The Simpsons: Season 12

The Simpsons: Season 12
First off, the accordion design is back but refinements in the design make it easier to pull discs out of the folding cardboard and reduces the amount of scratching, a loud complaint voiced about the season 11 box. Overall, season 12 features a better design; the comic book theme is a clever choice and is done well. The episode guide looks like a vintage DC comic, the clever DVD menus feature bit players like McBain signing at a comic convention, and the smarmy Comic Book Guy's greatest clips over the years are collected in a snappy featurette. All 21 episodes enjoy audio commentary by the animators and writers, who are occasionally joined by voice actors Hank Azaria, Dan Castellaneta and Yeardley Smith; it's a pity we don't hear more from them. Meanwhile, series creator Matt Groening is basically M.I.A. from the commentaries and bonus features, signalling he's handed control of his beloved show to others long ago. Groening appears for a few seconds on a speakers' panel at the Global Fanfest featurette, which offers a too-brief glimpse at a rainy outdoor fan event. The other bonus features include sketches and animatics from a portion of "Day of The Jackanapes," deleted scenes that you can watch with every episode and an amusing collection of Simpsons commercials. More interesting are episodes where the animators draw on-screen to point out changes in character design over the years. The season itself? The middle-aged Simpsons are more fun than funny. Under the guidance of show runner Mike Scully, season 12 still draws laughs but the savage wit and touching characterization of their earlier years have been replaced by gags and antics. Homer's dumbness dominates too many episodes, though it works beautifully in "HOMR," where his I.Q. doubles and he forms a bond with Lisa. But wasn't that idea copped from Daniel Keyes' 1958 sci-fi novel, Flowers For Algernon? D'oh! (Fox)