Woo Hoo! Simpsons Season III Hits DVD

Even after 14 seasons on the air, we still can’t get enough of Homer, Bart, Marge, Lisa and Maggie Simpson. That’s why we have a feeling there will be a stampede to DVD stores this week as the Third Season collection of Matt Groening’s popular animated series is released on DVD.

Featuring all 24 episodes from the 1991-92 season, this four-disc collection features such memorable episodes as “The Otto Show,” “Bart the Murderer” and “Like Father, Like Clown.” The guest roster for this season was pretty impressive too: Phil Hartman, Joe Mantegna, Jackie Mason, Magic Johnson, Danny De Vito, Aerosmith, Spinal Tap, Sting and Michael Jackson were among the featured voices.

“In addition to the great guest voices, one of the biggest draws of this collection is the fact that we have commentaries by the show’s actors such as Dan Castellaneta and Nancy Cartwright,” series executive producer Al Jean tells Animation Magazine Online. “The third season was a great one because the show had already been established and characters were hitting their strides, so we were having a lot of fun.”

Jean believes the reason the toon has been doing so well on DVD (the last two seasons generated over $100 million), is because of the show’s extremely loyal fans. “These are the viewers who want to know everything about each episode and love to have the DVDs in their collection,” he adds.

The Simpsons: Third Season DVD features the customary Easter eggs, commercials, sketches, audio outtakes, a jukebox item, as well as Spanish subtitles, and is priced at $49.98.

The series, which just recently took home its 19th Emmy (and is up for two more this September), will kick of its 15th season this October. The opener, titled “Father of Professor Frank,” features guest voice actors Jerry Lewis, Jennifer Garner and Oscar de la Hoya. “It’s an homage to Jerry Lewis’ Nutty Professor,” says Jean, “Frank is a lot like Jerry Lewis anyway.”

Other highlights of the new season are the family’s visit to London (with the voices of Frasier‘s Jane Leeves, British Prime Minister Tony Blaire, and Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling), the return of Homer’s ’60s fugitive mom (portrayed by actress Glenn Close), Maggie’s experiences at a pre-school for brilliant children, (American Idol’s sharp-tongued judge Simon Cowell voices the admissions officer), and a special musical episode in which Lisa runs for class president (a suitably twisted take on Evita).

Jean says that after so many years with the show, he’s still thrilled to be connected to Springfield’s famous family. “It’s a great job, and it’s wonderful to know that people love it,” he adds. “It’s also a show with a great structure. When an idea is a good one, you just know you can do a great epiosde. The trick is coming up with 24 great ideas that haven’t been doen before.”

And no, a Simpsons movie is definitely not out of the question! “We have a deal to do The Simpsons movie, but nobody wants the show to go downhill, so that’s why we still don’t know when we’re going to do it. If you look back, you realize that there were so many TV shows that went downhill because they decided to do a movie based on the series. That’s why we don’t want to do that with The Simpsons!”

If you happen to live in Los Angeles, make sure you stop by at the Virgin Megastore at 8000 Sunset Blvd. this evening (7-9 p.m.). Harry Shearer, the voice behind Springfield residents like Ned Flanders, Mr. Burns, Smithers and Rev. Lovejoy, and series director David Silverman will be on hand to sign copies of the new DVD and meet and greet fans.