20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Extras: Audio Commentaries, Documentaries, Unaired Episode, Outtakes, Animatics, and more!
Disc 1 of this set includes the family’s first prime-time full episode, the holiday special "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire." Appearing in a style leaps an bounds beyond their initial renderings from the Tracey Ullman Show shorts, this flagship episode worked not only to test the redesign of the characters but also TV audiences’ acceptance of this cutting-edge style of brutish comedy and familial commentary. Whether as pure escapism or as truth-is-stranger-than-fiction delivery, the show worked. From there, the disc delivers the next five episodes in "Bart the Genius," "Homer’s Odyssey," "There’s No Disgrace Like Home," "Bart the General," and "Moaning Lisa." Disc 2 then picks up with "The Call of the Simpsons," "The Telltale Head", "Life on the Fast Lane," "Homer’s Night Out," "The Crepes of Wrath," and finally with "Krusty Gets Busted."
But "The Simpsons" requires deeper analysis and understanding, each episode overflowing with insight and advice to real families struggling to cope with the fast-paced, high-tech, and coldly impersonal new age. Perhaps an antidote to the hedonistic 80s that brought forth Generations X and Y, a closer look at the Simpsons reveals a troubled family that desperately seeks harmony, enlightenment, and self-acceptance. While the show could have become mired in mere sophomoric shock-value antics a la "South Park," the Simpsons works in its content and comedy thanks to a team of talented writers (led by Groening’s ultimate vision) who skillfully weave a variety of perspectives, attitudes, and beliefs into each episode’s narrative in a way that consistently delivers big on laughs but also touches on social statements that, thankfully, never wallow in melodramatic sadness or self pity. And, yes, though it’s just a cartoon on its base level, I’ve always found much more to enjoy from the series throughout its dozen years on the air.
When it comes to extras, there’s nothing much dysfunctional in this box set. To begin with, each episode is graced with a <$commentary,audio commentary> that usually includes creator Groening and developer James L. Brooks along with either an episode’s director or writer. Their discussions are genuinely interesting as they fondly recount development ideas, alternate plot lines, and a multitude of hidden in-jokes and sight gags. Simpsons fans will also be glad to find an unaired episode, "Some Enchanted Evening," on Disc 3. Beyond that, the third disc is rife with other goodies such as original outtakes (with commentary), developmental animatics (animated "roughs"), a short BBC documentary ("America’s First Family"), an original short from The Tracey Ullman Show ("Good Night Simpsons"), audio outtakes, "The Art of the Simpsons," foreign language clips, and the script from the "Some Enchanted Evening" episode. Oh, and there’s also a couple of Easter Eggs nestled in all this. Ay caramba!
Without a doubt, this first box set to celebrate the Simpsons succeeds wonderfully. With hours upon hours of entertainment, this is an affordably-priced set that really delivers. Whether you’re a casual viewer or a long-time Simpsons maniac, "The Simpsons – The Complete First Season" is a 3-disc extravaganza that you’re sure to enjoy and will likely whet your appetite for future Simpsons season releases from Fox.