Round 80: Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo vs. The Two Mrs. Nahasapeemapetilons

Round 80: AABF20 vs. 5F04.

AABF20: “Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo” (Season 10 / May 16, 1999)
Written by Donick Cary & Dan Greaney
Directed by Jim Reardon
Showrunner: Mike Scully

The Simpsons

Least offensive frame.

Oh boy. After what might very well be the worst opening eight minutes in the show’s history – it’s definitely the worst I’ve seen in the tournament so far – I was about to turn this episode off, but decided to switch to the commentary instead. This is where I went from being disappointed to just being sad. This episode and others like it are no mistakes. They weren’t intended to be something else but through a series of bad decisions ended up being what they are. No, this is exactly what the powers that be wanted it to be.

And it’s their right, of course. And who am I to complain? There are so many masterpieces bearing the name “The Simpsons” that I literally had to come up with a grand scheme to decide which one of them I like best. I just have to get used to the fact that “The Simpsons” means something else now, just like it meant something else in the first two years.

  • The Rashomon joke was good, though.

5F04: “The Two Mrs. Nahasapeemapetilons” (Season 9 / November 16, 1997)
Written by Richard Appel
Directed by Steven Dean Moore
Showrunner: Mike Scully

The Simpsons

Not as awful as the other one. A laugh or two, but mostly just disappointed sighs.

The winner: 1F22, “Bart of Darkness,” and no questions asked.

Round 79: Bart of Darkness vs. The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson

Round 79: 1F22 vs. 4F22. Whoa.

1F22: “Bart of Darkness” (Season 6 / September 4, 1994)
Written by Dan McGrath
Directed by Jim Reardon
Showrunner: David Mirkin

Bart Simpson reading MAD Magazine (NYPD Blecch)

I have probably written about this before (I mean, I guess? No way to be sure.), but the thing that I love most about The Simpsons is that there are so many levels to it, so many different ways to enjoy it. And this episode is the perfect embodiment of that. You can watch this without ever having seen “Rear Window” or anything by Hitchcock – as I did when I first saw the episode – and get a great deal of joy from it. And once you know the movie – as I do now – you have this whole new layer of references and homages to appreciate. And then you listen to the commentary and you learn even more things that enrich your experience of watching the episode. But the beauty of it is that you don’t need to know anything to enjoy it.

This episode is perfect. Not one wrong note.


4F22: “The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson” (Season 9 / September 21, 1997)
Written by Ian Maxtone-Graham
Directed by Jim Reardon
Showrunner: Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein

Alfred E. Neuman in the MAD Magazine offices

This has got to be one of the toughest rounds in the tournament. I love both episodes a great deal, and it sucks to see one of them leave so early. “Bart of Darkness” really does hit all high notes, while there are some (minor, but still) things in “The City of New York” that I don’t like that much. Homer gets his dose of physical punishment here, and while it’s miles away from the awful things he’d have to endure in later seasons, it’s still something I don’t like to see.

But then again, the high notes it does have hit higher than the ones in 1F22. “Kickin’ It,” written by Ken Keeler, is my favorite musical number of the whole series, Homer’s New York-flashback is a truly beautiful bit of animation, and the ending with Homer driving out of the city makes me smile just thinking about it.

So, once again, I have to ask myself the question: If I could only see one of these two episodes again, with the other one being forever lost, which would I pick?

The winner, after much hemming and hawing: 4F22, “The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson.” This really could’ve gone either way. Maybe if I saw “Bart of Darkness” last I would have picked it. This one’s gonna haunt me.