The Simpsons-Season 8 (Box Set) (1996)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-An Invitation From Matt Groening
Introduction-By Matt Groening
Featurette-The Simpsons House
Gallery-Art & Animation
Featurette-Making Of- Bit From The Animators
Deleted Scenes-Art And Animation-The Day The Violence Died
Deleted Scenes-With Commentary
|Year Of Production||1996|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (4)
|Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Ads Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||
Mikel B. Anderson
Twentieth Century Fox
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary 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
English Audio Commentary
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, only in a handful of episodes|
The Simpsons returns for its eighth season. Though it is still running strong years later, this was more or less the end of the show's peak (many think of seasons 6 through to 8 to be the best of a great bunch). It was also the fourth Emmy winning season of the show.
The episodes in this season are:
Features the Halloween shorts The Thing and I, The Genesis Tub and Citizen Kang.
In The Thing and I, Bart an Lisa discover Bart's evil detached Siamese twin brother living in the attic and attempt to thwart his plot to re-attach himself to Bart.
In The Genesis Tub, Lisa's science experiment becomes a quickly-developing micro-universe, where she is thought of as God and Bart is the devil.
In The Genesis Tub, Homer, Bill Clinton and Bob Dole are abducted by Kang and Kodos. Kang and Kodos replace Clinton and Dole with themselves and Homer tries to stop this evil plot.
Homer is given a dream job with the Globex Corporation, but has to move to the corporate town of Cypress Creek. Homer loves the town and is surprisingly good at his job (working for the the megalomaniacal master-criminal, but considerate and understanding boss, Hank Scorpio), but the rest of the family have trouble coping with the move.
After unconventionally winning a bar fight, Homer discovers that he has a unique medical condition that makes him take a beating better than any other man alive. He takes up boxing, with Moe as his manager, and this leads him into a grossly hyped bout with former heavyweight champion Drederick Tatum.
Mr. Burns discovers he has a long lost son, a loser named Larry (voiced by Rodney Dangerfield). Alas, Mr. Burns doesn't think much of his son, so Larry and his new best friend Homer fake Larry's kidnapping in a misguided attempt to win Mr. Burns' love.
When Bart gets his first job, as valet at the local burlesque house, all kinds of town secrets come out.
Millhouse's parents get divorced, leading Homer to recall his disaster of a wedding and worry about how Marge could possibly love him.
Lisa falls in love with the rebellious Nelson and begins to date him, convinced that she can change his ways. Meanwhile, Homer rescues a telemarketing machine from a dumpster and becomes Springfield's most reviled nuisance caller.
After a hurricane hits Springfield and destroys everything Ned Flanders owns, Ned loses his cool and lets out every bottled emotion he has before checking himself into the local insane asylum. After learning of Ned's troubled childhood, Homer helps cure Ned.
After eating Chief Wiggum's Guatemalan insanity peppers at a local chilli cook-off, Homer begins hallucinating and goes on a journey led by his spirit guide - a talking coyote voiced by The Man in Black, Johnny Cash.
After Homer sees a mysterious glowing figure floating in the woods, a sceptical Mulder and Scully (actually voiced by Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny) arrive to investigate. This episode is narrated by Leonard Nimoy.
After falling out with the investment club she was a member of, the Investorettes, Marge decides to start a Pretzel Wagon franchise. When her mobile pretzel business fails to take off on its own, Homer seeks help from the mafia goons advertising in the local church gazette.
After an attempted fire drill fails miserably, Mr. Burns organises a retreat to promote teamwork. The goal of the main activity is to form pairs and find a cabin in the woods, then wait there for everyone else. The last to arrive is to be fired. Luckily for Homer, he is paired with Mr. Burns, unluckily for him, the pair are first to arrive at the cabin and it is covered in snow by an avalanche.
When the stress of raising three children and one Homer becomes too much for Marge, the family hire a nanny, the Mary Poppins-esque Shary Bobbins.
When the Itchy & Scratchy ratings start to slide, the producers introduce a new character, Poochy. After a long search for voice actors, Homer becomes the voice of Poochy. Alas, Poochy isn't the success the producers were after but Homer won't let him die!
After befriending a gay man named John (who is coincidentally voiced by John Waters) who is in love with all things kitsch, Homer begins to worry that Bart may be turning gay. Homer attempts to take Bart on a series of manly adventures to straighten him out.
Sideshow Bob's (as alway, voiced by Kelsey Grammar) brother Cecil (voiced by David Hyde Pierce, Kelsey Grammar's on-screen brother in Frasier) employs Sideshow Bob on a work-release programme. Cecil is the project manager of the construction of a new dam overlooking Springfield. Unsurprisingly, as soon as Bob is out of jail, Bart and Lisa connect him to a sinister plot that will destroy the town.
Lisa becomes Springfield's youngest and most reliable babysitter, but trouble isn't far away when she is made to baby-sit Bart and Maggie while virtually all of Springfield are at a gala event.
After Bart is accidentally caught drunk on camera, Springfield discovers that they have a law prohibiting the sale of alcohol. Eliot Ness clone Rex Banner is brought in to weed out Springfield's notorious Beer Baron, who is in fact none other than Homer.
Bart becomes a messenger between his teacher Mrs. Krabappel and Principal Skinner, in exchange for having his permanent record expunged, after he catches them making out.
