The new season begins in the USA on Sunday, November 3rd.
October 2, 2002

Several interesting Simpsons books in the horizon.
September 27, 2002

Long-awaited season two DVD boxed set reviewed.
July 24, 2002

Series nominated for possible 14th & 15th Emmy Award.
July 22, 2002

Study guide to a popular Simpsons book due out this summer.
June 30, 2002

Four-disc set with 22 episodes and bonus material out in August.
April 24, 2002

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The Simpsons' 14th Season Kicks Off
By David McCormick ( - October 2, 2002

NOTE: This article contains significant spoilers. Some episode titles, airdates and descriptions are tentative and subject to change.

     The Simpsons begins its season in trademark fashion on Sunday, November 3rd, with “Treehouse of Horror XIII”, episode DABF19. Details on this episode are still a little sketchy, but we do know that Maggie Roswell returns to voice Maude Flanders' ghost. Roswell was the voice of Maude Flanders, Helen Lovejoy, Elizabeth Hoover and several other incidental characters until she left after season 10 due to a pay dispute. In the first section, entitled “Send in the Clones”, Homer's new hammock starts to make clones of him. Then, Lisa gets Springfield to start a cash-for-guns program, leaving the town defenceless against gun-bearing zombies, in “The Fright to Creep and Scare Harms”. The final part is entitled “The Island of Dr. Monroe”, likely a parody of “The Island of Dr. Moreau”.
     The official season première comes one week later on November 10th, with “How I Spent My Strummer Vacation” (DABF22). Homer is secretly videotaped complaining about his family while in a cab. In an effort to help him regroup, Marge, Bart, Lisa and little Maggie send him to Rock 'N' Roll Fantasy camp, run by Sir Mick Jagger (who guest stars as himself). Once there, Homer lives the life of a rock star, taught to him by the likes of Keith Richards, Lenny Kravitz, Elvis Costello, Tom Petty and Brian Setzer all of whom guest star as themselves.
     Another November episode, “Large Marge” (DABF18) features Marge who mistakenly thinks Homer is eyeing other women. In an effort to uplift her appeal, she decides to get plastic surgery to look younger. But the surgery goes awry when Marge receives breast implants meant for one of Mayor Quimby's “escorts”. Meanwhile, Bart and Milhouse catch an episode of Batman and Robin (guest stars Adam West and Burt Ward), where they battle Clown Man – who coincidentally looks a lot like a younger version of Krusty.
     There are even more guest stars to come throughout the series, including James L. Brooks, co-creator of The Simpsons, Elliot Gould, Kelsey Grammer (Sideshow Bob), Marisa Tomei, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Joe Mantegna (William “Fat Tony” Williams), Eric Idle, George Plimpton and Little Richard.
     Other Season 14 plots include:

  • In “Bart vs. Lisa vs. the 3rd Grade” (DABF20), Lisa is promoted to the third grade... where she meets Bart, who has been dropped down from fourth grade.
  • Principal Skinner and Edna Krabappel contemplate tying the knot, in EABF02, “Special Edna” (aka “Love and Marking”). This should air sometime in early January.
  • In “Helter Shelter” (DABF21), when the Simpsons are forced to leave their house, they go on a reality show where they have to live in a house with the rules of 1895... but when the ratings start to slip, they throw Squiggy (David Lander) into the house.
  • Concerned that she's been neglecting her health, Marge starts lifting weights, which leads to steroid abuse and a harsher Marge to the family in “Strong Arms of the Ma” (EABF04).
  • In EABF09, “Mr. Spitz Goes to Washington”, Krusty gets elected to Congress in part to help get the flight path for Springfield Airport diverted from directly over Homer's house, but falls in line with the conservatives once he's there.
  • Finally, in “'Scuse Me While I Miss The Sky” (EABF11), Lisa complains about light pollution when she's unable to see the stars at night.
     What's more, The Simpsons will reach its 300th episode this February with “Barting Over” (EABF05). In this landmark episode, Bart learns that he had acted in commercials as a baby, as Baby Stinkbreath (for a baby mouthwash) and that Homer has squandered all his money. 'I spent it naming a star after our family', says Homer. And, of course, the star went supernova. Bart becomes so angry that he sues to become an emancipated minor, leaves home and lands in a loft, where the show's guest stars are also living. Somehow the whole troupe winds up at the Skewed Tour, a parody of the rock-meets-extreme-sports festival the Warped Tour. This will guest star Blink-182 and Tony Hawk as themselves.
     For further details and up-to-date airdates, visit the Upcoming Episodes page.
     Thanks to Jonah Flynn for some of the information presented here.

