“The Simpsons” fans, your pleas have been answered: Three years after the last release, the show is returning to DVD.
Creator Matt Groening and executive producer Al Jean announced Saturday that 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment will release the 18th season of “The Simpsons” on DVD this December 5. On the cover: Mobster Fat Tony (voiced by Joe Mantegna).
“The Simpsons” Season 17 was released in December 2014 – and then production halted on any future seasons. Groening and Jean revealed the reversal at the annual “The Simpsons” San Diego Comic-Con panel.
“Matt Groening tried really hard to bring them back, and we’re very happy to say the fans were listened to,” Jean said. “This is the one Tweet I’ve been looking forward to announce.”
The Season 18 release is the only one confirmed, but the show’s producers (and some cast) have already also recorded commentaries for Seasons 19 and 20, in the event that the release calendar continues. Season 18 comprised episodes from the 2006-2007 TV season, and included the show’s 400th episode. (Commentary for Season 18 has already been made available on the FXNOW app.)
A barebones Season 20 DVD was released out of order in 2010 to capitalize on the show’s landmark 20th anniversary. Which means that for collectors looking to at least have the first 20 seasons on disc, that will only leave Season 19 missing.
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“It’s kind of crazy to imagine that they would do 1-18, and they already did 20, and not do 19,” Jean said. “I really want them to do 19 as well. I might even buy some myself!”
That original Season 20 DVD didn’t include any commentary, so Jean hopes a new release would include that.
“At least I hope we get through 20,” Jean said. “Actually, I hope to do all of them. The sales of this will probably tell.”
Fox Home Entertainment never really explained why the sales halted. The nature of slow DVD sales might have been to blame.
“They did make money, they just weren’t making as much as they had,” Jean said. “I don’t think that’s the issue. It’s a time commitment for people to produce them. But I think the fans deserve it… I see people wanting something to hold, they don’t want everything to be digitized. It’s a human quality.”
But it’s also believed the hiatus was enacted in order to help get FXX’s robust Simpsons World app (via FXNOW) off the ground. (That site, available to FXNOW users, includes every episode of “The Simpsons” ever.)
“Each part helps the other,” Jean said. “If people become fans because of ‘The Simpsons’ ride, or the current show, they go back and look at the older shows, or they watch it on FXX. I’m of the belief that a rising tide lifts all boats.”
Jean is also excited to finally have an answer when he’s asked whether the DVDs are returning. Of course, even if they manage to get to Season 20, that will leave another 9, 10 or even more seasons to go.
Joked Jean: “I know whenever I die, I’ll be going, ‘but I still have ten seasons to do commentary!”
“The Simpsons” has been renewed through its 30th season; next year, during the show’s 29th season, it will hit episode 636, surpassing “Gunsmoke” as producing the most episodes ever of any scripted series.
Meanwhile, at “The Simpsons” panel, Groening admitted that Fox generally gave “The Simpsons” free reign – except when someone from parent company 21st Century Fox asked the show to lighten up on its criticism of Fox News Channel. One joke, which featured a faux Fox News banner complaining that it was “not racist, but No. 1 with racists,” seemed to rile someone at the company.
“Then Bill O’Reilly called us pinheads and look what happened,” Groening quipped.
Later, when “The Simpsons'” now infamous 2000 prediction of a Trump presidency was mentioned, Groening led Ballroom 20 in the chant, “Lock him up!” Another producer pointed out a silver lining: On the show, Lisa Simpson became president after Trump.
Guest stars in Season 29 include “Game of Thrones” star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Ed Sheeran, Shaquille O’Neal, Martin Short, and the return of Kelsey Grammer as Sideshow Bob. Jean also said the upcoming season’s couch gags include a crossover with Fox’s “Bob’s Burgers.”
“Now you have no reason to turn your TV off between them and us anymore,” he quipped.