Monday, August 28, 2006

The Simpsons (Season 8) DVD

One of the best TV shows of the modern era, or for that matter any era, The Simpsons rekindled the popularity of the prime time animation genre. A blockbuster series filled with a diverse cast of characters from the fictional town Springfield, the series aided the upstart FOX network in its rise from second-rate TV channel to the elite status of a major network like CBS, NBC, or ABC. This overwhelming success opened the door for a number of similar animated series such as Futurama (1999), The Family Guy (1999), and King Of The Hill (1997). With arguably of the best collection of writing talent in the TV industry, The Simpsons has managed to maintain consistency as one of the funniest shows on television – quite an accomplishment given the length of its run.

The Simpsons (Season 8) DVD features a number of hilarious episodes including the season premiere “Treehouse of Horror VII,” one of the best of the annual Simpson Halloween episodes. The three stories covered include the discovery of Bart’s evil twin in the attic, Lisa’s creation of an alternative universe, and an alien invasion propagated by Bob Dole and Bill Clinton look-alikes. Other notable episodes from Season 8 include “A Milhouse Divided” in which Milhouse’s parents decide to get a divorce, prompting Homer and Marge to take sides in the separation, and “The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show” in which Homer becomes the voiceover for the highly anticipated arrival of Poochie, a new character on the Itchy & Scratchy Show. But things take a turn for the worst when reviews of Poochie are unanimously derogatory.

Below is a list of episodes included on The Simpsons (Season 8) DVD:

Episode 154 (Treehouse of Horror VII) Air Date: 10-27-1996
Episode 155 (You Only Move Twice) Air Date: 11-03-1996
Episode 156 (The Homer They Fall) Air Date: 11-10-1996
Episode 157 (Burns Baby Burns) Air Date: 11-17-1996
Episode 158 (Bart After Dark) Air Date: 11-24-1996
Episode 159 (A Milhouse Divided) Air Date: 12-01-1996
Episode 160 (Lisa’s Date with Density) Air Date: 12-15-1996
Episode 161 (Hurricane Neddy) Air Date: 12-29-1996
Episode 162 (The Mysterious Voyage of Our Homer) Air Date: 01-05-1997
Episode 163 (The Springfield Files) Air Date: 01-12-1997
Episode 164 (The Twisted World of Marge Simpson) Air Date: 01-19-1997
Episode 165 (Fountain of Madness) Air Date: 02-02-1997
Episode 166 (Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious) Air Date: 02-07-1997
Episode 167 (The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show) Air Date: 02-09-1997
Episode 168 (Homer’s Phobia) Air Date: 02-16-1997
Episode 169 (Brother from Another Series) Air Date: 02-23-1997
Episode 170 (My Sister, My Sitter) Air Date: 03-02-1997
Episode 171 (Homer vs. The 18th Amendment) Air Date: 03-16-1997
Episode 172 (Grade School Confidential) Air Date: 04-06-1997
Episode 173 (The Canine Mutiny) Air Date: 04-13-1997
Episode 174 (The Old Man and the Lisa) Air Date: 04-20-1997
Episode 175 (In Marge We Trust) Air Date: 04-27-1997
Episode 176 (Homer’s Enemy) Air Date: 05-04-1997
Episode 177 (Simpson Spin-Off Showcase) Air Date: 05-11-1997
Episode 178 (The Secret War of Lisa Simpson) Air Date: 05-18-1997

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Simpsons (Season 7) DVD

One of the best television shows of its time, or any time for that matter, The Simpsons has resurrected the prime time animation genre. A blockbuster series populated with eccentric characters from the town Springfield, it helped launch the upstart FOX network from second-tier network to a major player alongside CBS, NBC, and ABC. This success opened the door for a plethora of animated series, such as The Family Guy (1999), Futurama (1999), and King Of The Hill (1997). With some of the best and most consistent writers in television, The Simpsons has spent an unprecedented length of time as one of the funniest shows on TV. That’s quite an accomplishment given the level of excellence it takes to manufacture so many episodes over such a long period of time.

The Simpsons (Season 7) DVD features a number of hilarious episodes including the season premiere “Springfield’s Most Wanted” in which John Walsh, host of the FOX series America’s Most Wanted, summarizes various theories as to who shot Springfield tycoon Montgomery Burns. This show originally aired prior to the season seven premiere that wraps up this plot twist, but it appears on The Simpsons (Season 6) DVD. Other notable episodes from Season 7 include “King-Size” in which Homer’s dream of working from home leads him to pursue a high-octane regimen of unhealthy binge eating (in order to get fat enough to qualify for company disability), and “A Fish Called Selma” in which Troy McClure seduces, and eventually marries, Marge’s sister Selma in enough to resuscitate his fledgling Hollywood career.

