Round 103: Grade School Confidential vs. Lisa’s Rival

Round 103: 4F09 vs. 1F17.

4F09: “Grade School Confidential” (Season 8 / April 6, 1997)
Written by Rachel Pulido
Directed by Susie Dietter
Showrunners: Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein

Homer Simpson driving Bart and Milhouse around in a makeshift lawnmower space shuttle

One of the rare Simpsons episodes that’s both directed and written by a woman, and both did an excellent job. It reminded me of “Bart the Lover,” another strong Bart and Krabappel episode. “Grade School Confidential” tells a great, timeless story that still has room for plenty of funny stuff, and it showcases the wonderful work of the animators and voice actors, too. I find no faults with this one, and I love Homer’s little moments, like his Richard Nixon impression or the legendary “Krabappel? I’ve been calling her Crandall.” run.

  • -Principal Skinner: “Bart, if life has taught me one lesson repeatedly it’s to know when I’m beaten.”
  • Perfect moment between Superintendent Chalmers and Bart in the movie theater:
    -Chalmers: “You think they actually filmed this in Atlanta?”
    -Bart: “I don’t know. I don’t think it’s important.”

1F17: “Lisa’s Rival” (Season 6 / September 11, 1994)
Written by Mike Scully
Directed by Mark Kirkland
Showrunner: David Mirkin

Homer Simpson yelling Never! in front of his mountain of sugar

I must have seen this episode a hundred times, yet I always forget that this is the one with my all-time favorite crazy Homer B-plot: sugar mountain. That scene, and particularity that rant, are where three of the most gifted people in their respective fields come together to create something magical. George Meyer wrote the words, Dan Castellaneta recorded them, and David Silverman animated. Beautiful.

I like Lisa’s story a lot, too. It’s so true to her character, and it gives Bart the nice opportunity of being mischievous while still standing with his sister.

So. This is a wonderful episode, but my gut says I like 4F09 better. And I’ve gotta go with my gut, even if it means losing Homer’s sugar plot.

  • In the dubbed German version, Lisa’s anagram for “Jeremy Irons” is not “Jeremy’s Iron” but… “Jeremy Irons.” Maybe the only time I prefer a dubbed joke to the original.
  • This has one of my favorite DVD audio commentaries, with lots of anecdotes about the Northridge earthquake and David Mirkin making inappropriate jokes at full steam.

The winner: 4F09, “Grade School Confidential.”

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Round 102: When You Dish Upon a Star vs. Boy-Scoutz ‘n the Hood

Round 102: 5F19 vs. 1F06.

5F19: “When You Dish Upon a Star” (Season 10 / November 8, 1998)
Written by Richard Appel
Directed by Pete Michels
Showrunner: Mike Scully

Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin with her Academy Award

-Alec Baldwin: “Honey, why don’t you give that thing a rest? You’re taking the finish off.”
-Kim Basinger: “When you win one, you can take care of it however you want.”

Alec Baldwin’s in the news right now because he wrote something or said something that somebody then wrote about or maybe he tweeted something that the New Yorker then blogged about. Look, I’m not here to talk about Alec Baldwin, but you know, if people happen to search for his name in combination with the term “gay slur” (as Google’s auto-complete suggests many do) and in turn find this website that has nothing to say about Alec Baldwin’s shocking (I guess?) behavior, well, that’s unfortunate. Bad Google!

Anyway, I was in a bit of a bad mood when I watched this episode and I’m still in a bad mood now, so that might tell us something. It’s not panda rape bad, but it’s pretty bad. There are a few funny things I can see making the writers laugh when they came up with it but maybe after the third draft they should have said, You know what? Let’s just not make this episode, after all.


1F06: “Boy-Scoutz ‘n the Hood” (Season 5 / November 18, 1993)
Written by Dan McGrath
Directed by Jeff Lynch
Showrunner: David Mirkin

Barney Gumble, and Bart and Milhouse high on an all-syrup squishee

One of the most memorable Simpsons episodes, no doubt. And it’s only in the context of the tournament that I find flaws with it, but I’ll go into them (hint: it starts with an “H” and ends with “omer is too much of a jerk”) when we see 1F06 again, because…

… the winner is: 1F06, “Boy-Scoutz ‘n the Hood.”

