After the highly popular fourth season of the series, the fifth season of "The Simpsons" became slightly uneven before bouncing back here in the sixth outing of the show, with plenty of classic episodes.
104. 6- 1 Bart Of Darkness
- In this episode, the Simpsons find themselves without air conditioning on one of the hottest Summers in ages. After some attempts at cooling using the frig, Bart and Lisa eventually decide to get Homer to buy them a pool. Although things seem great at first as the pool turns into a neighborhood hangout, Bart breaks his leg trying to jump into the pool and finds himself stuck in his room for the Summer, while Lisa gets popular for once. Later, Bart things he sees strange goings-on in the Flanders' house, so Lisa goes to investigate. When he sees Flanders return, he drags himself there to try and save her.
105. 6- 2 Lisa's Rival
- In this episode, Lisa wants to practice her saxophone to audition in the school band, but everyone in the house wants her out. A new student named Allison arrives at school and also is going for first chair sax in the school band, resulting in jealousy from Lisa. When she loses her place as "the smart girl", she tries to get even by sabotaging Allison's project. Meanwhile, Homer runs into an overturned truck full of sugar, and gets a "get rich quick" scheme that is one of his most bizarre - and hilarious. Homer tries to guard the sugar pile against bees ("Oooow. Ow! They're defending themselves somehow!"), Englishmen and other intruders. The episode also offers one of my favorite Homer lines: "In America, first you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women."
106. 6- 3 Another Simpson Clip Show
- Another Simpson clip show, although not the worst of them. This one revolves around love stories.
107. 6- 4 Itchy & Scratchyland
- Bart and Lisa beg their parents to go to "Itchy and Scratchyland", but they find more than they bargained for when the robots in the theme park go crazy and the family have to defend themselves.
108. 6- 5 Sideshow Bob Roberts
- A conservative radio talk show host gets Sideshow Bob (Kelsey Grammer) released from prison, and upon his release he runs for Mayor, making life difficult for the Simpsons, even promising to demolish their house in order to build the Matlock Expressway. Faced with no other option, Bart and Lisa must investigate how Bob was able to win the votes.
109. 6- 6 Treehouse Of Horror V
- One of the best "Treehouse of Horror" eps starts off with "The Shinning" (calling it by the actual name would get them sued, Groundskeeper Willie reasons), where the Simpsons are asked to be the caretakers of Burns' mansion for the Winter. With the cable TV cut off and the beer taken away, Homer goes psychotic. The second segment is the best, as Homer accidentally stumbles onto a way to turn the family's broken toaster into a time machine. When he goes back in time, he breaks the rules ("Stupid bug, you go squish now!") and then finds that his time has changed drastically. Homer has to keep going back in time in order to try and figure out what to do to change the present back to the way it was. Finally, in a segment that's the least of the three, but still funny, principal Skinner finds a way to limit school overcrowding and also, upgrade the meat in the cafeteria.
110. 6- 7 Bart's Girlfriend
- Bart falls for Reverend Lovejoy's daughter, Jessica (voiced by Meryl Streep, although it rarely sounds like Meryl Streep), who does nothing but get Bart in trouble. There's a few funny moments in this episode, but it is a little uneven (or maybe I've just seen it too many times and it's not holding up as well as other episodes do.)
111. 6- 8 Lisa On Ice
- Lisa finds out that she's failing gym, so she ends up joining the ice hockey team after watching Bart play. Although she's never been one for athletics, she does a remarkable job playing goalie, which results in a winning team. It all leads up to a face-off between Bart and Lisa on the ice. Although there are definitely some funny moments in this episode, the sweet-natured way that the episode ends never sat right with me.
112. 6- 9 Homer Badman
- Homer gets in deep trouble when he's accused of sexually harassing the kids' babysitter. Although not one of the season's best, the opening moments where Homer and Marge go to the Candy Expo are funny, and Homer's suggestion of living "under the sea" is hilarious.
113. 6-10 Grandpa vs. Sexual Inadequacy
- Grandpa tells Homer about a sex tonic that actually works, resulting in the two going on the road to market the brew. Soon, the kids realize that the adults are nowhere to be found, and start coming up with theories as to where they could have gone.
114. 6-11 Fear Of Flying
- Homer gets kicked out of Moe's and searches for a new bar. When his search enventually gets him into an airport bar, he's mistaken for a pilot and the results get the family free airline tickets so that they won't blab about the incident. After Marge gets extraordinarily nervous aboard the flight and gets off the plane, she starts seeing a shrink to get the bottom of her fears.
115. 6-12 Homer The Great
- In one of the best episodes of the season, Homer finds out that Lenny and Carl seem to get preferred treatment whereever they go. Homer trails them one night, and finds that they belong to a secret organization called the Stonecutters. Although he can't get in by himself, he finds out that Grandpa is a member and works his way in that way ("I've never felt so accepted. These people look deep into my soul and assign me a number based on the order in which I joined.") Once he's in, he too gets the grand treatment and perks that the others get, but ruins things by destroying the group's sacred parchment. About to kick him out, the group then spots a mark labeling him "the chosen one". Of course, Homer ruins that, too, by commanding the hard-partying group to do community service. Patrick Stewart does an amazing job in a guest voice role.