Art of The Simpsons
By William LaRue, courtesy of Collecting Simpsons! - September 27, 2002
     Bongo Comics has begun working on a hard-cover book tentatively titled “Art of the Simpsons,” according to Bongo creative director Bill Morrison.
     Bongo is the publisher of Simpsons comic books. But it also handles a lot of the creative work on other Simpsons merchandise, including calendars and episode guide books.
     Bill told Collecting Simpsons! that work is still in the preliminary stage on the art book, which won't be published for at least another year by HarperCollins.
     But current plans are is make it one of those large coffee table books featuring art work that's gone into the making the TV series and possibily other “Simpsons” creations.
     “We haven't decided what we're going to limit it to. It will be mostly the TV show. But we may feature chapters on merchandise and comics and a lot of additional stuff,” Morrison says. “It's a project we're just initiating now. I think it's going to be a big job.”
     Meanwhile, Morrison shares news on some other Simpsons book projects.
     The long-delayed “Homer's Guide to Being a Man” has been postponed for at least another year. Designed as a sequel to the 1990 book “Bart Simpson's Guide to Life,” Bongo held up the Homer guide to make sure the content was as witty as the first book, Morrison says. “We weren't really happy with the direction it was going in, and wanted to take some time to rethink it. So it sort of got put on the back burner for a while. We're going to open it back up,” he says.
     “The Simpsons Beyond Forever,” a guide to seasons 11 and 12 due in November, will have several improvements over the two previous episode guides. “We've expanded the format a bit,” Morrison says. “Originally, in the first two books, we had a double-page spread about every three episodes. In this issue, every episode gets a double-page spread and the 'Treehouse of Horror' episodes get four pages. So there's more art, more facts, more bits. We really spent a lot of time on this and did a lot of extra research just to keep the hard-core fans really happy.”
     The newest episode will also be available as a box set, “The Ultimate Simpsons in a Big Ol' Box,” packaged with the two previous guides at a reduced price over buying all three individually. Morrison says Simpsons creator Matt Groening decided with the second book that just updating a single book wasn't a good idea. “It was suggested that we just do a revised and expanded version of the first book, that adds two more seasons. Matt said, 'No, I don't want to cheat the fans who have the first book and make them buy this one just to buy these two seasons.' So there really was some thought put into that and consideration of the fans,” he says.
     A reprint of the Sunday Simpsons comic strip is also in the works. “We'll probably be doing a soft-cover book that collects, if I'm not mistaken, the entire run,” Morrison says. He expects the comic-strip reprint to prove extremely popular, as numerous fans have told them their newspapers haven't carried the strip. In fact, the strip has struggled a bit after initially appearing in about 50 newspapers, losing at least four in a controversy over a violent Itchy & Scratchy strip that appeared around Christmas. “We're working on a relaunch (of the Sunday strip). Although it's still being published in a few papers around the country, we're not producing any new ones at this point,” Morrison says. He didn't say when the comic strip reprint will appear. The only upcoming reprint listed at is “Simpsons Comics Madness,” which is due in stores in April 2003.
     Morrison says there are no plans to reprint in book form the Simpsons Illustrated magazines from the early 1990s. “I know Welsh (Publishing) is out of business. They were swallowed up by Marvel Comics at one point some years back.”

