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The Simpsons - Christmas With
20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment .
R4 . COLOR . 110 mins .
G . PAL
Ooh, a cheap, cash-in Simpsons compilation featuring five episodes rather than the usual four – it must be Christmas!
And indeed it is, with some obvious yuletime exploits of our favourite little yellow family and a couple which only have tenuous links, such as the presence of lots of snow.
Simpsons Roasting On an Open Fire (season 1):
With no Christmas bonuses at the plant, and Marge having to spend the family's pressie money on removing Bart's boss tattoo, Homer becomes a secret Santa. Bart finds out, and accompanies him to the dog track where they end up finding the best Christmas gift the family have ever received…
Homer driving home from Moe's in heavy snow could only end in a great big “d’oh!” - and it does, as he totals both Simpsonmobiles. Buying a snow plough, he becomes Mr. Plow, raking in a fortune until competition arrives on the scene. Still, the jacket offers certain unforseen advantages…
"Hey, if you’re going to get mad at me every time I do something stupid, then I guess I’ll just have to stop doing stupid things!" – Homer Simpson
Miracle on Evergreen Terrace (season 9):
Make the most of it...
Up early on Christmas morning, a slight Bart-induced mishap leaves the tree and pressies in one big congealed melty lump. Hiding his misdeed and blaming burglars, the people of Springfield rally around to save the Simpsons’ Christmas. But then the truth comes out…
"There’s no shame in being a pariah." – Marge Simpson
Grift of the Magi (season 11):
Springfield Elementary is closed due to a lack of funds involving Fat Tony and disabled access ramps, until it reopens under the auspices of Kid First Industries. The syllabus is somewhat different, however, and when actual learning is actively discouraged, Lisa gets the impression the students are being toyed with…
"Fun toys are fun!" – Ralph Wiggum
She of Little Faith (season 13):
Caught with their chants down...
When Nibbles bails out and his rocket trashes the local church, the only way Reverend Lovejoy can find to keep the faith is by turning it into a commercial enterprise, courtesy of Mr. Burns. Lisa subsequently loses her faith and goes searching for a religion that fits; she eventually discovers Buddhism…
"My Satan sense is tingling!" – Ned Flanders
Running the gamut from the first season through to the rather recent 13th, never before has one little DVD release so clearly demonstrated how much things have changed quality-wise. While Simpsons Roasting (the first ever full-length episode of the show) manages to look quite craptacular – myriad wobbles, flecks of crud on cels, film-induced yukky bits and the like – the later episodes are pretty much as good as it can get for handmade animation, with much improved colour and little in the way of notable gremlins.
Unlike on those full season box sets which are being released at such a lethargic rate it’s highly likely we’ll never see every season on the DVD format, the sound here is simple surround-encrusted Dolby Digital stereo – just how the show is made, so no cause for complaint. The Christmassy theme predictably brings us a cavalcade of Christmassy stuff, all of which comes up well with the singing and the dancing and the flailing of limbs and the wahey. Standard cartoon synch rules apply, although admittedly they got better at it as they went along.
It looks like the crapola old public domain DVD Menu Construction Kit has been given a workout again, with another completely uninspiring set of almost generic menu screens. Bonus junkies will wither and die here, with but another of those misleadingly titled Finest Moments mini-clip compiles we’ve become familiar with by now, this time featuring Mr. Burns. It would take hours to present his best bits, however somehow Fox have managed to squeeze them into 3:14. Is it a Christmas miracle? Nah, they just missed almost every classic bit – well, except for the money fight.
At this rate we’ll get every episode splattered on a mountain of compilations rather than in seasonal form – something which Fox probably wouldn’t mind so much as it offers the potential to make them a shedload more folding stuff.
Still, if you wish to give your December 25th a bit of Simpsonification, this is a neater way to do it than by rummaging through hundreds of blah old video tapes. MMMmmm, tracking problems…
Jack & Sarah "Proving that simplicity is no obstruction to brilliance, this is an ultimately sweet (but not sickeningly so) tale that gives all those bigger English films out there a more than respectable run for their money... "