You complained. You carped. You cried. So, this holiday season, they’re letting you get physical again.
In what represents an encouraging victory for hard-copy completists, season 18 of The Simpsons will finally be released on DVD, executive producer Al Jean announced during the show’s Comic-Con panel Saturday.
Back in 2001, season 1 of the animated Fox comedy (which is now entering season 29) was released on DVD, complete with bonus features and commentary tracks, and the next 16 seasons followed over the years, including on Blu-ray. But seasons 18 and 19 were never released, and in 2010, a season 20 set was issued with no commentary tracks. In a 2015 Twitter exchange with a fan, Jean explained why The Simpsons had pressed “stop” and “eject” on the good times. “DVD market is dying,” he said. “Did best we could.” He also noted that the writers loved doing the commentary tracks and were still going to offer extras and commentaries via FXX’s Simpsons World, where fans can currently find the entire Simpsons library digitally.
The market might be dying, but it’s not dead: On Dec. 5, season 18 will be released on DVD — sorry, Blu-ray fans, it appears at this point that they are planning to keeping this old-school. (Fat Tony, voiced by Joe Mantegna, who was a surprise guest on the Simpsons Comic-Con panel, will grace the cover.) The hope, says Jean, is that the sales will be strong enough that the studio will decide to follow up with DVD sets for seasons 19 and beyond. Jean revealed that the writers have already recorded commentary tracks for 19 and 20 with this very plan in mind. “This is a great step, so I’m hopeful that this won’t be the last,” he told EW. “They listened to the fans… That’s what did it. That was the main reason.”
Jean wasn’t surprised at all that Springfield diehards were upset when the physical media issues were discontinued. “I understand the completionist mind that really gets aggravated by [the visual of seeing seasons] 1 through 17, blank, blank, 20, on your wall,” he says. “I really felt for them. And [series creator] Matt Groening and I and others campaigned for a long time, saying, ‘We know that these are kind of hard to do, but we’ll do whatever we have to — for free, of course— to get the commentaries done because we think people really, really treasure them… It was just a case of, it slipped below the radar and then the fans brought it up, which I’m very happy about. I love collecting them, too.”
Season 29 kicks off Oct. 1.