New guide book covering seasons 13-14 reviewed.
October 13, 2005

The Simpsons left without Emmy Awards this year.
September 18, 2005

In-depth look inside Homer's head.
August 30, 2005

Nods received for the best animated show and music.
July 14, 2005

Sixth season on DVD comes with revamped packaging.
July 8, 2005

Nancy Cartwright becomes honorary mayor of Northridge.
May 19, 2005

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"One Step" in the Same Direction
By Jonah Flynn ( - October 13, 2005
     After an inexplicable delay, Matt Groening, Jesse L. McCann and HarperCollins Publishers have finally released an official episode guide for seasons thirteen and fourteen. One would think by now we would at least be getting season fifteen, and maybe sixteen, but I guess that wasn't in the cards.
     The latest addition to the Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family collection, entitled "The Simpsons: One Step Beyond Forever", leaves off right where "Beyond Forever" did, following the same format of two pages for every episode and four for every Treehouse of Horror installment. Fans of the four-page layout will be happy to know the editors deemed "Tales from the Public Domain" (DABF08) worthy an extra two pages as well. The book also features continuations to all the extra goodies from the previous books (song lyrics, church marquees, Itchy & Scratchy episodes, Homer's mmm's, production art and sketches, couch gags, and cast voice credits).
     So, what kind of fresh new things can fans of the old books expect from this one? Not very much. There are no new sections added to this volume which were never found in previous ones. Still, there are subtle improvements to be found. The first area I noticed improvement on was the artwork. This time around the artists included full-color backgrounds to that often occupy what would usually be white space behind all the text. For example, "Old Yeller Belly" (EABF14) features Suds McDuff (Santa's Little Helper) and his astro-models over a spacecraft background which occupies half of the page. This sort of thing re-occurs in other episodes' artwork, e.g. "Moe Baby Blues" (EABF17), "Special Edna" (EABF02), and "Half-Decent Proposal" (DABF04), to name a few.
     Content-wise, One Step offers up the same comprehensive coverage that we've come to expect from Beyond Forever, but unfortunately suffers the same problems.
     First off, despite every episode getting at least two pages, there are still too many episodes with one screenshot. This would not be such a big deal if the one shot was from a key scene or memorable moment in the episode, but all too often it is something obscure. Casual viewers of the show would probably have a hard time remembering where the shot would even fit into the episode. For example, "Three Gays of the Condo"'s sole shot features Lenny made up of puzzle pieces, which was a brief fantasy sequence from Homer's point of view. Disappointingly, "Half-Decent Proposal"'s pages mark the first time between all four books that an episode is not even given any screenshots at all.
     Another weakness of this volume is the selections for character bios per episode. Although this could be blamed on the fact that all of the well-known secondary characters have been used in previous books, I still found it a little weak that they used Rock Stars for "How I Spent My Strummer Vacation" (unspecific, so they used an image of Homer dressed as Lenny Kravitz) and Baby Stinkbreath for "Barting Over" (EABF05) (essentially Bart) and Suds McDuff for "Old Yeller Belly" (EABF14) (essentially Santa's Little Helper).
     Factual mistakes and typos are once again present in this book, which – for a hardcore fan – is perhaps the most annoying issue consistent throughout the series. For example, one piece of "stuff you may have missed" from "Mr. Spritz Goes to Washington" (EABF09) explains that the episode "signals the third shaving mishap" Homer has had between seasons 13 and 14, listed a non-existent one from "Jaws Wired Shut" (DABF05) and omitting the one from "Helter Shelter" (DABF21).
     Speaking of the Stuff You May Have Missed section, you can expect more of the same from One Step as the previous book offered: Plenty of interesting tidbits and background gags, coupled with many visual gags and quotes that were as obvious as the family being yellow instead of flesh-colored. That is to say if you were looking at your TV while watching the episode, it would be difficult not to notice that Homer puts "Swedish Efficiency Team" poster over his "Swedish Bikini Team" one (EABF10), or that Kang and Kodos make a non-Halloween appearance in "Gump Roast" (DABF12). Again, this space could have been used for better things, like more screenshots.
     These little problems, however, are nitpicks that I take issue with perhaps only because of all the hours I spent sorting through these episodes for my own, unofficial version of the Complete Guide (see sample) back in 2001 and 2002. Most people who enjoyed the first three books will love this one just as much, if not more. With 128 pages for 44 episodes, it still accomplishes what it sets out to do: provide comprehensive and insightful information behind each episode and provide every memorable, important and funny quote.

