Title: The Simpsons: Season 14
Starring: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Harry Shearer
Released: 10th October 2011
Here it is: season 14 of The Simpsons. How did it ever get this far? Now in its 22nd season, it’s a truly amazing run. The Simpsons is the longest-running primetime animated series in history, and the longest-running sitcom currently on primetime television. It’s given us many, many, many laughs over the years and catchphrases and jokes. But is there a problem with diminishing returns after al this time? Sadly I think that there is. 20 odd years and hardly a single new character, and the characters that we do have in The Simpsons are stuck in a state of eternal agelessness. It’s a bit weird and how do you develop those characters? How do you get them to experience different and new things?
The DVDs are running about eight or nine years behind the TV series. It’s a big gap but it seems that The Simpsons has as large and as fervent following as ever as these The Simpsons will no doubt be flying off the shelves.
As always there are a trio of interesting Haloween episodes, which kick off the season in Treehouse of Horror XIII. Send in the Clones sees Homer's getting a new hammock when his old one snaps. But this hammock is a bit different, it makes clones of him. Naturally Homer uses this to his advantage and soon has several clones doing all of his work. In The Fright to Creep and Scare Harms: sees zombies rising from their graves when Springfield bans guns from their town, with the zombies keen to take the town over for themselves. The final haloween episode is The Island of Dr. Hibbert, an island that The Simpsons visit and find to be inhabited by strange, yet familiar-looking creatures, all made from their Springfield neighbours!
In the next episode Homer selfishly says that marrying Marge ruined his ambition of being a rock star in How I Spent My Strummer Vacation. Marge and the kids give Homer a present of a trip to Rock 'N Roll Fantasy camp where he meets several guest-starring legends of rock.
Elsewhere in season 14, Marge tries liposuction to make herself more attractive to Homer, (like she would need to, he’s about 300 llbs! But she gets breast implants by mistake. Not a very good episode and sexist to boot. One to miss.
In Helter Shelter The Simpsons have to leave their house while it’s fumigated. They decide to go on a reality TV show where they have to live like it is 1895.
In The Dad Who Knew Too Little Homer realizes (after how many years? that he doesn’t know his daughter Lisa very well (really?) so instead of being a parent and acting rationally and spending time with her, he hires a private investigator to find out more about her. It’s an example of a silly episode where Homer or one of the other characters does something so stupid that it makes the episode virtually unwatchable. This is an example of the point that I was making about the characters being constantly in a state of agelessness. Yes we know that Homer is a bad father. He’s an alcoholic too in case any one hadn’t noticed.
In Strong Arms Of The Ma, Marge becomes agoraphobic (yes, only for one episode) after being mugged on the street and rather strangely decides that the best thing to do is take up weight lifting. It’s just a silly as it sounds. Another dud of an episode.
In Pray Anything, Homer gets the idea that Ned Flanders has good luck because he prays. Taking up prayer for himself, Homer doesn’t have quiet so much luck, in fact he gets himself into an injury lawsuit again the Church. There’s a few laughs to be had in this episode and it’s always good to see Ned pop up in the show. He’s a funny character.
So it’s also fun to watch the episode A Star Is Born-Again in which Flanders dates a movie star. This one is full of laughs. Maybe The Simpsons should do a spin off show for New Flanders. Couldn’t be worse than the Cleveland Show (American Dad spin off) could it?
Notable guest stars in season 14 are Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Elvis Costello, Tom Petty and Lenny Kravitz who all appear in the same episode! Other stars to lend their voices to The Simpsons this season as Elliott Gould, Marisa Tomei plus Adam West (Batman) and Burt Ward (Robin) and even professional skateboarding legend Tony Hawk and rock band Blink 182 who star in the 300th episode!
DVD Extras and Special Features: There are always a lot of extras on releases of The Simpsons. There are commentaries for every episode with comments from the whole cast and crew: directors, writers, producers and voice talent. There are plenty of deleted scenes for each episode. Some are funny, some are not, but you can usually see a good reason for it being deleted, either the episode would have run too long or there are other similar jokes already in there
Overall season 14 has enjoyable moments, but just as with the previous recent seasons to hit DVD I believe that are numerous odd moments where the writers overstep the boundaries of comedy and go into another place entirely. There is too much physical violence, infidelity and poor parenting and from being a family show that I used to watch as a young child it’s now something that I think is perhaps only suitable for young adults. I’m not quite so sure that the territory that the show now strays into on occasion could still be considered family entertainment. It’s rated 12, so I suppose that goes some of the way to suggesting that this is not for children much younger than teenagers, but I’m sure that kids of less than 10 years of age regularly watch the show. That said if you’re a little older there are plenty of laughs to be had in this season by spending time with this ageless cartoon family.