FXX has a serious problem with its 'The Simpsons' marathon

By Daniel S Levine,

There is a serious problem with FXX’s The Simpsons marathon that fans of the beloved animated sitcom should be worried about, especially if they don’t have the DVDs.

The marathon, which began Thursday, features every single episode of the series and will run 12 days. Thankfully, the network is actually running the original broadcast versions, not the trimmed syndicated editions. While that means you will get every audible gag Matt Groening, James L. Brooks and their team of writers came up with, you won’t get every visual gag.

This is because FXX is following the horrible practice of cropping 4:3 square programs to fit a 16:9 HD television. The network is not stretching the picture, but lopping off the top and bottom. As Indiewire and The Verge pointed out over the weekend, this means that you miss some of the visual gags in the early shows.

Now, this wouldn’t be so much a problem if most of The Simpsons was composed in the 16:9 format. But the fact is that Groening’s show didn’t make that transition until 2009, halfway through season 20. That means that the best episodes from the series will be butchered.

Admittedly, this does sound like a silly thing to complain about, but it is a big deal. Would you want to look at a picture of your family with the heads chopped off? Would you watch The Sound of Music if you knew half of Julie Andrews’ sweeping run through the valley wouldn’t be visible to you? How would you like to miss half of the final battle in Star Wars? Even Argo is screened on premium cable networks cropped.

This is an issue that you do have to deal with daily, because cropping is now back in style. There’s nothing wrong with black bars on your television and there’s no reason why networks should be wasting time getting rid of them.

By the way, FXX isn’t going to listen to our calls for change. As Variety reported, the first six and a half hours of the marathon gave FXX the best day in its young history, with 1.01 million viewers.

image of Matt Groening courtesy of INFphoto.com



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