The Simpsons One Step Beyond Forever
By Matt Groening & Jesse L. McCann
Harper Paperbacks
ISBN 0060817542
MSRP $14.95

No Emmys to Springfield
By Don Del Grande ( - September 18, 2005
     This year, The Simpsons did not win an Emmy in any of the three categories in which it was nominated.
     The Animated Program Less Than One Hour Emmy went to Comedy Central's "South Park".
     The Music Composition (Dramatic Underscore), or "background music", Emmy went to NBC's "A Christmas Carol" (music by Michael Kosarin). The Music and Lyrics, or "original song", Emmy went to a song from Showtime's "Reefer Madness" ("Mary Jane/Mary Lane" by Dan Studney and Kevin Murphy).
     The closest the show came to an Emmy during the Creative Arts awards is Danny Elfman, who wrote the Simpsons theme song, winning an Emmy for writing another theme song – ABC's "Desperate Housewives". Hank Azaria was nominated for the Leading Dramatic Actor Emmy for Showtime's "Huff", but lost to James Spader of "Boston Legal".

Complete Sixth Season DVD Reviewed
By Wesley Mead ( - August 30, 2005
      "The Complete Sixth Season" DVD set, featuring all 25 episodes from the series' sixth season (1994-1995), was released in the USA and Canada on August 16th, 2005. It will be released in other countries around the globe throughout the later months of 2005.
     Eight months after the Christmas release of season 5, Fox brings us the long-awaited complete season six of The Simpsons, a season generally considered by fans to be among the very best of the show's sixteen (so far). The sixth season featured many fan favourites among its' 25 episodes, which are spread out over 4 discs in the ration 7-7-7-3, with the last disc holding most of the extras.
     Among this season's notable events were Sideshow Bob's Republican mayoral compaign against Mayor Quimby, the family's trip to Itchy and Scratchy Land, Homer's enrolment in the elite Stonecutters, Lisa's battle with an even more intelligent child than herself, Homer's brush with a sexual harrassment suit, Bart's trip to Australia, Spingfield's film festival, Lisa's vision of her future husband, Bart's new rebel girlfriend, the fifth addition to Treehouse canon, the tale of the Springfield lemon tree and Marge's new job on the police force. Not to mention that historical event of Mr. Burns being shot, leaving the season on a cliffhanger as the world asked "who did it?". This season also featured a wide array of guest stars, with big names such as Winona Ryder, Michelle Pfeiffer, James Earl Jones, Meryl Streep, Dennis Franz, Anne Bancroft, Patrick Stewart, Mel Brooks, Jon Lovitz, Susan Saradon, Ron Taylor, Tito Puente and the entire cast of Cheers as well as regular special guests Kelsey Grammer and Phil Hartman also stopping by.
     As has been well-publiscised already, the sixth season does not follow season one to five's tradition of a cardboard cover holding a foldout digipak; rather, this set comes in the form of a plastic clamshell package in the shape of Homer's head. Thankfully the set is no taller than prior releases, meaning it will fit on your shelf, but the package is undeniably harder to open and access than prior seasons, a forfeit myself and many other fans are not willing to pay in return for cheap novelty packaging. However, all is not lost: included with the set is a (witty insult-laden) insert that directs you to a phone number and website from where you can order a 'standard' box and digipak to store your DVDs. Rejoice, collectors - and kudos to Fox for offering such a compromise to those who may not want the new style package. Note that for the region 2 UK release in October, the Homer's head box will be restricted to a run of 50,000, and other sets will be shipped in the standard digipak. Included in the box are the four discs in a plastic book-type design, thankfully entirely removable from the Homer head for easier and quicker access, as well as the standard booklet (this time smaller, but allowing for an episode per page) detailing the episodes and extra features included, featuring a "Who Shot Mr Burns?" -themed design and background pictures.
     This is also the first set not to feature an entirely different menu system to the prior set, but this is probably more a of a blessing than a curse: the menus are laid out in a similar fashion to season 5, with the screen divided into two, enabling easy navigation with an excellent animted design. The top half of the screen contains an intermittently animated screen featuring a variety of Simpson characters revelant to the episodes on that particular disc in a police line-up, referencing the "Who Shot Mr Burns?" cliffhanger that ends the season; the bottom half of the screen lists the episodes along with the lovely Play All option, and an "Extras" button. Each episode has two small buttons next to it: choosing the first, featuring a triangle similar to a Play button, will play the episode; the other, with a "+" mark, will open a sub-menu, also "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" -themed, of which there can be several in a row, featuring scene, language, commentary and deleted scenes options. There is a chapter stop after the opening of the show for quick skipping.
