128th-Final, Round 4: Homer and Apu vs. Sideshow Bob Roberts

128th-final, round 4: 1F10 vs. 2F02.

1F10: “Homer and Apu” (Season 5 / February 10, 1994)
Written by Greg Daniels. Directed by Mark Kirkland.
Showrunner: David Mirkin

1F10 Homer and Apu

Recorded in 2004, the DVD audio commentary for this episode holds a lot of wisdom from David Mirkin, who talks about how “The Simpsons” is able to stay fresh by changing showrunners every few years, because they bring in new ideas, and new approaches to the familiar characters and relationships. Mirkin made those comments some three years after Al Jean had taken over the show, and it clearly wasn’t a stab at him, but one can’t help but wonder how he feels now that Jean has been running “The Simpsons” for 13 years – more than half of its time on the air.

Another thing Mirkin goes into (as have I on here) is the “flexible reality” that allows the writers to stretch plausibility for a few moments here and there, while still maintaining a solid foundation to keep the stories grounded in the show’s established reality. Writer Greg Daniels originally was reluctant to have Homer travel to India with Apu because he couldn’t rationalize how Homer could afford the flight with his meager power plant salary. Mirkin fought to keep the trip in the show (it makes for a handful of great jokes, after all) arguing that the rubber-band reality of the show would snap right back to where it was before.

And it probably did back then, or very nearly so, anyway. But to see what happens to a rubber band after you’ve been stretching it for two decades you’ll only need to turn on Fox on any given Sunday night – or whatever day of the week “The Simpsons” is on these days.

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

2F02 Sideshow Bob Roberts

I try to be as critical as I can when watching these episodes for the tournament, but I honestly couldn’t tell you a thing wrong with this one. Not the masterfully constructed plot, not the many great jokes and references, certainly not Kelsey Grammer’s fantastic performance.

The winner: 2F02, “Sideshow Bob Roberts.”


Round 7: Viva Ned Flanders vs. Homer and Apu

Round 7: AABF06 vs. 1F10.

AABF06: “Viva Ned Flanders” (Season 10 / January 10, 1999)
Written by David M. Stern
Directed by Neil Affleck
Showrunner: Mike Scully

Homer Simpson and Ned Flanders get married in Las Vegas

In this episode of “Family Guy,” Peter and Mort travel to Las Vegas, where Peter behaves like a mean, drunken asshole and gets both of them into trouble when they wake up hungover and realize they got married to casino waitresses the night before.

It’s not very funny, either.

1F10: “Homer and Apu” (Season 5 / February 10, 1994)
Written by Greg Daniels
Directed by Mark Kirkland
Showrunner: David Mirkin

Homer and Apu ride on donkeys

In this episode of “Family Guy,” Peter behaves like a mean, selfish asshole and gets his friend fired from his job. Together they travel to an exotic location where Peter again acts selfish and stupid. Also, James Woods shows up.

  • Okay, maybe it’s not that bad, but it’s not what I want to see on “The Simpsons.”
  • James Woods is actually the best part of this episode. He seems like a natural at voice acting, and I do enjoy when he shows up on “Family Guy,” as well.
  • Bark, bark, bark, bark, bark…

The winner: 1F10: “Homer and Apu.”