The Simpsons-Season 4 (Box Set)

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Released 24-Aug-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Menu Animation & Audio
Introduction-A Word From Matt Groening
Audio Commentary-All Episodes
Featurette-Art & Animation: A Streetcar Named Marge
Featurette-The Cajun Controversy
Featurette-Bush Vs. Simpson
Featurette-Promotional Stuff
Alternate Audio-Special Language Feature - Kamp Krusty
TV Spots-Commercials
Featurette-Animation Showcase: Itchy & Scratchy - The Movie
Deleted Scenes-Homers Triple Bypass and The Front
Featurette-Art & Animation: Homer's Triple Bypass
Featurette-Art & Animation: So It's Come To This- A Simpson's Clip Show
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production ?
Running Time 489:05 (Case: 506)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (4)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Neil Affleck
Bob Anderson
Mikel B. Anderson
Wesley Archer
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Dan Castellaneta
Julie Kavner
Nancy Cartwright
Yeardley Smith
Hank Azaria
Harry Shearer
Marcia Wallace
Phil Hartman
Tress MacNeille
Pamela Hayden
Maggie Roswell
Russi Taylor
Doris Grau
Case ?
RPI $74.95 Music Alf Clausen
Ray Colcord
Danny Elfman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Portuguese Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Danish
English for the Hearing Impaired
Finnish
Norwegian
Swedish
English Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes, Patty & Selma.
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Many would agree The Simpsons needs little introduction. In fact, chances are, there isn't a single person in the entire western world that is not by now familiar with The Simpsons. Series four of The Simpsons in my mind is where the episodes really began to stand up to repeated viewing, something which is all important for Network TEN viewers here in Australia. Even after literally countless repeats these episodes, particularly Marge Vs. The Monorail and Treehouse Of Horror III still manage to make to me laugh time and time again. Perhaps the writing got better since the third season but most likely it has to do with Homer's continually plummeting IQ - something which is even alluded to in the commentaries. It seems Homer tends to lose a few IQ points from one season to the next - by that token though he must surely be in negative territory now in the fifteenth series which is currently in production.

     If you've only ever seen these episodes on Network TEN then you're also in for another treat - the episodes are uncut and as such are slightly longer than they appeared on air. Most if not all of the episodes have been edited, presumably for time reasons, by Network TEN. Fans will no doubt recognise numerous extensions to existing scenes which up until now haven't really been seen. The Simpsons: Season Four Box Set features some truly classic episodes that have stood up exceedingly well after many repeated broadcasts. Without any further ado here's a little reminder of what to expect from series four -

Kamp Krusty

     Bart and Lisa go the Kamp Krusty and a mutiny of sorts takes place.

A Streetcar Named Marge

     Marge becomes an actor in a local play - a musical version of A Streetcar Named Desire.

Homer The Heretic

     Homer stops going to church much to Marge's disapproval.

Lisa The Beauty Queen

     Lisa is feeling down so Homer enters her in a beauty pageant.

Treehouse Of Horror III

     Three Halloween stories. In the first story an evil Krusty doll tries to kill Homer. The second story is the famous send up of King Kong - King Homer. In the third story Bart and Lisa inadvertently wake the dead and Springfield is overrun by zombies.

Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie

    The title says it all really. In order to discipline Bart, Homer forbids him to see the new Itchy and Scratchy movie.

Marge Gets A Job

     When the foundation to the house gives in Marge gets a job at the nuclear power plant to help pay for the repair.

New Kid On The Block

     Bart falls in love with his new neighbour Laura.

Mr. Plow

     When the family goes to a motor show Homer buys a snow plow and starts up a snow plowing business.

Lisa's First Word

     The story about Lisa's first word, however this episode is actually more famous for containing Maggie's first word (voiced by Elizabeth Taylor).

Homer's Triple Bypass

     Homer has heart troubles and must have a coronary bypass operation.

Marge Vs. The Monorail

     After Mr. Burns is fined 3 million dollars for illegally dumping nuclear waste the people of Springfield decide to build a monorail.

Selma's Choice

     After Homer gets sick eating a giant sandwich, Selma takes Bart and Lisa to Duff Gardens only to discover having kids was not as easy as she thought.

Brother From The Same Planet

     When Homer forgets to pick up Bart after soccer practice Bart joins the Bigger Brother program and gets a new father.

I Love Lisa

     Ralph falls in love with Lisa after she gives him a Valentine's Day card.

