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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Simpsons
The Twelfth Season


Starring (voice): Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria and Harry Shearer
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
RRP: £39.99
Certificate: 12
Available 28 September 2009

Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie return for more outrageous adventures. The longest running animated series in television history, the latest DVD collection features all 21 classic episodes from the 2000-01 season including Bart's boy band odyssey in New Kids on the Blecch, featuring pop sensations N'Synch, and a less-than-ordinary day for Homer, Bart and Lisa in Trilogy of Error. The season also boasts an impressive line-up of A-list guest stars including Drew Barrymore, Edward Norton, Justin Timberlake, Stephen King. Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Roger Daltry and many more...

Season 12 of The Simpsons was originally broadcast between 2000 and 2001. Since The Simpsons first appeared in their own show on our screens in 1989, bigger and better animated family-based shows have been produced (including King of the Hill, Family Guy and American Dad). While it's doubtful that these newer shows would have existed without The Simpsons, twelve years is a long time to keep up the quality of the scripts and gags.

Sadly season twelve, for me, was a bit of a painful affair. Yes there are some entertaining episodes, but there are way more that just don't work - where the links that progress the story feel as though the writers have given up the ghost. Another disappointment was the short gags that appear at the end of each title sequence (as the Simpson family rush into their living room to jump on the settee (or couch if you're American)). Almost all of them were a little on the poor side. Now, it could be that I've grown since the series started and my tastes have progressed to bigger and better shows, and it's simply that The Simpsons doesn't seem to have grown with me.

There are bizarre attempts to become more "adult" but these are poorly executed and they are way too few to actually change the format of the show. If you're going to keep The Simpsons a family show, then why on earth would you have mention of "glory holes" or have Skinner yell (in all innocence) "Chew through my ball sack"? These felt very out of place here - but would have worked on a show like Family Guy.

But then there are moments of sheer brilliance. Like in Treehouse of Horror XI, Bart wanders into the house of the Three Bears and discovers that the first bowl of porridge is too hot, and the second two cold. He then looks at the camera and says: "You know where we're going with this." But instead of eating from the third bowl, he simply mixes the hot and cold bowls together to get the desired temperature. Then, in Insane Clown Poppy, Homer asks Marge if he can play Devil's advocate. The next scene he's playing on a pinball machine called Devil's Advocate.

For me, highlights in this collection include:

Homer vs. Dignity: Homer is running up debts quicker than he can replay them and so reluctantly agrees to be Mr Burns's Prank Monkey, playing evil jokes on people, for lots of money.

HomR: It is discovered that Homer has a crayon lodged in his brain, when it's removed we discover he's smart and eager to learn more things. However his new intelligence comes at a cost, as he quickly starts to alienate his friends.

Hungry, Hungry Homer: After a disappointing trip to the Blockoland theme park Homer stand up for his rights and ends up on a crusade to stand up for the little man.

Trilogy of Error: This is an interesting episode as we see the same day from the point of view of Homer, Lisa and Bart. On their own each story makes little sense, but when placed in context together we get an interesting tale.

I'm Goin' to Praiseland: Still mourning over Maude's death, Flander's decides to build his late wife's dream project - a christian themed amusement park. When miracles start to happen near a statue of Maude, worshippers come from across the globe to see for themselves the visions witnessed by many,

There are plenty of extras, but very little you'd actually want to watch more than once (if at all). We get a brief (1 min, 21 sec) introduction to the show by creator Matt Groening. There are numerous audio commentaries and deleted scenes and a bunch of other stuff that includes clips of Comic Book Guy's best moments; illustrated commentaries; an animation showcase; a look at the Global Fanfest convention; commercials and a sketch gallery.

While hardcore Simpsons fans will no doubt lap this up, everyone else might find this series a little bit of a disappointment.


Darren Rea

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