Sunday, December 23, 2012

Repeating Perfection On The Comedic Gem That Is The Simpsons

The Good: Cool packaging, Great, enduringly funny episodes, Exceptional animation, Good DVD bonuses
The Bad: Clip show is a little weaker than other episodes
The Basics: The Simpsons The Complete Sixth Season offers the most consistently great season of the show to date with great DVD extras.

When The Simpsons hit its stride in the fifth season, it sure knew how to keep it going into the sixth season. Packed with consistently funny episodes, The Simpsons - The Complete Sixth Season on DVD illustrates the enduring greatness and popularity of this animated series. The sixth season is packaged in a Homer Simpson-shaped plastic head (think those giant thin plastic Easter eggs around Easter) and I suppose some people didn't like that, but I thought it was pretty cool. On-line there are ways to get an alternative box that matches the shape of the prior seasons. Regardless of any fake controversy among fans over packaging, the sixth season of The Simpsons remains an incredible value for fans of the animated series.

The sixth season of The Simpsons is the season that finds the Simpson family undergoing such adventures as Lisa meets her intellectual and creative match, Bart dates Reverend Lovejoy's troubled daughter, Homer is accused of sexual harassment of a babysitter, and Marge becomes a police officer. Secondary characters get their day when Mr. Burns builds a sunblocker, Santa's Little Helper becomes infatuated with a racing greyhound, and Sideshow Bob runs for mayor.

As with the previous seasons, The Simpsons remains heavily episodic, so much of the series is about individual gags and the plots do not have ramifications on other episodes. One notable exception is the season's weakest episode, "Another Clip Show," where the characters sit around reminiscing about lost loves using material from prior episodes. Even with the acknowledgment of the tongue-in-cheek nature of the episode, the clip show feels a little forced and not satirical enough.

That said, the sixth season of The Simpsons is solid and any defects in the one episode are reconciled by the quality of the bonus features. This boxed set features commentary - real good commentaries! - on all twenty-five episodes, deleted scenes, a "Springfield's Most Wanted" tv special that promoted the season, as well as commercials and a couple of good easter eggs. Like the fifth season, this remains a strong buy for fans of The Simpsons, who have presumably seen these episodes many times. Fortunately, because of the episodic nature of the show, this is also a fine point for any fan of The Simpsons to jump in, making it a great gift for people who are just getting into the show. Then again, it's likely to make such a person want more.

Thus, the show is not so much about the characters as what happens to them. Here is how the sixth season finds The Simpsons;

Homer Simpson - In his continual quest for life outside the nuclear power plant, he becomes (at various points in the season) a Krusty the Klown franchise, a movie festival judge, and just a more memorable worker at the plant (which triggers the shooting of Mr. Burns that ends the season). As a side, Homer takes an obsessive love of a sugar pile, continues a love of candy that gets him nailed with a sexual harassment allegation, rekindles his love with Marge using an elixir from his father, and his love of drinking gets him kicked out of Moe's. Homer joins a secret society (the Stonecutters), relates what happened when Maggie was born, borrows money from Patty and Selma, and clashes with the law when Marge becomes a cop,

Marge Simpson - Becomes a police officer and a teacher at Bart's school. As well, this season allows her to initiate a film festival (which allows for a crossover with The Critic - reviewed here!), reinvigorate her sex life with Homer, and reveals a deep-seated fear of flying in an airplane. She also initiates a conversation on love, which creates the clip show,

Maggie - Hangs around and listens to the story of her birth. Otherwise, this is a pretty low-Maggie season,

Lisa Simpson - Makes a power grab by visiting Bleeding Gums Murphy (from season 1), learning the future from a fortune teller at the Renaissance Faire, and becomes a hockey player who rivals Bart's skills at the sport. As well, she becomes popular when the family gets a pool, she takes on a new genius in her class and she and Bart work together to thwart Sideshow Bob and Mr. Burns when he steals the puppies Santa's Little Helper has,

and Bart Simpson - Opening the season with a broken leg from a pool accident, he soon finds himself locked in a battle of electoral politics against Sideshow Bob, dates Reverend Lovejoy's daughter, and finds himself bested by Lisa in ice hockey. As well, he discovers a comet, insults Australia so seriously that he must journey down under to apologize, takes up ballet, and pranks his teacher and Skinner in such a way that "The PTA Disbands." He also assists in getting the town's lemon tree back from neighboring Shelbyville.

This season is more balanced than some of the previous seasons, though Homer continues to dominate the stories with six a-plots and five b-plots, with Bart a close second with six a-plots and four b-plots. Lisa and Marge have a stronger presence front and center this season with each getting four episodes. The show also has more episodes that are whole family endeavors, like "Itchy and Scratchy Land" and "Who Shot Mr. Burns? - Part One." This year's "Treehouse of Horror V" involves the many deaths of Groundskeeper Willie.

This is a very fun season, but it also has some of the series' best satires, with the exploration of electoral fraud ("Sideshow Bob Roberts"), the problems with sexual harassment law and sensationalist journalism ("Homer: Bad Man"), and the nature of popular entertainment ("A Star Is Burns"). It's witty and intelligent the way The Simpsons makes its social commentaries and jabs at establishments that are taken as holy.

This boxed set also includes arguably the best episode of The Simpsons in "Two Dozen In One Greyhounds," wherein Santa's Little Helper gets randy, takes a mate and she has puppies. It is line for line one of the funniest half hours of television and the climactic song ("See My Vest," a parody of Disney's Beauty And The Beast's "Be My Guest") is riotously funny and a perfect rewriting of the pretentious Disney song.

It's hard to do better than this season and The Simpsons arguably does not. This is a must own for anyone who loves great comedy.

For other seasons of The Simpsons, please check out my reviews of:
Season 1
Season 2
Season 3
Season 4
Season 5


For other television reviews, please check out my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2012, 2007 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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