I've been a Simpsons viewer since the day it began (and pretty much enjoyed most of them, even through the so-called lean years), so imagine my surprise when I sat down to review Season 13 ... and realised that I had never seen an episode.
Imagine, then, my joy at being able to enjoy an entire 22 episodes of factory-fresh Simpsons, even though they were were made almost a decade ago. And even though some of the cultural references are a little dated (Bush was still in office, for one), there's still an awful lot to laugh at and enjoy here. As always, this season of The Simpsons features a stellar line-up of guest stars: Pierce Brosnan, Matthew Perry, Jane Kaczmarek, R.E.M, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, George Takei, Paul Newman, Richard Gere, Ben Stiller, Jon Lovitz, Reese Witherspoon, Dennis Weaver, Olympia Dukakis, Stan Lee, Carmen Electra and Joe Mantegna as Fat Tony, to name most of them.
And, as always, there are some standout episodes – the annual Treehouse of Horror Halloween special is a corker, with terrific riffs on Sex and The City and the Harry Potter films. Other first-rate eps are The Parent Rap, where Homer and Bart are sentenced to be shackled together; She of Little Faith, where Lisa becomes a Buddhst; Jaws Wired Shut, where Homer breaks his jaw; and Poppa's Got a Brand New Badge, where Homer takes over the Springfield police department. And yes, it's just as terrrifying as you'd expect it to be. All in all, a pretty decent season of this long, long-running show.
EXTRAS ★★★★ The Simpsons DVD box sets never skimp on the extras, and once again the show's makers have come up trumps. There are audio commentaries on EVERY episode; an introduction to the season from creator Matt Groening; deleted scenes; animation showcases; sketch galleries; commercials; and special featurettes such as Ralphisms, The People Ball and Blame It On The Monkeys.