REVIEW: THE SIMPSONS – SEASON 7-9

CAST

Dan Castellaneta (Super 8)
Julie Kavner  (Dr. Dolittle)
Yeardley Smith (Dead Like Me)
Nancy Cartwright (Kim Possible)
Hank Azaria (The Smurfs)
Harry Shearer (This Is Spinal Tap)
Pamela Hayden (Recess)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Maggie Roswell (Pretty In Pink)
Russi Taylor (Babe)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Phil Hartman (Small Soldiers)
Mickey Rooney (Night at The Museum)
Marcia Wallace (Full House)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
Doris Grau (Babe)
Paul McCartney (Help!)
Linda McCartney (Back To The Egg)
Paul Anka (Ordinary Magic)
Glenn Close (Fatal Attraction)
Harry Morgan (M*A*S*H)
R. Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket)
Kelsey Grammer (Frasier)
Lawrence Tierney (The Naked Gun)
Bob Newhart (The Big Bang Theory)
Donald Sutherland (The Hunger Games)
Kirk Douglas (Spartacus)
Alex Rocco (the Godfather)
Suzanne Somers (Step By Step)
Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park)
Joe Mantegna (Criminal Minds)
Christina Ricci (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Albert Brooks (Drive)
Paul Winfield (The Terminator)
Rodney Dangerfield (Back to School)
Jon Lovitz (Big)
Johnny Cash (North and South)
David Duchovny (Zoolander)
Gillian Anderson (Hannibal)
Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek)
Jack Lemmon (The Apartment)
John Waters (Seed of Chucky)
David Hyde Pierce (Frasier)
Dave Thomas (Bones)
Sab Shimono (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III)
Tim Conway (McHale’s Navy)
Willem Dafoe (American Psycho)
Martin Sheen (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Mike Judge (King of The Hill)
Jan Hooks (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Andrea Martin (Wag The Dog)
Alex Trebek (Jeopardy!)
Jim Varney (Toy Story)
James Earl Jones (Star Wars)
Janeane Garofalo (Wet Hot American Summer)
Bobcat Goldthwait (Freaked)
Jay Leno (Family Guy)
Steven Wright (The Emoji Movie)
Hank Williams Jr.  (A Time To Sing)
Helen Hunt (As Good As It gets)
Michael Carrington (Think Fast)
Bob Denver (Gilligan’s Island)
Randy Jones (The Joy of Disco)
Rod Steiger (Mars Attacks)
Steve Martin (Cheaper By The Dozen)
Steven Weber (2 Broke Girls)
Brendan Fraser (Bedazzled)

One of the hallmark seasons of The Simpsons, season 7 features some of the strongest episodes produced during the show’s run. Considering that this is The Simpsons we’re talking about here, that’s saying a lot, but this collection deserves the accolades.

SEASON 7 HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE

7.1) WHO SHOT MR. BURNS – PART TWO

In the previous episode, Mr. Burns was shot by an unknown gunman. Mr. Smithers believes he may have shot Burns while in a drunken stupor, and turns himself in. However, it is discovered that he is innocent, so the police question several other suspects and eventually discover Simpson DNA evidence on Burns. Mr. Burns himself awakens and is only able to say “Homer Simpson”. The police immediately arrest Homer, but he manages to escape. Lisa investigates the clues herself and discovers vital evidence that clears Homer but at that moment he is spotted at the hospital. Lisa, Smithers, the police and many townsfolk go to Mr. Burns’ hospital room where they find Homer strangling Burns. Burns is shaken out of his daze and reveals that he was really shot by Maggie Simpson. Marge apologizes for Maggie’s actions and everything returns to normal.

7.2) RADIOACTIVE MAN

It is decided that filming for the new Radioactive Man film will take place in Springfield and the producers decide to cast a local child in the role of Fallout Boy. Many of Springfield’s children, including Bart and Milhouse, audition for the role, with the part eventually going to Milhouse. However, Milhouse decides he does not like being a star and flees the production. He refuses to return and play the role and the producers, having been bankrupted by Mayor Quimby and the townsfolk, decide to close production and leave town.Homesweethoeddd7.3) HOME SWEET HOMEDIDDLY-DUM-DOODILY

Several misunderstandings at home and school cause the child welfare dept. to accuse Homer and Marge of being negligent parents. As a result, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie are taken away and put in the care of Ned Flanders and his family. To get their kids back, Homer and Marge must pass a parenting class, while Ned discovers the kids are not baptized and decides to do it himself. Homer and Marge are allowed to get their kids back and manage to stop the baptizing ceremony. Homer eventually takes the baptizing for Bart and experiences momentary religious enlightenment before returning to his original self.7.4) BART SELLS HIS SOUL

While forced to clean the organ pipes after playing a prank against the church, Bart sells his soul to Milhouse for five dollars, to prove his point that a soul does not exist. Bart begins to regret it when weird things begin happening to him such as not finding cartoons funny or not accepting hugs. Meanwhile, an encounter with the Hibbert family results in Moe converting Moe’s Tavern to a family restaurant to make more money. The Simpson family eat there one night and after taunting from Lisa, Bart erupts and leaves to find his soul. It turns out that Milhouse had given Bart’s soul to Comic Book Guy who in turn had sold it to someone else. It turns out that it was sold to Lisa, and she gives Bart his soul back. Back at the family restaurant, Moe loses his temper and swears at a child, resulting in him losing his customers and converting back to his tavern.Homesweethoeddd7.5) LISA THE VEGETARIAN

After a visit with a lamb at a petting zoo, Lisa decides to become a full vegetarian. She tries to draw others towards it, but her efforts are wasted. At the same time, Homer decides to throw a barbecue and Lisa is outraged when those in attendance laugh at her suggestion of eating Gazpacho. She ruins the barbecue by destroying his main host (a roasted pig) and after refusing to apologize to Homer, runs away saying Homer is a prehistoric carnivore. She goes to the Kwik-E-Mart and meets Apu who reveals he is a vegan and tells Lisa to be tolerant and not go pushing her own views on everyone else. Lisa apologizes to Homer, admitting she had no right to ruin his barbecue.King-Size_Homer7.7) KING-SIZE HOMER

Unhappy with the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant’s new exercise program, Homer decides to get on workman’s comp by purposely gaining 61 pounds. He succeeds in his goal and is able to work at home. He spends a lot of his time goofing off and tries to go see a movie. When he is turned away because of his weight, Homer returns home but finds that a nuclear meltdown is about to take place at the plant because of his inattention to his work. He hijacks an ice cream truck and rushes to the plant and is able to save everyone when he falls into a tank and prevents poisonous gas from escaping. As a reward, Mr. Burns guarantees to make Homer thin again, but gives up and decides to pay for a liposuction.7.8) MOTHER SIMPSON

On a Saturday morning Homer fakes his death in order to get out of working at Mr. Burns garbage collecting event and is later forced to go to the records office to verify that he is alive. The clerk reveals that Homer’s mother is still alive but Homer disagrees and goes to his mother’s grave for proof. The grave actually belongs to Walt Whitman but Homer by chance does meet with his mother. He takes her home to meet his family, but she remains silent as to where she was for the past 27 years. The family finally forces her to reveal her secret: she was part of group of Hippie radicals in the 1960s and is on the run from Mr. Burns and the FBI. Mr. Burns later discovers Mona’s whereabouts and she is forced to return into hiding.7.9) SIDESHOW BOB’S LAST GLEAMING

