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Question of the Day
Through a four-disc set, viewers get 25 episodes of the Fox show packaged with six postcards of the Simpsons’ inspired album art and an introductory booklet (based on a Rolling Stone design) for each episode to navigate the intricate release.
Among the 22-minute gems found in the set, I most enjoyed the “Treehouse of Horror” extravaganza (punctuated with an interesting take on the origin of Halloween), Krusty the Clown’s work with Jay Leno in “The Last Temptation of Krust” and the Emmy-winning 200th episode, which features an appearance by U2 and Steve Martin as the sanitation commissioner.
Best extra: Creator Matt Groening and his production gang always offer one of the best DVD experiences out there, and Season 9 is no exception.
In addition to clever navigation menus, optional commentary tracks for every show and plenty of deleted scenes, viewers get animatic and storyboard comparisons shown against a “picture-in-picture” presentation of the featured shows (delivered with the help of the angle button on the controller).
In a few episodes, animators use a telestrator — the gizmo that football game commentators use to sketch plays on top of a TV image — to give some background on the scenes. Then there’s “Trash of the Titans” dubbed in Polish — it’s “doskonaly,” as my Warsaw brethren might say, meaning “excellent.”
Read all about it: Now in its 14th year, Bongo Comics continues to deliver a monthly Simpsons comic book ($2.99 each).
‘SpongeBob SquarePants: Season 4, Volume 2’
(Paramount Home Entertainment, $36.99)
Most folks know by now who lives in a pineapple under the sea, but do they realize that this animated poriferan has delighted them with his Bikini Bottom shenanigans for seven years?
A new DVD set offers the latest exploits of SpongeBob and the gang through 20 episodes compiled on a pair of discs that encompass the second half of the fourth season of the Nickelodeon show.
Let’s not discuss the annoying trend of media companies to package half a season’s worth of shows together and not the entire season. Instead, let’s just relish the collection of 12-minute nuggets that highlight a hilarious, waterlogged universe loaded with strange characters Looney Tunes would admire.
Some of the best episodes on the disc include “Karate Island,” an eye-watering homage to Bruce Lee’s “Game of Death”; “New Leaf,” with the irascible Plankton and Mr. Krabbs in the limelight; “Squidtastic Voyage,” which mocks the sci-fi classic “Fantastic Voyage”; and the totally silly “Wigstruck,” which finds SpongeBob fascinated with a powdered wig.
The extras: Compared to other cartoon legends’ DVD releases, such as those of the Simpsons and Family Guy, SpongeBob’s bonus content is lamer than a crabby patty without the secret sauce and pickles. It is the barest of bare bones, my friend, with just a five-minute behind-the-scenes featurette (hosted by an idiot named Pickboy), five 30-second shorts and a music video.
Read all about it: Nick Magazine ($3.99 each) offers a pull-out comic-book section right in the middle of every issue, and some over the years have been devoted to the exploits of SpongeBob. The comics section is also a great place to check out some underappreciated comic artists such as James Kochalka, Dan Abdo and Sam Henderson, who offer strips in many of the issues.
About the Author
A graduate of Northwestern University with a degree in communications, Joseph Szadkowski has written about popular culture for The Washington Times for the past 17 years. He covers video games, comic books, new media and technology.
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