The Complete Second Season
By Petri Teittinen ( Courtesy FS Film - July 24, 2002
     During its second season, The Simpsons rose to the prestigious status of one of America's most popular series, occasionally beating even The Cosby Show. Following the groping and uneven scripts of its first season, The Simpsons quickly found its own path, including significantly more polished animation that was even then very close to today's style. While Dan Castellaneta had yet to discover Homer's full voice range, his style by season two was noticeably closer to today's modern Homer than during the first season.
     In its second season, The Simpsons began pointing out various problems with today's society – dealing with everything from nuclear power and its defects to TV violence – and the general decay of morals. Throughout its second year on the air, The Simpsons evolved into a show that managed to deliver an important message through laughter.
     The DVD set's steely box with a shade of green contains four discs with rather amusing Simpsons illustrations beneath each one. A stylish 12-page leaflet with episode descriptions and a bit of trivia is also included in an inner sleeve pocket, on top of which is printed a foreword by Matt Groening.
     Unfortunately, 20th Century Fox didn't heed fan criticism of the MPEG compression artifacts visible in the first season DVDs, because this set displays many of the same problems. The “mosquito noise” around character and object outlines is again more than obvious. On the up side, though, colors are strong with even surfaces. Some of the thinnest lines do occasionally disappear, but not to the same extent as with the previous release. While overall video encoding quality is somewhat better than that of the first set, and even may be satisfactory to less-discerning viewers, hard-core fans may be disappointed, especially noting the superior encoding job afforded to Fox's recent European “Futurama” DVD release. (The age of the season 2 Simpsons source material may offer a partial explanation for the matter, as the aforementioned “Futurama” DVDs hold episodes produced in 1999. If this holds true, then subsequent Simpsons releases may gradually improve in the picture encoding department). Nonetheless, the visible compression artifacting brings down the Complete Second Season's total technical score by one full star.
     In the sound department, the second season episodes, like their first season DVD predecessors, have been afforded a brand new Dolby Digital 5.1 stereo mix. However, as earlier, the mix is somewhat cautious. During opening credits, the sound is alive and moves about the room, but then suddenly collapses to mostly center channel output. Music cues are spread to two other main channels and occasionally to the rear channels as well, but only rarely does the sound mix live up to its full potential. The reason for this lies in the original soundtrack, which is in traditional stereo. The Simpsons weren't recorded in Dolby Surround until the third season. Mixing a two-channel stereo track into an effective 5.1 mix is a heavy and expensive operation, and re-building the soundtrack from scratch would've brought out a DVD set with a hefty price tag. Thus, it would be difficult to blame the new 5.1 mix on conservative budgeting.
     Each of the 22 episodes comes with a commentary track. Series creator Matt Groening can be heard on each one, accompanied by the episodes' directors and writers. Occasionally other key persons are featured, including James L. Brooks and David Silverman. The commentary tracks contain heaps of interesting trivia, inside jokes, and playful teasing. The viewers are informed about potential freeze frame fun spots, where the DVD medium's outstanding still image feature is useful. It's also jokingly noted that fans may need to buy the boxed sets again now that a new video format intended to obsolete DVD is due to arrive soon. (Groening is amazed to hear Bart scream “Cowabunga!” in the season's second episode, mentioning his belief that the catchphrase was invented by T-shirt makers and never truly uttered by Bart in the show.)
     When each disc is inserted, a quasi-roulette wheel showing four characters – their heads juxtaposed – appears on-screen. Pressing the middle button rotates the heads in search of their correct bodies. If repeatedly pressing the button becomes irksome, the roulette intro can be skipped by pressing your DVD remote's menu key. Each episode has its own submenu, spiced up with delightful animation and sound effects. While all episodes must be accessed from their own menus, pressing the “next chapter” button before the present episode concludes takes you directly to the next one – although sound options selected for the previous episode need to be re-selected manually at that time.
     The second season boxed set's special features are available on the fourth disc. (Discs 1, 3 and 4 include hidden Easter eggs, some of which are very difficult to find.) The extras begin with a clip from the American Music Awards in which Nancy Cartwight, in a hideous Bart costume, entertains the audience for a moment and then presents nominees for a category. On the optional commentary track, Groening and the others are gnashing their teeth over the corny situation. The five-minute “Deep Deep Trouble” music video comes with an optional commentary track with Gregg Vanzo and Matt Groening. A director's cut version of “Do the Bartman” music video is similarly commented by Groening and director Brad Bird. How many of you knew that the song was written by Michael Jackson, by the way?
     With the show's success came Simpsons-themed television advertising. Three Butterfinger ads featuring Bart occupy a total of 1.5 minutes' time. David Silverman also takes the viewer through the production process of a Simpsons episode, starting with the script-writing process and ending with the finished color animation. The presentation takes a little over six minutes, though fans would gladly have watched the process enumerated in a much longer segment. The Simpsons family itself also makes an appearance at an Emmy gala, where the puzzled expressions on the spectators' faces outrank the performance of the characters.
     “The Tracey Ullman Show” roots of The Simpsons are discussed once again as Matt Groening and James L. Brooks talk about the show's background and the roles of the family members in a 10-minute interview featurette. The “Art of the Simpsons” section contains 20 pages from the storyboard of “Bart Gets an F,” and four storyboard pages from “Bart vs. Thanksgiving.” There are also 39 frames of production sketches and 18 photos of magazine covers with our favorite family. The special features end with a one-minute scene from 7F01 dubbed in five languages: French, German, Hungarian, Portuguese and Spanish. One can only be amazed by the performances of the alternate-language voice actors. In general, the special features make a nice package, although deleted scenes – the items most eagerly desired by long-time fans – are now totally missing. Hopefully, the forthcoming sets will contain generous helpings of the two minutes-worth of finished animation that's cut from each episode before broadcast.
     The Complete Second Season will be released in the USA and Canada on August 6. For further details on this and upcoming DVD releases, see our DVD News page.

