The Simpsons: The Complete Sixth Season

After five seasons of best-selling DVD collections, fans know what to expect from the box sets of The Simpsons: extras more oriented to in-process geekery like animatics than "behind the scenes" featurettes (there are none here); gang-style commentary that reduces itself increasingly to in-jokes and banter entirely unrelated to the episode at hand; and pristine, restored edits of the funniest and most imitated animated show in television history. But just as the show did at some point during its 16-year run, the DVD issues have now jumped the shark. The show hadn't by season six — that jump wouldn't come for at least another couple of seasons, though this season's two-part cliff-hanger/contest "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" was to many a precursor that something mediocre this way would come. Nope, the DVD collections have jumped the shark by altering the packaging in mid-stream, turning it from acceptable industry standard to laughably cheap and half-assed. This season, and the subsequent three seasons at least, features a plastic frame box shaped like Homer's dome to house four shoddily held together DVDs. That the series would change design before the initial run was complete — this is no special "collector's" edition — is poor; that they did such a cheap job of it is nothing short of insulting. One might expect this type of gimmickry from one of this show's imitators, but from the originators this is just a horrible disappointment. Not even the classic television it contains — so familiar from such a long run in syndication — can wash out the metallic taste of disappointment that lingers. Plus: episode commentary, animatics. (Fox)