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Hollowed-Out Human Head

Last week, the complete sixth season of “The Simpsons” was released on DVD. According to many geeks—myself included—this is possibly the single greatest season of the single greatest television program ever broadcast, so my anticipation for its release was tremendous.

Previous “Simpsons” DVD releases have taught me to expect certain shortcomings (usually dumbfounding interactive menu decisions, including custom animations that delay response time by minutes), but they never fail to deliver superbly in the most important area: pristine digital transfers of the series’s beloved episodes with insightful commentary by the people that created them. In this regard, the Season Six set is no different, and they even seem to have finally figured out how to design a DVD menu whose background animation doesn’t obstruct its functionality.

So of course they had to screw it up in some other way.

Simply put, the packaging this time around is just absurd. Previous seasons have come packaged in a sturdy multi-paneled gatefold housed in an equally sturdy cardboard slipcover. Each set is a different color, but their look is otherwise consistent, and they sit well together on a shelf. Season Six, on the other hand, comes encased in a flimsy plastic clamshell in the shape of Homer’s head, hinged at the bottom and embossed to make his features bulge. Inside, the discs are housed in four jewel case trays held together and hinged by tape (!) and glued to a glossy cardboard cover that wraps around them. None of the clamshell’s contents are actually connected to it in any permanent way, so the whole thing threatens to fall apart when opened. For something that is supposed to represent and accommodate posterity, it is a mess.

Anticipating a reaction to what can only be described as “bad design,” an insert is included with the set:

For all those that fear change…

For all those anal-retentive nerds who like their DVD boxes to line up perfectly on the shelf…

For all those who dislike storing their digital media inside a hollowed-out human head, have we got a deal for you:

Just call 1-800-223-2369 for a very derivative, old-style, just-like-before box with almost nothing new or creative to annoy or terrify you. Enjoy!

Good news, but it begs the question: Why not just do it right the first time?