Round 52: Realty Bites vs. The Mook, the Chef, the Wife and Her Homer

Round 52: 5F06 vs. HABF15.

5F06: “Realty Bites” (Season 9 / December 7, 1997)
Written by Dan Greaney
Directed by Swinton Scott
Showrunner: Mike Scully

Marge Simpson and Lionel Hutz

vs.

HABF15: “The Mook, the Chef, the Wife and Her Homer
(Season 18 / September 10, 2006)
Written by Bill Odenkirk
Directed by Michael Marcantel
Showrunner: Al Jean

Homer Simpson with his head stuck in the ground.

Me, asked to decide which of the two episodes is “better.”

Tough. I don’t really like either episode. They’re not awful, but they’re far from good. Both have extended performances from recurring guest stars – both good, but Phil Hartman wins over Joe Mantegna any day. 5F06 introduces us to Gil, who is fun to watch if just for Dan doing Jack Lemmon. But Homer is too much of a jerk, the story isn’t all that interesting and I hate all the violence.

HABF15 starts off with an awfully unfunny Otto thing (and one of Harry Sharer’s lesser moments in the series’ history), slightly improves from there but never reaches any levels worth celebrating. A few chuckles for this Godfather and Sopranos fan, but it’s not like those references hadn’t been done.

Usually when I have two great episodes competing I ask myself, if I could only ever watch one of them again, which one would I chose. This time around I’m asking, if I had to watch one of them again (and I do, for this tournament), which would it be.

The “winner”: 5F06, “Realty Bites,” I guess. For Phil.

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Round 51: Bart’s Comet vs. Who Shot Mr Burns? Part 2

Round 51: 2F11 vs. 2F20.

2F11: “Bart’s Comet” (Season 6 / February 5, 1995)
Written by John Swartzwelder
Directed by Bob Anderson
Showrunner: David Mirkin

The dog Santa's Little Helper and the cat Snowball II watching TV at night.

I’m out of town right now, away from the comforts of my desk, and while I brought enough episodes for the next nine rounds with me, I’m not sure how fast I’ll get to watching them. Also, I hate typing on the old laptop, so expect entries to be even more pauciloquent than usual. (Hey, look, I used a fancy word!)

Anyway, “Bart’s Comet.” Perfect episode.


2F20: “Who Shot Mr Burns? Part 2” (Season 7 / September 17, 1995)
Written by Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein
Directed by Wes Archer
Showrunner: David Mirkin

Police Chief Wiggum opening a door.

2F20!

Very funny, as well, but given its unusual format and the fact that it’s a “Part 2,” it was never going to go very far in the tournament. So it’s comforting to know that it loses against a great one.

The winner: 2F11, “Bart’s Comet.”

Round 50: Mayored to the Mob vs. Moe Baby Blues

Round 50: AABF05 vs. EABF17.

AABF05: “Mayored to the Mob” (Season 10 / December 20, 1998)
Written by Ron Hauge
Directed by Swinton O. Scott III
Showrunner:  Mike Scully

Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Fourth Doctor Who, Godzilla and Neil Armstrong signing autographs at Bi-Mon-Sci-Fi-Con.

Click to embiggen.

I’m getting pretty good at stitching together these panning shots. Useless talent #66.

A rather mixed episode. More of it good than bad, but there’s definitely some bad stuff. I didn’t like Homer’s actions and attitudes as Quimby’s bodyguard, but I gotta say I loved seeing him in that black tux. Joe Mantegna’s always a welcome voice, and animation-pro Mark Hamill did a good job playing himself and the bodyguard instructor.

  • “Roger Corman’s Titanic.” Brilliant. Perfect match of animation and sound effects.
  • Never thought Frank Nelson was very funny, never thought Yes Guy was very funny.
  • Good musical number near the end.

EABF17: “Moe Baby Blues” (Season 14 / May 18, 2003)
Written by J. Stewart Burns
Directed by Lauren MacMullan
Showrunner: Al Jean

Moe, Marge and Homer Simpson looking at a diorama of Moe's Tavern.

“I peed my pants.”

After a real stinker of a first act I was ready to kick this one out of the tournament without regret. But then a funny thing happened. And then another. Funny things kept happening.

The ugly stuff first. I talked about the concept of the rubber-band reality before, and how that band had pretty much snapped sometime in the early double digit seasons. We get some of that here, most strikingly with the Venus flytrap luring in Homer with a hot dog.

Then there’s some gross-out humor I don’t really care for. Krusty jumping into a pile of manure, Moe dislocating his shoulder.

But the more the episode went on, the better it got. Whereas the episode above produced a few chuckles here and there, this one had me actually laughing, at things like Homer being in Burns’ carpool, or Moe acting out The Godfather with Maggie’s toys.

I was very impressed with the staging and animation of the fourth act. Some very cool color choices and angles. And I liked the little photo montage at the end, too.

The winner: EABF17, “Moe Baby Blues,” marking the first true win for an Al Jean episode.

Round 49: Hurricane Neddy vs. Bart Gets an Elephant

Note: I’m skipping Round 48, for now. I’ll get to it as soon as the Season 16 DVD-set is released, probably at the end of the year.

Round 49: 4F07 vs. 1F15.

4F07: “Hurricane Neddy” (Season 8 / December 29, 1996)
Written by Steve Young
Directed by Bob Anderson
Showrunners: Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein

Homer Simpson reading off of a card.

“‘I engaged in intercourse with your spouse or significant other.’ Now that’s psychiatry!”

Good episode, lots of laughs. Putting Ned Flanders at the center is a fun idea.

That’s all I got.


1F15: “Bart Gets an Elephant” (Season 5 / March 31, 1994)
Written by John Swartzwelder
Directed by Jim Reardon
Showrunner: David Mirkin

Homer Simpson cleaning up the basement.

