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.

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Round 14: My Sister, My Sitter vs. Homer the Smithers

Round 14: 4F13 vs. 3F14.

4F13: “My Sister, My Sitter” (Season 8 / March 2, 1997)
Written by Dan Greaney
Directed by Jim Reardon
Showrunners: Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein
Doctor Hibbert accusing Lisa Simpson
Not the most quotable episode, but I still laughed a lot watching it, mostly at the animation. So much great acting in this one, from Maggie’s caffeine induced hyperactivity to Homer’s finger-twirling and monocle wearing in his rented tux, and another beautifully done fantasy sequence. And, as you know by now, I love it when the kids behave like kids, and we get a lot of that here, too. I can definitely sympathize with Lisa’s frustration over Bart acting up.

  • “Gee, I’d really love to wanna help you, Flanders… but… Marge was… taken prisoner… in the… Holy Land.” (Perfect marriage of voice work and animation.)
  • Bart running past Homer in his tux and stopping mid-jog – another great touch.
  • I can see some people not liking some of the more outrageous things happening near the end, or the lack of any consequences from them, but I don’t really mind that.

3F14: “Homer the Smithers” (Season 7 / February 25, 1996)
Written by John Swartzwelder
Directed by Steve Moore
Showrunners: Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein

Homer Simpson's bowl of corn flakes and milk going up in flames

It’s interesting that “My Sister, My Sitter” should face off against this episode. Before rewatching them tonight, I fondly recalled both shows, but remembered “Homer the Smithers” as the funnier one. And there are a couple of good jokes (“Lousy two-legged pants.”), but overall I had a lot more fun with the first episode. It has exactly what I seek in a great Simpsons episode: a story that can entertain and even move me when I’m watching it for the twelfth time and not just a bunch of jokes without any heart to them.

  • Love the run about Burns’ car, then cube.
  • “Imagine how youd feel, Marge, if you got fired from the… those… things… that… you do.”
  • Not a fan of the violent fight in the last act.
  • Nice “A Clockwork Orange” reference near the end.

The winner: 4F13: “My Sister, My Sitter.”