Disney+ is still doing a major disservice to The Simpsons that needs to be rectified. When the streaming service launched last year, it had a lot to offer by way of content, and it is constantly adding more from movies to TV, especially with all of the former Fox properties that it picked up following their acquisition of the company. The Simpsons was included in the latter category, much to the delight of longtime fans of the series. However, this commitment to the program has led to a passionate outcry over how the show is being presented, leading many to ask: when Disney will finally fix The Simpsons?
When the show began in 1989, it was presented on television screens in a 4:3 aspect ratio. Naturally the images were designed to fit those dimensions, so when the common format became 16:9 the show had to adapt to that. It did by 2009, but older episodes retained their older style of presentation in order to avoid impeding upon the visual gags of the show. The previous option for streaming the show, Simpsons World, gave viewers the option to view these older episodes in their original form, while also leaving the 16:9 aspect ratio as a choice. Disney+ has yet to catch on to this, leaving viewers with no choice but to watch the series in a 16:9 format.
This doesn’t seem like a big deal in theory, but the complaint is founded on the fact that this stretching of the image cuts off a lot of what is seen in each frame. The Simpsons is known for its important background elements and jokes in addition to what is happening centrally. By cutting off a lot of the scene, many classic moments lose their additional meaning. This means first-time viewers of these older episodes will miss out on a lot of what makes The Simpsons one of the most entertaining, and prophetic, programs of its time.
Not to mention another change that Disney+ has made, which is their remastering of many older episodes. The visuals being cleaned up has caused some of the first few seasons of The Simpsons to lose a bit of their visual charm, which made up for the so-so narratives. For as rough as cell animation may look compared to what is being produced today, it helps situate early Simpsons within their time. This is all a matter of preference, as viewers will not necessarily miss out on integral story information or gags due to the HD presentation. However, a lot of what makes the show so special is its longevity, so showing its age can only add to the experience of watching.
The big question in all of this is when will Disney catch on and come up with a solution? The honest answer is rather vague, as the company has stated that changes will come early this year, 2020, but they have yet to give a date as to when they can be expected to drop. It is not out of the realm of possibility to speculate that change will come with the international release of Disney+, but this is only a suggestion. The Simpsons is a staple of American television and is one of the most well known series globally, so it would only be right to enjoy it in the most proper format and presentation, maybe even in its entirety someday. Hopefully the House of Mouse will fix things up sooner rather than later.
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