The Simpsons - The Complete Second Season (Collector's Edition)
488 minutes (special features not included)

Show: * * * *
Technical: * * * *

(Review based on the R2 edition)

Simpsons Nominated for Two Emmys
By Jouni Paakkinen ( - July 22, 2002
     The Simpsons received two Emmy nominations from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences this year.
     The show was nominated in the category of Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming Less Than One Hour) for “She of Little Faith,” the 13th season episode in which Lisa becomes a Buddhist. The other nominees in the category were As Told by Ginger (“Lunatic Lake”), King of the Hill (“Bobby Goes Nuts“), South Park (“Osama bin Laden Has Farty Pants”) and Matt Groening's other animated show, Futurama (“Roswell That Ends Well”).
     Alf Clausen's “Ode to Branson“ from “The Old Man and the Key“ was chosen in the Outstanding Music and Lyrics category. The other nominees were The Fairly Oddparents, Family Guy, Judging Amy and a Carol Burnett Show special.
     In addition to these, The Simpsons may also receive Voice-Over Performance awards, which do not involve prior nominations.
     Elsewhere, former Simpsons writer Jennifer Crittenden was nominated for writing an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond.
     The Emmy is the most prestigious award for excellence in television, conceded by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Emmy awards ceremonies have taken place since 1949, with the upcoming event, marking the 54th annual. The complete list of this year's nominations is available on the official Emmy site.
     Source: ATAS (courtesy Don Del Grande)

Sunday School Simpsons
Courtesy Westminster John Knox Press - June 30, 2002
     Westminster John Knox Press announced that it has signed best-selling author Mark I. Pinsky for two more books: a companion study guide to “The Gospel According to The Simpsons”, due out this summer, and “The Gospel According to Disney: Cartoon Faith & Values”, tentatively slated for spring 2004.
     “We are delighted to be continuing our partnership with Mark Pinsky,” said WJK vice-president of publishing Jack Keller. “As we've seen with his first book, he has a wonderful gift for exploring and explaining the religious relevance of pop culture icons.”
     “The Gospel According to The Simpsons” has been a smash-hit for the press that published “The Gospel According to Peanuts“ more than 35 years ago. The book has also gotten off to a fast start since its September 1, 2001, publication, landing on Publishers Weekly's Top 10 Religion Books bestseller list for five straight months, starting in October 2001. It has also reached the number one spot among religious best selling books in the United Kingdom.
     The study curriculum for “The Gospel According to The Simpsons“, which Pinsky is writing with popular youth writer Samuel “Skip” Parvin, will focus on key religious themes as seen in the show. The book will find a welcome home in church youth groups, lock-ins, and retreats, and in campus ministry groups on college campuses. Many groups are already using The Simpsons as a way to explore faith issues with young people. One university recently announced a new course offering focusing on the cultural relevance of the show, with Pinsky's book as required reading.
     The Simpsons is “about as trenchant, as life-affirming, as socially critical a prime-time sitcom as we can expect on major commercial TV,” Pinsky says. When he began watching the show with his two young children, he was surprised at the central role faith played in the lives of the characters.
     Theologians from across the spectrum agree that The Simpsons is “the most consistent and intelligent treatment of religion on TV,” Pinsky shows. Complex theological issues, such as the nature of the soul, and moral dilemmas such as adultery, are regularly addressed on the series. God himself appears in several episodes and Jesus, heaven and hell, the Bible, and prayer also figure into the lives of the Simpsons and their neighbors. Pinsky examines how the show treats evangelical Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism, Hinduism, Pentecostalism, cults and new age beliefs.
     In chapters such as “Prayer: 'Dear, God, Give the Bald Guy a Break!'”; “The Church and the Preacher: 'We Don't Have a Prayer!”; and “The Bible: I Think It May be Somewhere in the Back”; Pinsky looks at how the Simpsons and their neighbors are both defined and circumscribed by religion. The Simpsons only seems to question conventional wisdom and values, Pinsky says. The show's consistent message is that family and faith are the only reliable defenses against the vagaries of modern life. For the characters on the show, as for many of its viewers, “faith is a bulwark, a highly meaningful and relevant refuge.”