116. 6-13 And Maggie Makes Three
- The family talks about the story of Maggie.
117. 6-14 Bart's Comet
- Bart gets in trouble for creating a weather balloon making fun of Skinner, resulting in him having to have to assist the principal with his astronomy work early in the morning. While Skinner walks away, Bart looks through the telescope and sees a comet, which is actually headed towards Springfield. When plans to destroy the comet go South, everyone in town piles into the shelter that Flanders built, kicking him out. One of the funniest "Simpsons" exchanges can be found within: "Yeah...Dad was right." "I know, kids. I'm scared, too."
118. 6-15 Homie The Clown
- It's revealed to Krusty that he's going broke because he's been spending money like there's no tomorrow. As a result, he's advised by his handlers to open up a clown college to try and get more cash. Homer enrolls and does fairly well under Krusty's watch, but he never manages one particular trick. Homer subs in for Krusty at parties and openings, but meanwhile, Fat Tony and the mob are after the real Krusty. When Krusty escapes, Tony thinks that Homer is Krusty. When presented to the mob Don, Homer as Krusty can leave if he performs the trick that Homer can't do - but the real Krusty shows up shortly after.
119. 6-16 Bart vs. Australia
- Bart can't believe that toilets all drain one way in one hemisphere and another way in another hemisphere, so he calls up Australia and tricks another kid into looking at the way that his toilet drains and the way that his faraway neighbor's toilet drains. Bart hangs up, leaving the kid with an expensive collect call bill. Bart starts to get letters, and eventually the state department wants him to go down under to try and apologize. He does, but doesn't realize that the country doesn't just want a mere apology to forgive and forget.
120. 6-17 Homer vs. Patty And Selma
- Homer makes a bad investment, which results in him asking for a loan from Patty and Selma, who dangle the debt in front of him at every chance they get. Meanwhile, Bart finds himself locked out of all of the physical education classes that he wants, so he ends up in the ballet class and finds that he's actually talented in it. To make money, Homer tries to be a limo driver, but he has to go to the DMV - where Patty and Selma are waiting.
121. 6-18 A Star Is Burns
- Springfield plays host to a film festival, and in a cross-promotion that disturbs Bart, film critic Jay Sherman (Jon Lovitz, doing his character from "The Critic") comes to town and stays with the Simpsons. Homer gets upset when he isn't picked by Marge to be on the jury, but when he gets on, he votes for the only movie that appeals to him - one of a guy getting hit in the groin with a football. Meanwhile, Mr. Burns enters the festival with his film - an obvious attempt to fix his reputation.
122. 6-19 Lisa's Wedding
- Lisa runs into a fortune teller's booth, and the teller reveals Lisa's future, telling tales of Lisa's future love - an uppity Englishman named Hugh, who eventually asks Lisa to marry him. She takes him back to Springfield, worried about the reaction he'll have to her family. Things don't go well, and when Hugh refuses to follow a family tradition, Lisa rethinks the wedding.
123. 6-20 Two Dozen And One Greyhounds
- Santa's Little Helper keeps tearing up the place, and then starts getting it on with another dog at the racetrack. Santa's new girlfriend has a ton of puppies, and the mess that they create gives the family no choice but to put them up for adoption, but before they can be taken, Mr. Burns grabs them, intending to make them into a coat. Lisa and Bart have to find their way into the Burns Manor to get their beloved pets back.
124. 6-21 The PTA Disbands
- When it's revealed that the school is in terrible shape, Bart tries to turn the teachers against Skinner to force a strike. For a while, Bart's in heaven with no school to be had, but Lisa's in hell, and starts to get paranoid after not being graded all that time. Eventually, the adults come to a decision to get substitutes, including Marge.
125. 6-22 Round Springfield
- Bart eats a jagged metal "Krusty O" and gets his appendix taken out. Bart's court case gets him an award of $500, and Lisa meets jazz legend "Bleeding Gums" Murphy, who passes away in the hospital shortly after their meeting. Saddened, Lisa looks for his rare record, but it costs $500. Bart ends up paying it, and Lisa runs to the nearest jazz station to pay tribute.
126. 6-23 Springfield Connection
- When Marge stops a criminal, she decides to clean up the streets of Springfield by becoming a cop. Although she's laughed at by fellow cops, she's successful and eventually comes to the rescue when Homer gets in danger by catching another local storing counterfit jeans in his garage.
127. 6-24 Lemon Of Troy
- After vandalizing a sidewalk, Bart gets a "town pride" lecture from Marge. The local kids decide to sell lemonade, until the local lemon tree is stolen by the kids of Shelbyville. Bart and the others decide to wage war, with Homer and the parents coming to the rescue in Ned's brand new motor home.
