Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Simpsons: The Complete Thirteenth Season Blu-ray Review

Release Date: August 24th, 2010
TV-Rating: Not Rated
Region: A
Disc 1 Episodes:
  • 01. Treehouse of Horror XII
  • 02. The Parent Rap
  • 03. Homer the Moe
  • 04. A Hunka Hunka Burns in Love
  • 05. The Blunder Years
  • 06. She of Little Faith
  • 07. Brawl in the Family
Disc 2 Episodes:
  • 08. Sweets and Sour Marge
  • 09. Jaws Wired Shut
  • 10. Half-Decent Proposal
  • 11. The Bart Wants What It Wants
  • 12. The Latest Gun in the West
  • 13. The Old Man and the Key
  • 14. Tales from the Public Domain
  • 15. Blame It on Lisa
Disc 3 Episodes:
  • 16. Weekend at Burnsie’s
  • 17. Gump Roast
  • 18. I Am Furious (Yellow)
  • 19. The Sweetest Apu
  • 20. Little Girl in the Big Ten
  • 21. The Frying Game
  • 22. Poppa’s got A Brand New Badge
The Video
The Simpsons: The Complete Thirteenth Season’ comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation for each of the 22 episodes. Now, for those who do not know already, this season was not produced in high-definition, but that does not mean it should not be released on Blu-ray.

We saw the release of season 20 last year which included both standard-definition and high-definition episodes, which was when the show made the leap. We know The Simpsons looks fantastic in high-def, but some may be surprised by the nice quality of upconverted episodes on Blu-ray as well.

The Blu-ray visuals didn’t always impress, but the issues I had can be traced to the source material and not the transfers. The show’s animation while generally clean had some dirt, etc., let’s just say it looks like it was produced in 2001 for television (which it is).

The Blu-ray release does benefit from higher bitrates and far more impressive colors which never look dull or lifeless in comparison to the DVD release. Non-video related, I also have to say that I love the pop-up menus available during the episodes, which of course are not available on the DVD release.

Overall ‘The Simpsons: The Complete Thirteenth Season’ looks very solid on Blu-ray. Having spent time with both the Blu-ray and DVD releases, I definitely found improvement with the Blu-ray release and would definitely recommend it over the DVD based on the episode presentations alone. 7.5/10.

The Audio
An English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is the lossless option for all 22 episodes. Also included are Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital audio tracks. Optional subtitles include English SDH and Spanish.

Going into the season I already had set expectations on the audio mix. The show being a television comedy I knew it wasn’t going to be a surround sound experience, but I did expect some decent if not impressive clarity from the in-studio recorded dialogue.

The mixes for each episode are just as expected, with some light to surprising surround use, but not necessarily the material which would amaze. Dialogue is well-prioritized and sounds as clear as one could hope, sounding crisp and like new.

Each episode includes surround use throughout, although it is quite basic. When surround use is present though, it does impress overall. I actually found some moments to be quite immersive, I just wish it was constant with each scene.

Overall I was very pleased and at times impressed by the lossless audio found on the thirteenth season of ‘The Simpsons.’ Considering this is a TV release which first aired in 2001, I really find it hard to be disappointed. 8/10.

The Extras

Disc 1 (Blu-ray Disc):


Audio Commentaries
Audio commentaries are included for each episode on the disc. Creator Matt Groening is featured on quite a few of the audio commentaries. Writers, actors, directors and special guests such as Stan Lee make appearances as well. The audio commentaries included for ‘The Simpsons’ are always enjoyable and add so much value to the release for me.

Deleted Scenes
Most episodes throughout the season include the option to play the episode with deleted scenes included.

A Token from Matt Groening (1:52) (SD)
Matt Groening introduces the season’s home video release, making mention of certain episodes, guest stars and bonus features.

Ralphisms (2:40) (SD)
A collection of some of Ralph’s best moments.

Animation Showcase: The Parent Rap (SD)
Storyboards (Picture-in-Picture) (7:21)
Animatic (Picture-in-Picture) (7:21)

Special Language Feature: Treehouse of Horror XII
Use the “Audio” button on your remote to change the language of the episode. Included are German, Czech, Japanese and Portuguese.

Disc 2 (Blu-ray Disc) (42.1 GB):

Audio Commentaries
Audio commentaries are included for each episode on the disc. Creator Matt Groening is featured on quite a few of the audio commentaries. Writers, actors, directors and special guests such as Stan Lee make appearances as well. The audio commentaries included for ‘The Simpsons’ are always enjoyable and add so much value to the release for me.

