Woohoo! The Simpsons in 4:3 HD

This could be the best reason to subscribe to Disney+: The Simpsons has been restored to its original 4:3 aspect ratio.

Subscribers can choose between watching the series in 16:9 widescreen, so the image fills the entire screen of modern TVs, or the original aspect in which the episodes were broadcast before their conversion to HD.

They can even toggle back and forth between the two ratios to see how the 16:9 remastering crops the image and spoils some of the sight gags.

However, there seems to be glitch depending on the source device.

On my 2018 iMac, the switching works flawlessly but if I Chromecast it to my Panasonic GZ2000 OLED TV, I can only view the image in widescreen.

Adjusting the TV’s aspect ratio to 4:3 merely squeezes the image.

On my ageing iPad (the original iPad Air), I can’t even view it in 4:3 let alone stream it in this format via AirPlay to my 3rd generation Apple TV.

Presumably, on Disney+ apps built into TVs, like Samsung’s and Sony’s, or Apple TV 4K, this isn’t a problem and hopefully it will be fixed on other devices.

When Disney+ launched in November, fans could watch the first 19 seasons only in widescreen, even though the show didn’t switch ratios and resolution until midway through the 20th season.

Indeed, until now the only way you could view season 20’s 4:3 eps in HD was on the Blu-ray release. That was the most recent season to come out on Blu-ray (S13-19 followed in the US but not here).

A Hollywood Reporter story about the aspect ratio switch points out while Disney+ listened to fans who complained about the forced 16:9 image, it still excludes from its library of Simpsons shows the Stark Raving Dad ep “because Michael Jackson (not officially credited) was the guest star”.

Only fans who bought the S3 box set on DVD can still view it — which is a reminder that no matter how convenient streaming is, it doesn’t offer the permanence of physical media.

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2 Responses to “Woohoo! The Simpsons in 4:3 HD”

  1. Woohoo!! This is the best version!! I actually found some full DVD copies from the Internet that I downloaded just to preserve the 4:3 version!

  2. Very wise, Fsmith. Preserving the correct aspect ratio is crucial.

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