128th-Final, Round 10: Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadasssss Song vs. A Streetcar Named Marge

128th-final, round 10: 1F18 vs. 8F18.

1F18: “Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadasssss Song” (Season 5 / April 28, 1994)
Written by Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein. Directed by Bob Anderson
Showrunner: David Mirkin

Bart Simpson and Principal Skinner

vs.

8F18: “A Streetcar Named Marge” (Season 4 / October 1, 1992)
Written by Jeff Martin. Directed by Rich Moore
Showrunners: Al Jean & Mike Reiss

Play Enjoyed By All

 

The winner, you may be surprised to read, is 1F18, “Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadasssss Song.” I honestly did not expect “Streetcar” to exit the tournament this early, but the truth is that both episodes are excellent and I just happen to like SSSBS a tiny bit more. It’s a really, really close call, though.

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Round 20: Brother from the Same Planet vs. A Streetcar Named Marge

Round 20: 9F12 vs. 8F18.

9F12: “Brother from the Same Planet” (Season 4 / February 4, 1993)
Written by Jon Vitti
Directed by Jeffrey Lynch
Showrunners: Al Jean & Mike Reiss

Homer Simpson, angry with Bart, pours some whiskey.

This is one of the “lesser” fourth season episodes, in that it is pretty much perfect but slightly less so than the other ones from that year. Right off the bat we get wall-to-wall jokes and references, from obscure to absurd, all bedded in a story that explores establishing character traits without violating them. Add to that the cinematic staging and excellent voice work (Phil Hartman’s all over this) and you get a classic episode that could possibly get a few minus points for the violent third act, but even that works in the context it’s presented in. (If you don’t know this already, the long, drawn out fight between Homer and Tom is based on this amazing scene from John Ford’s “The Quiet Man.”)

  • And Tom, of course, was based on and written for some actor named Tom Cruise who had a bit of success in the early nineties, I guess.
  • Krusty on Saturday Night Live: “We got a great show for you. Well, actually the last half hour’s a real garbage dump.” Ha! How does a twenty year old show keep up with events like that?
  • “I’ll take him. Do you have him in blond?”

8F18: “A Streetcar Named Marge” (Season 4 / October 1, 1992)
Written by Jeff Martin
Directed by Rich Moore
Showrunners: Al Jean & Mike Reiss

Homer Simpson watches Marge as Blanche DuBois in a musical production of A Streetcar Named Desire.

A masterpiece. Of “The Simpsons,” but also of anything. I just watched this episode projected in my little home theater, and it’s as cinematic and awesome as any of the movies I watch there. I have a feeling I’ll have more than enough time to write about this one as the tournament goes on, so just this one thought:

Thinking about this episode (before I watched it again tonight) reminded me of the TV show “Community” (at least seasons 1-3). What I love about it is that the characters and the setting, while well defined and unique, are also “flexible” enough that you can put them in just about any situation – cop show, documentary, mafia movie, procedural – without bending the show into something unrecognizable. (I’ve been staring at that sentence for too long to know if it makes any sense. But you know what I mean, right?)

And “The Simpsons” has that same quality. That’s why many of the Halloween segments work so well, because the characters can so easily be transformed into classic horror story settings. And here we have Marge and Homer taking on the roles of Blanch (literally) and Stanley (figuratively) while still staying true to their established characters.

The winner: 8F18: “A Streetcar Named Marge.”