By Hervé St-Louis
December 19, 2012 - 10:59
I really liked the Simpsons and am not enough of an expert to determine if they have jumped the shark and have become stale as is very popular to claim in many pop culture corners. I will say that thanks to me not watching as much television (I basically don’t watch any – and only view DVDs or Blu-Rays on my monitor), I have missed several seasons of this series for quite a few years. Also, shuffling of the series in Canada has made it tough to fit in a schedule. Anyhow, it’s dumb to base one’s schedule on a television series allocated slot. I’ve also been more exposed to competing Fox series such as Family Guy and American Dad. These series, as well as others such as Bob’s Burger have pushed the gentle limit of what’s acceptable on television and what is not. One of my concerns was that the Simpsons would feel lame next to more outrageous animated series set in the same territory. Have The Simpsons lost their relevance?
The notion that one series has to up the ante and be more provocative than others should probably be ignored. The Simpsons started the game and delimited the niche that other series such as Family Guy are happy to deconstruct and turn on its head? But do they? Here, the writers of the series crafted stories that took into account the past continuity of the characters. For example, Homer’s mother’s back for one episode after hiding from the government. The troubles the Simpsons run through every time they travel abroad are alluded to. Krusty’s Jewish heritage is once again in the center stage, Flanders's wife is still dead, Ziff Davis is back and Marge and Homer’s first meeting is re-imagined. Continuity is not a mainstay if the Simpsons, but here, it plays a role when useful.
What the series does well is to continue to poke fun at society and current politics. Many of the episodes deal with the after effects of the attacks of September 911 by showing what happens when a society and its government overreacts to terrible events and starts taking away rights from citizens. One of the episodes deals with the forced incarceration and re-education of the Simpsons by their government after Bart moons the American flag. The extent to which the population of Springfield was angry at Bart served as an excellent reflection on the state of American nationalism then, and today.
The most important thing is the question of whether one will be entertained and laugh while watching the show. Yes. That happens. The scripts are sharp as usual and the Simpsons still have something to say that’s relevant. For collectors and hardcore fans, the commentary on the discs will be priceless. I received the DVD version for review and must admit that it is an excellent and attractive package. Extras include commentaries on every episodes by executive producer Al jean, deleted scenes, and more material such as sketches and commercials.
Rating: 7 /10