While much has been discussed about the "prime" years of "The Simpsons" early on, watching season ten on DVD is a reminder that Springfield's favorite family still were hitting some Homer runs in its tenth round. While the series has always attracted a wide variety of guest stars, the tenth season offers one of the funniest cameo episodes, "When You Dish Upon a Star". The episode has Homer crashing (literally) into the home of Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger (before their current troubles), who are new Springfield residents that don't want to attract attention to themselves.
Homer manages to screw things up and the two stars fire him as their assistant, leading to Homer to open "The Museum of Hollywood Jerks", showcasing the things of theirs he stole. This is a largely funny episode, and the bonus is that it's the first guest appearance by Ron Howard, whose dry delivery proves to be a perfect opposite for Homer (Howard has since made other cameos on the show.) The episode's end, with Howard selling Homer's idea to producer Brian Grazer, is a priceless final bit.
Another memorable episode is "Lisa Gets an A", although the majority of the episode remains uneven. The episode remains entertaining simply because of Homer's subplot, in which he adopts a lobster named "Pinchy", who manages to irritate and snap at the other members of the family, but is bizarrely adored by Homer, who treats it as a pet. Pinchy stands with Mojo the Helper Monkey and Stampy the Elephant (from other seasons) as great (and brief) Simpsons pets. Homer also steals the opening episode, "Lard of the Dance", where he decides to go into business selling grease. Another memorable "Homer-centric" episode is "Homer to the Max", where Homer changes his name to Max Power after becoming connected to an incredibly stupid television character with the same name.
Every season has to have a "Treehouse of Horror" episode, and this one is an decent effort, with the highlight being the "The Terror of Tiny Toon" short, where Bart powers the TV remote with plutonium, bringing the world of Itchy and Scratchy to life. The other two segments, "Starship Poopers" (Maggie is really an alien) and "Hell Toupée" (Snake's evil hair is transplanted to Homer, causing him to turn evil.) The season's other multi-story episode, "Simpsons Bible Stories" brings the funny more successfully, with Moses (Milhouse) leading the Israelites, King David (Bart) versus Goliath II (Nelson) and a hilarious segment with Homer and Marge as Adam and Eve and Flanders as the voice of God.
Season 10 offers up one of the best Mr. Burns-centric episodes ever in, "Monty Can't Buy Me Love", where Burns gets upset when billionaire Arthur Fortune (obviously a take on Sir Richard Branson) opens up one of his megastores and steals the town's attention. After attempts to gain popularity fail, Burns sets out to capture the Loch Ness Monster and bring it back to Springfield. The episode has some classic Burns moments, especially when Monty describes exactly what it took for him to capture the creature.
While Season 10 has plenty of great episodes, there are a couple (aside from a just average "Treehouse of Horror" entry) that just don't hold up very well. "Bart the Mother", where Bart gets in trouble for accidentally shooting a bird, is just too glum (Bart learns a lesson episodes seem so season 5 and prior) until it finally comes around for a decently funny final act. "They Saved Lisa's Brain" sees Lisa getting upset with the town's low-brow antics and joins Mensa in order to try and enact positive change, which doesn't exactly go well. The episode isn't without its charms, but it's funniest gag is the one that ends the episode.
Once again, it must be said that it's really nice to have the original versions of the episodes on these sets, instead of the syndicated versions. There's a lot of funny little bits here-and-there that I haven't seen in a long while.
204. 10- 1 23 Aug 98 Lard of the Dance
205. 10- 2 20 Sep 98 The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace
206. 10- 3 27 Sep 98 Bart the Mother
207. 10- 4 25 Oct 98 Treehouse of Horror IX
208. 10- 5 8 Nov 98 When You Dish Upon a Star
209. 10- 6 15 Nov 98 D'oh-in' in the Wind
210. 10- 7 22 Nov 98 Lisa Gets an "A"
211. 10- 8 6 Dec 98 Homer Simpson in: "Kidney Trouble"
212. 10- 9 20 Dec 98 Mayored to the Mob
213. 10-10 10 Jan 99 Viva Ned Flanders
214. 10-11 17 Jan 99 Wild Barts Can't Be Broken
215. 10-12 31 Jan 99 Sunday, Cruddy Sunday
216. 10-13 7 Feb 99 Homer to the Max
217. 10-14 14 Feb 99 I'm With Cupid
218. 10-15 21 Feb 99 Marge Simpson in: "Screaming Yellow Honkers"
219. 10-16 28 Feb 99 Make Room for Lisa
220. 10-17 28 Mar 99 Maximum Homerdrive
221. 10-18 4 Apr 99 Simpsons Bible Stories
222. 10-19 11 Apr 99 Mom and Pop Art
