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From it's first airing on the Tracey Ullman show The Simpsons has always been good, but what really turned it into TV gold was the decision to give the program a full 30 minutes (well 22 and a bit really, but then there's always the adverts).

This DVD is the latest in a series of discs that bring random groups of episodes together based around a common theme. That's where this disc falls down first of all - it claims to be the "Greatest Hits". With a program as long running and as successful as the Simpsons the odds on people choosing these same episodes as their own "greatest" is fairly slim.  Do I agree with the choices made... read on and find out.

The Episodes
Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire
First aired as the Simpsons Holiday Special, this episode is the first ever full-length episode. After the family's Christmas present fund is spent on Bart's tattoo removal and Homer's bonus is cancelled desperate action is needed. Unbeknownst to the rest of the family Homer takes a job as a store Santa. As ever this doesn't quite pan out but Homer ends up getting a present for the whole family.

Simpsons, The: Greatest Hits
Like most of the first season episodes the quality of the animation is inferior and the voices and artistic style have still yet to bed in. However, the ground is set for the future, back then Lisa wanted a pony and she still wants one now. Not one of the best episodes but given it was the pioneer episode it deserves a place on the disc.

Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadasssss Song
So he doesn't join the geode crowd at Show-and-Tell Bart takes Santa's Little Helper to school. Predictably the dog runs amok - note the Alien parody - which culminates in Principal Skinner getting fired. In a rather weak episode Bart joins forces with Skinner to help him reclaim his job seeing him as the lesser of two evils. This episode is certainly one of the weaker ones - I can only assume the fact that it was episode 100 is what gets it onto this disc.

Trash of The Titans
When a stubborn Homer allows his front yard to turn into a garbage dump it's surprising that he is appointed Sanitation commissioner.  Predictably he busts the budget and his scheme to solve the problem causes the townspeople to take drastic action. Steve Martin and U2 members Bono, The Edge and Adam Clayton provide guest voices.

Simpsons, The: Greatest Hits
This episode was supposed to be special - it was deliberately held back from airing so that it could be episode 200. What it actually is a perfect example of what is both good and bad in the modern day Simpsons. We have singing (usually bad in my opinion), guest stars (often great, as equally often awful) and some of the most contrived plotlines anywhere. A definite hit, miss or maybe episode.

As an additional note, the word "wanker" is used twice in this episode. The censors originally allowed it because American's simply don't use the word. On British television it was dubbed out but appears in this release - the only reason I can think it got a 12 rating if I'm honest - especially strange as even the "Too Hot for TV" collection was only a PG.

Bart gets an F
If Bart doesn't pass history he has to resit the 4th grade. By striking a deal with resident nerd Martin Price he attempts to get the required grade but these plans backfire - Is a last-minute deal with God his only hope? “Old Red” could ruin Bart’s life.

Simpsons, The: Greatest Hits
This episode is supposedly the highest rating episode of The Simpsons ever, and unlike the previous 2 episodes is actually worthy of a place on this disc. A look into Bart's psyche makes this episode more cerebral than normal too.

Lisa's First Word
A flashback episode reveal the early struggles of the Simpsons. Toddler Bart is desperately jealous of the attention new born baby Lisa is getting and is obviously as much of a terror at two as he is at 10 (his perpetual age during the episodes proper). Homer is happy mind you, the Soviet boycott of the '84 Olympics means he has Krusty Burgers coming out of his ears.

Again one of the better episodes and probably my personal favourite on the disc, although most Simpsons connoisseurs would probably go for the previous episode. Some great parodies in the episode too and the Olympic references are inspired.

Video
The actual picture quality of the episodes isn't great if I'm honest but that's probably down to the source material. Grain levels are quite high and the overall definition leaves a lot to be desired, but as mentioned above the original source for some of these episodes was not great originally. The colours are vivid enough but it doesn't inspire like some of the Disney animated stuff does. Compression artifacts are nowhere to be seen and edge enhancements are also non-existent. The Christmas episode, being the first is particular poor and the aspect ratio seems slightly different to the others - note the screenshot in this review.  All episodes are presented in good old 4:3.

Simpsons, The: Greatest Hits
Audio
Presented in Dolby 2.0 the Audio is exactly the same as it's always been broadcast. No complaints here, especially as the dialogue is clear throughout. The musical moments are also played out clearly and left me with little to grumble about. The absence of any sound on the Menu screens was disturbing mind, I wasn't 100% sure my amp was working at this point.

Extras
The "Extras" included aren't really worthy of the name and are merely adverts for six of the other Simpsons collections available on DVD. To proclaim them as "Extras" is actually a bit underhand in my opinion.

Overall
First up I have to say that this collection shouldn't really be called the Greatest Hits at all. Possibly something about them being milestone episodes perhaps.  Widely recognised classics like "Call of the Simpsons" and "Flaming Moe's" should be on a disc like this.  In its favour, you do get 5 episodes compared to the usual 4 on these discs but overall I find it hard to recommend this disc especially as 2 of the episodes also appear on the Season One and Two collections. Roll on a Sideshow Bob collection I say.


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