'Best' is a difficult term to apply when a series delivered such consistent excellence for so many years, but it sounds so much bolder than 'Personal Favourite.' The eighth season of The Simpsons represents the series at its most hilarious, smart and innovative. To those in doubt I'll point out that this is the season that gave us Hank Scorpio, Frank Grimes, Poochie, and Mr. Sparkle; Ned loses his house, Burns loses his fortune, and Skinner loses his virginity; Homer becomes a boxer, Bart works in a burlesque house, and Marge gets mobbed up' I could mention every episode here and not hit a bad one.
Family Guy fans should take note of the right way to be 'edgy' in 'Homer's Phobia.' Homosexuality was uncharted animation territory in '97 and the episode was consistently hilarious without being crass. This was also a delightfully meta-season with 'The Simpsons Spin-off Showcase,' 'The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie show," 'Brother From Another Series' and 'Homer's Enemy.' This season is the height of animated comedy.
The creators knock it out of the park again with this set as it's chalk full of deleted scenes, animatics, Easter eggs, etc. There are commentary tacks on every episode and they're good enough to recommend even to those who don't normally like commentaries. If you've ever sat around with your friends, riffing on a Simpsons episode you've all seen a hundred times then you know what to expect. It's a real pleasure to hear such conversation from people so funny and knowledgeable about the show.
The transfer on every Simpsons season is excellent and this one is no exception. The animated menus offer some entertainment in their own right but never get in the way of your selections.
Anyone who disputes the brilliance of The Simpsons needs to be hit over the head with this season. It really is the series at its absolute best and a must-own for fans and newcomers alike.