Round 8: Sideshow Bob Roberts vs. Raging Abe Simpson and His Grumbling Grandson in ‘The Curse of the Flying Hellfish’

Round 8: 2F02 vs. 3F19.

2F02: “Sideshow Bob Roberts” (Season 6 / October 9, 1994)
Written by Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein
Directed by Mark Kirkland
Showrunner: David Mirkin

Smithers as Deep Throat

This is another great example of how “The Simpsons” can be appreciated on multiple levels. I first saw the episode when I was a 14 year old kid somewhere in Germany. I didn’t know who Rush Limbaugh was, or Willy Horton, or what it really meant to be “Democrat” or “Republican.” (True story: On the eve of the 1992 presidential election, somebody asked me who I wanted to win and I said “Bush, because Clinton looks like a pig.”) I hadn’t seen “All the President’s Men” or knew much about Watergate. Still, I enjoyed the episode a lot, and I still do, today. Recognizing all the stuff the show references adds a great deal to the viewing experience, but being ignorant of them doesn’t take anything away from it.

  • “My question’s about the budget” is something I still say whenever I or somebody else goes off on a long rant that doesn’t seem to have any point to it.
  • Love the campaign ads. It’s basically a choice between incompetent and evil. (So… nothing has changed, really.)
  • “I can’t believe a convicted felon would get so many votes and another convicted felon would get so few.”

3F19: “Raging Abe Simpson and His Grumbling Grandson in ‘The Curse of the Flying Hellfish’” (Season 7 / April 28, 1996)
Written by Jonathan Collier
Directed by Jeffrey Lynch
Showrunners: Bill Oakley & Jeff Weinstein

Bart Simpson diving for treasure.

Some beautiful animation in this one, and hand-drawn, at that. Not too thrilled about all the retconning, but the (Sgt. Rock inspired) flashback to WWII was pretty funny, and Burns, as usual, makes for a good villain.

I love that “The Simpsons” can make an episode centered entirely around a secondary character like Grandpa. I enjoy family-centric episodes more, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate it when the show strays from the familiar.

The winner: 2F02, “Sideshow Bob Roberts.” But I really want to point out how beautiful the direction and animation in 3F19 is. (And if you’re interested in how they did it, I recommend you listen to the episode’s audio commentary, where Jeff Lynch and David Silverman talk a bit about it.)


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