by: Jay Carlson
Proper aspect ratio has always been something of a passion for hardcore film and TV buffs. Back in the dark days of the 80’s and 90’s, VHS releases either straight-up cropped the image to fit home televisions or employed pan & scan which meant the focus shifting from one side of the image to the other. The only way to avoid this see a film in it’s original aspect ratio, the way the filmmaker intended, was to have laserdisc player and a top of the line TV due to the 4:3 nature of most televisions. Most consumers rejected the widescreen presentation and complained about the black bars on the top and bottom of their screens.
Studios finally acquiesced to film buffs and began releasing Widescreen versions of their films at the end of VHS and the beginning of DVD. Then televisions began evolving from their 4:3 aspect ratio to a more traditional widescreen format. Great, right? Well, yes, but one victim of a more traditional widescreen format was the older 4:3 TV shows. In order to avoid people complaining about black bars, this time on the left and right of the image, older 4:3 TV shows became victim of what feature films endured for years, with the top and bottom of the image being lopped off to fit snuggly in our new fancy new LED and LCD TV’s.
Simpsons fans have been among the most vocal for bringing the early seasons back to their original aspect ratios and Disney has listened, promising in April that they heard fans complaints and would be working to restore the show back to it’s original squarish glory. As of today fans can see the show as it originally aired on Disney+.
This change can be seen on all seasons prior to 2010 and in some cases jokes lost to the re-formatting can be seen once again. One thing that won’t be seen though, is the 1991 episode Stark Raving Dad featuring an uncredited Michael Jackson playing a man Homer meets in a mental institution who thinks he’s Michael Jackson. The episode was pulled from circulation and did not make the jump to Disney+ after Leaving Neverland was released in 2019.
What are your thoughts? Are you excited about the switch back to the original aspect ratio? Let us know in the comments!