223. 10-20 25 Apr 99 The Old Man and The "C" Student
224. 10-21 2 May 99 Monty Can't Buy Me Love
225. 10-22 9 May 99 They Saved Lisa's Brain
226. 10-23 16 May 99 Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo
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 tenth 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: -----Disc 1:
Lard of the Dance
Commentary by Mike Scully, Jane O'Brien, Ron Hauge, Pete Michels, Dominic Polcino
The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace
Commentary by Matt Groening, Mike Scully, George Meyer, Ron Hauge, Dan Greaney, Julie Thacker, Mark Kirkland
Bart the Mother
Commentary by Matt Groening, Mike Scully, George Meyer, Ron Hauge, David S. Cohen, Steven Dean Moore
Treehouse of Horror IX
Commentary by Matt Groening, Mike Scully, George Meyer, Ron Hauge, David S. Cohen, Donick Cary, Steven Dean Moore
When You Dish Upon a Star
Commentary by Mike Scully, Ron Hauge, Matt Selman, Rich Appel, Pete Michels
D'oh-in' the Wind
Commentary by Matt Groening, Mike Scully, George Meyer, Donick Cary, Ron Hauge, Mark Kirkland
A Line from Matt Groening
Art & Animation:
Animation Showcase: 5F20 - Lard of the Dance
Animatic/StoryBoard Compare (2 Angles = 7:22/each): 5F20 - Lard of the Dance
1) Storyboards: Storyboard with episode PIP 5F20 - Lard of the Dance
2) Animatic: Animatic with episode PIP 5F20 - Lard of the Dance
Lisa Gets an "A"
Homer Simpson in: "Kidney Trouble"
Mayored to the Mob
Commentary by Matt Groening, Mike Scully, George Meyer, Ron Hauge, Dan Castellaneta, Mark Hamill
Viva Ned Flanders
Commentary by Matt Groening, Mike Scully, George Meyer, Ron Hauge, Julie Thacker, Neil Affleck
Wild Barts Can't Be Broken
Commentary by Matt Groening, Mike Scully, George Meyer,
Larry Doyle, Matt Selman, Tom Martin
Sunday, Cruddy Sunday
Commentary by Matt Groening, Mike Scully, George Meyer, Tom Martin, Matt Selman, Steve Moore
Homer to the Max
Commentary by Mike Scully, Rich Appel, Matt Selman, Ron Hauge, Pete Michels
I'm With Cupid
Marge Simpson in: "Screaming Yellow Honkers"
Make Room for Lisa
Simpsons Bible Stories
Commentary by Matt Groening, Mike Scully, George Meyer, Tom Martin, Larry Doyle, Matt Selman, Nancy Kruse, Mike Scully, Rich Appel, Matt Selman, Ron Hauge, Pete Michels
Animation Showcase: AABF09 - Homer to the Max
Animatic/StoryBoard Compare (2 Angles = 8:31 /each) AABF09 - Homer to the Max 1) Storyboards: Storyboard with episode PIP AABF09 - Homer to the Max
2) Animatic: Animatic with episode PIP AABF09 - Homer to the Max
Mom and Pop Art
Commentary by Matt Groening, Mike Scully, Al Jean,, George Meyer
The Old Man and the "C" Student
Commentary by Matt Groening, Mike Scully, George Meyer,
Julie Thacker, Ron Hauge, Nancy Cartwright, Mark Kirkland
Monty Can't Buy Me Love
They Saved Lisa's Brain
Commentary by Matt Groening, Mike Scully, Matt Selman, Ron Hauge, Rich Appel, Mark Whitmore, Pete Michels
Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo
Commentary by Matt Groening, Mike Scully, Donick Cary, George Meyer, Ron Gauge, Matt Selman, Jim Reardon
Once again, commentaries are found for every episode on the set. For those who have listened to the commentaries on previous seasons, you'll be familiar with the kind of fun found within. The show's crew energetically discusses each episode and has a lot of fun joking about some of the bits within each episode, behind-the-scenes stories and changes. The commentaries are a great deal of fun and it's very nice to see Mark Hamill joining in on the episode he appears in. The commentary for "Monty Can't Buy Me Love" also starts off with a potential hint at an extra for the upcoming "Transformers" DVD, when the participants note that they have to get going on the commentary because Michael Bay and a bunch of Navy Seals were outside waiting to use the studio - maybe to record a commentary?
Approximately 15 minutes of deleted scenes are included on the fourth disc with optional commentary. These deleted scenes can also be found under the menu for the episode they were cut from and can be added back into that episode via the menu option for that episode.
The last DVD also offers a peek at an extra from "The Simpsons Movie" DVD (an animatic for a musical scene from the movie). The final disc also includes several Butterfinger "Simpsons" ads, several Australian CC's ads, the Intel "Homer's Smarter Brain" ad, 5 minute showcase of Bart's crank calls to Moe, a cool featurette on how the animated menus are created for the DVD and a gallery of sketches.
Final Thoughts: The tenth season of "The Simpsons" still sees the series on a roll, with several terrific episodes and a bunch of good ones. The DVD set once again provides fine audio/video quality, as well as a solid set of extra features. Highly recommended.