Round 58: Lisa’s Substitute vs. $pringfield (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling)

Round 58: 7F19 vs. 1F08.

7F19: “Lisa’s Substitute” (Season 2 / April 25, 1991)
Written by Jon Vitti
Directed by Rich Moore
Showrunners: James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Sam Simon

Mr. Bergstrom reading to Lisa Simpson's class.

Dustin Hoffman, center

Damn. Beautiful.

This makes a great companion piece to season 3’s “Bart the Lover.” Maybe the two episodes meet in the second quarter-final. If they make it that far, that is. And they just might.

1F08: “$pringfield (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling)” (Season 5 / December 16, 1993)
Written by Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein
Directed by Wes Archer
Showrunner: David Mirkin

Homer Simpson dealing cards to Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise from Rain Man.

Dustin Hoffman, left

The difference between these two episodes is striking. So much, in fact, that I’d prefer to think of them as coming from two different shows altogether. There’s much discussion concerning “Zombie Simpsons,” but the differences in style, humor, tone between the first two, three, maybe four seasons to those that came after can be just as striking. (Only that both incarnations are great, while Zombie Simpsons are mostly shit.)

So we have an apples and oranges situation here. How do I compare them? I do have to make a decision, have to kick one of them out of the tournament. So I ask myself, once more, if I could only watch one of the two episodes ever again, which one would it be? If I could only eat either bananas or apples going forward, what would I chose?

The winner: Apples. Also, 7F19, “Lisa’s Substitute.”