Below is a list of episodes included on The Simpsons (Season 7) DVD:

Episode 128 (Springfield’s Most Wanted) Air Date: 09-17-1995
Episode 129 (Who Shot Mr. Burns?) Air Date: 09-17-1995
Episode 130 (Radioactive Man) Air Date: 09-24-1995
Episode 131 (Home Sweet Home-Dum Diddly Doodly) Air Date: 10-01-1995
Episode 132 (Bart Sells His Soul) Air Date: 10-08-1995
Episode 133 (Lisa the Vegetarian) Air Date: 10-15-1995
Episode 134 (Treehouse of Horror VI) Air Date: 10-29-1995
Episode 135 (King-Size Homer) Air Date: 11-05-1995
Episode 136 (Mother Simpson) Air Date: 11-19-1995
Episode 137 (Sideshow Bob’s Last Gleaming) Air Date: 11-26-1995
Episode 138 (The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular) Air Date: 12-03-1995
Episode 139 (Marge Be Not Proud) Air Date: 12-17-1995
Episode 140 (Team Homer) Air Date: 01-07-1996
Episode 141 (Two Bad Neighbors) Air Date: 01-14-1996
Episode 142 (Scenes from a Class Struggle in Springfield) Air Date: 02-04-1996
Episode 143 (Bart the Fink) Air Date: 02-11-1996
Episode 144 (Lisa the Iconoclast) Air Date: 02-18-1996
Episode 145 (Homer the Smithers) Air Date: 02-25-1996
Episode 146 (The Day the Violence Died) Air Date: 03-17-1996
Episode 147 (A Fish Called Selma) Air Date: 03-24-1996
Episode 148 (Bart on the Road) Air Date: 03-31-1996
Episode 149 (22 Short Films About Springfield) Air Date: 04-14-1996
Episode 150 (Raging Abe Simpson and His Grumbling Grandson in “The Curse of the Flying Hellfish”) Air Date: 04-28-1996
Episode 151 (Much Apu About Nothing) Air Date: 05-05-1996
Episode 152 (Homerpalooza) Air Date: 05-19-1996
Episode 153 (Summer of 4’2”) Air Date: 05-19-1996

Monday, August 14, 2006

On Golden Pond (DVD)

Nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and eventual winner of 3 Oscars, On Golden Pond is an unconventional Hollywood blockbuster. Based on the play of the same name by Ernest Thompson, the film offers a character driven storyline that explores numerous themes such as aging, abandonment, and family relationships of various types. Veteran film and TV director Mark Rydell packs the big screen with a star-studded cast for this 1981 release. Because of its well developed characters and realistic portrayal of human interactions, it’s a film that’s almost certain to make you laugh, cry, and/or smile. In fact, if you don’t find Norman to be one of the most hilarious and eccentric characters ever created, then you must not be watching the same film.

On Golden Pond follows the lives of a retired New England couple on their annual summer vacation to Golden Pond. Norman Thayer (Henry Fonda) is an aging, long-retired college professor. Sarcastic and crotchety, he manages to distance himself from just about everyone but his wife Ethel (Katharine Hepburn). In fact, his biting demeanor nearly destroys he and his daughter’s relationship, Chelsea (Jane Fonda). When Chelsea brings her new boyfriend Bill (Dabney Coleman) to visit, it isn’t long before Norman stirs things up once again. But Norman and Ethel get an unexpected summer guest when Bill and Chelsea take a prolonged European vacation and leave Bill’s 13-year-old son Billy in their care. It makes for an odd threesome, but as the three learn to live with each other’s quirks, they also learn from each other. But the true test for the new family comes when Chelsea and Bill return from Europe. Can she learn to accept her father’s vices? And can Norman finally be proud of his daughter for who she is?

Hollywood veterans Katharine Hepburn and Henry Fonda turn in two of the best performances of their respective careers. Fonda is absolutely brilliant as the doddering and cranky Norman. One can’t help but laugh at his antics, although it helps that he has the best written lines in the entire movie. Dabney Coleman, although brief in his appearance, makes an immediate impression when he engages in a classic dialogue with Henry Fonda over the evening’s sleeping arrangements. However, in the end, On Golden Pond works because of the chemistry between the three characters who encompass the majority of the story – Ethel, Norman, and Billy. They bind together to create an epic drama rife with conflict, conquest, and chaos without all the usual Hollywood blood and gore. It’s truly rare to have a film of this nature capture audiences without boring them, and On Golden Pond pulls it off.

Complimenting this strong cast and screenplay is a simple, yet memorable instrumental soundtrack composed by Dave Grusin, veteran TV and film composer known for such works as Tootsie (1982) and The Goonies (1985). Filmed on location on and around the Squam Lakes in New Hampshire, the beauty and majesty of this untainted landscape blends perfectly with its tailor-made soundtrack to create a theme of endless peace and tranquility. Overall, it makes for a rather enjoyable movie experience. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and watch On Golden Pond. Then, see if you can say “Ethel Thayer” really fast without a lisp!