“What’s the point of all this cleaning? Are we so vain?

Fantastic. Dan Castellaneta’s on fire, with great readings like the one above or Homer yelling “That wasn’t part!” later in the episode.

Everything happening at the KBBL station is pure gold. My favorite thing is Homer’s little background adventure, entering the studio with a piece of paper, putting on headphones and obviously doing something to get himself kicked out – and enjoying it. It’s all happening in the background and is never explained or commented upon, which makes it so much funnier.

  • “Don’t whisper into the mike.”

The winner: 1F15, “Bart Gets an Elephant.”

Round 47: Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? vs. Bart the Lover

Round 47: 7F16 vs. 8F16.

7F16: “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?” (Season 2 / February 21, 1991)
Written by Jeff Martin
Directed by Wes Archer
Showrunners: James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Sam Simon

Herb and Homer Simpson

That’s not how mirrors work!

A solid, funny, clever early episode, featuring national treasure Danny DeVito as Homer’s long lost brother Herb. It inspired both a TED Talk and an actual car.

  • Abe: “She did things your mother would never do, like have sex for money.”
  • Love that Homer calls Herb “Unky Herb” near the end.
  • – Herb: “Do you understand?”
    – Homer: “Sort of.”
    – Herb: “Homer! Answer me again with self-confidence.”
    – Homer: “SORT OF!”
  • Per the commentary, pretty much every single great line in this episode was pitched by James L. Brooks.
  • Mike Reiss named the company that took over Powell Motors, Kumatsu, after a character from the Japanese movie “Skinny and Fatty.” Skip to 21:10 on the DVD commentary to hear him tell the story, and enjoy his excellent, heart-felt “D’oh!” when he learns the character’s name was actually Komatsu.)

8F16: “Bart the Lover” (Season 3 / February 13, 1992)
Written by Jon Vitti
Directed by Carlos Baeza
Showrunners: Al Jean & Mike Reiss

Homer's postcard to Marge: Maybe it's the beer talking Marge but you've got a butt that won't quit. They got those big pretzels here... five dollars??!!!? get outta here

Even better with Dan Castellaneta reading it out loud.

This episode is not as laugh-out-loud funny as the one above – although it does have very good jokes in it, too – but I still like it better, for the story it tells, for the emotional impact (on both me and the characters) and for how it is all resolved in the end.

I enjoyed Homer’s doghouse subplot, as well – “Marge, you’re a tool of the doghouse makers.” – and the swear jar sequence was fun.

  • How great is Marcia Wallace?

The winner: 8F16, “Bart the Lover.” This marks the first time in the tournament that an episode written (or co-written) by Jon Vitti has won, which really does not reflect his immense talent, at all. It just shows that in a bracket like this one good episodes will inevitably lose against slightly better episodes.

Round 46: Lisa the Vegetarian vs. The Father, the Son and the Holy Guest Star

Round 46: 3F03 vs. GABF09.

3F03: “Lisa the Vegetarian” (Season 7 / October 15, 1995)
Written by David S. Cohen
Directed by Mark Kirkland
Showrunner: David Mirkin

The Meat Council Presents: Troy McLure in an educational film about meat.

Meat and You: Partners in Freedom

Phil Hartman, ladies and gentlemen.

And a whole lot more. This episode bursts at the seams with meaty comedy goodness, perfect performances by the whole cast, beautiful animation and a great script. This one will be hard to beat.


GABF09: “The Father, the Son and the Holy Guest Star” (Season 16 / May 15, 2005)
Written by Matt Warburton
Directed by Michael Polcino
Showrunner: Al Jean

Goat sucking on a bottle.

Confession: I have not seen this episode. I missed it when it first aired and never caught up with it later. The sixteenth season is the next to be released on DVD, but there’s no date for that, yet. Maybe Christmas?

I included the episode in the tournament because it received some favorable reviews and also Liam Neeson is in it, and he’s always fun. But I won’t know until the DVDs come out.

So, what to do? Let’s be honest, even if “The Father, the Son and the Holy Guest Star” is good, chances are really, really slim that I’ll like it better than “Lisa the Vegetarian.”

The winner*, then: 3F03, “Lisa the Vegetarian.” With an asterisk. Whenever I get to see it I’ll write a few words about GABF09. And if it’s better than 3F03, I’ll go back and change the outcome of this round. Promised.

Round 45: Skinner’s Sense of Snow vs. Radioactive Man

Follow and yell at me on Twitter at @SebastianNebel.

Round 45: CABF06 vs. 2F17.

CABF06: “Skinner’s Sense of Snow” (Season 12 / December 17, 2000)
Written by Tim Long
Directed by Lance Kramer
Showrunner: Mike Scully

Lisa Simpson, Martin Prince, and White Weasel.

Me watching this episode.

Why did I remember this as a pretty good episode? Maybe because it’s not quite as bad as some of the other episodes from the twelfth season – you won’t find it in this tournament, but “Homer vs. Dignity” is so god-awful, insulting and horrible that its mere existence almost makes me ashamed to call myself a Simpsons fan – but compared to episodes from the good years this just can’t hold up. It’s not funny. It features a few of the characters’ (especially Bart and Homer) worst qualities. I hated the whole Cirque du Soleil thing and it didn’t get much better from there.


2F17: “Radioactive Man” (Season 7 / September 24, 1995)
Written by John Swartzwelder
Directed by Susie Dietter
Showrunner: David Mirkin

Zuff! Pan!! Snuh! Bort! Pooo! Newt! Mint! Zak!

Swartzwelder and Mirkin combined certainly gives us one of the most memorable episodes of The Simpsons. It’s the obvious winner here, and it will be interesting to see how it fares against more family-centered episodes in the future.

The winner: 2F17, “Radioactive Man.”