The Simpsons-Season 1: Collector's Edition (1989)

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Released 3-Oct-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Menu Audio
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Audio Commentary-Various
Script-Bart General; Bart Genius; Moaning Lisa; Some Enchanted Even
Outtakes
Featurette-Animatic from Bart The General
Featurette-Making Of-The Making Of The Simpsons: America's First Family
Featurette-Foreign Language Clips (5)
Featurette-Tracey Ullman Short-Good Night Simpsons
Outtakes-Albert Brooks Audio Outtakes from Life on the Fast Lane
Gallery-Matt Groening's
Easter Egg-Magazine Covers and T-shirt controversy
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1989
Running Time 287:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (3)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By David Silverman
Wesley Archer
Rich Moore
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Dan Castellaneta
Julie Kavner
Nancy Cartwright
Yeardley Smith
Hank Azaria
Harry Shearer
Case Gatefold
RPI $79.95 Music Danny Elfman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (96Kb/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
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, During some episodes

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

Plot Synopsis

    The Simpsons is a series that needs no real introduction. If you have owned a television set at any time over the last decade you will have seen this show. The Simpsons have been broadcast for over a decade but still continue to be one of the most popular and well-written shows on television.

    This DVD collection contains the original thirteen episodes from the first series of The Simpsons and is complemented by a wealth of extras. These initial episodes clearly show how the characters and animation style changed throughout the first series as it evolved. While some of these initial episodes do not come up to the same levels as seen in future series even the worst Simpsons episode is still significantly more entertaining than many other television shows.

    One annoying feature of this disc is that the extensive copyright messages are displayed after every single episode. Luckily, these may be skipped by returning to the menu.

    The following episodes are included in this collection. If you require any additional information on these episodes please consult one of the numerous extensive Simpsons episode guides found online.

Disc 1

Disc 2

Disc 3

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer of these discs is a little disappointing as the images presented are definitely not pristine. The quality of the episodes does improve as the series progresses but not all of the problems with the transfer may be attributed to the source material.

    The full frame transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The packaging incorrectly states that the transfer is presented at 1.85:1.

    The sharpness of the transfer does vary considerably throughout the series with some sections of the episodes appearing to be very sharp while other scenes in the same episode are quite soft. These variations in sharpness appear to be a result of the source material and not a problem with the transfer. There are very few dark scenes in the episodes and consequently there are no apparent problems with shadow detail. No problems with low level noise were detected during the transfer.

    The unusual colour palette used in The Simpsons will be familiar to all viewers and this has been accurately reproduced by this transfer. As the series progresses, there are a number of changes to the colouring of various characters but by the end of the series the standard style that we still see today has been established.

    During the transfer, numerous artefacts may be seen along the edges of all artwork. These artefacts appear during all episodes but occur most frequently during the episodes on the first disc. There is no obvious cause for these blemishes but they look exactly like Gibbs artefacts and in some cases are quite severe. These artefacts appear during both static shots and scenes with significant movement and are quite distracting to the viewer. Some examples of these artefacts may be seen at 0:45, 1:10, 2:21, 3:10 and 5:33 during the first episode and at 3:50, 4:10, 6:00 and 7:08 during the second.

    There are some minor instances of aliasing present during the transfer. Some examples of this aliasing may be seen at 2:36 during There's No Disgrace Like Home and at 2:05 during Call of the Simpsons. Each of these occurrences are quite mild and are only minimally distracting.

    Very few film artefacts may be seen during the transfer. When these do occur, they are always only very minor and are not distracting to the viewer. Some examples of these artefacts may be seen at 15:20 and 20:09 during Bart the Genius and at 11:49 during The Crepes of Wrath.

    Some edge enhancement is also visible during the transfer. This is present throughout all episodes and is slightly distracting to the viewer. There are also numerous NTSC to PAL conversion artefacts that may be seen during each episode. Some examples of these artefacts may be seen at 19:05 and 22:10 during the first episode, at 13:38 and 16:57 during the second and at 2:41 during the third episode. These artefacts are slightly distracting.

    At numerous points throughout the transfer, a shimmering or halo like artefact may be seen around the foreground images. This artefact is explained during the commentary tracks and is a cel flare caused by the layering of the thick background and foreground cells. Numerous sections of the image also initially appear to contain some low level noise but this is due to the use of textured material for some sections such as roads. As the series progresses, this technique was slowly dropped and simple solid colours used instead.

