The Simpsons: The Sixteenth Season [Blu-Ray]

The Simpsons: The Sixteenth Season [Blu-Ray]
8
By the sixteenth season of TV's greatest animated series — which aired in 2004/2005 — The Simpsons were in middle age, which meant Matt Groening and co. were still producing consistently funny episodes, though they fell short of being classics. That's no criticism of a season that boasted gems including "Thank God, It's Doomsday," in which Homer predicts the Rapture, goes to heaven, and leaves his family behind; "Future-Drama," where Bart and Lisa take a time machine into their teen years to learn how the family is going to hell (except for Yale scholar Lisa); and the historic "There's Something About Marrying," where a key character (I won't spoil it here) comes out of the closet and marries — a first for an animated series. Though the end of the world and time travel weren't new plotlines in The Simpsons, by Season 16 the series took on a more philosophical outlook by tackling issues like the afterlife and gay rights, yet was still smart and funny.

The Blu-Ray package is thoughtful and generous. Every episode boasts an infectious audio commentary, which sounds like you're partying with the writers and cast as they crack jokes and reveal behind-the-scenes insights. There are even commentaries over the deleted scenes found on each of the three Blu-Ray discs. Two bonus episodes propel the Simpsons into the future, which gives this set a sort of futuristic theme. The sketch galleries are cute to look at (once), but "Live! It's The Simpsons" is the real keeper among the bonus features; it's amazing what the effect of hearing a live audience react to a script reading is as the script scrolls down the screen.

Everything is packed into a single slim Blu-Ray case, which offers a beautiful thick and glossy booklet that details each episode like a chemistry textbook. All in all, this is good fun for both diehard and casual Simpsons fans. (Twentieth Century Fox)