Monday, August 17, 2009

DVD Review The Simpsons: The Complete 11th Season Part Two -- The Episodes.

Here’s Part Two of my DVD review of The Simpsons: The Complete 11th Season, dealing strictly with the episodes – which I’d put decidedly under the “PRO” category. Let’s find out why…

The Episodes: For a season that some on the Internet would have you believe was the worst (…or, at least the worst up to that point), there are a surprising number of great episodes – and some particularly notable beats in the continuity of the series.

Here are the highlights:

Beyond Blunderdome (09/26/1999) Homer assists Mel Gibson in creating a remake of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”. The result is a hilarious parody of bad action films – with Gibson spouting lines like “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” and “All in favor say DIE!” There is an alternate ending to this one with a final line that I think is even better than the aired ending. Not to show “Fox-Animated-Favorites”, Gibson later appears – also as himself – on FAMILY GUY in 2005.

Guess Who’s Coming to Criticize Dinner” (10/24/1999) Homer becomes Springfield’s leading food critic, running afoul of the town’s restaurateurs, who plot to kill him for his relentlessly negative reviews. Here, too, there is an alternate ending… the aired one where Homer GETS his “comeuppance” and the alternate where he and Lisa brag about NOT GETTING his “comeuppance” – and express their mutual contempt for the audience and their expectations! See what you’re missing by not getting the DVD, folks!

Treehouse of Horror X(10/31/1999) Among the delights are Comic Book Guy as an obsessive villainous collector of heroes, and the fearsome menace of Y2K. Two of my favorite things, so how can I not LOVE this!

E-I-E-I (Annoyed Grunt)” (11/07/1999) On the run to escape a duel of honor with a Southern Gentleman (!), Homer hides out on the old Simpson Family Farm. Combining Tomato and Tobacco seeds with Plutonium, he creates the bad-tasting but highly-addictive “TOMACCO”. The commentary track features a guest who, inspired by this episode, ACTUALLY DID create his own real-live-growing “Tomacco Plants”!

Eight Misbehavin’ (11/21/1999) One of THREE continuity changing episodes for this supposedly lesser season – the birth of Apu and Manjula’s Octuplets!

"Grift of the Magi" (12/19/1999) The Christmas episode, where an unscrupulous toy manufacturer takes ownership of the bankrupt Springfield Elementary School and uses it as a focus group to create the year’s new “must have” toy. The resulting product, “Funzo” a “Furby-like thing”, inadvertently manifests evil programming – and it’s up to Lisa, Bart, and Homer to steal the “Funzo” from every home in Springfield and destroy them.

Say, what about all the evil “Funzos” in the rest of the world? Ahhh, I guess that’s someone else’s problem! Personal Note: This was the last one I saw on original broadcast. From here on, the rest were all new to me.

Faith Off (01/16/2000) Inspired by a faith healer (superbly voiced by Don Cheadle), Bart takes up the “backyard revival tent game” – and performs a wonderfully staged musical number while doing so! At the same time, a European kicker is recruited as Springfield University’s greatest football hope! At the end, the two plots come together in the most amazingly funny way! This might be one of the best episodes of THE SIMPSONS ever!And this was supposed to be a lesser season?

The Mansion Family (01/23/2000) Mansion sitting for Mr. Burns, the Simpsons get into all sorts of trouble – culminating with Homer clashing with modern pirates on the high seas, while using Burns’ yacht as a “party boat”! The pirate encounter is surprisingly funny, with one very unexpected twist that saves Homer and Bart from a watery grave! A tad more “out-there” than when Fred Flintstone borrowed Mr. Slate’s yacht, I’d say!

Saddlesore Galactia (02/06/2000) Here it is! This supposed WORST EPISODE OF THE SIMPSONS doesn’t really live up to its hype – despite Comic Book Guy calling it the “Worst Episode Ever” during the end credits! Homer and Bart rescue a county fair attraction diving horse and turn it into a racehorse with extreme attitude! The band Bachman Turner Overdrive makes an appearance and even President Bill Clinton shows up at the end. Of course, we have the extended Jockey-land encounter for about a minute and a half (including a musical number) and the Jockeys openly show their true sinister colors attacking Homer and Bart with a cannon and a charge of thundering horses down Evergreen Terrace!
It’s decidedly weird… but watch it for yourself and decide.

Alone Again Natura-Diddly (02/13/2000) Another series turning point – the death of Maude Flanders!

Missionary Impossible (02/20/2000) Hey, an airdate with only two digits in it! Only Homer could dodge paying on a pledge to PBS by becoming a missionary on a tropical island! He tops that by getting the natives addicted to gambling! Look for a good “using-an-animal-as-a-tool” reference to The Flintstones, employed by Homer to its unfortunate but logical conclusion! Also
check out all the visual references to other FOX animated shows like FAMILY GUY, KING OF THE HILL, FUTURAMA, THE PJ’S and that eternal cartoon star Rupert Murdoch) in the ending PBS fundraising parody! This is just another in a GREAT RUN OF EPISODES!

Bart to the Future (03/19/2000) Journey to the Simpsons’ future, where Bart and Ralph are underachieving slackers, Lisa is President of the United States, Flanders is blind and his sons Rod and Todd are… are… JUST SOME MORE 11th SEASON GREATNESS!

Days of Wine and D’oh’ses (04/09/2000) In the THIRD series turning point of this collection – town drunk Barney Gumble goes sober! Not just for an episode – but he remains this way for quite a while, before eventually falling-off in more recent seasons, unfortunately as some do in real life!

“Behind the Laughter” (05/21/2000) A superb “Behind the Music” style documentary spoof on the rise and fall of THE SIMPSONS as an entertainment icon. This season finale is the only one of the run that I happened
to catch randomly during the bleak period. I was not disappointed – then and now. There’s a brief closing joke that disparages my beloved Huckleberry Hound – getting surprise laughs even from me!


The Simpsons: The Complete 11th Season meets all the standards of quality held by previous Simpsons sets. Story-wise, it far exceeds anything expected of it, given the unfortunate influence of its online critics. Indeed, this is one magnificent collection of shows – some unexpectedly funny and some serving as “game-changers” in the Simpsons Universe – made all the more memorable to me, by seeing many of them for the first time on DVD.

The Simpsons: The Complete 12th Season will be available on August 18, 2009. With a full season’s worth of “new-to-me” episodes ahead, I can only hope for a similar experience as with Season 11… except maybe with better packaging!

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