Today marks the 30th anniversary of one of television's biggest set of characters. A quick drawing before a meeting, Matt Groening would introduce the world to The Simpsons. They made their debut on April 19, 1987 on The Tracey Ullman Show. Animated by Klasky-Csupo, it followed Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. A lot has changed since then, and as the shorts went on, they made progress on animation, voicing as they continued on and eventually becoming their own show. A quick warning, which I will do for every review of whatever show I'm reviewing, there will potentially be spoilers, so try to watch an episode however you can.
For their first short, Good Night, it's a basic concept. The parents say good night to their children. However, kids have imaginings of their what their parents say. Keep in mind for these shorts for anyone new to them is that the family's characteristics are not what you think of now these days. It might feel a little weird hearing Bart ask Homer a serious question that isn't sarcastic. Lisa's thoughts of bed bugs is something that a child might be afraid of. Who wasn't afraid of sleeping in their own room?
That being said, the animation does look very crude. It was really Klasky-Csupo's first real effort and they would improve it more and more until their departure at the start of the 4th season with leftover episodes from the 3rd production season. Some might find it hard to listen to some of the voices. Lisa still sounds the same. I think Bart was a matter of consistency and perfecting it when the shorts were new. Homer is a case of imitation as Dan Castellaneta went for a Walter Matthau approach. Then again, he is a different kind of parent compared to the show and delivering the very first joke of the franchise. Marge's voice comes off sounding like a grandmother in this first short. Luckily, improvement is a key and it was a work in progress as the shorts went on, even into the first few seasons of the TV show.
You are going to get a few chuckles from the kids reactions in an otherwise okay short.
Final Score: 6 out of 10.
On a final note, the best chance you are going to find these shorts are on YouTube. The Tracey Ullman Show hasn't been run for a very long time in reruns in the United States and a good majority of the shorts have not appeared on any DVD of The Simpsons. Fans should persuade Fox to do a disc of all the shorts. Stop by this upcoming Tuesday with a review of the next two shorts, Watching TV and Jumping Bart. Happy viewing.
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