Round 57: 1F07 vs. 7F09.
1F07: “The Last Temptation of Homer” (Season 5 / December 9, 1993)
Written by Frank Mula
Directed by Carlos Baeza
Showrunner: David Mirkin
This is an example of sitcom writing at its very best. The script is perfectly structured, from a first act full of crazy, one-off jokes and situations that still manages to set up all the necessary plot complications, followed by a true, emotionally invested arc for Homer and the final conclusion that is not the least bit forced but absolutely organic to the character we know and love. And a whole lot of funny along the way.
- -“Pick me, teacher, I’m ever so smart!”
- -“Get back to work, Stewart!”
- Even if he just shows up for one line, Phil Hartman makes everything better.
- Wonderful work by the animators and actors. Particularly Dan Castellaneta and guest star Michelle Pfeiffer get to shine.
7F09: “Itchy & Scratchy & Marge” (Season 2 / December 20, 1990)
Written by John Swartzwelder
Directed by Jim Reardon
Showrunners: James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Sam Simon
Solid, smart episode. The shot-for-shot “Psycho” recreation is incredible, especially given that you couldn’t just pull a clip off of YouTube for reference back then. Alex Rocco is one of my favorite recurring Simpsons guest actors. And that the children discover nature-montage? Amazing.
- -“Well, I always knew you’d change the world… for the better.”
The winner: 1F07, “The Last Temptation of Homer.”