Round 126: Lisa the Greek vs. Treehouse of Horror XI

Round 126: 8F12 vs. BABF21.

8F12: “Lisa the Greek” (Season 3 / January 23, 1992)
Written by Jay Kogen & Wallace Wolodarsky
Directed by Rich Moore
Showrunners: Al Jean & Mike Reiss

The Simpsons 8F12 Lisa the Greek

Sweet little episode. Homer and Lisa stories are always special to me, and this one explores their relationship very nicely.

  • -Homer: “You see, Lisa, your mother has this crazy idea that gambling is wrong, even though they say it’s okay in the Bible.”
    -Lisa: “Really? Where?”
    -Homer: “Uh… somewhere in the back.”

BABF21: “Treehouse of Horror XI” (Season 12 / November 1, 2000)
Written by Rob LaZebnik, Mike Scully, John Frink, Don Payne, Carolyn Omine
Directed by Matthew Nastuk
Showrunner: Mike Scully

The Simpsons BABF21 Treehouse of Horror XI

Only made it half-way through. It’s crazy, I know, but I’m one of the few people who actually can get enough of splattering blood and horrible violence in my cartoon shows.

The winner: 8F12, “Lisa the Greek.”

Round 125: In Marge We Trust vs. The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase

Round 125: 4F18 vs. 4F20.

4F18: “In Marge We Trust” (Season 8 / April 27, 1997)
Written by Donick Cary
Directed by Steven Dean Moore
Showrunners: Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein

The Simpsons 4F18 In Marge We Trust

I liked the idea of giving Lovejoy a bit of a backstory, but the episode lost me somewhere on the way from there to crazy monkeys attacking Ned Flanders. The Mr. Sparkle thing had some fun bits, I guess.


4F20: “The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase” (Season 8 / May 11, 1997)
Written by David S. Cohen, Dan Greaney, Steve Tompkins. Story by: Ken Keeler
Directed by Neil Affleck
Showrunners: Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein

Wiggum, P.I., and Skinner

This episode must feel so weird for anyone under 30.

I love all the different genre parodies and references. Of course this is a stand-out in the series, and comparing it to a regular story gets kinda tricky. But of the two episodes here, it’s my clear favorite.

The winner: 4F20, “The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase.”

Round 124: Whacking Day vs. Treehouse of Horror III

Round 124: 9F18 vs. 9F04.

9F18: “Whacking Day” (Season 4 / April 29, 1993)
Written by John Swartzwelder
Directed by Jeff Lynch
Showrunners: Al Jean & Mike Reiss

The Simpson 9F18 Whacking Day

The way they’re cropping the old episodes for widescreen TVs these days is really getting out of hand.

This episode is so incredibly weird that it’s close to a miracle that it is also so enjoyably good.

It’s not a miracle, though. It’s talent, and hard work. From the writing to the acting, the directing and animation. Every frame, every beat, every joke tells a story about how the people behind the show poured everything they had into making it as great as they possibly could.


9F04: “Treehouse of Horror III” (Season 4 / October 29, 1992)
Written by Al Jean & Mike Reiss (Part 1), Jay Kogen & Wallace Wolodarsky (Part 2), Sam Simon & Jon Vitti (Part 3)
Directed by Carlos Baeza
Showrunners: Al Jean & Mike Reiss

The Simpsons 9F04 Treehouse of Horror III

The great thing about the Treehouses of Horror is that odds are, whenever you revisit one of them you’ll have seen an old horror movie, or an episode of The Twilight Zone, or read something by Asimov that will let you appreciate the references, homages, and sometimes even shot-for-shot recreations in a whole new light.

For me, this time, it’s “King Kong.” I hadn’t seen the 1933 movie until a few years ago, when I finally deemed my home theater setup good enough for it. It’s a fantastic movie. And this is a fantastic Halloween episode.

  • Al Jean, on the commentary track, about the 1976 King Kong remake: “It is amazing how a version made forty years after the original is so much worse and less believable.”

The winner: 9F18, “Whacking Day.”

Round 123: Who Shot Mr. Burns? Part 1 vs. New Kids on the Blecch

Round 123: 2F16 vs. CABF12.

