THE SIMPSONS: THE FOURTEENTH SEASON
Blu-ray Review by Kevin Carr
MOVIE: **** (out of 5 stars)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5 stars)
With more than 20 seasons behind it, there’s plenty of new releases of “The Simpsons” on DVD and Blu-ray coming into the marketplace. The series is now up to its fourteenth season on home video disc, with the cover spotlight on the aliens Kang and Kodos as well as the features spotlight on the “Treehouse of Horror” episodes. Seems a little odd for a December release, but I can forgive that.
FAMILY GUY: VOLUME NINE
The season kicks off with the eighth “Treehouse of Horror,” one of my consistently favorite spotlight episodes of any “Simpsons” season. While some (including the cast) had suggested that the show was starting to wane in this season, it still seemed fresh to me. And that makes sense because it is still on the air, the better part of a decade later.
This season sees the 300th episode of the series as well as it becoming self-aware in many aspects. By the fourteenth season, “The Simpsons” had become a cultural icon, and it still zinged hilarious plot points like boob jobs, religion, rock and roll and general twisted thoughts on parenting.
I did enjoy the self-referential episodes, especially the 300th episode which sees Bart getting a new start, and for the most part, this 2003 season remains relatively timeless (though fads like spelling bees rear their heads occasionally in the episodes).
Like previous seasons, “The Simpsons: The Fourteenth Season” has some great special features, which is a treat for any show that lasts more than four or five seasons. Where other shows burn through their special features by the third DVD release, “The Simpsons” keeps going strong.
The season gets another introduction by series creator Matt Groening plus audio commentaries on every episode (a rarity in any show, especially one that is more than a dozen seasons in the can). There’s spotlight featurettes on the episode “It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll” where you get to see rock icons act embarrassingly out of place, “The 300th Episode,” “In the Beginning” plus deleted scenes, multi-angle animation showcases, original sketches and a foreign language feature.
The best special features on this three-disc Blu-ray include bonus “Treehouse of Horror” episodes as well as a series of introductions of these one-off spots with Marge Simpson warning of dangerous content. There’s also a look at Kang and Kodos, even though they aren’t prominently featured in the season at all.
Blu-ray Review by Kevin Carr
MOVIE: **** (out of 5 stars)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)
More from the Fox animation block comes to DVD in December with “Family Guy: Volume Nine.” It’s not a complete season as it bridges the gap between two (which has been par for the course in the “Family Guy” universe). But this three-disc DVD includes fourteen episodes which bring “Family Guy” into a whole new era.
ARCHER: THE COMPLETE SEASON TWO
The anchor episodes include the first widescreen HD broadcast of the series in the quite brilliant murder mystery spoof “And Then There Were Fewer.” We see a more cinematic look at “Family Guy” as well as some significant changes in the secondary characters.
Other neat episodes in this season include Peter taking over his father-in-law’s business, a guest spot by conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh (which doesn’t necessarily play as cool as it would sound, tip-toeing down the middle in a very un-“Family Guy” fashion), Peter getting sexually harassed and a special 150th episode featuring Stewie and Brian trapped in a bank vault in the very deliberately cliched bottle episode.
Fully in stride with is non sequitur humor and heavy emphasis on current pop culture, “Family Guy” moves smoothly, topping “The Cleveland Show” and often outdoing “American Dad!” as the premiere Seth MacFarlane show. Of course, if you’re not into “Family Guy,” you won’t like this disc, but fans of the show should be pleased.
Special features include commentaries on select episodes, deleted scenes, side-by-side animatics and an episode of “The Cleveland Show” to help cross-pollinate audiences. Featurettes include “Brian and Stewie: The Lost Phone Call,” “Who Done It?: The Making of ‘And Then There Were Fewer,’” “The History of the World – According to Family Guy” and “Family Guy at Comic-Con 2010.”
by Kevin Carr
MOVIE: *** (out of 5 stars)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Even though “Archer” is produced for the FX cable network, it seems appropriate it’s coming from a Fox property. With the exception of “South Park,” Fox has a corner on the market for irreverent adult cartoons, no matter where it ends up. “Archer” is one of those animated shows that doesn’t seem obvious at first, but once you watch it for a few episodes, it all makes sense.
The second season of the hilarious FX show hits DVD and Blu-ray featuring the bumbling and womanizing spy Sterling Archer and his organization ISIS, this time trying to deal with budgetary constrains and relationship angst between its members.
Part of what makes “Archer” work is that it isn’t trying to directly spoof anything. Even the obvious spy references to James Bond aren’t a crutch for the show. Rather, the stories are made for themselves, rather than being full of pop culture or non sequitur humor (a staple of other Fox animated series like “Family Guy”).
Not a spy spoof, but clearly a spy comedy, “Archer” tells its own unique story with wildly inappropriate characters. But even without the show dripping in pop culture, it makes nods to it with extremely relevant references to movies like “White Lightning” and “Mandingo.”
Like the previous season, the humor lies in Archer’s aloofness and ability to be an absolute idiot but come out on top. It’s a mind-bogglingly sexy show with plenty of sexual references for all types of persuasions and body shapes. This season sees Archer learn about his family history with his put-upon manservant as well as the sticky situation that arises from a former prostitute bringing a paternity suit against him.
“Archer” was a gamble because it’s not star-heavy or a send up of spy shows in particular. But it succeed and works because it’s just damn funny. Here’s to season three, currently on the air on FX and returning in January.
Special features include a bizarre wink and nod to the Archersaurus, including its own extinction. There’s a pretty funny “Ask Archer” segment, along with Archer reading a letter to honor the troops in “Semper Fi.” Additional features include the featurette “L’espion Mal Fait” and a visit from ISIS to Comic-Con.
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