Sixteen seasons into a series, you’d think it would lose its ability to surprise and make you laugh. But The Simpsons isn’t your average TV show, and sixteen seasons in it’s still pretty darn funny. The Simpsons: The Sixteenth Season compiles the episodes that ran during the 2004-2005 television season (man, that’s almost a decade ago!) Besides being a funny run of episodes, it also featured two of the most unusual guest stars you’d expect on an animated sitcom: Thomas Pynchon, the reclusive novelist, and Stephen Hawking, the world renowned physicist who’s confined to a wheel chair and communicates through an electronic voice machine. That the series could lure these two men into their mayhem and make them funny is a credit to the great writing staff of The Simpsons.
Imaginative writing has always been the show’s strong point, and season sixteen is no exception. This is the season that finds Marge (Julie Kavner) imagining what her life would have been like if she’d pursued life as a journalist (“She Used to Be My Girl”), Bart (Nancy Cartwright) defies Homer (Dan Castellaneta) and Marge by attending a hip-hop concert and pretending to get kidnapped (“Pranksta Rap”), Springfield legalizes gay marriage (“There’s Something About Marrying”), Marge’s sister, Selma (Kavner, again), adopts a baby (“Goo Goo Gai Pan”) and the rapture comes (“Thank God It’s Doomsday”). We also get a vision of the future where Lisa (Yeardley Smith) and Millhouse (Pamela Hayden) are an item when Professor Fink (Hank Azaria) creates a machine that shows everyone what’s going to happen in a the years to come (“Future-Drama”), which features a cameo by Bender from Futurama. And of course there’s the annual “Treehouse of Horror” episode.
I haven’t watched The Simpsons regularly in nearly twenty years, so getting the opportunity to catch up on my favorite cartoon characters with these complete season collections is always a treat. So much time has passed that I can’t tell you whether the show was funnier back in the day. Watching the episodes in this 16th season, I can attest that I laughed out loud throughout each episode. Somehow, the writers, artists and the actors continue to make the show fresh after all these years. If you haven’t checked out the show in a while, this is as good a season to start as any.
The producers of The Simpsons Complete Seasons on DVD and Blu-ray have become masters when it comes to providing bonus material for their fans, and The Sixteenth Season is no exception. Every single episode in this collection includes commentary by cast and crew. In addition there are deleted scenes, informative featurettes, and a bonus episode from a previous season on each disc.