Monday, October 24, 2005

The Simpsons One Step Beyond Forever: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family...Continued Yet Again

I am, what the kids call, a Simpsons fan. It easily falls in to my All Time Top 5 Television Shows ever list. It has a rotating slot with Cheers for the Number 1 spot on that list.

When The Simpsons moved from it's Sunday night slot to Thursday night, throwing the gauntlet at The Cosby Show in a no-holds bar grudge match, it split my family apart. Mom and Dad stayed in the living room in front of the main TV with the Huxtables, while my brother and I huddled together in the back bedroom watching the Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie.

I’ve been taping The Simpsons for as long as they’ve been on. I’ve got a shelf dedicated to warn VHS recordings of the show. New episodes, syndicated reruns, with commercials, commercial free and several dubbed in French from the time my wife spent in Montreal. It was with great pleasure that I met the news that FOX was releasing each season on DVD.

When we spent 10 months in Strasbourg, France and were without television, we spent our lunches, suppers and free time watching DVDs on the laptop computer. Only the first four seasons were out at that time and we wore them out. Having already spent the last 10 years+ watching these episodes, we continued to watch the Simpson shenanigans on an almost daily basis.

I must admit that after about 6 months of those episodes we did get a little tired of them. At about two dozen viewings of each episode though, that’s not a bad track record for a TV show.

For any fan of the show the Complete Guides to Our Favorite Family series is indispensable. Each book has covered several seasons of The Simpsons in the minutest of details.

The Simpsons One Step Beyond Forever: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family...Continued Yet Again covers seasons 13 and 14. It is the best companion piece you’ll ever find to the series, and nearly as good as having every episode, uncut and restored on DVD.

The layout is similar to the previous books. Every episode for these two seasons is fully covered giving plot synopsis and the best quotes. All of the movie/music/TV/literary references, both obvious and obscure, and listed as well as a section dedicated to “the stuff you might have missed.”

The Simpsons are what creator Matt Groening calls the first VCR television show. There are so many quick sight gags in each episode – be it a church marquee reading “if you were pastor you’d be home right now” to the Simpsons staying at the Second Best Western hotel – you have to rewind and pause the VCR, er DVR to catch them all. That is, unless you have this book which captures every gag in every episode.

Along with episode guides there is the completely listing of every uttering of Homer’s “D’oh” or “Mmmmm” (mmmmm…unexplained bacon), couch gags, song lyrics and virtually anything you’d ever want to know about the show.

Sure, seasons 13 and 14 do not contain the best episodes ever. They even generated an influx of jumping the shark accusations. I certainly yelped out a few groans over less than stellar episodes. However, there are still a good number of classic episodes in these season (The Blunder Years where, under hypnosis Homer regresses back to his 12th year and winds up screaming like a child – for hours; or How I Spent My Summer Vacation with Homer going to Rock n Roll camp – Mick Jagger “Homer, its only rock n roll camp” Homer “But I like it” – immediately come to mind.

One Step Beyond Forever continues the excellent tradition of documenting every nuance of one of the greatest shows to hit television…ever.

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