Sideshow Bob escapes from his prison guards and steals an atomic bomb at an airshow and threatens to detonate it unless Springfield gets rid of television. The city is forced to obey, but Bart and Lisa discover that Bob is hiding in the Duff blimp and confront him. Bob discovers that Krusty is still broadcasting his show, so he captures Bart and an airplane and goes on a Kamikaze mission to kill Krusty. However, he fails and is sent back to jail.7.10) THE SIMPSONS 138TH EPISODE SPECTACULAR

Troy McClure hosts a special episode of The Simpsons that gives viewers a behind the scenes look at the show. It features clips of the series’ beginnings as filler on The Tracey Ullman Show, fan mail readings, a look at the “real” Matt Groening, Simpsons trivia questions and unaired scenes from popular episodes, including the alternate ending to the “Who Shot Mr. Burns” two-parter.7.12) TEAM HOMER

Homer assembles a bowling team consisting of Apu, Moe and Otto so he can play on league nights. He gets the team funding from Mr. Burns during one of his ether-induced hallucinations. The team does well until Mr. Burns discovers that he paid for them and decides to join the team. The team starts losing games but still manage to make it to the league championship where they manage to win. The team is overjoyed but Mr. Burns has a change of heart and takes the trophy for himself. Meanwhile, the students of Springfield Elementary School are forced to wear uniforms after Bart comes to school wearing a T-shirt with a shocking message on it.7.13) TWO BAD NEIGHBORS

Homer assembles a bowling team consisting of Apu, Moe and Otto so he can play on league nights. He gets the team funding from Mr. Burns during one of his ether-induced hallucinations. The team does well until Mr. Burns discovers that he paid for them and decides to join the team. The team starts losing games but still manage to make it to the league championship where they manage to win. The team is overjoyed but Mr. Burns has a change of heart and takes the trophy for himself. Meanwhile, the students of Springfield Elementary School are forced to wear uniforms after Bart comes to school wearing a T-shirt with a shocking message on it.7.16) LISA THE ICONOCLAST

While doing research for an essay, Lisa finds a confession written by town founder Jebediah Springfield revealing that he was a murderous pirate named Hans Sprungfeld who tried to attack George Washington and never cared about the people of Springfield. Homer decides to help Lisa get the message out, but they are arrested by the town council. Lisa claims Sprungfeld had a silver tongue so the council decides to exhume Jebediah to prove Lisa wrong. It turns out that there is no silver tongue but Lisa later discovers that it had been stolen from the grave by Hollis Hurlbut, the local historian. The two rush to reveal the truth about Jebediah, but Lisa realizes that the myth had inspired the entire town and decides to keep it a secret.7.17) HOMER THE SMITHERS

At the advice of Mr. Burns, Smithers takes a vacation and hires Homer to be his replacement, thinking that Homer could never outshine him. However, Smithers’ plan backfires when Homer’s incompetence causes Burns to learn how to do things for himself resulting in the now useless Smithers losing his job as Burns’ assistant. Homer decides to help Smithers get his job back, but their plan backfires and the two get into a fight in Mr. Burns’ office. Burns is accidentally knocked out of a window and needs Smithers to do things for him again.7.19) A FISH CALLED SELMA

Troy McClure tries to save his dying career and debunk the rumors of his bizarre sexual life, by marrying Marge’s sister, Selma. Selma discovers that the marriage is a sham but decides that being a sham wife is okay. However, Troy is informed by his agent that becoming a father will help his career even more but Selma refuses to bring a child into their loveless marriage and leaves.7.20) BART ON THE ROAD

While stuck at the DMV with Patty and Selma on “Go To Work With Your Parents Day,” Bart creates a fake driver’s license for himself and uses it to go on a spring break road trip with Milhouse, Nelson, and Martin. Meanwhile, Homer and Lisa bond after spending “Go To Work With Your Parents Day” together and the two have a lot of fun. Bart and his friends decide to go to the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville but discover that their guide book is outdated and the fair ended years ago. Stuck in Knoxville with no money, Bart becomes a courier and calls Lisa for help. Lisa convinces Homer to order a nuclear console from Knoxville, thus helping Bart get home.7.23) MUCH APU ABOUT NOTHING

After a bear wanders into Evergreen Terrace, Mayor Quimby is forced to raise taxes so they can pay for a new bear patrol. When the citizens are outraged, Quimby blames illegal immigrants and creates Proposition 24, which will deport them. The family discovers that Apu is in fact an illegal immigrant and decide to help him get his citizenship. Apu succeeds and Homer gives a heartfelt speech about why Springfield should reject Prop 24, however, it still passes with 95% majority and Groundskeeper Willie is deported.7.24) HOMERPALOOZA

In an attempt to show his kids how hip he is, Homer takes Bart and Lisa to the Hullabalooza music festival where Homer is hired as a sideshow freak who can withstand the force of cannonball blasts. As a result, Homer gets to go on tour with the festival and suddenly finds himself living the high life. As the tour approaches a stop in Springfield, Homer’s stomach begins to hurt and he is sent to a veterinarian who advises Homer that if he performs his act one more time, his stomach will burst and he will die. Homer shrugs this news off, not wanting to lose his popularity. At first he decides to do his job, but at the last second he loses his nerve and dodges the cannonball. He is released from the festival and goes back to being not respected by his children.7.25) SUMMER OF 4 FT. 2

At the start of summer, Ned Flanders asks Homer to take care of his beach house in Little Pwagmattasquarmsettport. The family decide to go there and Lisa, realizing that she is not as cool as she thinks, uses the new locale as a chance to rid herself of her nerd image and becomes a surfer girl. She becomes best friends with a girl named Erin and a group of locals, but Bart becomes jealous and reveals to them that Lisa is in fact a teacher’s pet. Lisa runs off crying, thinking that she has lost her new friends, but the next night they surprise her and say she was a good friend.

Quite simply the best season of the Simpsons to date in my opinion. Hank Scorpio and Frank Grimes to this day remain the best one time characters the writers have ever produced and every single episode (barring the spinoff showcase one nearer the end which didn’t hit it for me) is pure Simpsons gold.

SEASON 8 HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE

8.2) YOU ONLY MOVE TWICE

When Homer accepts a new job at the Globex Corporation the Simpson family moves to Cypress Creek. Homer enjoys his new work and his easy-going boss, but is completely unaware that his boss is an evil genius and that the company is a vehicle for international extortion. The rest of the family have trouble settling in Cypress Creek and begin to get homesick so Homer must make a choice between Cypress Creek and Springfield.8.3) THE HOMER THEY FALL

When Bart is beaten up by school bullies, Homer takes matters into his own hands. Although Homer is unable to make his point, Moe is impressed by his ability to withstand a beating. Moe talks Homer into becoming a boxer with Moe as his manager. His sole strategy is to let opponents knock themselves out while pounding on Homer. Promoter Lucius Sweet becomes aware of Homer’s rise as a boxer and wants him to fight Drederick Tatum, the heavyweight champion.8.4) BURNS, BABY BURNS

A man named Larry’s jaw drops when he sees his father Mr. Burns on a train from Yale to Springfield and Larry immediately follows the train. When he arrives at Mr Burns’s mansion he identifies himself as Mr. Burns’s long lost son. Burns admits that Larry is the result of a one-night stand and accepts him as his own. Soon, however, Larry proves to be an incurable oaf and Burns gets tired of him. Homer befriends Larry because they share similar interests. Together they fake Larry’s kidnapping to win back Burns’s love. But when Burns is told that Homer has kidnapped his son Homer and Larry are chased by reporters and the police. When told of the fake kidnapping Burns cannot continue as Larry’s father and Larry leaves Springfield to return to his family.8.5) BART AFTER DARK

Bart does property damage to a house and Homer makes him do chores to pay for his misdeed. The house turns out to be a burlesque saloon and a group of concerned citizens confront Homer on Bart’s work. Marge agrees with the group and joins them in their attempt to oust the saloon from Springfield. In a town hall meeting, Marge convinces the townspeople to demolish the old house, but when the destruction team begins, Homer sings a song that changes everybody’s mind. The demolition stops, but Marge’s bulldozer accidentally slips out of gear and damages the house.8.6) A MILHOUSE DIVIDED

Marge decides to host a dinner party at the Simpson house. They invite their friends to it, but the Van Houtens have a very bad time and argue and fight throughout the night until Luann announces that she wants a divorce. Luann happily settles back to single life with Milhouse, and starts dating an American Gladiator named Pyro. Homer is confident that it will never happen to him, but Kirk tells him how quickly things can change. He realizes that he has taken his marriage for granted and overcompensates by smothering Marge. Deciding that their marriage is finished, Homer secretly files for a divorce from Marge. Homer then surprises her by asking her for her hand in marriage again and Marge accepts. Kirk tries the same strategy with Luann, but she refuses.8.7) LISA’S DATE WITH DESTINY

Nelson is punished for vandalizing Superintendent Chalmers’ car and has to help Willie around the schoolyard. When Lisa watches Nelson torment Willie, she finds herself attracted to him and decides to try to change Nelson into a better person. Lisa goes on a date with him and they kiss, but when he is later revealed to be lying about vandalizing Skinner’s house, she loses the attraction. Meanwhile, Homer finds an autodialer and starts a telemarketing scam.8.8) HURRICANE NEDDY

A hurricane strikes through Springfield and only destroys the Flanders’ home and they have to move into the church basement. The people of Springfield gather to rebuild their house, but when Ned sees the poor workmanship, he has a complete breakdown. Ned commits himself to a mental institution and his psychiatrist discovers that Ned’s past has taught him to suppress his anger. The psychiatrist then teaches Ned to express his anger with Homer as a role model and Ned gets cured as Ned reunites with the people of Springfield along with the rest of the Simpsons and his family.8.9) EL VIAJE MISTERIOSO DE NUESTRO JOMER

Homer begins to hallucinate after eating a dish laced with potent Guatemalan peppers at the chili cook-off. In this hallucination he meets a mystical coyote, which tells him to find his soul mate. After a fight with Marge, he is concerned that she is not really his soul mate. Homer leaves the house and seeks solitude in a lighthouse. Marge arrives at the lighthouse and apologizes and then Homer realizes that Marge is his soul mate after all.8.10) THE SPRINGFIELD FILES

Homer walks home one night from Moe’s Tavern. On his way he sees an eerie glowing creature. The next day Homer’s story is printed in the local newspaper. FBI agents Mulder and Scully read the story and go to Springfield to investigate this X-file. After talking with Homer they find his credibility shaky and quickly leave again. Bart and Homer then set up a camp to videotape the creature. When the creature appears, Lisa reveals that the creature is actually Mr. Burns after a medical treatment by Dr. Riviera.8.12) MOUNTAIN OF MADNESS

To encourage teamwork, Mr. Burns takes all of his employees to a corporate retreat in the mountains. The employees pair up and Homer becomes Burns’s partner. The challenge is to find a cabin on the snowy mountainside. The pair to finish last will be fired. Burns and Homer cheat by using a snowmobile and make it the cabin before everybody else, but an avalanche buries the cabin. Homer and Burns go insane in the cold and get into a fight. In the fight they ignite a propane tank, which rockets the cabin to safety8.13) SIMPSONCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALAD’OHCIOUS

Marge is stressed by the demands of motherhood and the Simpsons get a magical British nanny, who floats down from the sky holding an umbrella. The nanny is a miracle worker, who teaches Bart and Lisa how to clean and charms everybody. However, the Simpsons cannot stop living their messy ways and the nanny’s spirit gets crushed. She leaves the family realizing that she has taught them nothing.8.15) HOMER’S PHOBIA

The family tries to sell an old heirloom at a collectibles store and strike up a relationship with John, the store owner. The Simpsons invite John over to their house to assess their other belongings and Homer takes a liking to him. Marge then informs Homer that John is gay and he refuses to see him again. Afterwards Homer notices changes in Bart’s behavior and fears that John has turned him into a homosexual. Trying to make Bart manlier, they go on a hunting trip, but get attacked by a herd of aggressive reindeer. Suddenly, John arrives and saves the day. Homer then thanks John for saving his life and accepts him as a friend.8.16) BROTHER FROM ANOTHER SERIES

Sideshow Bob is released from prison and his brother, Cecil, hires him to supervise the construction of a dam. Bart suspects that Bob is up to something and sneaks into his office along with Lisa. There he discovers a suitcase filled with money. Bob enters and explains his innocence, but Bart and Lisa do not believe him. Cecil now enters and holds them all at gunpoint. His plan is to blow up the dam and walk away with the $15 million he embezzled from the project. Bob would naturally be blamed allowing Cecil to get revenge for Bob stealing his part as Krusty’s sidekick. Cecil now locks up Bob, Bart and Lisa, but they manage to escape and stop Cecil.8.17) MY SISTER, MY SITTER

Lisa wants to start babysitting, but Marge thinks she is too young. Flanders urgently needs a babysitter and Lisa gets her first job. When Flanders gives her a glowing review, she starts to get steady work. Then one evening, Lisa is put in charge of babysitting Bart and Maggie. Bart is outraged and embarks on a series of pranks. When Bart refuses to go to bed, Lisa accidentally knocks him down the stairs which dislocates his arm. Lisa tries to help him by transporting him in a wheelbarrow to Dr. Nick. Bart falls out of the wheelbarrow and rolls down a hill. The townspeople are mortified, but Lisa continues to get jobs the following day.8.18) HOMER VS THE EIGHTEENTH AMENDMENT

Alcohol is banned from Springfield after Bart accidentally gets drunk at a town parade. Rex Banner is appointed to replace Chief Wiggum as police chief to enforce the new laws and stop Fat Tony from smuggling. Rex is successful, but then Homer starts to smuggle alcohol. Eventually, Homer ends his bootlegging ends and approaches Wiggum with a plan to expose himself and restore Wiggum’s good name. Homer is about to receive punishment by being catapulted, but he is saved by an impassioned speech by Marge. The liquor ban is then lifted and the town celebrates by getting drunk.8.19) GRADE SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL

Seymour Skinner and Edna Krabappel strike up a conversation at a party and take a romantic interest in each other. They try to keep their affair a secret, but Bart sees them kiss. The following day the couple hears Bart telling his classmates about it and silences him by deleting his permanent records. Bart becomes their go-between for exchanging love notes, but he gets tired of that and exposes Skinner and Krabappel in the janitor’s closet locked in a passionate embrace. The word spreads all over town and Superintendent Chalmers gives Skinner an ultimatum – either end the relationship or face dismissal. Skinner pretends that he is in fact a virgin and the matter is cleared up..8.21) THE OLD MAN AND THE LISA

Mr. Burns loses his fortune in a bad investment. He is not doing well alone and is committed to the Springfield Retirement Castle. Disgusted by his surroundings, he vows to get his fortune back. He then sees Lisa collecting recyclables and remembers her opposition towards him. He believes that the reason for losing his fortune was that he was surrounded by “yes men” and therefore asks Lisa to help him. Lisa introduces Burns to recycling and by collecting these he soon gets enough money to buy a recycling plant. In reality this recycling plant captures all aquatic life and grinds it into to all-purpose goo. Lisa is horrified, but Burns regains his fortune and buys back his power plant.8.22) IN MARGE WE TRUST

Marge is concerned that Reverend Lovejoy does not meet the needs of his parishioners and becomes the new advice giver at the Church. When Marge gains a loyal following, Lovejoy gets concerned that he has become “shepherd without a flock”. Meanwhile, Homer finds an old Japanese product, “Mr. Sparkle”, a dish-washing detergent, with a logo that oddly resembles him. When he calls up the company behind the product, he finds Mr. Sparkle is a composite of two company logos. Marge is unable to help Ned Flanders in a crisis and calls up Lovejoy for help. Lovejoy solves the crisis and gets his congregants’ interest in his next sermon telling the story.8.23) HOMER’S ENEMY

Frank Grimes, a new employee at the Nuclear Power Plant, is a hard-working man who has never been given a break in his life. At work he meets Homer and takes an instant dislike to his poor job performance and attitude. Meanwhile, Bart steps into a tax auction and buys an abandoned factory for a dollar, which he uses to play factory with Milhouse. Homer tries to win Grimes approval by inviting him over for a family dinner. When Grimes sees Homer’s accomplishments and home, he becomes even more bitter. Imitating Homer’s behavior at work, he runs amok and electrocutes himself.08-248.24) THE SIMPSONS SPIN-OFF SHOWCASE

Troy McClure hosts a show which features three ideas for spin-offs to The Simpsons:
Chief Wiggum, P.I. – Chief Wiggum and Seymour Skinner are detectives in New Orleans.
The Love-Matic Grampa – Grampa’s soul is contained in Moe’s Love Tester machine.
The Simpson Family Smile-Time Variety Hour – The Simpsons host a 70s variety show.8.25) THE SECRET WAR OF LISA SIMPSON

Bart is enrolled in a military school after unintentionally pranking the whole town. After seeing the school Lisa decides she wants to join too. Lisa is the first female cadet and therefore gets to stay in her own private barrack. This move creates resentment among the boys at the facility and Bart refuses to speak to his sister. Later, Bart secretly apologizes and helps her train for a test. When Lisa has trouble completing the test Bart publicly encourages her at the expense of his own reputation, and she finally passes the test.

The argument will rage long after the boxset of The Simpsons: Season Nine has been released about when exactly America’s finest television animated export actually peaked. Some arguably, with genuine gusto, that it was a year or two before this series was first shown. Most purists though satisfy themselves that it’s the single digit seasons where the best of The Simpsons, and there’s certainly plenty of gold in this latest set.

SEASON 9 HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE

19731877_723484524525792_8206049530370741217_n9.1) THE CITY OF NEW YORK VS HOMER SIMPSON

Homer allows Barney to use his car when Barney is picked to be the designated driver for that night at Moe’s Tavern. However, Barney disappears for two months with the car, and returns without it. Homer searches for his car, and eventually receives a letter from the City of New York. The family is excited to go there to obtain the car, but Homer, who had had a bad experience in New York when he was younger, is reluctant. After reaching New York City, Homer sees the car parked near the World Trade Center, where he must wait by so that an officer can remove the wheel clamp. He is distracted from standing watch for the police when he has to go the bathroom, and causes him to miss the police officer. Homer gets angry, and leaves the city with the clamp on.9.5) THE CARTRIDGE FAMILY

After a large soccer riot leads to an extended period of mob rule throughout Springfield, Homer decides to forgo an expensive security system in favor of a gun. As Marge disapproves of a gun in the house, Homer takes her to an NRA meeting to sell her on the concept. Marge’s objections continue, finally forcing Homer to agree to get rid of the weapon. Unfortunately, Bart and Milhouse later discover it concealed in the refrigerator. Infuriated and frightened, Marge takes the kids and leaves Homer. With nothing but his gun and his indignation for company, Homer hosts an NRA meeting in his empty house, only to be kicked out of the group when the members themselves acknowledge his reckless and irresponsible treatment of firearms. Thus humbled, Homer seeks out his family to admit his mistake.9.7) THE TWO MRS. NAHASAPEEMAPETILONS

After Marge enters Apu into a bachelor auction, many women find an interest in him. However, Apu soon receives a letter from his mother, regarding the arranged marriage he is supposed to have. He does not want to marry the stranger, and following the advice of Homer, tells his mother that he is already married. Curious, his mother comes to America to see his wife, which Homer says Marge can pretend to be. But his mother soon realizes that she is not actually his wife, making the plans for the arranged marriage to continue. Apu becomes depressed until he learns at his wedding that his arranged wife, Manjula, is actually quite lovely.9.8) LISA THE SKEPTIC

Lisa discovers that a shopping mall is going to be built at a site where prehistoric fossils were found. Afraid of there being more prehistoric items at the site, Lisa complains to the developers and starts an archaeological survey at the site. Late into the dig, Lisa unearths a skeleton with bones that resemble wings, similar to an angel’s. Despite the whole town believing it to be an angel, Lisa takes a sample of the skeleton and has it tested to see if it is one of a human. The results are inconclusive, leaving Lisa still skeptical. After an interview about her beliefs, there is a town riot against the science community. During the riots, the skeleton is stolen. The town finally discovers it on a hillside with the message, “The End Will Come at Sundown” carved into it. However, the entire ordeal turns out to be publicity stunt that was pulled off by the mall’s developers. Surprisingly, the town is not angry, but is instead fascinated by the low prices at the mall.
9.12) BART CARNY

While the family is at a traveling carnival, Bart accidentally crashes Adolf Hitler’s car. To pay off the debts, Homer and Bart get jobs at the carnival by helping with the booths and exhibits, where they befriend Cooder and Spud, a father-and-son carny team. Unfortunately, Homer causes their booth to get shut down, when he does not recognize the bribe Chief Wiggum was asking for. Homer decides to allow the two carnies to stay at his home. The next day, the family goes to a glass bottom boat ride with the tickets Cooder gave them, only to discover their house has been taken over by the two carnies when they return. After brainstorming on how to get the house back, Homer decides to make Cooder a deal: If Homer can get a hula hoop around the house’s chimney, he can have his house back, but if he does not, he will sign the deed of the house to Cooder. However, the family fool the two carnies, and rush back into the house before the two can do anything.9.13) THE JOY OF SECT

After encountering two recruiters of a sect called “The Movementarians”, Homer attends a session that teaches about their sect, where he is brainwashed to join. Homer moves the entire family to their compound, where the entire family, except Marge, is brainwashed. Marge escapes through a dangerous getaway, and finds Reverend Lovejoy, Ned Flanders and Groundskeeper Willie for help. The four manage to kidnap the family back. They are able to persuade Lisa and Bart to not believe in the sect anymore, but are unable to get Homer back, as the sect’s lawyers take him back before they are able to. However, Homer no longer believes in the sect when he arrives, and manages to expose them as fake. The group then disbands, and the family goes back home.9.14) DAS BUS

As the students of Springfield Elementary are being driven to a model UN conference, Otto drives the bus off a bridge after his brake pedal is blocked by a grapefruit. To obtain help, Otto swims off, while the kids are still in the bus. Soon, when the bus is nearly full of water, the kids manage to escape and swim to an island. Once there, the kids find no food, causing Bart to swim back to the sunken bus to get the cooler full of food. Lisa advises everyone to not eat much, as it may be the only food they could have for some time. However, the cooler is found empty the next morning, with the food wrappings discarded around Milhouse, who claims a monster ate it. Lisa champions the charter of the Model UN and insists on giving Milhouse a trial, wherein he is found innocent. The verdict angers the kids, however, inciting violence against Lisa, Milhouse, and Bart, who are forced to flee. The three hide in a cave, but are chased out by a boar, which is soon found out to be the “monster”. The kids kill the boar and eat it, and a narration assures that Moe saves the kids. Meanwhile, Homer starts his own internet company, but it is eventually destroyed by Bill Gates.9.15) THE LAST TEMPTATION OF KRUST

After a rude awakening to his own hackneyed and dated comedy act, Krusty does some heavy drinking and wakes up in front of the Flanders’ house. Bart takes him inside his house and into his room, where Krusty, looking at all the Krusty merchandise, realizes that he has sold out instead of focusing on comedy. Bart invites Jay Leno to help clean up Krusty, and modernize his jokes. However, Krusty’s attempts fail, causing him to announce his retirement. During his announcement, the group of reporters find his tirade against modern comedians hilarious, influencing Krusty to try a hipper, more honest blend of comedy and social criticism. Although he becomes a popular comedian again, Krusty ends up selling out once more when some advertisers bribe him to endorse a car, in return for a free one.
9.16) DUMBBELL INDEMNITY

After several unsuccessful attempts at getting a girlfriend, Moe finally gets one after walking away from a disco with Homer. The woman, Renee, surprisingly finds Moe attractive, resulting in Moe treating her lavishly. After spending too much, Moe’s credit card maxes out, causing him to become desperate for money. He soon devises a plan to have Homer steal his car and crash it to accomplish insurance fraud. Unfortunately, Homer gets caught and ends up in jail. With the insurance money, Moe decides not to bail Homer out of jail, but instead take a Hawaiian vacation with Renee. After finding out, Homer escapes and decides to find Moe for revenge. Meanwhile, Moe confesses the truth to Renee, who is happy at first, but is disgusted with him after his plans to free Homer involve lying again. Renee leaves Moe, then he accidentally starts a fire at his tavern. At the same time, Homer comes to fight Moe, but both faint from smoke inhalation. Finally, Barney comes and saves the two, and Homer allows Moe to temporarily run his bar at the Simpsons’ house.09-179.17) LISA THE SIMPSON

Soon after being unable to solve a brain-teaser that several others at school were able to solve, and forgetting some of her day to day tasks, Lisa learns from Grampa that the Simpsons have a long history of losing their intelligence in late childhood. Lisa soon realizes that she cannot escape genetics, and accepts that she will soon be very unintelligent. After realizing the importance of sharing what you can with the world while you still have the chance, she lies her way onto a news broadcast to deliver a message on treasuring your brain. Homer sees this and, upon learning what Abe told her, attempts to disprove the theory of the “Simpson gene” by gathering every Simpson in the area together to showcase their merits. Unfortunately it is quickly apparent that Homer did not research this project much, as many of his guests prove to be simpletons, deadbeats, and stooges. Lisa’s salvation only comes when she begins to meet the Simpson women, including a doctor who submits that the defective “Simpson gene” is located only on the Y-chromosome. Re-validated, Lisa celebrates that she is once again herself, an event aptly crowned when she finally manages to solve the brain-teaser that so plagued her. Meanwhile, Apu finds out that Jasper has locked himself inside a freezer at the Kwik-E-Mart and decides to turn it into a freak house.9.18) THIS LITTLE WIGGY

When Marge realizes that Ralph Wiggum has no friends, she volunteers Bart to be his friend. Initially unwilling, Bart discovers that Ralph’s father, Chief Wiggum, owns a key that opens every lock in Springfield. The two go out at night and open many places to have fun, but soon encounter bullies Nelson Muntz, Dolph, Jimbo, and Kearney. The four pressure Bart and Ralph to sneak into an abandoned prison, but Bart decides not to when he sees that Ralph is scared. The key is thrown over into the prison by the trouble-makers, causing Bart and Ralph to go retrieve it. While in the prison, the two find an old electric chair, which they turn on to see if it still works, and later go home. The next day, Mayor Quimby announces the prison is reopened, and decides to demonstrate what criminals could face by sitting in the, unknown to the police and the mayor, active chair. Bart rushes to Lisa for help to tell the mayor that the chair is active, leading Lisa to fire a small rocket with a note attached to the prison. The rocket misses and crashes into the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. Mr. Burns responds and, upon realizing the prison has been using free electricity, turns off the power, saving the mayor.9.19) SIMPSON TIDE

Homer is fired from the Nuclear Power Plant following a near meltdown, and decides to join the Naval Reserve. Meanwhile, Bart decides to get an earring. Homer graduates from basic training, and must go of on a mission of war games, but not before taking Bart’s earring, which he disapproves of. Later, on the submarine, Homer befriends the Captain, who leaves him in charge when he goes to check a blocked torpedo. Homer believes the ship is being fired at, and launches a torpedo, accidentally ejecting the Captain. Homer eventually gets the submarine lost, and is considered a traitor by the media. The United States Navy fires at the submarine, causing a leak which Homer stops with Bart’s earring. The submarine is soon surfaced, and Homer is taken into custody by the Navy. However, he escapes any trouble due to the Navy judges having to resign over various scandals that they are involved in. Homer then leaves the Navy with a dishonorable discharge.9.20) THE TROUBLE WITH TRILLIONS

Forgetting to do his annual income taxes until the night they are due, Homer rushes to fill out his forms with false information. Soon after, he is arrested for tax fraud, but makes a deal to work for the FBI for immunity from the IRS’s prosecutions. After a successful operation made by Homer, the FBI decides to have Homer obtain a one trillion dollar bill that is in the hands of Montgomery Burns. Homer leads Mr. Burns to believe that he is a reporter, causing Mr. Burns shows him the bill. The FBI rushes into the mansion and arrests Mr. Burns, but Homer decides to rescue him. Mr. Burns gets the help of Waylon Smithers, and with Homer, the three escape in Mr. Burns’ plane. Looking for an island to buy, Mr. Burns decides to land in Cuba, where the three meet Fidel Castro. Castro does not wish to sell Cuba, but is interested in seeing the trillion dollar bill. However, after he is handed the bill, he decides to not return it. The show ends with the three on a raft back to the United States.Simpsons_09_14_P19.22) TRASH OF THE TITANS

When Homer is unable to take all of his trash to the curb, barely missing the garbage truck, Homer insults the garbage men, leading the family to have their garbage collection service cut off. After the house collects a huge amount of trash, Marge writes an apology letter to the sanitary commission, signing with Homer’s name. However, Homer finds out and goes to city hall to rescind it. Following an angry meeting with the commissioner, Homer decides to run for his position. Homer’s campaigning fails to win much support, until he promises the town that they will no longer need to do any garbage-related work. This causes Homer to win in a landslide. Initially, Homer is able is keep his promise, but he uses an entire year’s budget in a month, causing the workers to go on strike, fearing they will not be paid. Homer makes a deal with neighboring towns to dump their trash in Springfield’s abandoned mines to make money, but when the mines are filled, trash starts to burst out of the ground. The town is then forced to completely move five miles away.9609.24) LOST OUR LISA

When Bart comes home with some novelty items superglued to his face, Marge takes him to the emergency room, spoiling Lisa’s chance to go the Springfield Museum to catch the last day of the Isis Exhibit. Marge forbids Lisa to take public transportation to the museum by herself, but Lisa is able to manipulate her father for his permission to take the bus. However, Lisa takes the wrong bus and ends up in the middle of nowhere. Meanwhile, Homer realizes that he should not have given Lisa permission to take the bus by herself. He rushes to the museum to find her, but she has managed to get downtown after much travel. Near the museum, Homer decides to use a cherry picker to locate Lisa, but the cherry picker loses control and falls into the pier, and floats off to a drawbridge. Lisa sees this, and quickly tells the bridge operator to lower the bridge, which catches Homer by his head to save him. Unfortunately, the exhibit is closed, but Homer promises to break into the museum at night with Lisa, where the two discover one of the exhibits’ objects is a musical boxNatural_Born_Kissers_409.25) NATURAL BORN KISSERS

Homer and Marge go out on their anniversary dinner, but are forced to take the kids. They end up having an unromantic dinner, and lose interest in being intimate later that night. Later, the two must go purchase a new refrigerator motor, but during a rainstorm, their car gets stuck in the mud, so the two rush into a barn. When the farm owner nearly discovers them, the two become excited and have sex. When they return home, they decide to spend a weekend at a bed and breakfast, but when they are there, they find themselves romantically uninspired once again, until a maid discovers them on a bed. They then realize that the fear of getting caught makes them excited. Later, they decide to go to a miniature golf course to have sex in the windmill there, just like they did when they were younger. The people there soon realize there is something inside the windmill, and the two barely manage to escape unseen. However, the people see their underwear, and realize someone was there. To get home, the nude couple steals a hot air balloon, but they accidentally wind up landing on a football field full of people. Homer and Marge travel back home, and are in the newspaper the next day.960With the conclusion of Season 9 the series hit it’s 200 mark, These three seasons here have some the best episodes between them , highlighting the comedy gold that is the Simpsons.

 

 

 

REVIEW: SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES – VOLUME 3

Starring

Tim Daly (Madam Secretary)
Dana Delany (Desperate Housewives)
David Kaufman (Stargate SG.1)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)

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Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Sharon Lawrence (The Ranch)
Lauren Tom (Bad Santa)
Miguel Ferrer (Robocop)
Renée Taylor (The Nanny)
Jack Carter (McCloud)
Brad Garrett (Christopher Robin)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Steve Sandor (The Yellow Rose)
Joseph Bologna (Big Daddy)
Bruce Weitz (Half Past Dead)
Victor Brandt (The Batman)
Mike Farrell (Patch Adams)
Shelley Fabares (Coach)
Joanna Cassidy (Blade Runner)
Michael Dorn (Star Trek: TNG)
Sherman Howard (Superboy)
Carolyn Seymour (Congo)
Nicholle Tom (Gotham)
Edward Asner (Elf)
Scott Menville (Teen Titans)
Diane Delano (Jeepers Creepers 2)
Andrea Martin (My Big Fat Greek Wedding)
Diane Michelle (Robotech: The Movie)
Clyde Kusatsu (Midway)
Peri Gilpin (Frasier)
William H. Macy (Fargo)
Peter Gallagher (The Gifted)
Dennis Haysbert (24)
Gregg Berger (Transformers)
Kevin Conroy (Batman: TAS)
Mathew Valencia (The New Batman Advntures)
Roddy McDowall (Planet of The Apes)
John Glover (Smallville)
Paul Williams (Smokey and The Bandit)
Henry Silva (Above The Law)
Bob Hastings (The Poseidon Adventure)
Charity James (Space Jam)
Corey Burton (Critters)
Jason Priestley (Tru Calling)
Jason Marsden (Hocus Pocus)
Chad Lowe (Unfaithful)
Melissa Joan Hart (No GOod Nick)
Joely Fisher (The Mask)
Bud Cort (Harold and Maude)
Townsend Coleman (The Tick)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Gilbert Gottfried (Critters: A New Binge)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Carl Lumbly (Supergirl)
Sarah Douglas (Superman 1 & 2)
Ted Levine (The Silence of The Lambs)
Michael P. Greco (Bleach)
George Dzundza (Crimson Tide)
Peter Mark Richman (Defenders of The Earth)
Melissa Disney (Superman vs The Elite)
Malcolm McDowell (Star Trek: Generations)
Billy West (Futurama)
Stephen Root (Barry)
Miguel Sandoval (Medium)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
David Warner (Tron)
Olivia Hussey (Black Christmas)
Michael Horse (Roswell)
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (Hot Shots)
Jeff Bennett (Enchanted)
Lisa Edelstein (House)
Charles Napier (The Silence of The Lambs)

3447328-absolute-powerSuperman is everywhere. He’s also been everywhere; for nearly seventy years now the character has been inspiring us with his tales of heroism, adventure, and fantasy. Seventy years is a long time and with a character as popular as Superman it equates to a lot of different interpretations. From the original comic books to a radio series to a handful of television shows, it seems that the Last Son of Krypton has done it all. We are very lucky then to have these DVDs, because in all of that time, throughout all the years, the stories found in Superman: The Animated Series are his best. The fifty-four cartoon episodes (spread across three boxed sets) that make up the complete run of Superman: The Animated Series aren’t just the best take on the character because they’re faithful. Nor is it because they’re animated, for all ages, or very imaginative. It’s for all of these reasons. And several more.3447300-little_big_head_manThe creative team behind the series has plundered the rich mythology of the character and come up with a fantastic take on each and every piece of the Superman universe. For starters, their Clark Kent and Lois Lane interpretation is spot-on. Clark isn’t too much of a goof, nor is he too simple. Similarly, Lois is fiery, funny, and lovely. Seeing the characters come together at the end of Legacy, Part 2 makes for a great cathartic moment. Superman has saved Lois a countless number of times, it is only fitting then that Lois save him when he needs it. The main arc of this season borrows from the comic book universe and brings Darkseid and his homeworld to the forefront. Hinted at earlier in the show, it’s in this third volume that the Lord of Apokolips finally gets his payoff – and his payback. In a trio of two-parters, Apokolips… Now!, Little Girl Lost, and Legacy, Superman fights one of his most ruthless foes in a series of episodes that offer some excellent action, drama, and science fiction fun.maxresdefault (1)While these episodes are very faithful to the mythos, we’ve also got a great selection of original stories that go to prove that with a character like Superman, there is no limit to the stories that you can tell. One of my favorites is Knight Time. When Batman goes missing, Superman pays a visit to Gotham City and tries to find out where his friend has gone. Supes inadvertently ends up masquerading as Batman – dressing up in the Dark Knight’s costume and everything! – and teams up with Robin to solve the mystery of the missing Bruce Wayne. Not only is the episode entertaining, but it’s also got a great sense of humor. Seeing Superman do his best impersonation of Batman is wonderful – Clark doesn’t know which utility pockets contain what, and his attempts at being grim (nodding his head instead of speaking) are great.stas-legacy7Watching these shows you get the feeling that it was during this final stretch of episodes that the show’s producers were finding new ways of playing with the formula that they had designed, and perfected, with both Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series. Not only do these Superman episodes have a lot of two-parters, but we’ve also got some great guest-stars; it seems that this show is the precursor to Justice League. We’ve got heroes, Kyle Rayner from In Brightest Day, and villains, Ra’s Al Ghul in The Demon Reborn, and everyone in between – everyone’s favorite master of the sea, Aquaman in Fish Story. We also get an expansion of the Superman supporting cast when Supergirl makes a welcome appearance in the Little Girl Lost two-parter.Superman_TAS_2x27_001The animation is somewhat more limited when compared to the fancy digital effects that more modern shows exhibit, but the handcrafted style gives the show a wonderful atmosphere. If you pay close attention you’ll notice that a lot of effort has gone into the design of the animation – much more so than most animated series. The framing here is frequently packed. Helping flesh out the world are all of the voice actors; everyone from Tim Daly (as Superman/Clark) to Clancy Brown (as Lex Luthor) is perfect in his or her role. The only thing holding the show back, and this is a small point, is the fact that the stories, due to their child-friendly animated nature, are a little more limited than the best television shows tend to be. Even so, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better adventure series – animated or live action.Superman_meets_SupergirlIn one of the episodes found in this collection, Superman pays his final respects to a recently departed friend. In the graveyard, Superman comes to realize something very important: “In the end, the world didn’t really need a Super man. Just a brave one.” This show gives us a character who is both brave and super. It gives us a real hero. It gives us Superman… as good as he’s ever been.

REVIEW: BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES – VOLUME 3

Starring

Kevin Conroy (Justice League Doom)
Loren Lester (Red Eye)
Bob Hastings (General Hospital)
Robert Costanzo (Total Recall)
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (Hot Shots)

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Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Mari Devon (Digimon)
Melissa GIlbert (House on The Prairie)
John Vernon (Animal House)
Richard Moll (Scrry Movie 2)
Tim Matheson (The West Wing)
Diana Muldaur (Star Trek: TNG)
Lloyd Bochner (Point Blank)
Jeff Bennett (Enchanted)
Paul Williams (Battle For TPOTA)
John de Lancie (Star Trek: TNG)
Manu Tupou (Payback)
Helen Slater (Supergirl)
David Warner (The Lost world)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
George DiCenzo (She-Ra)
William Sanderson (Blade Runner)
Pat Fraley (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Steve Susskind (Star Trek V)
Vernee Watson (The Big Bang Theory)
Bess Armstrong (Jaws 3D)
George Dzundza (Crimson Tide)
Earl Boen (The Terminator)
Neil Ross (Back To The Future – Part II)
Marilu Henner (Taxi)
Roddy McDowall (Planet of The Apes)
LeVar Burton (Star Trek: TNG)
Aron Kincaid (Transformers)
Brad Garrett (Ratatouille)
Jeffrey Jones (Howard The Duck)
Gregg Berger (Transformers)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Arleen Sorkin (Days of Our Lives)
Stephanie Zimbalist (A Timeless Love)
Diane Pershing (Gotham Girls)
Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek)
Megan Mullally (Will & Grace)
Peter Scolari (Gotham)
Bill Mumy (Lost In Space)
Hector Elizondo (The Princess Diaries)
Dick Miller (Gremlins)
Alan Rachins (Dharma & Greg)
Alan Oppenheimer (He-Man)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Roscoe Lee Browne (Logun’s Run)
Henry Silva (Above The Law)
Diane Michelle (Robotech: The Movie)
Alison La Placa (Fletch)
Adrienne Barbeau (Swamp Thing)
Jason Marsden (A Goofy Movie)
Robbie Rist (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Alan Young (The Time Machine)
Kate Mulgrew (Star Trek: Voyager)
Malcolm McDowell (Halloween 2007)
Michael Bell (Transformers: The Movie)
Elizabeth Montgomery (Bewitched)
Bill McKinney (First Blood)
John Glover (Smallville)
Peter Mark Richman (Friday The 13th 8)
William Katt (Carrie)
Linda Gary (He-Man)
Nicholas Guest (Trading Places)
Henry Polic II (Mighty Max)
Bruce Weitz (Half Past Dead)
Andrea Martin (SCTV Network)
Michael Ansara (The Message)
Dan O’Herlihy (Robocop)
Edward Asner (Elf)

MV5BYzBmZjM1MzItNzU2Ny00MzcxLTg2YWYtZmM1NWQ4NzExMmE0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_One of the things Batman: The Animated Series does particularly well is infuse its villains with personality. They’re not a rotation of thugs with a different gimmick and costume each week — the writers go to great lengths to humanize these characters, and although they’re still unambiguously the bad guys, they still manage to be sympathetic at times. “His Silicon Soul”, following up on the two-part “Heart of Steel” from the previous collection, features a robotic duplicate of Batman unable to come to grips with the realization that he’s a machine. It’s surprisingly moving.MV5BYTFiODEyZDQtNmRmZi00ZjlhLWE1NDQtOTY3OWE2ODM0OWQ3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_The title character of “Baby-Doll” was created especially for the series. Think Webster with the race and gender reversed; Mary Louise Dahl was in her twenties but looked like a three-year-old, and she cashed in on that rare disability with a successful and hopelessly bland sitcom. An ill-advised career move derailed her as an actress, and a decade later, she’s systematically kidnapped all of her former co-stars in an attempt to reclaim those happy years. Again, as outlandish as the premise might sound, it really does work. You might smirk at reading about a teary-eyed Baby Doll attempting to fire an already-emptied doll-shaped pistol into a funhouse mirror, but the immeasurably talented writers are gifted enough to eke more pathos than I ever would have thought possible out of that.MV5BOTEwMmFhM2MtN2NmOC00ZGQ2LThmMGMtYTc4YWFjOTllOTY5XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1344,1000_AL_Redemption, whether seized or tossed aside, is also frequently touched upon. “Sideshow” opens with a grueling chase between Batman and an escaped Killer Croc, who manages to stumble upon a remote farm that’s home to a group of former sideshow acts. They offer Croc a chance at an honest life, but old habits die hard. Another example is “House and Garden”. When a poisonous plant-creature starts a reign of terror in Gotham, Batman naturally turns his sights towards the recently-released Poison Ivy. She insists that she’s rehabilitated, and by all accounts, Ivy is happily married and living the mundane suburban life. The investigation continues to point back to her, and the final revelation involves some of the creepiest imagery ever seen in the series.MV5BY2U0ZTAwZDYtNjZjNC00YzVhLWJjMGItZDg5MTMzYTM1MjhjXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1334,1000_AL_Harley Quinn is also featured in a couple of episodes centered around her attempts to stick with the straight ‘n narrow. She’s a fan favorite for a reason, and these appearances are some of the most memorable episodes in this collection. “Harlequinade” is a chaotic team-up with Batman in an attempt to track down The Joker, who’s managed to get his hands on a bomb that’ll turn Gotham into a smoldering mushroom cloud. “Harley’s Holiday” documents her release from Arkham Asylum, and even though she’s determined to leave that life of crime behind her, an attempt to legitimately buy a pretty pink dress at a store spirals into a bad day…a really, really bad day, culminating in being chased by Batman, an underground gambling kingpin, Detective Bullock, and…gulp!…the military.MV5BMWNjYWJmNjQtNzQ3Ny00ZGQ2LTkzNjEtNmQ5OTcyM2EwYzBkXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_It’s particularly great to see the villains interact with one another. That’s part of the fun of “Trial”, which has a reluctant prosecutor attempting to defend Batman in an insane trial when the inmates take over the asylum. The flipside of that coin is seen in “Lock-Up”, when a cruel jailer’s overzealousness gets him fired from Arkham and compels him to hunt down the left-leaning scum he blames for the state of the world. Another stand-out is “A Bullet for Bullock”, an episode in which the slovenly detective is rattled by death threats and reluctantly teams with Batman, and the ending is just one example of how clever the show’s writers can be. “Clever” is also the first word that instantly springs to mind for “Make ‘Em Laugh”, an episode where The Joker co-opts a fellow criminal’s technology to create a small army of fumbling costumed criminals with inane gimmicks.MV5BMmIzZTQ4NmItMjRlMS00ZDBiLTllNzktNDUwZTAyNjI3MWI3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_These episodes introduce a couple of recurring villains ripped from the pages of the comics. Most notable among them is Ra’s al Ghul, who makes his first appearance in a two-parter penned by Len Wein and Denny O’Neil, familiar names to longtime readers of Batman’s four-color incarnation. The centuries-old Ra’s has virtually unlimited resources at his disposal, equally intrigued by Batman’s boundless skills as a detective as he is frustrated by his foe’s determination to disrupt his machinations. Ra’s often lends a Saturday morning serial flavor to the show, from the globe-trotting in his first few appearances to the flared pants of “Avatar”. The charismatic character has such a presence that he’s able to carry “Showdown” largely by himself in an episode that barely features Batman or Robin in any capacity. “Showdown” is set during the westward expansion of the mid-1800’s as Ra’s’ opposition to the sprawling railroads is pitted against scarred bounty hunter Jonah Hex (one of the few DC characters not connected with the Batman mythos to appear on the show). The other noteworthy recurring villain is The Ventriloquist, a fairly timid-looking middle-aged man who seems more likely to be a CPA than a ruthless crimelord. Taken by himself, that seems to be the right impression, but when he has his puppet Scarface on the end of his arm… The Ventriloquist’s first appearance, “Read My Lips”, is one of my favorites of the season, and he returns twice after that.MV5BMjI2OTQ0NTMwNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTM4MTg3MjE@._V1_Several other characters from the comics briefly appear, including Maxie Zeus, the back-breaking, Venom-fueled Bane, and the fairly obscure masked criminals of The Terrible Trio. The majority of Batman’s rogue’s gallery is present and accounted for, with The Penguin, Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, The Mad Hatter, The Joker, Harley Quinn, The Clock King, Catwoman, The Riddler, The Scarecrow (though only as a supporting character; no “fear!” episodes this time around), Two-Face, and Mr. Freeze all wreaking havoc throughout Gotham City at some point or another. Even with the opening titles shifting on disc three from Batman: The Animated Series to The Adventures of Batman and Robin, there’s no discernable drop in quality.MV5BNGI1YTBiYzYtODI2ZS00NzUzLThkMjktMDhkMzI3Yzk5ODAxXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_Batman: The Animated Series does everything right. It doesn’t dumb itself down or resort to hyperkinetic editing to try to appeal to a younger crowd. The retro-styled art design and dark visuals contribute immeasurably to the overall tone of the show, as does the award-winning music. The writing’s consistently impressive, avoiding falling into some formulaic “villain of the week” trap, and the casting choices for its voice actors is incredibly inspired. Henry Silva, LeVar Burton, Dick Miller, Megan Mullally, Brad Garrett, Bill Mumy, David Warner, Elizabeth Montgomery, Jeffrey Jones, Adam Ant, William Katt, and Robert Pastorelli are just a few of the familiar voices contributing to the series for the first time, joining the usual favorites like Paul Williams, Mark Hamill, and Roddy McDowall. These three collections are required viewing for anyone with an interest in Batman, and fans who have picked up the first two collections should certainly consider buying this third set as well.

REVIEW: WAG THE DOG

CAST

Dustin Hoffman (Rain Man)
Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook)
Anne Heche (Spread)
Denis Leary (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Willie Nelson (The Dukas of Hazzard)
Andrea Martin (Black Christmas)
Kirsten Dunst (All Good Things)
William H. Macy (The Cooler)
John Michael Higgins (Stil LWaiting)
Suzie Plakson (Red Eyed)
Woody Harrelson (The Hugner Games)
Suzanne Cryer (Veronica Mars)
Phil Morris (Jingle All The Way)
John Cho (Sleepy Hollow)
Marguerite Moreau (Easy)
Craig T. Nelson (My Name Is Earl
David Koechner (Anchorman)
James Belushi (Red Heat)
John Franklin (Children of The Corn)
Jack Shearer (Star Trek: First Contact)
Dustin Hoffman and Kirsten Dunst in Wag the Dog (1997)
The President of the United States is caught making advances on an underage “Firefly Girl” less than two weeks before Election Day. Conrad Brean (De Niro), a top-notch spin doctor, is brought in to take the public’s attention away from the scandal. He decides to construct a diversionary war with Albania, hoping the media will concentrate on this instead. Brean contacts Hollywood producer Stanley Motss (Hoffman) to create the war, complete with a theme song and fake film footage of a photogenic orphan (Dunst) in Albania.
When the CIA learns of the plot, they send Agent Young (Macy) to confront Brean who convinces him that revealing the deception is against his best interests. The CIA announces that the war has ended, but otherwise maintains the deception and the media begins to turn back to the President’s abuse scandal. Motss decides to invent a hero who was left behind enemy lines, and inspired by idea that he was “discarded like an old shoe” has the Pentagon provide him with a soldier named Schumann (Harrelson) around whom he constructs a further narrative including T-shirts, additional patriotic songs, and faux-grassroots demonstrations of patriotism. At each stage of the plan, Motss continually dismisses setbacks as “nothing” and compares them to past movie-making catastrophes he averted.
When the team goes to retrieve Schumann, they discover he is in fact a criminally insane Army prison convict before their plane crashes en route to Andrews Air Force Base. The team survives and is rescued by a farmer, but Schumann attempts to rape the farmer’s daughter and the farmer kills him. Motss then stages an elaborate military funeral, claiming that Schumann died from wounds sustained during his rescue.
While watching a political talk show Motss gets frustrated that the media are crediting the president’s win to a tired campaign slogan of “Don’t change horses in mid-stream” rather than Motss’s hard work. Despite previously claiming he was inspired by the challenge, Motss announces that he wants credit and will reveal his involvement, despite Brean’s warning that he is “playing with his life”. Motss refuses to back down, so Brean reluctantly has him killed and makes it look as if he had a heart attack. The president is successfully re-elected and a news report about a violent incident in Albania is shown, but it is ambiguous whether this is a true event or simply a continuation of the fictional war.
“Wag the dog” gathers a very good cast to tell a clever story about politics and its close connection to the TV business. Although the story sometimes seems to be topped by real-life events (Clinton-Lewinsky) it still remains a very entertaining flick. This is due to the many great characters and its precise dialogue which delivers a whole lot of sharp little comments on the dirty business of politics.