This thread displayed what was going through my mind as I was watching tonight's episode. I really miss the human touch the show had during it's first several seasons. It looks too... overproduced these days. My favorite part of watching DVDs of older seasons is viewing it frame by frame, and getting those unexpected frames of animation. You don't really see that these days.
I know it's push towards HD necessitates now more than ever, but it still leaves me feeling somewhat cold towards it.
I can't watch the really early ones anymore, not just the animation as I griped about earlier, but the different VAs, the pacing of the episodes, and the stories in general. I can tolerate the latest ones, but the real meat of the Simpsons in my eyes were the "middle" ones. I'm not well versed on the season numbers, but I'd guess the middle 10 or 11 seasons are the ones I feel are truly great. It's too bad they rely on so much CG nowadays.
The show has none of that detail anymore. Everything is so sparse and they just sort of stand around until the next joke. It reminds me of how Matt Groening said you had to give animators cool things to draw.
Homer freaking out is something that would be fun to animate and the quality shows.
Yeah, it was interesting when Homer would still do something like sell the television to pay for family counseling. He slowly went from a sort of believable schlub heading the all American nuclear family to an idiot manchild with a penchant for absurd/surreal behavior, and along the way pretty much acted as a symbol for the direction the entire show was taking.
In a lot of ways King of the Hill picked up the torch for more grounded social satire when the Simpsons dropped it, and likewise Futurama took the more absurd elements to their zenith. Between the two of them there wasn't much left for the Simpsons to do but strike a successful dichotomy, but the show went through a sort of identity crisis and fell into shambles instead. It's varied in quality since then, but never really gotten back to being any better than passable imo.