Deleted Scenes
Most episodes throughout the season include the option to play the episode with deleted scenes included.

Animation Showcase: Sweets and Sour Marge (SD)
Storyboards (Picture-in-Picture) (6:25)
Animatic (Picture-in-Picture) (6:25)

The People Ball: Sweets and Sour Marge (1:14) (SD)
See how they created the people ball featured in episode ‘Sweets and Sour Marge.’

The 13th Crewman (1:40) (SD)
See the sail boat built for the 2001-2002 Volvo Ocean Race that features Bart Simpson.

Blame It on the Monkeys: Blame It on Lisa (1:40) (SD)
The production crew discusses the controversial episode which offended Rio.

Disc 3 (Blu-ray Disc) (36.4 GB):

Audio Commentaries
Audio commentaries are included for each episode on the disc. Creator Matt Groening is featured on quite a few of the audio commentaries. Writers, actors, directors and special guests such as Stan Lee make appearances as well. The audio commentaries included for ‘The Simpsons’ are always enjoyable and add so much value to the release for me.

Deleted Scenes
Most episodes throughout the season include the option to play the episode with deleted scenes included.

Commercials (SD)
Burger King “Lines Man” (0:21)
Burger King “Trick or Treat” (0:32)
Burger King “Springfield Hamburger” (0:32)
Burger King “Simpsons Watch” (0:32)
Sabritas (0:22)

The Games (8:02) (SD)
This is a video gallery of the many video games produced for ‘The Simpsons’ throughout the years.

The Sweet Life of Ralph (6:11) (SD)
This is a collection of Ralph moments throughout the years; it is especially fun to see how the character changed in the first years of the show.

Sketch Gallery (6:14) (SD)
The title is quite self-explanatory. This is a collection of sketches created during production of the season with specific notes, etc.

Deleted Scenes (14:14) (SD)
The deleted scenes featured on all three discs are included via a play all feature, featuring optional introduction and commentary.

The extras included on this release are fantastic, especially the audio commentaries which are included for all 22 episodes. The release includes the typical amount of features to previous season releases, some specific and some slightly random.

The Blu-ray is housed in a 3-disc Blu-ray case with a beautiful slip cover and episode booklet. Any fan of previous TV on DVD releases of ‘The Simpsons’ knows that the audio commentaries are a significant highlight and something I wish more TV shows did before releasing on home video. 9/10.

The Season
The Simpsons: The Complete Thirteenth Season’ premiered in 2001. Just before this time ‘The Simpsons’ really took a dive in quality and laughs, with many referring it to as the worst years of ‘The Simpsons.’ Season 13 while not as funny as the best seasons of the show was a significant turn in the right direction.

I have always enjoyed ‘The Simpsons,’ and there is no surprise why it is the longest running animated show on television, with new episodes airing every Sunday on Fox. I have to be honest and say that there is not a season of ‘The Simpsons’ that I hate, despite some disappointing episodes.

My favorite seasons of the show are certainly seasons 1-3, but I love many which followed. I loved the early storylines of the show, the emotion and situations the characters were in were much more unique and touching. The show has always been funny, but at times I do think it began to get a little too random to consider it the same show which viewers fell in love with originally.

Season 13 includes some absolutely hilarious episodes, although there are a few duds throughout. I have never been a fan of the clip shows, which one episode this season is. For a show that has been so long on the air, I don’t find it surprising that latter seasons did not live up to the first few seasons, we have seen it happen with many shows and they have been far worse.

I always find it very difficult to talk about ‘The Simpsons.’ I love the show and while I no longer watch the show on television, I do look forward to one day seeing the episodes on Blu-ray (whether it be sooner or later).

Season 13 overall was actually a really good season and I appreciate that the show began to resemble the original formula a bit more. As mentioned, I do consider the show to be different than the one I fell in love with originally, but that doesn’t mean I still don’t enjoy the show for what it is. I think most fans would agree that this season was an improvement from previous seasons, and those new to the season should certainly give it a chance. 8/10.

The Blu-news Summary
The Simpsons: The Complete Thirteenth Season’ was a step BACK in the right direction, taking a step back from where the show was heading and remembering what made it so lovable.

The Blu-ray release is good, featuring pleasing video presentations and solid audio mixes. The extras are fantastic, especially the audio commentaries included for each episode. The Blu-ray release is certainly ‘Recommended’ to all.

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