128th-Final, Round 5: The Homer They Fall vs. Lady Bouvier’s Lover

128th-final, round 5: 4F03 vs. 1F21.

4F03: “The Homer They Fall” (Season 8 / November 10, 1996)
Written by Jonathan Collier. Directed by Mark Kirkland
Showrunners: Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein

"No running!"

“No running!”

I think if I had never started this tournament I’d happily file this one under “masterpiece” and move on, but since I’m comparing episodes I can’t help but note small things that, for lack of a better rationale, would seem out of place in what I’d picture as a “perfect” Simpsons episode. Tiny moments like Homer dragging Marge into the gadget store against her will (“Homer, please, you’re hurting my arm.”) just don’t sit right with me. And I already got into my problems with Homer being a human punching bag for most of the episode last time I watched it.

  • Janie saying “No running!” in the hallways is one of those things I probably missed the first 20 times I watched the episode but now think is one of the funniest things ever.
  • -Michael Buffer: “Due to popular demand, we will forego our national anthem.”

1F21: “Lady Bouvier’s Lover” (Season 5 / May 12, 1994)
Written by Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein
Directed by Wes Archer. Showrunner: David Mirkin

Grandpa Abe Simpson in 1F21 Lady Bouvier’s Lover

How good is this episode? I was so enthralled watching it that I completely forgot that I was supposed to take down notes or think about it critically in any capacity. I was just enjoying it from start to finish. And while I do like “The Homer They Fall” very much, the choice here is clear:

The winner: 1F21, “Lady Bouvier’s Lover.”


Round 9: Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind vs. The Homer They Fall

Round 9: KABF02 vs. 4F03.

KABF02: “Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind
(Season 19 / December 16, 2007)
Written by J. Stewart Burns
Directed by Chuck Sheetz
Showrunner: Al Jean

Homer Simpson on a snowy bridge.

This is the episode people point to when they want to show that it hasn’t been all bad after season 12. And they’re right, it hasn’t. This episode is not bad. In fact, it’s good. Great? Yeah, why not. It’s a great episode of television. But, while it does come close, it’s just not a great episode of “The Simpsons.”

I don’t want to be mean-spirited. I really do think “Moonshine” deserves praise, for its creative plot, elaborate animation and a few good jokes (like the “Ice Age” parody). But this tournament was set up to determine my favorite episode of my favorite TV show, and there are things here I just can’t overlook. The voice acting bugs me, too many of the jokes don’t land, the gimmicky plot is not strong enough to distract from its many holes.

4F03: “The Homer They Fall” (Season 8 / November 10, 1996)
Written by Jonathan Collier
Directed by Mark Kirkland
Showrunners: Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein

George Bellows, Dempsey and Firpo (The Simpsons)

In theory, I should hate this episode. One of my top complaints about the last few years of “The Simpsons” is how violent the show has become, especially towards Homer. The premise of “The Homer They Fall” is based on the fact that Homer can take an endless amount of punches and abuse without going down. That doesn’t sound very funny to me, but the way it is presented here, it actually is. The writers and animators don’t rest on that one joke, instead they embed it into a genuinely touching Moe/Homer story and give it a look and feel that you just can’t expect from any other animated show.

  • A lot of great voice acting, by Dan and Hank, obviously, but also by guest stars Paul Winfield and Michael Buffer.
  • The black and white montage is just beautiful, including Alf Clausen’s music.

The winner: 4F03: “The Homer They Fall.”