Round 101: Homer’s Odyssey vs. Some Enchanted Evening

Round 101: 7G03 vs. 7G01.

7G03: “Homer’s Odyssey” (Season 1 / January 21, 1990)
Written by Jay Kogen & Wallace Wolodarsky
Directed by Wes Archer
Showrunners: James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Sam Simon

Homer sneaking into Bart's room at night

The first season can be a very strange beast. To take your main character (or at least his father) to the brink of actual suicide is a daring thing to do in any sitcom, but even more so in an animated one. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work here. Both the way there and especially the ‘resolution,’ if you can call it that, are weak, at best, at times even downright messy.

  • I remember having this episode (or a version thereof) on an audio cassette tape (triple redundancy for any readers under 30) that I would listen to before going to bed. Because, you know, children love hearing about fathers wanting to throw themselves off a bridge last thing before they go to sleep. That would never, in no way, mess with their heads, right?
  • Right?

7G01: “Some Enchanted Evening” (Season 1 / May 13, 1990)
Written by Matt Groening & Sam Simon
Directed by David Silverman, Kent Butterworth
Showrunners: James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Sam Simon

Homer Simpson, one red rose in hand, standing in the rain in front of his house

This one’s a lot more coherent than “Homer’s Odyssey,” plot-wise, but the main reason it’s an easy decision for me to have “Some Enchanted Evening” advance to the 128th-final is evidenced by the torrent of screenshots I took while watching it. It’s a beautiful show, as all of Silverman’s episodes are, and I’ll be glad to visit it again in the next phase of this tournament.

The winner: 7G01, “Some Enchanted Evening.”

Round 100: Separate Vocations vs. Das Bus

Round 100: 8F15 vs. 5F11.

8F15: “Separate Vocations” (Season 3 / February 27, 1992)
Written by George Meyer
Directed by Jeffrey Lynch
Showrunners: Al Jean & Mike Reiss

Mayor Quimby polling the electorate.

I enjoyed how dynamic this episode was. Jeff Lynch does some fantastic action-directing, especially in the police car chase and later in the Bart-as-hall-monitor montage, which featured a terrific score, as well. And of course the episode is drawn and animated beautifully – this is the third season, after all.

The story, centered on Bart and Lisa, exploring their characters by putting them in unusual positions, still feels fresh and relevant 22 years after it first aired. It’s always fun to see the kids behave like kids in situations that, while exciting, are not some of the crazy, outlandish things people on TV are thrown into at times.

(Like, I dunno, being stranded on a deserted island or something like that.)


5F11: “Das Bus” (Season 9 / February 15, 1998)
Written by David S. Cohen
Directed by Pete Michels
Showrunners: Mike Scully

The children sit around a camp fire on the deserted island

It’s a very funny episode, but also a very gimmicky one that doesn’t quite hold up to repeat viewings like “Separate Vocations” does.

Homer’s Internet business is a nice little time capsule, and Dan’s reading of “It’s Patty” as he hands Marge the phone is among my favorite things he’s ever done.

The winner: 8F15, “Separate Vocations.”

Round 99: Kiss Kiss Bang Bangalore vs. Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious

Round 99: HABF10 vs. 3G03.

HABF10: “Kiss Kiss Bang Bangalore” (Season 17 / April 9, 2006)
Written by Dan Castellaneta and Deb Lacusta
Directed by Mark Kirkland
Showrunner: Al Jean

Goat sucking on a bottle.

Yeah, well. Season 17’s not out on DVD, yet.


3G03: “Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious” (Season 8 / February 7, 1997)
Written by Al Jean & Mike Reiss
Directed by Chuck Sheetz
Showrunners: Al Jean & Mike Reiss

Shari Bobbins and Barney the Booze Hound sing Margaritaville

I noticed I’m always using  too many superlatives to describe some of the episodes and I want to cut that down… so I have nothing to say about this one.

The winner: 3G03, “Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(D’oh!)cious.”