3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The beginning of a new wonder,
This review is from: The Simpsons: Complete Season 1 [DVD] (DVD)
After appearing as many shorts on the Tracy Ullman show, Fox decided to give The Simpsons a slot to record a program that runs on average of 23 minutes. The first season of The Simpsons was all about starting from scratch and experimenting. An interesting fact is that all 13 episodes were in the making before the pilot show had even ran. The animation is quite poor and somewhat cruse, the characters are definitely not set in stone including different voices to the defined voices we know know for certain characters, Mr Smithers as a black man with blue hair, Lou the cop also black and Barney with blond hair. The twister mouth which was regularly see in the Tracy Ullman shorts is in most of the episodes, if not all.
Maggie sucking on her dummy over dialogue, which is really distracting is in all episodes and that's why it was taken out.
The commentary is really interesting; listening to the writers and animators, including of course, Matt Groening, talk about the origins of the show and how their little experiments like very simple backgrounds and different voices for characters changed. So many characters appear differently to how we know them today, and of course the infamous Dr Marvin Monroe appears in a few of these episodes. The intro is different as well with Lisa on the bike and the cloud formation. 6 very simple couch gags were used for the 13 episodes and they are definitely not entertaining! You have to put in mind though the budget for the animation and the context of a brand new show. I think hearing Matt speak about how he felt when the show was starting up and how it was like watching these characters he had created using names from his family; including his sisters Maggie and Lisa, come to life. Viewing the difference between these scrappy and experimental early episodes to the solidified and later stuff is very entertaining. The creators had no clear idea of how the viewers would react, but luckily for Groening and the rest, the Simpsons became a huge hit.
The Simpsons were a yellow coloured family which definitely made them stand out amongst anything else, as well as the fact that this was a cartoon but there were no crazy sound effects or exaggerated animation. It was true to life and people could relate and I think that's what made it so prominent to viewers.
The DVD, which is of course the first actual DVD is quite an experiment and is quite patchy too. One the commentary I find it not so easy to listen to. Maybe it's just me but it seems like the Simpsons dialogue isn't turned down enough to hear the commentary. There's also a short point where the Simpsons dialogue becomes louder than the commentary which is surely accidental. The DVD menu has a picture of a Simpsons character on 1 side and on the other is a list of the episodes. It appears like a bland web page with `Home' and a hand pointer. Quite interesting! I had a problem getting commentary up as well because whereas with the later DVD's you select a + sign and then go to commentary `yes', with this DVD you need to go to the episode, then `language feature', and then down to `audio commentary'. The booklet does not include who does the audio commentary, and you can only find that out in writing with the menu. There are no deleted scenes but the special features do include an unaired section of Some enchanted evening, a 1 minute language feature for Life on the fast lane, a commentary over the animatics which they should totally do now and which I really miss, and Matt talking about the genesis of The Simpsons.
Of course this is not the best season of The Simpsons but it is a great investment for any fan to have the special features chronicling the beginning of America's beloved animated family. An enjoyable watch.