The Simpsons: Season Ten

"Very Good"

The Simpsons: Season Ten Review


By the end of the 1990s The Simpsons, the former enfant terrible of Rupert Murdoch's once upstart Fox Network, was well into its mature middle period of cultural acceptance. Earlier seasons (the first full episode aired back in December 1989) had seen a lot of attention paid to Bart's supposedly dangerous antisocial tendencies. But throughout the 1990s, the show had honed its satire and firmed up its roster of stellar voice actors, turning what had been seen first as the animated equivalent of Married With Children into something of a national institution. Seasons 8 and 9 had provided some of the show's greatest episodes, like "Homer's Enemy" (a devastating stab at American lassitude featuring Homer's nemesis Frank Grimes) and "Lisa the Skeptic" (where consumerism and religion get a similarly brutal treatment).

The 23 episodes of Season 10, broadcast between August 1998 and May 1999, reveal a show securely positioned both as money-making endeavor for Fox and well-regarded repository for smarty-pants satire. The show's writers, one of TV's greatest collections of comic minds since the stellar days of Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows, know exactly what notes to hit, and they hit them over and over again; meaning, in short: lots of Homer being an unthinking idiot. Homer could save Grandpa's life with a kidney transplant, but he's too scared of the operation and keeps running away, ala the climax of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Homer becomes a bodyguard. And so on. But all this attention also means that the writers are constantly feeding Homer the best lines ("Are you sure this is a sci-fi convention? It's full of nerds."), though Bart gets plenty of one-liners as well ("Dad, you make a great hippie; you're lazy and self-righteous!").

The downside of The Simpsons' popularity at this stage is that unavoidable level of comfort which comes from success, not to mention a desire to please all their constituencies. For instance, "Sunday, Cruddy Sunday" should have been a beaut of an episode simply for the fact that it features a walk-on by the boss, who introduces himself as "Rupert Murdoch, the billionaire tyrant" (it is one of the ironies of the age that the godfather of right-wing media rage also bankrolls mainstream TV's most stridently liberal show). But this is lost amid a flurry of celebrity walk-ons and lazy jokes. It was around this time that not only did the show start losing its status as untouchtable -- read: everyone stopped expecting every episode to be a masterpiece -- it also developed the bad habit of building episodes around celebrity guests, who were practically never as amusing as they were meant to be.

In retrospect, it's fascinating to see how little the show has become dated since the late '90s, with only the occasional (and unfunny) Bill Clinton or guest appearance by a then-married Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin truly revealing the sign of the times. For the most part, little has changed, with the show still getting by not just on Homer's stupid schemes and blowhard idiocies but also on its seemingly bottomless repository of inside cultural references. While these can be grating (a Hunter S. Thompson quip in the "Viva Ned Flanders" episode seems slotted in just to gain cool points), they can pay off ("You liked Rashomon." "That's not how I remember it."), particularly in "Mom and Pop Art," one of the show's most gratifying eps. Amidst Homer's accidental acceptance as a producer of rage-filled outsider art, the episode concocts a knowing satire -- but also warm appreciation -- of modern art and includes one of the show's best cameos of all time: a kleptomaniacal Jasper Johns.

The four-disc DVD set includes just about everything fans would want, from multiple extra features, animation showcases, deleted scenes, and original sketches, to multiple-person audio commentary on every single episode; they even included commercials starring characters from the show (though that last part borders on excessive).



Facts and Figures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Dominic Polcino, Mark Kirkland, Bob Anderson

Producer: , , Sam Simon

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Free State of Jones Movie Review

Free State of Jones Movie Review

Since its true story is still so timely after some 150 years, we can forgive...

Deepwater Horizon Movie Review

Deepwater Horizon Movie Review

This reunion of actor Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg feels like a natural successor...

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Movie Review

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Movie Review

Ransom Riggs' bestselling novel is appropriately adapted into a movie by Tim Burton, the gothic...

Get Back Movie Review

Get Back Movie Review

Roger Appleton's documentary 'Get Back' looks into the music scene that come out of Liverpool....

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Advertisement
Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.