The Simpsons Christmas 2 review by Mike Long

Following the nearly pointless The Simpsons Gone Wild, Fox gets back on-track with its highly-questionable theme compilation releases of The Simpsons with The Simpsons Christmas 2. While it is still odd that Fox would release there DVDs when most fans are going to buy the season sets, at least this one has a cohesive theme...sort of.

The Simpsons Christmas 2 contains the following episodes:

"Homer vs. Dignity" (From Season 12, Original airdate: 11/26/00) -- The fact that the backseat of his car has no floor-board forces Homer (voiced by Dan Castellaneta) to face that fact that The Simpsons are having financial problems. After his visit to a financial planner (not panther) gets him nowhere, Homer decides to approach his boss, Mr. Burns (voiced by Harry Shearer), for a raise. But, his attempts to "wow" Mr. Burns go awry, and Homer soon finds himself acting as Mr. Burns' "Prank Monkey", which means that he does humiliating things in public and gets paid for it. But, when Mr. Burns wants to sabotage the Springfield Christmas parade, Homer must choose between money and his pride. This is certainly a mediocre episode. Yes, some of the pranks are funny ("Good heavens, man, that's Karl!"), but it's essentially a one-joke show. And anytime that The Simpsons attempts to make the villainous Mr. Burns seem even more evil, things usually backfire. It's much better when he's played for laughs.

"Dude, Where's My Ranch" (From Season 13, Original airdate: 4/27/03) -- (You know something odd is going on when a "Christmas" episode originally aired in April.) Homer decided that he can write his own Christmas carol and composes a song about how much he hates his neighbor, Ned Flanders (voiced by Harry Shearer). When guest star David Byrne gets a hold of the song, it becomes an overnight success. Quickly growing tired of the song, The Simpsons decide to take a vacation to a dude ranch. Once there, Lisa (voiced by Yeardley Smith) develops a crush on a young ranch hand (voiced by Jonathan Taylor Thomas), while Bart and Homer attempt to destroy a beaver dam in order to assist a local Native American tribe. OK, I'll admit it, any episode where Homer is attacked by a group of angry beavers has got to be good. This one contains some solid jokes and a nice nod to The Lord of the Rings. And the ending, where the family learns that they can't escape from David Byrne, is satisfying.

"Skinner's Sense of Snow" (From Season 12, Original airdate: 12/17/00) -- It's the last day before Christmas break and a terrible blizzard hits Springfield, however, Principal Skinner (voiced by Harry Shearer) decides to keep Springfield Elementary open. Unfortunately, the snow piles up and the kids get trapped inside the school. While Homer and Ned Flanders attempt to rescue the children, Bart (voiced by Nancy Cartwright) leads a revolt against Skinner and the kids take over the school. This is a classic episode which contains many great lines. The co-mingling storylines of the kids in the school and Homer & Ned in a makeshift snowplow come together quite well, and the ending is classic. This is that rare episode where the ensemble cast works to the show's favor and no one character hogs the spotlight.

"'Tis the 15th Season" (From Season 15, Original airdate: 12/14/03) -- Despite getting a nice gift from his Secret Santa at work, Homer doesn't return the favor. And when he suddenly comes into a large sum of money, he treats himself to a ridiculous present. While watching "Mr. McGrew's Christmas Carol", Homer realizes that he's been very selfish. So, he sets out to do as many good deeds as possible, quickly surpassing Ned Flanders as Springfield's nicest person. This infuriates Flanders and soon he and Homer are battling to see who can be the most charitable. For a latter era episode of the show, this is pretty good, and the "Mr. McGrew" cartoon must be seen to be believed, as it accurately lampoons the real "Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol". Also, there is a nice homage to "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" during the finale.

While three of the four shows have very little to do with Christmas, this is still a good compilation. Fox made a wide decision in choosing episodes from Seasons 12, 13, &15, as it will apparently be quite some time before the boxed sets for those seasons are released. Unlike the last collection, none of the episodes here are complete failures and even "Homer vs. Dignity" has its moments. The inclusion of "Skinner's Sense of Snow" makes the collection worthwhile and I still laugh when I hear Homer say, "I hope it was Flanders."

The Simpsons Christmas 2 comes to DVD courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The four episodes contained here are all presented in their original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. As the shows are no more than four years old, they all look very good. The colors are outstanding and there are no overt defects from the source material. The animation is stable for the most part and the image rarely stutters. There is some minor edge enhancement, but not enough to be truly distracting. The shows all feature Dolby Surround audio tracks. This provides clear dialogue and an occasional surround sound effect from musical cues or crowd noise.

The only extras on the DVD an animatic and a picture-in-picture storyboard for the first act of "'Tis the Fifteenth Season".

8 out of 10 Jackasses

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