Duffless

     After being arrested for drink driving Marge gets Homer to give up beer for a whole month. Meanwhile, Lisa performs an experiment for the school science fair - she tries to find out if Bart is smarter than a hamster.

Last Exit To Springfield

     Homer becomes the nuclear plant's new union leader.

So It's Come To This: A Simpsons Clip Show

     When Bart's April fools joke involving a can of beer and a hardware paint shaker goes horribly wrong Homer ends up in hospital.

The Front

     Bart and Lisa start writing scripts for Itchy and Scratchy using Grandpa's name as their pseudonym.

Whacking Day

     When Whacking Day comes along, the day where all the townsfolk kill snakes with sticks, Lisa decides to boycott it and with the help of Barry White saves the snakes from death.

Marge In Chains

     Marge is arrested for shoplifting and is sent to jail. However, after the town riots she is released.

Krusty Gets Kancelled

     Krusty's show gets dumped when the Gabbo Show arrives in town.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

     The video transfer is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    There is a reasonable amount of detail present in the image yet it must be said these episodes pale in comparison to the most recent digitally animated series that have been airing on TV recently. As has been the case previously, dot crawl is present throughout the series. It is essentially visible along any edge where there is a colour transition (i.e. yellow against red). While it doesn't draw attention to itself it does signify that again this series has been transferred from composite video for the DVD hence the detail is not quite up to scratch. While I have mentioned this previously it's worth mentioning again that it is rather bewildering that the series was not transferred directly from film instead of video. It is also slightly worrying that Warner Bros can make their 50+ year old Looney Tunes cartoons look as good as, if not better than, The Simpsons which are only a little over a decade old. As this is an animated cartoon shadow detail is a non-issue.

     The colours tend to look a little on the bland side, no better or no worse than we've come to expect of episodes of this vintage but still a little disappointing. Again this is where a direct transfer from film would have greatly improved the image quality - in such a case the colours would have certainly been more vibrant.

     MPEG artefacts, while not major, are present in the form of posterization. It can often be seen in the backgrounds giving them a rather rough look - upon closer inspection you can actually see that the different shades of the background plates are broken up into squares and rectangles - kind of like looking at the crops of a farm from the air. The bitrate usually hovers between 4-6 Mbs. There is some aliasing present at times. Mostly it's minor, but occasionally it draws attention to itself. Sometimes rather strangely there are aliasing 'break-outs' which for all intents and purposes appear to be unrelated to the detail on screen as they tend to come and go within a single uncut shot. Some of many examples include 1:25, 3:07 and 3:28 in Mr. Plow. Normally you can trace aliasing to fine lines within the image but in this case the aliasing is visibly quite large and pronounced which in any event is strange because there's little in the way of fine lines in animation of The Simpsons anyway. There are minor film artefacts present throughout the series although they are not distracting and don't represent a significant problem.

     There are several sets of subtitles present, I sampled the English for the Hearing Impaired track and found it to be quite accurate.

     All four discs in the set are dual-layered. The layer changes appear to have been placed between the episodes (as we've now come to expect).

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio is presented in English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kbs). The Kamp Krusty episode also contains some alternate languages. From the outset I just have to say how thrilled I am that Fox has done a complete remaster of the audio, not just a quick and nasty Pro-Logic conversion from stereo. Evidence enough of this is in the dialogue being 100% isolated to the centre channel, unlike Pro-Logic where there is small but noticeable amount of dialogue leakage into the left and right channels.

     Dialogue is crisp and clear throughout the series with no problems to speak of. The are no audio sync problems other than the usual slight inaccuracies inherent in the animation.

     The music is by Alf Clausen who again provides an understated but all important score.

     While this is certainly a full 5.1 remaster the surround channels never really get used to any great effect other than providing a little low level ambience and support for the music.

     Like the surround channels the subwoofer never gets used to any great effect - there is really no low frequency effects that your speakers can't handle.

     To be honest the 5.1 track doesn't provide much more than a Dolby Pro Logic II conversion of the original 2.0 audio.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

 

Menus

     A nicely themed easy to navigate menu system. My only gripe is the transition animation (i.e. the animation which occurs after you make a selection) - while funny at first, it rapidly loses its novelty and becomes exceedingly annoying.

Introduction - A Word Form Matt Groening (1:55)

     A brief highlights video with introduction by Matt Groening via voice-over.