The Gospel According to The Simpsons:
Leaders Guide for Group Study

By Mark I. Pinsky and Samuel F. "Skip" Parvin
Westminster John Knox Press
ISBN: 0-664-22590-X
Publishing Date: July 2002

Available to pre-order at

Click here for an excerpt from “The Gospel According to The Simpsons.”

Second Season Coming to DVD
By Jouni Paakkinen ( - April 24, 2002
     Following the immensely successful Complete First Season DVD boxed set with over 500,000 copies sold, the long-awaited release of the second season has finally been confirmed by Fox Home Entertainment.
     The Complete Second Season DVD set featuring all 22 episodes from the series' second season (1990-1991), with commentary on alternate audio tracks, will hit the stores on August 6 in the United States and Canada.
     Show's fans are treated with lots of interesting bonus material, such as a 10-minute interview with creators James L. Brooks and Matt Groening, the two Simpsons music videos “Do The Bartman” (director's cut, 6m:0s) and “Deep Deep Trouble” (4m:58s), both with optional commentary. Additionally, one of the key persons in shaping the show, former supervising director and animator David Silverman describes the show's production in the “Creation of an Episode” featurette (6m:10s).
     Other bonus materials include an Emmy Awards presentation (2m:56s), three Butterfinger commercials (1m:15s), Bart's appearance at the American Music Awards (2m:13s), foreign language clips, still gallery, early drawings and hidden Easter eggs.
     Offered at the suggested US retail price of $49.98, The season 2 set will take the form of four dual-layered DVD discs (1.33:1 full frame), each with episodes presented in English 5.1, and Dolby Surround in English and French. Spanish subtitles will also be available.

Disc 1

“Bart Gets An F”
“Simpson And Delilah”
“Treehouse Of Horror”
“Two Cars In Every Garage And Three Eyes On Every Fish”
“Dancin' Homer”
“Dead Putting Society”

Disc 2

“Bart vs. Thanksgiving”
“Bart The Daredevil”
“Itchy & Scratchy & Marge”
“Bart Gets Hit By A Car”
“One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish”
“The Way We Was”

Disc 3

“Homer vs. Lisa And The 8th Commandment”
“Principal Charming”
“Oh Brother, Where Are Thou?”
“Bart's Dog Gets An F”
“Old Money”
“Brush With Greatness”

Disc 4

“Lisa's Substitute”
“The War Of The Simpsons”
“Three Men And A Comic Book”
“Blood Feud”

Additional Bonus Features: Interview with James L. Brooks and Matt Groening, “Do The Bartman” director's cut music video (with optional commentary), “Deep Deep Trouble” music video (with optional commentary), former supervising director/animator David Silverman on the “Creation of an Episode,” Emmy Awards presentation, American Music Awards (with optional commentary), 3 Butterfinger commercials, foreign language clips, gallery (animation, magazine covers, etc.), early drawings and Easter eggs.
Source: Fox Home Entertaiment (Courtesy Bill La Rue)

Press Release (draft)

     Future news concerning the DVDs will be added on our DVD News page.

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Last updated on May 27, 2003 by Jouni Paakkinen (