The Simpsons-Risky Business
|Category||Comedy||Featurette-Chief Wiggum's Finest Moments|
|Year Of Production||?|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Various|
Twentieth Century Fox
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
So who are The Simpsons? You mean you've never heard of this totally dysfunctional family and their bizarre neighbourhood? They've only been on TV virtually daily for the last 11 years or so! But for those who might not have heard of them, or have deliberately avoided them (till now!), here's some very brief background information about them.
The Simpsons are a family made up of father Homer, a slightly simple (I tried in vain to find positive qualities!) employee at the local nuclear power plant. He's married to Marge, his childhood sweetheart, who's pretty much a full-time housewife, or homemaker. Their lovely children are the world-famous Bart, the absolutely evil and scheming son, Lisa, the daughter that just doesn't 'fit in' to the family, nor into most of the goings-on in their town of Springfield. The youngest is Maggie. No, the family hasn't aged a bit over all these years!
In addition to the family, there are recurring characters, including Police Chief Wiggum, Barkeeper Moe, Montgomery Burns, the owner of the nuclear power plant, Apu the local convenience store owner, and a whole host of other characters.
The Simpsons has been so popular and so funny for such a sustained period perhaps primarily due to the fact that it doesn't follow the general US formula for comedy in which there is usually a 'moral message', or a sappy ending. A little in the vein of Seinfeld, or perhaps the other way round, The Simpsons sees all characters usually being nasty to each other, plots that often lead nowhere, and multiple storylines running in parallel. Much like in Seinfeld, many viewers can, scarily, find many elements of themselves intertwined in the on-screen characters! (Hopefully not too many!)
This particular DVD release, The Simpsons - Risky Business, is a collection of 4 episodes, taken from different seasons, with the common thread being that it focuses on either Homer or Marge's attempts at undertaking work beyond their 'normal' occupations. The episodes are all taken from different seasons, and have been seen a multitude of times even on network TV in Australia, but are still very funny the umpteenth time around.
The 4 episodes are:
Reality Bites (1997): Marge gets a job as a real-estate agent, but has trouble reconciling her sales push with her innate morals. Homer gets a souped-up car at an auction that turns out to belong to the town's master criminal.
Homer the Smithers (1996): Homer takes on the role of Montgomery Burns' assistant, Waylon Smithers, with the expected resultant mayhem.
Homer in Space (1994): Homer is recruited as the first everyday man to enter space.
Marge Gets a Job (1992): Marge gets a job at the nuclear power plant by 'spicing' up her resume just a little. Montgomery Burns becomes infatuated with her and 'hires' Tom Jones to perform at a concert for her.
The transfer provided on this DVD is full-frame 1.33:1 which, given the ages of the episodes, is probably the original format. The running time is provided separately for each episode.
The sharpness varies noticeably between the episodes, and even during a given episode. I put this down to variations inherent in the original source material, rather than any fault with this transfer. The Simpsons, being traditional cel animation, is never going to be as sharp as CGI animation of recent vintage. However, there were scenes of unusual softness and 'age', such as at 18:00 in episode 3.
The colour varied a little in these episodes. In Episode 1 there was visibly rich colour which in fact was just a little oversaturated, such as at 6:42. There was also a little colour bleed in the red jackets at 14:29 of the same episode. The colour bleed might have been inherent in the source material, though I suspect it's in the transfer.
Other episodes, such as episode 3, appeared to have a more muted colour presentation, perhaps due to the source material being a little older.
I couldn't spot much in the way of MPEG artefacts on any of these episodes, save for some Gibb Effect on the closing credits. There was no low-level noise, and shadow detail was fine (though given the bright and cheerful palette used, there was very little shadow anyway!)
There were visible dirt marks in some scenes, even some specks that appeared to be in between the animation transparencies themselves. Don't ask me how I figured that out, it's just that that is how it 'seemed' given the appearance of these specks and the way they moved.
There were no less than 14 different languages, including English, on offer as subtitles. I sampled the English, as well as a little Italian and French, all of which seemed accurate and well timed to the on-screen action, even in scenes of rapid dialogue.
I couldn't locate the layer change on this dual layered disc, so presumably it is placed between Episodes 2 and 3.
The audio on all episodes is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 with surround encoding, though to my ears there was very little apparent use of the rear surrounds.
The soundtracks on offer are: English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. All were of differing volume levels, though the Italian soundtrack appeared to be the worst, with a very low volume level and in mono.
Dialogue is clear at all times with no apparent distortion. Given that this is an animated show, and of the cel animation type, lip sync is understandably not terribly good. However, all 4 episodes exhibited far better 'lip sync' than I recall from the very first episodes on TV. You know, the ones in which all the characters looked and sounded somewhat 'rougher'.
The music includes the oft-heard theme by Danny Elfman as well as snatches of popular (and classical) music in various episodes, including "It's Not Unusual" by Tom Jones in one of the episodes.
Given that the episodes were originally recorded in Dolby Surround, I was surprised that there seemed to be very little in the way of sound from my rear speakers. In fact, I checked their calibration and settings just to make sure. The soundstage was primarily frontal, but did provide a very wide stage in some scenes, such as at 10:22 in Episode 1. After having to suffer with Channel 10 broadcasting in MONO in Canberra all these years (it still is in Mono!), it's at least nice to hear The Simpsons in stereo.
Due to the way I have set up my bass management, the subwoofer was called in to support some of the effects and music and blended in well without calling attention to itself.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu was rather 'cheap' looking and comprised just an image of Homer with no animation or music. What was worse was the rather clumsy design of the menu selection, as well as the very slow response to inputs from the remote control. It took almost 2 seconds to respond to each input from the remote control, so at first you think it hasn't registered your keystroke so you press the remote button again...ending up with multiple moves rather than the desired 1 (albeit after the 2 second delay). I've never encountered this on any DVD before.
This is presented in 1.33:1 full frame and in Dolby Digital 2.0. Basically this is a stringing together of various clips of Police Chief Wiggum from various episode of The Simpsons. Some clips were funny, but I found that the majority were not.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This disc appears to have been released only in Regions 2 and 4.
It's unfortunate that they've used the 'short' opening credits on the episodes on this DVD. It would have been great to have had the original full-length opening credits on these episodes as one rarely gets to see them due to TV networks cutting the run time to squeeze an extra ad or two in.
In my opinion, some of the episodes on this disc weren't the funniest nor the most memorable of this long running series. It also has one of the poorest menu executions I have seen on a DVD. The Simpsons - Risky Business would be a reasonable disc for a dedicated fan of the show, but seems a little pointless for anyone else. Perhaps its release is to provide shopping options for Christmas?
|DVD||Pioneer DV-344 Multi-Region, using S-Video output|
|Display||Sony KV-XA34M31 80cm. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Speakers||Main: Mission 753; Centre: Mission m7c2; rear: Mission 77DS; Sub: JBL PB10|