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Not a single dud in the bunch. not a gag falls flat, not an emotion feels tacked on, and not a moment has grown stale. Ladies and Gentlemen, "The Simpsons" has achieved perfection.
Reviewing the fourth season of "The Simpsons" is difficult to write because, unlike previous seasons, I literally can’t think of a single bad thing to say here. "The Simpsons", like A Mighty Wind, or The Office, realizes and perfectly exploits the fact that the line between comedy and tragedy is so thin. So when Bart points out to Lisa on a videotape “...the exact moment that Ralph Wiggum’s heart rips in two” you aren't sure whether to laugh or cry. Other darker strains of humor are tapped in other episodes such as "Mr. Plow" when it's revealed that Homer was the cause of Barney’s alcoholism.
As always, the show is more about comedy, and in season four the whole cast gets too many great moments to count. Lisa has not one, but two wonderful acid trips, one ("Selma's Choice") where she goes Fear and Loathing In Duff Gardens (“Can’t talk now coming down”) and another where she frolics freely with the beautifully, and painstakingly recreated cast of Yellow Submarine. She also gets to deal with her addiction to the “Non Threatening Boys Named Corey Hotline" this season. Homer gets to live his dream of blowing the head off everybody's favorite neighbor Flanders ("Flanders was a zombie?") in "Treehouse of Horror III", as well as spend time chilling with God in "Homer the Heritic", and dealing with the feeling of “ten thousand knives of fire stabbing me in the chest simultaneously” in "Homer's Triple bypass". Bart’s dim future is revealed as the male stripper Barty Bang Bang in "Itchy and Scratcy: The Movie", and he has to face the humiliation of being proven dumber then a hamster ("Duffless"). Marge spends time in a woman’s prison in "Marge in Chains", faces down Phil Hartman a number of times, and fights off the advances of both Mr. Burns ("Marge gets a job") and King Kong ("Treehouse of Horror III"). Hell even Maggie gets a fantastic moment as she says her first word ("Lisa's First Word"). No matter who your favorite character is, there's a moment in there where they shine and are remembered by fans everywhere.
Even the supporting actors and guest stars shine in season four. Phil Hartman gets his best role in the series as smary huckster Lyle Langley, who attempts to convince Springfield it needs a monorail ("Marge vs. the monorail") and The Red Hot Chili Peppers will make you shit your pants laughing in "Krusty Gets Kancelled". Then of course there is the only appearance of Sideshow Raheem - Krusty’s ill advised Black Power Sidekick whose single line of “I wouldn’t” is somehow also mind blowingly funny . As usual, the show takes movie moments such as the Joker’s creation in Tim Burton’s Batman or Psycho and makes them hilariousl.
So in short this is some great stuff. This set gives you full on Simpsons in the prime of its hot streak, showing no signs of slowing, and the material is still fresh and funny as hell after a decade.
The disc is also great, which leaves me fresh out of things to complain about. The horrible, horrible menus from the Third Season have been ditched, meaning you can access the Special Features from its specific episode or from the main menu. Once again props to Matt Groening for another eleven hours of commentary which has been kicked up a notch as well. Whereas last time the actors sounded uncomfortable, they open up and chat here. Even resident “On to Better Things” guy Conan O’ Brian pops back in to his old town of Springfield and records a pair of commentaries, both pretty funny.
There are two great featurettes: “The Creole Controversy” and “Bush Vs. The Simpsons” both which deal with the people that "The Simpsons" have pissed off over the years (The city of New Orleans and the entire Republican party respectively) and both are done with good humor and fun. There are stage-of-animation multi angle features on some episodes that are pretty interesting, commentaries on anamatics, deleted scenes that are actually pretty darn good, and finally some commericials. All in all a nice disk, and a great change of pace from the painfully limited fare of the last two seasons.
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