128th-Final, Round 9: Lisa’s Pony vs. Treehouse of Horror IV

128th-final, round 9: 8F06 vs. 1F04.

8F06: “Lisa’s Pony” (Season 3 / November 7, 1991)
Written by Al Jean & Mike Reiss. Directed by Carlos Baeza
Showrunners: Al Jean & Mike Reiss

The Simpsons 8F06 Lisa’s Pony

vs.

1F04: “Treehouse of Horror IV” (Season 5 / October 28, 1993)
Written by Conan O’Brien, Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein, Greg Daniels, Dan McGrath, Bill Canterbury
Directed by David Silverman. Showrunner: David Mirkin

The Simpsons 1F04 Treehouse of Horror IV

(Every time I come on here and apologize for not posting anything for so long and then vowing to do a better job from now on it only gets worse, so I’m not even gonna do that today.)

Whenever a Halloween special comes up on the tournament I go in thinking, well, even if it’s good I’m not gonna pick it over a decent regular episode, right?

Right. But this was a close one. “Treehouse of Horror IV” really is that good, and if I’m ever to rank the Treehouses o. H. I’m sure it will be near the very top. But I’m not doing that today.

The winner: “Lisa’s Pony,” of course.

128th-Final, Round 7: Flaming Moe’s vs. My Sister, My Sitter

128th-final, round 7: 8F08 vs. 4F13.

8F08: “Flaming Moe’s” (Season 3 / November 21, 1991)
Written by Robert Cohen. Directed by Rich Moore, Alan Smart
Showrunners: Al Jean & Mike Reiss

The Simpsons 8F08 Flaming Moe's

vs.

4F13: “My Sister, My Sitter” (Season 8 / March 2, 1997)
Written by Dan Greaney. Directed by Jim Reardon
Showrunners: Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein

The Simpsons 4F13 My Sister, My Sitter

The winner: 8F08: “Flaming Moe’s.”

I like “My Sister, My Sitter” a lot, and especially Lisa’s story. Her struggle to prove herself a responsible and reliable babysitter feels very true to her character, and Bart makes the perfect foe. Homer and Marge’s visit to the Springfield waterfront promenade offers some fun sight gags, but this really is Lisa’s episode to carry, and she does it well. The way the episode wraps up is a tiny bit clunky, but that can be said of “Flaming Moe’s” as well, I suppose.

It’s easy to overlook (or even embrace) the lack of a perfect resolution in “Flaming Moe’s,” because everything leading up to it is just so masterfully constructed. I love that you really don’t need to know anything about the characters and their relationships going in – the episode flawlessly sets up Homer and Moe’s friendship and then rivalry. And of course the acting and animation is on a level that is so much higher than anything else on television then. Or now.

128th-Final, Round 1: Treehouse of Horror II vs. Lisa’s Date with Density

128th-final, round 1: 8F02 vs. 4F01.

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

The Simpsons 8F02 Treehouse of Horror II

vs.

4F01: “Lisa’s Date with Density” (Season 8, December 15, 1996)
Written by Mike Scully
Directed by Susie Dietter
Showrunners: Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein

The Simpsons 4F01 Lisa’s Date with Density

It’s Halloween, and Phase 2 starts of with one of the greatest Treehouses of Horror that will promptly exit the tournament because it doesn’t stand a chance against the 22 minutes of pure perfection that is “Lisa’s Date with Density.”

The winner: 4F01, “Lisa’s Date with Density.”

Round 128: Bart on the Road vs. Bart’s Friend Falls in Love

Round 128: 3F17 vs. 8F22.

3F17: “Bart on the Road” (Season 7 / March 31, 1996)
Written by Richard Appel
Directed by Swinton Scott
Showrunners: Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein

Homer and Lisa Simpsons roasting marshmallows over a bucket fire in the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant.

Been a while since the last round, sorry. I actually watched these episodes last month but then I got super busy, and later when I wasn’t busy I kinda forgot about it, and then maybe subconsciously I didn’t want to write this entry because it means that after 128 rounds the first phase of the tournament is over, which in turn means that I am old, and so are you. We’re all old, people. No way around it.

“Bart on the Road” is pretty much perfect. We’ve got an immensely fun main-plot (“Grammar Rodeo? We’re going to a Grammar Rodeo?”), and a sweet Homer-and-Lisa subplot to boot. I’m not a huge fan of the Bart-as-a-courier-shipping-eyeballs-to-Hong-Kong ending, but that’s a minor gripe.

  • Lisa: “I knew it! Because why would they have our National Rodeo in another nation?”

8F22: “Bart’s Friend Falls in Love” (Season 3 / May 7, 1992)
Written by Jay Kogen & Wallace Wolodarsky
Directed by Jim Reardon
Showrunners: Al Jean & Mike Reiss

Sad Milhouse

Fantastic. My favorite bits:

  • That whole Raiders of the Lost Ark opening sequence. Great work from the animation and sound departments.
  • Skinner’s Vietnam stories. Again, it’s the dramatic animation that makes this so powerful. (Well, that and Harry’s performance.)
  • “Fuzzy Bunny’s Guide to You-Know-What”
  • -Lisa: “According to Eternity magazine you can lose weight through subliminal learning. That’s where an idea is subtly implanted in your head without you even knowing it.”
    -Homer: “Oh, Lisa, that’s a load of rich creamery butter.”
  • Great Itchy & Scratchy. Short and to the point.
  • -Milhouse: “How could this happen? We started out like Romeo and Juliet but it ended up in tragedy.”

The winner: 8F22, “Bart’s Friend Falls in Love.” Tough decision, though. “Bart on the Road” is one of my favorite episodes, as well.

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.”

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 118: 24 Minutes vs. Bart the Murderer

Round 118: JABF14 vs. 8F03.

JABF14: “24 Minutes” (Season 18 / May 20, 2007)
Written by Ian Maxtone-Graham & Billy Kimball
Directed by Raymond Persi
Showrunners: Al Jean

Goat sucking on a bottle.

Yeah, I’m not gonna lie. I haven’t seen this one in seven years, and since it’s not out on DVD or streaming anywhere, yet, I can’t really tell you anything about it. It’s season 18, so there’s probably a lot of Homer falling down or hitting his head or having his crotch punched by Jack Bauer. Maybe Lisa uses her one line in the show to sarcastically praise the writers for having the great idea of cross-promoting another FOX series.


8F03: “Bart the Murderer” (Season 3 / October 10, 1991)
Written by John Swartzwelder
Directed by Rich Moore
Showrunners: Al Jean & Mike Reiss

The Simpsons 8F03 Bart the Murderer 8F03d

They don’t do those kinds of contrasting shots anymore, do they? They don’t do a lot of the things on display in this episode anymore, I guess.

Even if “24 Minutes” (which I’ll revisit as soon as it shows up on DVD or online) turns out to be some kind of season 18 masterpiece, I doubt that I’ll like it better than “Bart the Murderer,” which is just so damn great and funny and beautiful.

  • -Marge: “Bart, your father and I don’t want you doing that. Homer, say something.”
    -Homer: “How much does it pay?”
    -Bart: “Thirty bucks a week.”
    -Homer, scoffing: “I make more than that.”

The winner: 8F03, “Bart the Murderer.”