     As ever, the principal extra is the commentary on every one of the 25 episodes in the set, featuring a vast array of contributors. Matt Groening, creator of the show himself, is present on a whopping 19 of these; other regulars throughout the set include David Mirkin, Mike Scully, David Silverman, Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein, Mark Kirkland, David X. Cohen, Greg Daniels, Jim Reardon, Susie Dietter and cast members Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner and Yeardley Smith. The commentary tracks are simultaneously hilarious and informative, and often feature interesting behind-the-scenes anecdotes and stories that we would otherwise never know. The commentary on "Another Simpsons Clip Show" is particularly good, as it details the making of an episode from start to finish rather than comment on the clips being shown, as are the commentaries on ""Homer The Great" - laden with references to the nerdy internet fans - and "Who Shot Mr. Burns? Part 1", in which the commentators point out all the clues they left as to who did shoot Mr. Burns. As ever, throughout the full-length commentaries there is barely a dull moment with every episode featuring multiple contributors, and ny fan of the show will regale in the trivial tidbits being passed on.
     As ever, though, Fox have been much more generous than merely including commentary on every episode - no, there are many more interesting bonuses to check out. Kicking off the additional bonus features is the "Word From Matt Groening" on disc 1, a short two-minute reel of quick season six clips over which Matt discusses the DVD in the same vein as the "Word" featurettes on seasons 4 and 5.
     Once again, deleted scenes are supplied in great numbers. 21 episodes feature deleted scenes, totalling around 20 minutes. All are entertaining, and are in the later stages of production - the only thing really missing is some voice cleanup and sound effects. You can view them inserted into their respective episodes, or as a 27-minute reel (in which the scenes are preceded by 10 seconds or so of contextual animation actually used in the episode) with optional commentary by David Mirkin on the final disc.
     Additionally, there is a very in-depth "Animation Showcase" for the episode "Lisa's Wedding" featuring multi-angle animation comparisons from different stages of the animation and original sketches, as well as several "Illustrated Commentaies", each of which last an act of the original animatic, which feature several participants with the ability to "draw" on the screen. There is also a 2-minute featurette on "The Simpsons Plane" with commentary, and a variety of commercials featuring the Simpson family.
     The bulk of the non-commentary extra features, however, are focused on the season finale, "Who Shot Mr. Burns? Part 1". The episode features a 55-second introduction by James L. Brooks detailing how the idea came about, an Animation Showcase in a similar vein to "Lisa's Wedding", an illustrated commentary, an animatic, a special language feature enabling you to listen to the episode in a variety of four additional languages and the 22-minute TV special "Springfield's Most Wanted", a parody of "America's Most Wanted", focusing on who they believe shot Mr. Burns.
     The audio-video quality on this set is once again excellent - it's continuing to improve with each successive season, and whilst we're still not quite up to the impressive digital quality we'll be expecting with the later seasons, we're getting a lot closer. The full-frame presentation is bright, sharp and fully detailed; it's only marred by the limitation of the source material. There is minimal grain and shimmering, and colours are vivid. The DD5.1 remaster is again excellent, and whilst largely front-focused, directional effects sometimes do make their way to the back, and the overall clarity makes for an improved listening experience. French and Spanish DD2.0 soundtracks are also included, as are French, Spanish and English SDH subtitles. I extensively tested the English subtitles, which appeared accurate and true to the spoken word. Unfortunately, the commentaries and extras are not subtitled, a let-down for fans with hearing impairments.
     As ever, Fox have done an excellent job on this set, outside of the mediocre-at-best packaging, which marrs an otherwise oustanding set. A classic set of episodes and extras, not one to pass up over a few minor quibbles. Highly recommended.

The Simpsons - The Complete Sixth Season

EPISODES: A+ - Among the very best seasons.
PRESENTATION: B+ - Excellent AV quality and menus, mediocre packaging.
EXTRAS: A+ - Cover all the bases; as much fun as the episodes.
OVERALL: A - Recommended to old and new fans alike; a thoroughly enjoyable set.

