In just over a week, you’ll be able to watch standard definition Simpsons as technology and the TV gods intended: the boxy might of the 4:3 aspect ratio.
Disney+ launched with the very tempting opportunity of being able to watch as much Simpsons as one could possibly want (arguably too much, as it was pretty much all the Simpsons), but fans quickly discovered that the company had upscaled the original 4:3 renditions of the first 19 seasons of the show into a widescreen format.
It wasn’t just that this wasn’t the “true” version of these episodes as they had been broadcast that was the issue; Disney’s upscale simply enlarged the episodes to a 16:9 size, completely obscuring some visual background gags—the quiet sort of humour squeezed into every moment of an episode that adds so much to the show’s charms—in the process. It was a shame, but Disney was at least pretty quick to acknowledge that it had Capitol City Goofball’d the whole situation, promising shortly after launch to fix the error in 2020.
Earlier this year, that promise became “by May,” and now, with 11 days of the month to go, we know just how tight the studio is cutting it. As was announced today as part of the streaming service’s day-long news event, the original aspect ratio versions of seasons one through 19 will be restored on May 28. The reveal was done in a very Simpsons way. Executive Producer Al Jean dug up the tweet where he announced pretty much the same thing for FXX’s Simpsons World streaming platform in 2015, and replied with the vital update for Fox’s new masters.
— Al Jean (@AlJean) May 20, 2020
You see what they tried to do there. At least now we’ll be able to watch The Simpsons in a perfectly cromulent ratio.