A few gags fell flat and all the bugs hadn't been worked out of the animation, but the third season of "The Simpsons" was the beginning of the hot streak that would last through the 90’s and produce the funniest run in TV history.
It's difficult to decide where to begin to tackle describing the perfection that was the third season of "The Simpsons". In its third year "The Simpsons" finally solidified its politically satirical voice as it bitch slapped the Bush administration that badmouthed it in "Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington" which features (among other things) a naked Barbara Bush and a clinically depressed Jefferson monument ("I never did anything important JUST THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE"). It worked its magic on pitch perfect parodies of The Natural, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, 2001, Clockwork Orange, Thelma and Lousie, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington and Goodfellas. Other memorable moments include the perversely wrong pleasure of watching Doogie Howser shoot a tied man at pointblank range in "Bart the Murderer", and the insanely great Baseball Episode "Homer at the Bat" that features Ozzie Smith falling through a rift in time and space and Ken Griffey Jr. overdosing on Ye Olde Nerve Tonic. Finally there is the coup de grace for any long time Christopher Guest fan as Simpson’s voice actor Harry Shearer drags his other two bandmates in and reunites Spinal Tap just for "The Otto Show", an episode full of the trademark Tap banter and stage disasters that rival even the mighty 18 inch Stonehedge.
There are truly no dud episodes in this set, all the episodes have varying degrees of greatness. If there is a flaw it's that the third season doesn’t have as many good emotional episodes as the second season but even on that front there are plenty of goodies. Indeed "Lisa’s Pony" is probably one of her best episodes and when Homer starts working at the Quickie Mart the only words to describe it are funny as hell (“I‘ve always dreamed of the day that one of you would be working for me”) .
In short what I am pitifully unable to describe is this is where "The Simpsons" stopped being merely good and started being really great. It’s the beginning of the greatest hot streak of the greatest show on televison and if you have an ounce of love for "The Simpsons" then it is already sitting on your shelf.
Once again I must give props to Matt Groening. The patience and dedication that he must have is phenomenal. I mean, the man has done 12 hours of commentary and manages to keep it interesting throughout. Wisely acknowledging that the various producers, writers, and directors are running out of stuff to say, Groening has brought in the voice actors to give their take on things. They’re all very entertaining, although someone should enroll Yeardley Smith in a confidence course or something as she hardly speaks up.
Unfortunately I also must once again take a giant shit on all the rest of the extra features which have gotten progressively worse and less user friendly with each passing set. I’m expecting Season Five to send out an electric shock whenever you try to access the special features. To get to the features you have to access them within each episode, which is fine if you want a commentary but sucks if you just want to watch a silly Butterfinger commercial. And if you want to watch anything but that Butterfinger commercial you are out of luck - there isn't anything else.
So: Great show, horrid set.