over the years, I have enjoyed the occasional episode. I only mention this because I’m not a big fan of the series so there’s no baseline for quality or the lack there of.
In this fourteenth season, the formula basically is Homer (DAN CASTELLANETA) does something stupid; Lisa (YEARDLEY SMITH) has more than one neurotic moment; Bart (NANCY CARTWRIGHT) gets into trouble; and Marge (JULIE KAVNER) has to deal with all of them as well as her own issues… all with a comedic twist.
The season begins with the popular “Treehouse of Horror XIII” where three mini-stories are told: ‘Send in the Clones’ has Homer discovering a cloning device within his hammock and begins cloning himself to do work so he can relax, but things quickly go out of control. In ‘The Fright to Creep and Scare Harms’ where Springfield bans guns, and then is ripe for attack from zombie villains. And in ‘The Island of Dr. Hibbert,’ a pleasure trip is not what it seems when the people of Springfield become half-human/half-animal.
After the Halloween special, the season really kicks off with ‘How I Spent My Summer Vacation’ in which Homer, who admits on a Cabbie Confessions show, that he resents his family but rather than be appalled by the comments, his family sends him off to a rock n’ roll camp run by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards with appearances by many others in rock. There are some moments in this episode and I guess but it wasn’t the strongest start.
The next episode, ‘Bart vs. Lisa vs. The Third Grade’ isn’t much better when Bart is demoted to the third grade while Lisa advances so now the two are in the same class together, one breezing by as the other struggles. On a field trip to the state capital, they are made buddies but become lost.
You get the idea of the storylines as each episode is basically nonsensical like in the episode ‘The Great Louse Detective’ when someone attempts to kill Homer and the family turns to Sideshow Bob (KELSEY GRAMMER) to find the culprit. Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but it does interject the popular character into the season at least. In another episode, ‘The Dad Who Knew Too Little’, finds Homer, once again acting like an idiot, going to a private investigator to find out more about Lisa after he gives her a bad birthday gift.
The fourteenth season, the 22 episodes offer up a few laughs amongst the inanity of the storylines. I’m not really sure if any one episode really stands out from the other because if I were to rate each one, I can’t think of a single episode that would rate above a 7/10. Again, there are laughs here and there but even for somebody who hasn’t kept up with the show, I found it mostly to be repetitive. Mind you, this season isn’t bad, it just doesn’t have any episodes that stand out from the other.
01. Treehouse of Horror XIII
02. How I Spent My Summer Vacation
03. Bart vs. Lisa vs. The Third Grade
04. Large Marge
05. Helter Shelter
06. The Great Louse Detective
07. Special Edna
08. The Dad Who Knew Too Little
09. The Strong Arms of the Ma
10. Pray Anything
11. Barting Over
12. I’m Spelling as Fast as I Can
13. A Star Is Born-Again
14. Mr. Spritz Goes to Washington
16. ‘Scuse Me While I Miss the Sky
17. Three Gays of the Condo
18. Dude, Where’s My Ranch
19. Old Yeller-Belly
20. Brake My Wife, Please
21. The Bart of War
22. Moe Baby Blues
SPECIAL FEATURES – 4.5/5
The 3-disc set comes inside a standard Blu-ray case with a glossy and reflective slip cover. Inside is a booklet with the episode list and what features are available for that episode, special voice guest stars and the running time.
Episode Commentaries – Each of the 22-episodes comes with a commentary from the crew and cast. I won’t rundown each one, but there are a few reoccurring commentators like Matt Groening (creator), Al Jean (writer/producer), Kevin Curran (writer), David Silverman (producer), Michael Price (writer/producer), Dan Castellaneta (Homer), Yeardley Smith (Lisa), Hank Azaria, etc. There are also many other guest speakers like “Weird Al” Yankovic and Joe Mantegna.
Deleted Scenes – 14 episodes have scenes removed, unfortunately some are only available while watching an episode (re-inserted). It’s kind of lame that they just don’t put them in the features sub-menu.
A Haunting Invite from Matt Groening (2:12; HD) – This is an introduction to the fourteenth season DVD/Blu-ray set and its highlights.
In the Beginning (12:43; SD) – This feature shows the various openings for the 13 “Treehouse of Horror” specials.
It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll (9:05; SD) is a featurette focusing on the ‘How I Spent My Summer Vacation’ episode and features interviews/behind-the-scenes footage with the guest rock gods’ voice talents. It’s nothing fascinating but you get to hear from the guys and their excitement appearing in a “Simpsons” episode.
Sketch Gallery: ‘How I Spent My Summer Vacation’ (2:14; HD) are just drawings of the various characters appearing in the particular episode.
The 300th Episode: Barting Over (1:56; SD) is a short featurette on the special episode with an interview by guest voice talent, Tony Hawk.
Sketch Gallery II: ‘Barting Over’ (2:14; HD) are more drawings.
The Halloween Classics (8:18; SD) – This is a compilation of classic scenes from the various ‘Treehouse of Horror’ specials.
Bonus ‘Treehouse of Horror V’ (22:54; SD) – In a nice bonus, we get a great ‘THOH’ episode featuring a parody from The Shining.
Animation Showcase: ‘Moe Baby Blues’ – With this feature you can check out storyboards and Animatics for the episode.
Special Language Feature gives you the ability to watch the ‘Three Gays in the Condo’ episode in Portuguese, German, Czech and Italian.
Foolish Earthlings (3:44; SD) is a compilation of scenes featuring our favorite aliens.
Bonus ‘Treehouse of Horror VI’ (22:48; SD) – Another great bonus episode and in lossless audio no less…
VIDEO – 3.75/5
“The Simpsons” comes in its original 1.33 full frame presentation and a 1080p high-definition transfer. When it comes to older animation, whether done by hand or digitally, it’s tough to gauge just how good it looks. Obviously by comparison to today’s standards, it’s not exactly up to par, yet for this set, its looks OK. Background characters/objects don’t look particularly good but it’s at least smooth and void of artifacting. Colors are, as expected, vibrant making this at least an acceptable transfer.
AUDIO – 3.75/5
The episodes come with a nice sounding, albeit limited, 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. Obviously the show doesn’t have a whole lot to judge since it is mostly dialogue but with music and ambient noises, the front and rear channels do get some use. I didn’t notice much of a kick from the LFE channel, but on the whole it’s probably a moderate step up.
OVERALL – 3.75/5
Overall, “The Simpsons” The Complete Fourteenth Season might not be the best the show has had to offer but there are more than a few laughs to be had. The stories do get a bit repetitive but if you’re a die-hard fan, you’ll probably get more out of it than I had. With regards to the Blu-ray, the audio and video transfers aren’t exactly noteworthy but most likely a step up from its DVD counterpart while the features once again are fantastic (after the disastrous release of season 20).