I was one of those fans who watched The Simpsons from the very start; back in those days, even at college, all we had were rabbit ears to pick up the less than clear local Fox station - some folks back then, in 1989, still did not even have a local Fox station. Things have changed a whole lot since the thirteen-episode first season of this classic comedy, but in many ways The Simpsons has not. As I write this, the show's still going strong and building upon the work done all those years ago. While there was a bit of experimentation back in the early days, the characters emerged fully formed from the very first show. It's quite a treat to be able to watch these first thirteen episodes in order again and to reflect back upon the controversy and instant impact this animated show immediately made on popular culture.
I was amazed at how vibrant and familiar these first shows seemed; it seems like only yesterday that I was introduced to Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Maggie, and all the denizens of Springfield. Every episode here is a classic. Watching There's No Disgrace Like Home, the third episode, I was unexpectedly taken back to the very beginning of Simpsons mania as I watched the Simpsons repeatedly administer shocks to themselves to the consternation of family therapist Marvin Monroe. And who could forget the terrible ordeal Bart endured at the hands of two French cretins (or little Adil Hoxha, foreign exchange student from Albania - a legend in the lore of Simpsons trivia) in The Crepes of Wrath. In terms of pure hilarity, look no farther than Homer's Night Out, in which Homer becomes the swingingest swinger in town and elicits a plea for help in the ladies' department from none other than Mr. Skinner himself. The first memorable guest performers also lended their special magic to the show early on: Penny Marshall as the baby-sitting bandit in Some Enchanted Evening, Kelsey Grammer as Sideshow Bob in Krusty Gets Busted, and Albert Brooks as the RV salesman in Call of the Simpsons and Jacque, Marge's French admirer and bowling instructor in Life On the Fast Lane. I could write a paragraph about every single episode, as each one is a classic.
The commentary for each episode is fabulous, as a whole gaggle of the geniuses who brought the show to life come together to laugh at the best bits, talk about the show's genesis and evolution during this experimental first season, and provide fans with all kinds of trivia and juicy tidbits about the whole Simpsons phenomenon. You can clearly see the show develop with each passing episode, particularly in terms of the level of detail in the animation and, to some degree, the voices. With the help of the commentaries, you get a whole new perspective on Homer and the gang. One can't help but be impressed by the way each character was developed early on, the chemistry that quickly emerged between all the characters, and the way in which serious issues were explored in such a comedic manner. Gosh, you had Marge and Homer's marriage on the rocks in a couple of episodes, Bart's deportation to France for his excessive shenanigans at school, the capture of Bart and Lisa by a wanted criminal, the framing and imprisonment of Krusty, the problem of illiteracy, etc. This show really had it all, right from the very start.
I don't know why I waited so long to add The Simpsons Season One to my DVD collection, but I can't wait to get all of the seasons on DVD. After 15+ years, it's easy to take this show for granted, but this Season One DVD with all of its extras has reawakened my old passion for this incredible television show. Speaking of extras, you get a look here at the first animated version of the show, and it's just as horrible as Matt Groening and the other Simpsons bigwigs said it was. You have to see it to believe it. After seeing that, you realize more than ever how lucky we are to have The Simpsons in our lives.