Bart applies for a credit card under his dog's name, and starts spending like mad when his application is actually approved. He buys a spiffy, well-trained new dog named Laddie for $1200 with the card and begins to neglect his original hound, Santa's Little Helper. When the repo men come for all Bart's ill-gained possessions, they take away the wrong dog and Bart begins to miss Santa's Little Helper.
Mr. Burns goes bankrupt after listening to one too many "yes" men agree with his foolish ideas. He moves into the Springfield retirement castle and joins forces with Lisa to start a recycling program. Unbeknownst to Lisa, Mr. Burns hasn't learnt from his past downfall and is concerned more with the money the program is making than the conservation effort.
Marge replaces Reverend Lovejoy as the confidant of virtually everybody in Springfield after volunteering to help out at the church. Meanwhile, Homer has discovered that a detergent is using a mascot that appears eerily similar to him and tries to cash in on the situation.
Frank Grimes is a man who has had a very difficult life, but has made the most of it. Mr. Burns hires Grimes (or "Grimey", as Homer cheerfully nicknames him) after watching a human interest story about him. Grimey takes an instant dislike to Homer, who is oblivious to Grimes' feelings. Meanwhile, Bart purchases an abandoned factory for $1 at an auction and puts Millhouse to work as his night watchman.
Troy McClure introduces three possible spin-offs from the series; Chief Wiggum, P.I., The Love-Matic Grampa and The Simpson Family Smile-Time Variety Hour.
Bart and Lisa are sent to military school, Bart has no choice in the matter after pulling one prank too many and Lisa asks to go as she is relishing the opportunity for a new challenge. That challenge is a little more than Lisa bargained for, particularly when forced to complete the gruelling end of year test known as "The Eliminator"
The video is presented in its original 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio.
The video quality is generally of a good standard. The image is fairly sharp and clear. The colours are bright and seem accurately rendered.
The video sample rate of each episode is not very high, although this is usually the case with 2D animation as there is less motion to capture in the video stream. There are some MPEG artefacts noticeable in the transfer, although they are only particularly noticeable when examined on a high resolution display. The most noticeable artefact is a mild Gibb Effect around most of the black outlines of characters and objects that is visible throughout every episode. There is occasionally a small degree of macro blocking, though it is rarely noticeable.
Each disc is dual layered, with the layer break occurring between episodes.
Based on the few episodes I sampled with the subtitles on, the English subtitles for the hearing impaired are accurate and well timed.
The audio is presented in English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 Kbps).
The audio is clear and well mixed. The dialogue is crisp and well timed, certainly as well synchronized as you could ask of a cartoon.
The surround channels are used fairly well throughout, providing a surprisingly immersive experience.
There is little subwoofer usage, although it is used to reasonably good effect on the few occasions that warrant it.
Music has always been used to good effect in The Simpsons and this season is no exception. Alf Clausen has again come up with a variety of appropriate musical cues that both borrow from and parody many of the things that the shows themselves parody.
|Surround Channel Use|
There is a huge number of quality extras included in this package. Fans will not be disappointed!
The animated menus are some of the best I have seen. Each consists of a small sight-gag filled photo shoot with characters from the episodes on that disc.
Commentary is included for every episode along with subtitles for the commentary. A variety of commentators take the chair at different points throughout the episodes, from creator Matt Groening to voice artists, writers, directors and producers. This approach occasionally leads to a 'too many cooks' situation, but for the most part the commentaries are quite entertaining and a little informative.
Creator Matt Groening provides a brief introduction, spelling out a few of the accolades received by the eighth season of the show and what he feels makes the show great.
In 1997, an approximation of the Simpson's house was built in Las Vegas and given away in a competition. This featurette tells us a bit about the building process and takes viewers through the disturbingly accurate finished product.
A Picture-in-Picture look at the storyboards and animatics for the episode Treehouse of Horror VII, In Marge We Trust that uses the angle feature throughout the episode. This gives a great bit of insight into how the show is made.
This brief animation featurette takes viewers through a portion of the Treehouse of Horror VII, The Secret War Of Lisa Simpson, Homer vs. The 18th Amendment and Lisa's Date With Density episodes with commentary form the animators on how it all works. Armed with a magic pen that scribbles over the animatics as they progress (much like the magic pen used by commentators in cricket coverage), the animators also demonstrate how to draw various different characters quickly and easily.
A host of deleted scenes from many of the episodes can be played so that they are inserted into the episodes themselves or separately (as part of an extra feature on the fourth disc), with or without commentary.
A handful of live-action TV spots featuring Matt Groening.
The episode Homer's Enemy includes Czech, Japanese, French and German language tracks.
An identical NTSC formatted package is available in Region 1, although the Region 4 release misses out on Spanish and French language tracks and Spanish subtitles.
This is easily one of the best seasons of The Simpsons and this set comes with a great package of extras.
The video transfer is imperfect, probably due to the huge amount of extra content included, but certainly good enough for most potential viewers. The audio transfer is very good.
|DVD||LG V8824W, using S-Video output|
|Display||LG 80cm 4x3 CRT. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Pioneer VSX-D512. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||150W DTX front speakers, and a 100W centre and 2 surrounds, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub|