It might have lost some of its edge after Season 10, but there are moments in Season 16 of The Simpsons that hark back to the show’s golden years. Released on DVD for the first time this month, The Simpsons: Season 16 is a worthy addition to your inevitable Christmas box set binge.
The longest-running US TV series ever at 25 seasons (nope, we don’t know where the time’s gone, either), it’s been eight years since Season 16 of The Simpsons originally aired on TV. Now, viewers can revisit Homer becoming an ordained minister (‘There’s Something About Marrying’), Marge cheating in a baking contest (‘All’s Fair in Oven War’), Bart starting his own t-shirt company (‘Fat Man and Little Boy’) and many more of the beloved yellow family’s capers on a brand spanking new triple-disc set. Themed around popular recurring character Professor Frink, the DVD includes such extras as a trio of bonus episodes, deleted scenes and a table-read featurette.
When Season 16 hits the mark, it’s a riot. Episodes like ‘Don’t Fear the Roofer’, which sees Homer befriend a mysterious man that the rest of the family believe to be imaginary (voiced by Ray Romano), and ‘The Father, the Son, and the Holy Guest Star’, in which Bart is sent to Catholic school and taken under the wing of a charismatic priest (Liam Neeson), are The Simpsons at its inventive, satirical and hilarious best. There’s also the ever-reliable ‘Treehouse of Horror’ episode, which manages to be one of the most entertaining in the show’s history. This installment features excellent parodies of The Dead Zone and Sherlock Holmes, and a wonderfully bizarre segment where a shrunken Simpsons family are sent inside Mr. Burns’ body to rescue an accidentally-swallowed Maggie. Yep – at times, it’s like being back in the nineties again.
Sadly, though, the dud episodes that appear in this collection prevent Season 16 from being one of the show’s classics. Super Bowl-themed ‘Homer and Ned’s Hail Mary Pass’, for example, is nothing short of a mess – crammed with unnecessary celebrity guest stars and jokes that fall flat, the episode is almost entirely void of a tangible plot. Religious spoof ‘Thank God, It’s Doomsday’ and Bart-centred ‘Pranksta Rap’ may contain the odd great gag, meanwhile, but are ultimately forgettable – something no one could accuse those golden-era episodes of being.
The Simpsons isn’t the groundbreaking, controversial series it once was, but it remains a cut above the majority of other TV sitcoms. While it certainly has its low points, Season 16 can be superb entertainment, and is well worth picking up on DVD to snigger at on the sofa over Christmas.
The Simpsons: Season 16 is out on DVD now