If Season 1 was staggering around drunk then in Season 2 The Simpsons finally hit its stride. It may not be the dizzying sprint that The Simpsons is at its best but its pretty good especially when you consider where the guy was a few seconds ago.
This season has several milestones. It is the first to feature some truly classic episodes as opposed to the isolated funny moments of the first season. For the first time we got a hint of how well The Simpsons could be at pulling the heart strings as well as the funny bone. It has the first tree house of horror. Most importantly though, it is here that The Simpsons team learned how to drive the comedy from a whole ensemble of characters as opposed to the family alone. In Season 2 we’re introduced to such fan favorites as Groundskeeper Willy, Comic Book Guy, and Hans Moleman. At the same time they utilized the supporting characters that already existed as they had never been used before. While there are a few missteps that are merely unfunny, none come anywhere near how truly embarrassingly awful some of the first season was.
Let’s talk about the true greatness. Among my personal favorites is “Three Men and a Comic Book,” a version of Treasure of the Sierra Madre’s gone horrible wrong. It features philosophy on Ritchie Rich’s suicide, Laramie cigarettes role in the fight against evil, the first appearance of the comic book guy, Wonder Year’s bashing, and the funniest use of the phrase “Penny Whistles and Moon Pies” you’re ever likely to hear. Then there’s “Lisa Substitute” and “Bart Vs. Thanksgiving,” these episodes are the first that asked us to truly care about the characters and they work beautifully. “Lisa Vs. The 8th Commandment” scripted by the great Conan O’ Brian is almost frighteningly funny for anyone who ever had to wade hip deep in dogma bullshit as a kid (“Is your father stealing bread?”). Bart it is “Daredevil” which features two sight gags so perfectly orchestrated that they literally make me laugh every time I see them. Add also to the list “Itchy Vs. Scratchy Vs. Marge” (“Lemonade?” “Please!”) and “Bart Gets An F” (THE MARTIN YOU KNEW IS DEAD!!!).
As I said before, the worst moments of this season are merely uninspired, never truly horrible. Slight misses like “Dancing Homer”, “One Fish Two Fish Blowfish Blue Fish”, “Barts Dog Gets An F”, and “The War of The Simpsons” are a bit flat. But even in their lowest points humor is easy to find (“What German leader is the capital of North Dakota named after?” “Hitler!” “Hitler North Dakota?”)
In the end this title is great and a must buy for any Simpsons fan or lover of great comedy.
Once again Groening and his assorted writers and directors come and record interesting and entertaining commentaries, and once again it’s something that you may not feel a pressing need to watch twice, if at all. Hats off to Groening though, eight hours of commentary is no small feat and he keeps it interesting throughout. Unfortunately the rest of set’s the extras leave something to be desired. There are interviews on Drawing Bart and the basics of animation. Then there are Music Videos for “Do the Bartman” and “Deep Deep Trouble” , both of which where thought out as well as The Superbowl Shuffle and Pacman Fever. There’s some quick spots of The Simpsons at the Emmys and Grammys which are cute in an odd way, as are the Butterfinger TV ads, and the usual production gallery. All in all some good stuff but a little stingy.