It’s hard to find anything nice to say about the last 10 seasons of The Simpsons, and the fifteenth season is a perfect example of why that is. In the series’ heyday, the adventures of everyone’s favorite yellow family were so funny, so well written, that you didn’t even need to watch. Listening to an episode of the seventh or eighth seasons is enough to keep you in hysterics for the entire duration. The writing was just that could, and it was consistent throughout each and every episode. From there, the show began its decline with a few dud episodes entering the mix with greater frequency each season. By the fifteenth season you had about 1 good, solid episodes for every 9 disappointing ones, and in a season of 22 episodes, that’s bad news.
Based on The Simpsons Movie, which was a return to relatively good form for the franchise compared to the many long years of disappointment that preceded it, it’s clear the writers have always been capable of the spontaneous and alarmingly witty jokes that made it so popular in the first place. Why we don’t get that in the weekly output of individual episodes is what made the series so maddening. Those draughts might make the few episodes that are surprisingly sharp all the more enjoyable, but by no means do those exceptions make up for the failings of 20 episodes of tedious, unfunny one-liners.
For the fifteenth season, the bright spots like “The Fat and the Furriest” give longtime fans of the series a glimpse of the writing the series used to be known for as it’s filled with random moments that are truly Simpsonian in their delivery. The concepts of other episodes in the season have merit, but the execution is often flawed and the writing horrendously dull and contrived. Instead of fresh new stories, the fifteenth sees the writers’ continued overuse of juxtaposing the Simpsons characters into famous stories and historical events (a practice they rely on even more in later seasons), which produces witty remarks on par with a 4th grade class clown’s quips of the first slightly humorously related thing that comes to mind. It’s comedy that anyone could write and it’s disappointing at the least and disgraceful (considering the show’s history of comedy) at the most.
DVD Bonus Features
Despite its overall lack of quality, the season 15 set comes loaded with featurettes and the series’ typical Matt Groening intro and audio commentaries on each episode. On top of that there are deleted scenes, three production featurettes, and a number of episode-centric extras offering insight into the writing process.
"The Simpsons: The Fifteenth Season" is on sale December 4, 2012 and is not rated. Animation, Comedy. Directed by Mark Kirkland, Steven Dean Moore. Written by James L. Brooks, Matt Groening. Starring Dan Castellaneta, Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith.