Round 42: Cape Feare vs. The Principal and the Pauper

Round 42: 9F22 vs. 4F23.

9F22: “Cape Feare” (Season 5 / October 7, 1993)
Written by Jon Vitti
Directed by Rich Moore
Showrunners: Al Jean & Mike Reiss

Homer Simpson's face, distorted through a glass of water.

I have seen neither of the Capes Fear, and after watching this episode so many times it would probably be a very weird experience. (On the other hand I love Robert Mitchum…)

In addition to extended and very specific movie parodies we also get a ton of cut-away gags, non-sequiturs and little absurdities that are all very funny but, after I’ve seen them a few dozen times, leave me yearning for more substantial, emotional content. During the Reiss & Jean and Mirkin years of The Simpsons, before Family Guy made them its own, these throw-away jokes were an essential (and welcome) new thing, but I’m glad that Weinstein and Oakley dialed it down a notch when they came into power.

And speaking of TPTB, while watching this I was actually thinking (and laughing) more about the DVD commentary than the episode itself. It’s hard for me to separate the two, but after all this tournament was set up to find my favorite Simpsons episode, not commentary, so I’ll have to try. (And even if it was, The Principal and the Pauper‘s commentary is very good, as well.)

4F23: “The Principal and the Pauper” (Season 9 / September 28, 1997)
Written by Ken Keeler
Directed by Steven Dean Moore
Showrunners: Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein

Abe Simpson, Jasper, Lisa, Maggie, Bart, Marge, Agnes Skinner, Mrs. Krabappel and Homer in the car.

-“Okay, once more, where are we going?”
-“To Capitol City.”
-“And why are you and the old lady in the car?”
-“We’re gonna talk Armin Tamzarian into coming back.”
-“And why is Marge here?”
-“I came up with the idea.”
-“And why am I here?”
-“Because the streets of Capitol City are no place for three unescorted ladies.”
-“And why are the kids here?”
-“Because we couldn’t find Grampa to sit for them.”
-“And why is Grampa here?”
-“Because Jasper didn’t want to come by himself.”
-“Fair enough.”

This one apparently got a lot of people really mad. If you are one of them, you’re not going to like how this round will come out.

Writer and Futurama-DVD-commentary-favorite Ken Keeler explains in the commentary track why this episode is exactly about the kind of people that went on to write angry letters and decry the show had jumped the shark with the whole Armin Tamzarian storyline. Much like the citizens of Springfield, they didn’t like things to change and would rather pretend the whole thing never happened.

I don’t really care about all that. “The Principal and the Pauper” is a fun episode, with great performances (including from Martin Sheen), good jokes, and beautiful animation. I like “Cape Feare,” a lot, but if I could only ever watch one of them again, I’d opt for this one.

The winner: 4F23, “The Principal and the Pauper.”