    White subtitles are provided in Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish and English for the Hearing Impaired. I sampled the English subtitles in various episodes and found them to be consistently accurate.

    The layer change occurs between episodes and consequently is not visible to the viewer.

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

Audio

    A new English Dolby Digital 384 kbps 5.1 remix is provided on these discs.

    The dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times.

    As with all animation, there are the expected problems with audio sync. No dropouts were detected during the transfer.

    During this first series, there are fewer musical numbers than found in future series but the distinctive theme by Danny Elfman is present from the first episode. This theme has only slightly changed over the past decade.

    Despite having a new 5.1 mix for each episode, the surround and subwoofer channels are used minimally throughout. The surrounds are used to reinforce the score and some crowd scenes at the school or the power plant. This reflects the initial mix of this series and is quite suitable for the on-screen action.

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

Extras

Menu

    The non animated menus are presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

Feature Length Commentary

    Each episode is accompanied by a feature length commentary by various of the writers and directors involved with the show. These commentaries are quite interesting as they discuss the beginnings of the show and the problems that they had developing the series. Numerous in-jokes and hidden meanings for items are also described. During some of the later commentaries, there are some small gaps but in general these are quite entertaining and informative.

Booklet

    This short 6 page booklet lists the titles, chapter points, writers and directors and gives a short synopsis for each episode.

Original Scripts

    The original scripts for Bart the Genius, Bart the General, Moaning Lisa and Some Enchanted Evening are included. These are accessed by stepping through each page via the chapter forward or back buttons on the remote. While these scripts are interesting and include the original hand-written notes I would have preferred that these also be included as PDF files as this would have made reading them significantly easier.

Outtakes from Some Enchanted Evening (5:03)

    This is a short clip from the original animated version of the episode Some Enchanted Evening. This initial animation was found to be unacceptable and approximately 70 percent of this episode was re-animated for the final version found in full as the final episode for the series. The commentary on the final version of this episode describes these problems and is very interesting. The video quality of this extra is quite low but it is interesting to see how the original animation changed before finally airing.

Animatic from Bart the General (1:51)

    This is a comparison of the original animation designs and the final animated sequence. This is presented with a commentary by Matt Groening and David Silverman.

The Making of The Simpsons "America's First Family" (4:50)

    This is a short BBC segment outlining The Simpsons containing no real information for fans of the show.

Tracy Ullman Short "Goodnight Simpsons" (1:57)

    This is a collection of the short animated sequences from the Tracy Ullman Show where The Simpsons were first seen. Hopefully future DVD releases will include the complete collection of these shorts.

Foreign Language Clips (1:05)

    This is a comparison of the same scene presented in French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese and Portuguese. As each of these clips are separate, the viewer is unable to switch between languages on-the-fly.

Albert Brooks Outtakes from Life In The Fast Lane (3:44)

    This is a series of improvised audio recordings for Life In The Fast Lane by Albert Brooks.

Early Sketches

    This extra contains a single page from Matt Groening's early comic strip Life In Hell as well as 36 pages of early sketches of characters and scenes from the show.

Easter Eggs

    A collection of Magazine covers as well as a segment describing the controversy that some Simpsons T-shirts created when released in 1990. These extras may be viewed by selecting either the magazine cover or T-shirt that Bart is wearing in the extras menus.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    As the R1 release contains the original 2.0 mix and would avoid the NTSC to PAL conversion artefacts this would potentially be my version of choice in the absence of a direct comparison, but there are very little differences between either release on paper.

Summary

    The Simpsons is a classic television series that makes its welcome debut on DVD. While this series is arguably not as funny as future series it is still more enjoyable than many other shows.

    The video transfer is slightly disappointing but many of these problems may be attributed to the relatively low production values of this first series. Hopefully future series will display a marked improvement in picture quality.

    The 5.1 audio remix is not particularly aggressive but is quite adequate for the material.

    A large collection of extras is included and these should prove to be interesting for fans of the show.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Anthony Kable (read my bio)
Sunday, November 04, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 1200, using S-Video output
DisplaySony KP-E41SN11. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationFront left/right: ME75b; Center: DA50ES; rear left/right: DA50ES; subwoofer: NAD 2600 (Bridged)
SpeakersFront left/right: VAF DC-X; Center: VAF DC-6; rear left/right: VAF DC-7; subwoofer: Custom NHT-1259

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