The moment ”Simpsons” geeks have been waiting for has finally arrived. Sure, season 1 was where it all began, and seasons 2 and 3 delivered some undeniable gems, but this is it — this is where the golden age of The Simpsons: The Complete Fourth Season officially begins. To put it all in perspective, think of it this way: Season 4 is arguably the greatest season of the greatest TV comedy of all time. The lineup of episodes is like staring down the batting order of the 1927 Yankees — minus Joe Dugan. (Hey, he hit only .269!) There’s the show’s best-ever musical episode (”A Streetcar Named Marge”), the best-ever Phil Hartman appearance (as huckster Lyle Lanley in ”Marge vs. the Monorail”), and — according to EW’s top 25 guide — the plain ol’ best episode ever (”Last Exit to Springfield”). Why, even the clip show is funny, and it’s…well, a clip show!
And the episodes are as touching as they are humorous. When Bart runs a videotape in slow motion to show Lisa how ”you can actually pin-point the second when [Ralph Wiggum’s] heart rips in half” in ”I Love Lisa,” you don’t really know whether you’re shedding tears of laughter, empathy, or both — you just know that it’s damn good any way you slice it. Another treat from this episode: the return of Sideshow Raheem, whose solitary line (”I wouldn’t”) had been tragically excised in the syndicated version. In a set filled with the usual bonus material of commentary tracks, deleted scenes, and storyboards, such unearthed treasures are the most welcome extras of all.