The Simpsons: The Twelfth Season
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- Audio: English: 5.1 Dolby Surround / Spanish & French: Stereo
- Language: Dubbed: English, French & Spanish / Subtitled: French & Spanish
- Theatrical Aspect Ratio: Fullscreen: 1.33:1
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1. Hilarious first act that is soon left behind by the actual plot.
2. So-so second act that introduces the gratuitous guest voice and expands on the plot.
3. Hit or miss third act that either veers completely away from the general plot or takes the premise to an absurd level. Depending on the execution and one's personal tastes, this makes the episode either decent or awful.
Individual episodes deviate from this at times, but for the most part they stick fairly religiously to it. Did I say the guest voices are gratuitous? The stories should not be notable mainly because of the guest voice. This season leads off with The Who episode (which the commentary reveals doesn't feature the entire group, even as it existed then), a symbol of what's to come.
That said, I still give this 4 stars because of the mostly great first acts, which this period of the show elevates to an art form. The best ones have almost nothing to do with the direction of the rest of the episode but are loaded with great gags, like the trip to the Festival of Books in "Insane Clown Poppy."
Some of the third acts are brilliant, too, like The Prisoner homage in "The Computer Wore Menace Shoes," or the mob family gathering Homer & Krusty invade in "Insane Clown Poppy."
What's largely missing is the emotional core that was so memorable in the first several seasons. By this point many of the writers, directors, and producers who created and cared about these characters have all have long since moved on to other things. The commentaries make pretty clear that the 12th season staff just like making Homer appear as dumb and depraved as possible. "Homer vs. Dignity" is a particular low point featuring Homer doing baby talk in a diaper and getting raped by a panda. When genuine emotional substance is called for, such as Krusty trying to establish a relationship with his previously unknown daughter in "Insane Clown Poppy," no feeling comes through at all. (Compare it to "Like Father, Like Clown," where Krusty reconciles with his dad, or the end of "Lisa's Substitute" when Homer gets Lisa to laugh with him again.) In this specific case, part of the problem is Drew Barrymore's generic voice work completely fails to convey the emotion that's animated for her. In general, though, it reveals that the producers generally seemed to coast through the year.
Still, there are some highlight episodes, like "Trilogy of Error," and "HOMR," and the annual "Treehouse of Horror" is a little better than some previous years' Halloween eps. Even the lesser episodes have great moments. The animators' commentaries are interesting as they discuss and illustrate on screen certain aspects of drawing the show. The Comic Book Guy's highlight reel is fun to watch. There is still plenty to enjoy, even if you maybe won't enjoy it quite as often as the earlier seasons.
This is the last season before the long, dark period of mediocrity known as the Al Jean years. Even in this season it becomes more hit or miss, which some great episodes like "HOMR" (where Homer becomes a genius by getting a crayon out of his brain) and "Hungry Hungry Homer" (where Homer finds out the Isotopes are moving to Albuquerque--and there really is an Albuquerque Isotopes team!) but also some lesser episodes. Though of course not everyone would agree with that assessment. For a complete list of episodes, go to Wikipedia or something and then you can decide whether this is a season you want to own or not. This isn't the Worst Season Ever, but it's also not the Best Season Ever either. By this season they'd started to "jump the shark" and yet it's gone on for another 10+ years, so that by now the poor shark has been bludgeoned to death.
I think this is it for me, because I just don't think it'd be worth it to buy the later seasons. What I always wish you could do was buy episodes sort of ala carte, or just pick those of a season you like and create a disc that way, sort of like a Simpsons mix tape. I doubt that will happen--legally anyway.
That is all.
[*] indicates a "Season Great/Epicsode"
Treehouse of Horror XI: 4/5
G-G-Ghost D-D-Dad: 4.25/5 Homer eats broccoli and dies. Homer is told to do one good deed before being accepted into heaven.
Scary Tales Can Come True: 3.75/5 Bart and Lisa are thrown into the woods by Homer and Marge with only a fairy tale book to guide them through.
Night of the Dolphin: 4.25/5 Dolphins get revenge on Springfield, and summon all humans to the sea so dolphins can live back on land.
A Tale of Two Springfields: 4.25/5
A new area code splits Springfield in two and Homer becomes mayor. The members of New Springfield aren't happy with what he's doing, and move to Olde Springfield, leaving only the Simpsons in the New Springfield. To combine the Springfields into one, Homer gets The Who to play in his half of the city.
Insane Clown Poppy: 3/5
Krusty meets his daughter, and is soon seen gambling. He gambles away his daughter's violin, and he and Homer try to get into Fat Tony's hideout to get the violin back.
Lisa the Tree Hugger: 3.5/5
Lisa stays in a large redwood tree that is threatened to get cut down. The stays up in it for a night of protest, but decides to leave. The next morning, the tree is struck by lightning and Lisa is presumed dead.
[*]Homer vs. Dignity: 4.5/5
Homer is paid large sums of money by Mr. Burns to embarrass himself, but changes his ways with a little encouragement from Lisa.
[*]The Computer Wore Menace Shoes: 4.5/5
Homer gets a new computer and decided to create his own website under the name Mr. X. His gossip and news site gets spread around really quick and is soon wanted by police. This is a really good episode in my opinion, but most of the ending is just sort of stupid in my opinion.
[*]The Great Money Caper: 4.75/5
Homer and Bart decide to grift after realizing their magic act wasn't working. They soon get "caught" and learn their lesson.
[*]Skinner's Sense of Snow: 5/5
The only school to be open during a massive snowday, the whole school gets snowed in, forcing Skinner to take charge. The students revolt, and Skinner gets serious. Meanwhile, Flanders and Homer attempt to free the school.
Homer discovers he has a crayon in his brain and decides to have it removed. He becomes smarter but learns he was better off less intelligent. He has the crayon placed back in his brain.
Pokey Mom: 4.25/5
Marge takes in an ex-con who is a very talented artist. Meanwhile, Homer becomes a chiropractor and attempts to patent his own device.
[*]Worst Episode Ever: 4.5/5
After Comic Book Guy has a heart attack, Bart and Milhouse take over his store, Android's Dungeon. Bart and Milhouse soon discover a secret room with hidden tapes. Meanwhile, Comic Book Guy dates Agnes Skinner.
Tennis the Menace: 4.25/5
Marge and Homer decide to join a doubles tournament for tennis, but Marge dumps Homer for it. Homer then recruits Lisa. Homer and Lisa face Marge and Bart in the tournament, but they get replaced by professional tennis players.
Day of the Jackanapes: 4.25/5
Sideshow Bob gets back out of prison and decides to set up another scheme. This time, one that will kill both Bart and Krusty. This is probably my favorite Sideshow Bob episode, besides "Krusty Gets Busted"
[*]New Kids on the Blecch: 4.5/5
Bart, Nelson, Milhouse, and Ralph get recruited to be in a boy band called Party Posse. Lisa realizes that the music videos the guys star in is giving subliminal messages.
Hungry, Hungry Homer: 3.75/5
Homer protests the future possible movement of the Springfield Isotopes to Albuquerque by starving himself outside the stadium.
[*]Bye, Bye Nerdie: 4.5/5
Lisa discovers that sweat from nerds attracts bullyism. Meanwhile, Homer realizes how dangerous things can be in an everyday household for a baby.
Simpson Safari: 4/5
Homer wins a trip to Africa after winning one. While there, the Simpsons encounter a professor that makes monkeys dig for diamonds.
[*]Trilogy of Error: 4.75/5
Homer gets rushed to a hospital for a dismembered finger, Lisa needs to get to her school science fair, and Bart gets involved in a fireworks problem with Fat Tony. The whole episode follows the three parts to show how it all unfolds.
I'm Goin' to Praiseland: 4/5
Homer and Ned open a place called Praiseland in memory of Ned's deceased wife, Maude. Ned and Homer believe Maude's statue tells people what their lives will be like when they die.
[*]Children of a Lesser Clod: 4.75/5
Homer opens up a daycare service after Rod and Todd recommend it. Because of this, Bart and Lisa get jealous of the attention the kids are receiving from Homer, and come up with a plan to show everyone who Homer really is.
[*]Simpsons Tall Tales: 4.5/5
This episode features 3 tall tales - Paul Bunyan, Connie Appleseed, and Tom and Huck. While I didn't particularly care for Paul Bunyan, Tom and Huck was okay, and Connie Appleseed was very funny.
The Simpsons: The Complete Twelfth Season is one HELL of a season - completely underrated - and, in my opinion, better than seasons 11 and 10, and even 9 and 8. The bonus features are alright, as usual. 24 minutes of deleted scenes on the fourth disc, best Comic Book Guy moments from up until 2001, Butterfinger commercials and a Red Rooster one from 2000/2001, and a Simpsons Fanfest from 200...1 I think? And, as always, there is also commentary on every episode.
As far as the boxing is concerned, Season 12 is a bit better than eleven. The discs are easier to get out of the box, and the material sleeve that the discs go in is a little more scratch resistant. The Comic Book Guy head you see on the box, as with season eleven, can be taken off. There is only bit of that peely-glue stuff to take off.
Overall, as I said, this is a great season, and is probably my favorite season since season 7, or maybe 8... I'm probably one of VERY few to say this, but I just really thoroughly enjoyed most of this season. It started slow, but it really got going, and the Simpsons Tall Tales and Trilogy of Error episodes were a great little change. I really recommend this season.
Pros: Several awesome episodes, I counted 11 "epicsodes" out of 21 episodes... that is a really good ratio. Also some pretty cool bonus features.
Cons: The box, while slightly improved, is still pretty subpar. The first disc for the most part doesn't have very good episodes... that's really about it.
And now we wait for season 13...
Having never seen any of the episodes as they aired on TV, I only got Season 12 as I already had 1-11 on DVD. To my delight it features hardly a single bad episode and is consistently funny with dozens of laugh-out-loud moments. Absolutely brilliant!
The packaging is just downright awful though. A nice idea, but poor execution. I wish studios would move away from cardboard digipacks. They're just not made to last.