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The Simpsons: The Complete First Season

I'm a huge fan of The Simpsons . I've watched the show since the debut Christmas episode all those years ago, and have viewed it religiously ever since. So going back and watching the first season is an odd experience. It’s a little like looking at an old picture of your parents. Sure you can vaguely recognize it as what you now see before you, but at the same time there's no escaping the fact that it’s still damn odd and alien, it is difficult to realize that this is really the same thing. To put it kindly the first season is patchy. There are funny bits and good episodes, but it’s not merely trying to find its feet, it’s trying to find its feet after downing a bottle of Popov. There are episodes that leap so far off course that they simply become surreal. “Bart the General” and “The Telltale Head” in particular seem to come from an odd parallel universe where The Simpsons is a below average Saturday morning cartoon. Homer talks like Walter Mathau with a bad head cold, Smithers is black for a few episodes, and the characters look and act so odd that it’s simply hard to believe.

But in the end, if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck, This odd bird of a season has enough of the stuff I've come to love to be part of the family, albeit as the red headed step kid. From Grandpa's wistful "I never thought I'd ever again hear screams of pain or see that look of terror in a man's eyes thank God for children!", to Lisa's saxophone lesson from Bleeding Gums Murphy ("You play pretty good for someone with no real problems"), Grandpa's Angry letter to TV "I am disgusted with the way old people are depicted on television. We are not all vibrant, fun-loving sex maniacs. Many of us are bitter, resentful individuals, who remember the gold old days when entertainment was bland and inoffensive.", to the RV dealer explaining that the siren is telling him "In case he went blind, not to sell.", to the Albanian spy operating out of their tree house. It contains loads of the surrealist humor and compelling characters that made The Simpsons America's Monty Python with heart. There's gold in them hills you just have to look harder than normal to find it.

So should you buy this set? If you're a true fan yes, definitely. It’s essential. If you're just a casual viewer, you'll be disappointed. Go with seasons 2 or 3 and you'll be happier. The disc is a pretty cool package. There's commentary on all 13 episodes by Matt Groening and different people. They're entertaining and all but not really essential viewing. There’s Original Scripts and Animated Outtakes which are interesting to see. An animatic which shows the progress of animation, to the finished show. Clips of the foreign dubs of The Simpsons which are good for a laugh. A making of documentary that is sadly out of date (mullets abound) . Then there is the 1st animated Simpson's short which is basically there to say "If you thought the first season looked odd you haven't seen anything." Audio outtakes with Albert Brooks that are OK and some original production design. All in all a nice disk.