Yeah, so I decided I wanted to do an NCAA Tournament-style bracket to determine which one my all-time favorite episode of “The Simpsons” is.
The bracket, featuring 256 episodes of the show, randomly paired, exists as a spreadsheet, which you can view here. My goal is to write about each match, and how I came to my decision, here, but, let’s be honest, when have I ever seen anything I started on this thing through?
Can’t hurt to try, though. And at least this is something I’m actually passionate about. Not like writing about movies, which I hate just about as much as I love watching movies.
First Round! LABF04 vs. 8F02 (128th-final 1 of 128)
LABF04: “Gone Maggie Gone” (Season 20 / March 15, 2009)
Written by Billy Kimball & Ian Maxtone-Graham
Directed by Chris Clements
Showrunner: Al Jean
I don’t know exactly when this started (maybe I’ll find out during this tournament), and probably it was a gradual thing that can’t be pinpointed to a specific episode, but the first thing I notice (and am bugged by) during these later year episodes is just how much most of the voices are different from the way they sounded in, let’s say, seasons 4 to 12.
I’m not going to summarize the episodes, by the way. If you’re just dying to know what happened here you can read the Wikipedia page linked above or, I dunno, watch the thing? I’ll just list a few things I liked or maybe didn’t like.
- The solar eclipse animation is pretty… pretty, but in the same way the voices throw me off I’ll never get used to these computer animations on the show. Yes, I am a cranky old man.
- I liked the Ratatouille scene. It was fun, well done, a nice nod to Brad Bird (whatever happened to him?) and most importantly, it didn’t end, as I feared, with Angry Homer. I don’t like Angry Homer.
- The riddles were pretty clever and fun, too.
- I love Rube Goldberg machines, but again with the 3D animation…
- The whole nun flashback, and the nuns singing “O Fortuna,” I enjoyed that.
Using the same 5-star rating system I employ on Letterboxd, I’m giving this… 3.5 stars.
8F02: “Treehouse of Horror II” (Season 3 / October 31, 1991)
Written by Al Jean, Mike Reiss,
Jeff Martin, George Meyer, Sam Simon and John Swartzwelder
Directed by Jim Reardon
Showrunners: Al Jean & Mike Reiss
Oh my! Characters are off-model, everybody’s got giant pupils, not everyone has found their voice yet (Lenny!) – this is a long way from the clean, polished look and feel of the computer-assisted years. It’s not quite in that zone (you know… the zone?), yet, but it’s getting there. As Halloween shows go, this is pretty tame. There’s still the wrap-around story connecting all three segments, something the cut-down runtime of the episodes just doesn’t allow for these days. (These days being anything after the mid-nineties, I guess.)
- Pretty solid, joke-wise. I laughed a lot more than on the other episode. (“Oh good, the curtain’s on fire.”)
- Bart’s nightmare is based, sometimes shot-for-shot, on an old “Twilight Zone.” To my shame I must confess that, even though it’s on Netflix Instant, I still haven’t watched a full episode of that show. I saw some of the new “Outer Limits” way back when, does that count?
- My favorite segment is the third, with Burn’s robot. Lots of beautiful animation here.
This one gets 3.5 stars as well. Only, like, 3.54, to be exact.
So, congratulations, 8F02, you are advancing to the first 64th-final! Which will happen… one day. I’m sure. Only 127 more pairings to go til then.