128. 6-25 Who Shot Mr. Burns? (1)
- In the famed finale for this season, the school tries to bury a hamster and strikes oil, resulting in Skinner being able to approve every request that comes across his desk - from both teachers and students. When Skinner doesn't want to sell Burns the oil well, Burns simply starts slant drilling, and when the school turns on the well, they find that it's dry. With all of the spending they've already done, Skinner finds himself having to cut back on just about every school program. Worse yet, the oil well makes life miserable for just about everyone in town - from Bart (the oil well injures Santa's Little Helper), to Moe (the fumes from the well close down Moe's) to Homer (who's mad because Burns can't remember his name) and others. Burns angers the town further by deciding to block out the sun, resulting in further power usage. At the end of the episode, Burns walks home but ends up in a struggle and a shot is fired. The episode lead to a huge "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" promo campaign, including an "America's Most Wanted" parody, which is also included on this set.
VIDEO: "The Simpsons" is presented once again here in 1.33:1 full-frame, the show's original aspect ratio. The picture quality is again quite good, even looking somewhat better than they currently do in syndication. Sharpness and detail remained perfectly fine, as the animation remained crisp and clean looking throughout.
Shimmering was really the only issue with the presentations. Although it wasn't distracting, some minor shimmer was spotted in several scenes. Edge enhancement wasn't noticed, but there were a couple of brief traces of pixelation. The elements used seemed to be in terrific shape, with no instances of wear present. Colors looked bright and vivid, with excellent saturation and no concerns. Colors seemed even a tad more vibrant here than they do when broadcast in syndication.
SOUND: The sixth season of "The Simpsons" is once again presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. While these repurposed soundtracks are not terribly aggressive or dynamic, they do open up the audio of the show a bit, with a nice spread largely across the front speakers. Dialogue remains crisp and clear through the center channel.
EXTRAS: Commentaries include participation from: Dan Castellaneta, Yeardley Smith, creator Matt Groening, David Mirkin, Mike Scully, David Silverman, Wes Archer, Bill Oakley, Greg Daniels, Jim Reardon, David X. Cohen and others. On disc one: "Bart of Darkness" (commentary, deleted scenes), "Lisa's Rival" (commentary), "Another Simpson's Clip Show" (commentary), "Itchy and Scratchyland" (commentary, deleted scenes), "Sideshow Bob Roberts" (commentary, deleted scenes), "Treehouse of Horror V" (commentary/deleted scenes), "Bart's Girlfriend" (commentary) and also, a "Confession From Matt Groening" (essentially, an intro to the sixth season.)
Disc 2: "Lisa On Ice" (commentary), "Homer Badman" (commentary, deleted scenes), "Grandpa Vs..." (commentary, deleted scenes), "Fear of Flying" (commentary, deleted scenes), "Homer the Great" (commentary, deleted scenes), "And Maggie Makes Three" (commentary, deleted scenes), "Bart's Comet" (commentary, deleted scenes)
Disc 3: "Homie The Clown" (commentary, deleted scenes), "Bart Vs. Australia" (commentary, deleted scenes), "Homer Vs. Patty and Selma" (commentary, deleted scenes), "A Star is Burns" (commentary, deleted scenes), "Lisa's Wedding" (commentary, deleted scenes), "Two Dozen and One Greyhounds" (commentary, deleted scenes), "The PTA Disbands" (commentary, deleted scenes). Finally, also included on the third disc is an "animation showcase" for "Lisa's Wedding", which offers a picture-in-picture comparison between storyboards and the final animation or the animatic and the final animation.
Disc 4: "Round Springfield" (deleted scenes, commentary), "The Springfield Connection" (deleted scenes, commentary), "Lemon of Troy" (commentary) and "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" (Pt 1) (commentary, deleted scenes and brief audio intro from James L. Brooks).
Also included on the fourth disc is "Springfield's Most Wanted", a 21-minute parody of "America's Most Wanted", looking into the mystery of who shot Mr. Burns; a brief featurette where "Simpsons" staff talk about a photo op with a "Simpsons" flight that some of the creators did not want to go on, three ads ("Church's Chicken - Picnic", "Church's Chicken - Piggybank" and "1-800-COLLECT"), and a "play all" option for the all of the deleted scenes available - there's some incredibly funny stuff - elsewhere in the set (just under 30 minutes and available with optional commentary).
Also found on the fourth disc is an animation section for "Who Shot Mr. Burns?", including an animation showcase with comparisons between the final episode, storyboards and animatic; the animatic itself and with commentary, original production sketches, and "suspect profiles". There's also a multi-language demo.
Final Thoughts: The sixth season of "The Simpsons" offers some absolutely wonderful episodes - although there's a few uneven moments, the overall season stands as one of the strongest. This DVD set continues the incredible work that the "Simpsons" staff has done with prior sets - we get great audio/video quality, a tremendous amount of supplements and newly done animated menus. Highly recommended.