2F16: “Who Shot Mr. Burns? Part One” (Season 6 / May 21, 1995)
Written by Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein
Directed by Jeff Lynch
Showrunner: David Mirkin

2F16 Who Shot Mr. Burns? Part One

I like it.


CABF12: “New Kids on the Blecch” (Season 12 / February 25, 2001)
Written by Tim Long
Directed by Steven Dean Moore
Showrunner: Mike Scully

CABF12 New Kids on the Blecch

Funniest part of the episode. I think it’s the first act break. Maybe it’s the second? They were both pretty great.

I don’t like it.

The winner: 2F16, “Who Shot Mr. Burns? Part One.” Sorry, again, for being so short on words these days. But right now it’s either moving the tournament along without writing a lot, or not posting any new rounds at all.

Round 122: Bart the Fink vs. Guess Who’s Coming to Criticize Dinner?

Round 122: 3F12 vs. AABF21.

3F12: “Bart the Fink” (Season 7 / February 11, 1996)
Written by John Swartzwelder
Directed by Jim Reardon
Showrunners: Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein

Krusty the Clown down in the gutters

Very funny episode. From that great haunted house fake-out, to bankers in gorilla suits, to Sydney Greenstreet, and, my favorite, Bob Newhart’s speech at Krusty’s funeral.

No complaints about this one, but not too much that makes me think it will be a stand-out performer in this here tournament. Seeing Bart and Lisa go off on one of their little investigations is always fun, but there are better examples of that in other episodes, I think. We’ll see.

  • Are you missing Mad About You right now?

AABF21: “Guess Who’s Coming to Criticize Dinner?” (Season 11 / October 24, 1999)
Written by Al Jean
Directed by Nancy Kruse
Showrunner: Mike Scully

AABF21 Guess Who's Coming to Criticize Dinner?

It’s so interesting to me that I react so positively to episodes penned by the duo of Al Jean and Mike Reiss, like “Stark Raving Dad,” “Lisa’s Pony,” “Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala-D’oh!-cious,” but have a much harder time with those by Jean alone. It would be tempting to attest this solely to Reiss’ writing, or even to the balance he brings to their scripts, but I can’t know if that’s true. After all, it’s not just Jean’s solo work in the later seasons I don’t respond to the same way I do with episodes from the first seven or eight years, and the qualities I love are present in most, if not all of the earlier episodes, not just the ones Reiss was involved in.

My main issue with the episode is, once again, that there is not much that makes it distinctly The Simpsons: “Peter Griffin becomes a food critic; Brian helps him write reviews.” That’s about it.

The winner: 3F12, “Bart the Fink.”

My Favorite Frames from Homer Defined

The Simpsons 8F04 Homer Defined

If you’re following me on Twitter you know that, in concert with FXX’s Simpsons marathon, I’ve been posting my favorite shot from each episode.

I’ve been limiting myself to one frame per episode, and in most cases it was an easy pick. But then I got to Mark Kirkland’s “Homer Defined” from season 3. I knew one image wouldn’t be enough to demonstrate just how beautiful this episode is. So here’s just a little sample:

8F04b

8F04c

8F04d

The Simpsons 8F04 Homer Defined

8F04h

8F04g

8F04i

8F04j

Round 121: Treehouse of Horror XIX vs. Bart the Daredevil

Round 121: KABF16 vs. 7F06.

KABF16: “Treehouse of Horror XIX” (Season 20 / November 2, 2008)
Written by Matt Warburton
Directed by Bob Anderson
Showrunner: Al Jean

KABF16

Season 20? I don’t have that! That’s not online! Is it good? Did I think it was good? Did I even see it? I think I did, when it first aired? There’s a one minute clip of it online. I watched it. Made me wish I watched “Peanuts” instead.


7F06: “Bart the Daredevil” (Season 2 / December 6, 1990)
Written by Jay Kogen & Wallace Wolodarsky
Directed by Wes Archer
Showrunners: James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Sam Simon

The Simpsons 7F06 Bart the Daredevil

Fun episode. My favorite part is definitely Lisa’s school recital. There are a few minor things that will probably mean it won’t stay in the tournament until the final rounds, but here it’s the clear winner.

The winner: 7F06, “Bart the Daredevil.”