Round 18: Treehouse of Horror IV vs. Marge on the Lam

Round 18: 1F04 vs. 1F03.

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 devil and Homer Simpson

The talent behind this Halloween episode is amazing, and it shows. (If you don’t have time to listen to every single audio commentary, you should definitely listen to this one: Jim Brooks, Davids Mirkin and Silverman, Conan, Bill and Josh, and Greg Daniels!) Just like ToH V from Mirkin’s second season this one belongs up there in the pantheon.

  • The Devil and Homer Simpson is my favorite segment, and features one of the all-time great Lionel Hutz performances by Phil Hartman.
  • The whole episode is like a big long list of thing’s I have not read or seen: Night Gallery, The Twilight Zone, Fantasia, War of the Worlds (well, I’ve seen the Spielberg movie and loved it, actually, but I never read the book or listened to the radio play), (Francis Ford Coppola’s) Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The Lost Boys…

1F03: “Marge on the Lam” (Season 5 / November 4, 1993)
Written by Bill Canterbury
Directed by Mark Kirkland
Showrunner: David Mirkin

Lionel Hutz watching TV on the Simpsons' couch.

“Oh, sure. Like lawyers work in big skyscrapers and have secretaries. Look at him. He’s wearing a belt! That’s Hollywood for you.”

And again we have two episodes produced in a row, which makes it harder for me to decide, because they’re about equal, quality wise. Maybe it’s because I’ve never seen “Thelma & Louise,” which is heavily referenced, but some of the more outlandish plot and character twists don’t really do it for me. Homer’s a bit too dumb for my taste. As much as I love Lionel Hutz, his stint as babysitter seems a bit forced. And the third act, while beautifully animated, stretches the rubber-band reality of “The Simpsons” too far for my liking.

  • Great animation moment: When Ruth returns the power tool to Marge and she’s immediately pulled to the floor by it.
  • Mention ballet in my circle of friends and you’ll get to hear “Entrance of the Gladiators.”
  • Springfield is very much Los Angeles in this episode. As it is in many episodes.
  • Love Hank’s line reading as Wiggum, giving the dispatcher his current location:
    “I’m on a road. Looks to be asphalt. Trees, shrubs. I’m directly under the Earth’s sun… now.”
  • Commentary trivia: Matt mentions they’re recording on June 17, 2004, so right during production of the 16th season, which will be the next to come out on DVD.

The winner: 1F04: “Treehouse of Horror IV,” by a hair.

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