Audio Commentaries (All Episodes)

     In the past I have generally found commentaries for animated features a little on the boring side so I approached the commentaries on these DVDs with some trepidation. What I found was not only are they very funny and informative but they are nearly as entertaining as the cartoons themselves. Matt Groening is the common ingredient in what is quite a diverse range of The Simpsons crew including the various directors, writers, animators and runners of each episode. Commentators of particular note are Jon Lovitz and Hank Azaria in A Streetcar Named Marge and Conan O'Brien in New Kid On The Block. One of the more interesting comments I noted in Mr. Plow was that out of all the huge stars and celebrities that have guest starred on the show it was Adam West (the original Batman) who was the most admired and sought after by the crew and creators. The commentaries are certainly worth a listen, indeed they are worth the purchase alone.

Featurette - Art & Animation: A Streetcar Named Marge (26:43)

Featurette - The Cajun Controversy (2:07)

     A brief yet quite interesting documentary about the controversy caused by the song used in A Streetcar Named Marge in the state of New Orleans. It seems that New Orleans residents didn't have quite the sense of humour the writers originally thought. It is narrated by Geoff Martin - director of A Streetcar Named Marge.

Special Language Feature: Kamp Krusty

     The title sounds more interesting than the feature really is - it's nothing more than alternate language tracks for the Kamp Krusty episode. The languages are Portuguese, Italian, Japanese and Spanish. The Simpsons in Japanese might be worth a giggle for some.

Featurette - Bush Vs. Simpson (5:08)

     When People magazine quoted first lady Barbara Bush as saying in regards to The Simpsons "It was the dumbest thing I have ever seen" The Simpsons creators felt compelled to respond. Being the creative people that they are they responded by writing a letter to Barbara Bush under the pseudonym of Marge Simpson. This documentary narrated by Jim Brooks explains how The Simpsons eventually came to a truce with The White House.

Featurette - Promotional Stuff (13:55)

     A stocking filler - a general promotional documentary about The Simpsons. It's worth a once-over but little more.

Commercials (x 4) (1:51)

     A collection of 4 commercials featuring The Simpsons for various companies including KFC. These are obviously made for American television and while you may not recognise the companies they're promoting (other than KFC of course) they are still very funny.

Featurette - Animation Showcase: Itchy & Scratchy - The Movie (7.53)

     A multi-angle feature with 4 angles presenting different stages in the animation process: the storyboards and completed animation (presented in picture-in-picture) plus the storyboards and completed animation (presented in full-frame).

Deleted Scenes (x4) Homer's Triple Bypass (0:44)

     A collection of 4 deleted scenes from the episode Homer's Triple Bypass. These scenes are viewable separately or can be viewed re-edited into the episode with commentary. Unfortunately there is no 'play all ' feature so the navigation does tend to get a little tedious after the first few deleted scenes. In fact, the previously mentioned transition animation in the menus sometimes runs for longer than some of the deleted scenes.

Featurette - Art & Animation: Homer's Triple Bypass (16:43)

Deleted Scenes (x6) The Front (1:35)

     A collection of 6 deleted scenes from the episode The Front. Look out for the Dynamite In Cat scene which looks very much like it was inspired by the Looney Tunes cartoons. As before, these scenes are viewable separately or can be viewed re-edited into the episode with commentary. Also unfortunately, there is again no 'play all' feature' - dohhh!

Featurette - Art & Animation: So It's Come To This - A Simpsons Clip Show (9:56)

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Save the PAL/NTSC differences both versions appear to be the same.

Summary

     The Simpsons: Season Four Box Set presents many classic and hugely funny episodes. It is highly recommended.

     The video quality is good but limited by the composite source.

     The audio quality is a good yet sedate 5.1 remaster.

     The extras are abundant, informative and funny.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ben Hooft (My biography. Go on have a read...)
Monday, August 30, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-655A, SACD & DVD-A, using S-Video output
DisplayLoewe CT-1170 (66cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX-D1011, THX Select, DTS-ES 6.1 Discrete, DTS 96/24 & DD 5.1 EX. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-D1011, THX Select, DTS-ES 6.1 Discrete, DTS 96/24 & DD 5.1 EX
SpeakersFront & Centre: Monitor Audio Bronze 2, Surrounds: Sony SS-SRX7S, Surround Back: Paramount Pictures Bookshelf Speakers

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Comments (Add)
Video transfer - REPLY POSTED
Illustrated Commentary - REPLY POSTED
Warning Abuse - Tom G REPLY POSTED
Censor cut in S4? and follow up question on warning crap -
Re: Censor cut - Miklos (my stinkin' bio)
Re: Censor cut - Stimpy (da, what's a bio Ren?)
region 4 is the same as region 1 & 2 -
Collectable Foldout packaging no longer available. - Greg