     Future news concerning the DVDs, including the forthcoming Season 7 release, and various other compilation discs, will be added to our DVD News page.

Simpsons Nominated for Three Emmys
By Don Del Grande ( - July 14, 2005
     The show is nominated, yet again, in the Animated Program (Less Than One Hour) category, for the episode "Future-Drama". The other nominees are Family Guy ("North by North Quahog"), Samurai Jack ("Episode XLIX"), South Park ("Best Friends Forever") and SpongeBob SquarePants ("Fear of a Krabby Patty / Shell of a Man").
     Two shows were nominated in the One Hour or More category; Cartoon Network's "Star Wars Clone Wars, Volume 2", and Animal Planet's "Dragons: A Fantasy Made Real".
     In addition, Alf Clausen has earned another two nominations, bringing his Simpson-based nomination total to 20; one for Music Composition (Dramatic Underscore) for a Series, for "Treehouse of Horror XV", and one (along with writer Carolyn Omine, who wrote the lyrics) for Music and Lyrics, for the song "Always My Dad", which is the song Lisa sings at the end of "A Star is Torn".
     In Simpsons-related nominations, Hank Azaria is nominated for Lead Actor in a Drama Series as the title character in the Showtime series "Huff"; Jane Kaczmarek is nominated for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (against three actresses from "Desparate Housewives") as Lois in "Malcolm in the Middle"; and, Danny Elfman, who wrote the Simpsons theme (and won an Emmy for it in 1990), is nominated for Main Title Theme for composing the theme to "Desparate Housewives".
     The two acting awards will be awarded at the main ceremony on September 18, broadcast on CBS. The other awards will be awarded at the Creative Arts ceremony on September 11; if TV Land follows the usual plan, a heavily-edited broadcast of those awards will air later that week.
     In addition, the show is eligible for awards in two other categories, Individual Achievement in Animation (awarded to individual animators) and Voiceover Performance. These awards do not have nominees; instead, each entrant is given an up-or-down vote on its own, and any entrant that receives at least an 11/12 majority of the voting panel, including an "up" vote from the panel chair, receives an Emmy.

Head for Cover
By Jouni Paakkinen ( - July 8, 2005
     The Complete Sixth Season DVD boxed set will be released in North America on August 16. The set contains all 25 episodes of the sixth season (1994-1995) of the show. As before, each episode can be viewed with a cast & crew commentary.
     Probably the most pleasant surprise is that The Complete Sixth Season will have considerably more deleted scenes than the previous ones. According to BBFC, at least 55 never-before-seen scenes are included. A detailed list of the scenes is available on our DVD News page.
     Other extras include a special episode of "America's Most Wanted" that deals with the mystery and rumors around the shooting of Mr Burns, and a featurette on the famous Simpsons jet. Animatics, storyboards and other illustrations are also available.
     The most suprising feature, however, is the new cover, which is nothing like the previous five. Many fans have not been pleased with the inconsistency in the series' cover designs, while some prefer the new plastic box. According to Fox, seasons 6-10 will together form the heads of all the family members. This also suggests that season 11 will eventually come with a new box design.
     For further details and updates, please see the DVD News page.

Bart the Mayor
By Wesley Mead ( - May 19, 2005
     Residents of Northridge in Los Angeles are in a very unusual position this week: their new honorary mayor is Bart Simpson – well, Nancy Cartwright, who has provided his voice on "The Simpsons" since the show's very beginning.
     This is PR type position which allows Nancy to be involved with her local community, businesses, neighborhood and involves being part of or planning various events, gatherings, etc. in the area, her press agent explains.
     Cartwright appears pleased with her newfound political career, as do the residents of Northridge: she earlier stated that "Everyone finds it funny that Bart is the new mayor. I can influence people because I'm Bart Simpson!"
     She continued: "I live in a nice neighbourhood, but down the road there's drugs and gangs, stealing and illiteracy."
     The 47-year-old mother-of-two plans to clamp down on youth crime during her reign. In addition to playing Bart on "The Simpsons", she plays Nelson Muntz, Ralph Wiggum and Todd Flanders, as well as appearing in many other animated TV shows such as "Animaniacs" and "Kim Possible".

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Last updated on June 13, 2006 by Jouni Paakkinen (