Round 47: Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? vs. Bart the Lover

Round 47: 7F16 vs. 8F16.

7F16: “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?” (Season 2 / February 21, 1991)
Written by Jeff Martin
Directed by Wes Archer
Showrunners: James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Sam Simon

Herb and Homer Simpson

That’s not how mirrors work!

A solid, funny, clever early episode, featuring national treasure Danny DeVito as Homer’s long lost brother Herb. It inspired both a TED Talk and an actual car.

  • Abe: “She did things your mother would never do, like have sex for money.”
  • Love that Homer calls Herb “Unky Herb” near the end.
  • – Herb: “Do you understand?”
    – Homer: “Sort of.”
    – Herb: “Homer! Answer me again with self-confidence.”
    – Homer: “SORT OF!”
  • Per the commentary, pretty much every single great line in this episode was pitched by James L. Brooks.
  • Mike Reiss named the company that took over Powell Motors, Kumatsu, after a character from the Japanese movie “Skinny and Fatty.” Skip to 21:10 on the DVD commentary to hear him tell the story, and enjoy his excellent, heart-felt “D’oh!” when he learns the character’s name was actually Komatsu.)

8F16: “Bart the Lover” (Season 3 / February 13, 1992)
Written by Jon Vitti
Directed by Carlos Baeza
Showrunners: Al Jean & Mike Reiss

Homer's postcard to Marge: Maybe it's the beer talking Marge but you've got a butt that won't quit. They got those big pretzels here... five dollars??!!!? get outta here

Even better with Dan Castellaneta reading it out loud.

This episode is not as laugh-out-loud funny as the one above – although it does have very good jokes in it, too – but I still like it better, for the story it tells, for the emotional impact (on both me and the characters) and for how it is all resolved in the end.

I enjoyed Homer’s doghouse subplot, as well – “Marge, you’re a tool of the doghouse makers.” – and the swear jar sequence was fun.

  • How great is Marcia Wallace?

The winner: 8F16, “Bart the Lover.” This marks the first time in the tournament that an episode written (or co-written) by Jon Vitti has won, which really does not reflect his immense talent, at all. It just shows that in a bracket like this one good episodes will inevitably lose against slightly better episodes.