Simpsons marks shift to HD with new opening sequence

LONDON - After 19 years and more than 430 episodes, 'The Simpsons' has moved into high definition, marking the change with an update of its iconic opening titles, which have not changed since the show's second season in 1990.

The first HD episode, called 'Take my wife, please' will air in the UK on Sky1 and Sky1 HD on February 22 at 7pm, but was shown in the US last night.

The opening showing the family's whistle-stop tour through Springfield still resembles its predecessor, starting with splitting clouds and an angelic chorus, Bart writing on the chalkboard and Lisa's saxophone solo, but a number of changes have been made.

On top of the move into HD, the credits now show bullies Jimbo and Kearney sawing off the head of the Jebediah Springfield statue, which falls onto a hapless Ralph Wiggum; the school bell rings and Bart skateboards out of the doors of the school and lands on a pile of leaves being raked by Groundskeeper Willie, revealing a drunken Barney Gumble underneath.

Homer is shown leaving the power plant, and Lenny is seen in the background changing a sign counting the plant's "days without accident", only to be startled by the end-of-shift whistle and fall off a ladder on top of Carl.

A number of other changes have been made, which roused bloggers last night into compiling a definitive list.

However, two things remain the same, as they have for nearly two decades: Bart's scribbling on the chalkboard, which last night read "HDTV is worth every penny" and the final couch gag, which found them chasing their couch through Venice, the Taj Mahal and outer space.

As the family sits down to tune in, their television set is shown as a new flat-screen HD unit, which promptly falls off the wall before the show begins.

Now in its 20th season, 'The Simpsons' is the longest-running US sitcom, animated series and primetime series and has won 24 Emmy Awards.


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