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.

Round 121: Treehouse of Horror XIX vs. Bart the Daredevil

Round 121: KABF16 vs. 7F06.

KABF16: “Treehouse of Horror XIX” (Season 20 / November 2, 2008)
Written by Matt Warburton
Directed by Bob Anderson
Showrunner: Al Jean

KABF16

Season 20? I don’t have that! That’s not online! Is it good? Did I think it was good? Did I even see it? I think I did, when it first aired? There’s a one minute clip of it online. I watched it. Made me wish I watched “Peanuts” instead.


7F06: “Bart the Daredevil” (Season 2 / December 6, 1990)
Written by Jay Kogen & Wallace Wolodarsky
Directed by Wes Archer
Showrunners: James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Sam Simon

The Simpsons 7F06 Bart the Daredevil

Fun episode. My favorite part is definitely Lisa’s school recital. There are a few minor things that will probably mean it won’t stay in the tournament until the final rounds, but here it’s the clear winner.

The winner: 7F06, “Bart the Daredevil.”

Round 64: There’s Something About Marrying vs. Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment

Round 64: GABF04 vs. 4F15.

GABF04: “There’s Something About Marrying” (Season 16 / February 20, 2005)
Written by J. Stewart Burns
Directed by Nancy Kruse
Showrunner: Al Jean

Death Before Gay Marriage sign

One thing that bothers me so much about Zombie Simpsons is that things just happen. People walk in and out of frame willy-nilly – What, was Disco Stu just hanging around the Simpson house, waiting for his name to come up in conversation somewhere? – character traits are adjusted to the plot, not the other way around.

The word “zombie” doesn’t really apply, now that I think about it. Life- and brainless, yes, but at least zombies have some agenda and consistency. These Simpsons are more like string-puppets, dragged around and contorted into whichever shape this week’s episode’s crazy story needs them to be in.

On a less bitter note, I like how this episode treats marriage. Not “gay marriage” (such an antiquated term), but marriage, the concept. It’s a silly thing, if you think about it, and it’s mostly about money, anyway. Good on them for pointing that out. I just wish they had done it in an episode of “The Simpsons,” not “Family Guy.”


4F15: “Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment” (Season 8 / March 16, 1997)
Written by John Swartzwelder
Directed by Bob Anderson
Showrunners: Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein

Alcohol Prohibited in Springfield

I will have plenty of time talking about this episode in future rounds, so for now just a matter of contrast:

There is a scene where Homer and Marge are talking in their kitchen when a disheveled Chief Wiggum happens to walk past their window and begins talking to them. It’s important for the plot because it both gives Homer the idea to start his Beer Baron business and it sets up Wiggum’s involvement in the story later.

The writers had to come up with a feasible way to have Homer and Wiggum meet, and that’s why they had Homer and Marge hold their conversation in the kitchen, where there is a window overlooking the street. It’s still a convenient coincidence that Wiggum happened to stagger by just that minute, but not an inconceivable one.

As opposed to, say, Disco Stu walking into Marge’s bedroom.

  • -“Remember, honey, we’re disobeying an unjust law here. We’re patriots. Like… all those people in jail.”

The winner: 4F15, “Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment.”

Round 71: Margical History Tour vs. Dial “N” for Nerder

Round 71: FABF06 vs. KABF07.

FABF06: “Margical History Tour” (Season 15 / February 8, 2004)
Written by Brian Kelley
Directed by Mike B. Anderson
Showrunner: Al Jean

Bart Simpson, as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, dying

I get why the writers like to stick our familiar characters into historic settings every once in a while, and there’s some fun stuff here, but overall I can live without these anthology episodes. And, this being season 15, there are of course a few crude jokes that probably replaced better ones in the last draft of the script, like Lisa trying to grow a penis. Sigh.


KABF07: “Dial ‘N’ for Nerder” (Season 19 / March 9, 2008)
Written by Carolyn Omine & William Wright
Directed by Bob Anderson
Showrunner: Al Jean

Nelson Muntz as Lieutenant Columbo

Bart and Lisa’s story is pretty solid for an episode so far into Zombie Simpsons territory, but it can’t redeem the awfulness that is the Homer and Marge plot.

The winner: FABF06, “Margical History Tour.”

Round 63: Two Dozen and One Greyhounds vs. Behind the Laughter

Round 63: 2F18 vs. BABF19.

2F18: “Two Dozen and One Greyhounds” (Season 6 / April 9, 1995)
Written by Mike Scully
Directed by Bob Anderson
Showrunner: David Mirkin

Santa's Little Helper in a parody of The Lady and the Tramp

I don’t even know what to write.

Perfect.

Next?


BABF19: “Behind the Laughter” (Season 11 / May 21, 2000)
Written by Tim Long, George Meyer, Mike Scully, Matt Selman
Directed by Mark Kirkland
Showrunner: Mike Scully

Homer Simpson in black-and-white

“Mama Mia!”

I actually like this one. The immersion into the “Behind the Music” format works quite well, and I enjoyed all the visualizations of those overwrought phrases: “The Simpsons’ TV show started out on a wing and a prayer… but now the wing was on fire and the prayer had been answered by Satan.

  • -“This will be our last season.”

The winner: 2F18, “Two Dozen and One Greyhounds.”

Round 56: Marge vs. the Monorail vs. Treehouse of Horror VI

Round 56: 9F10 vs. 3F04.

9F10: “Marge vs. the Monorail” (Season 4 / January 14, 1993)
Written by Conan O’Brien
Directed by Rich Moore
Showrunners: Al Jean & Mike Reiss

Chief Wiggum looking at the monorail buzzing through Springfield

(This is supposed to be an animated gif. If it doesn’t work try clicking on it.)

God, I love this episode so much. The strange thing is, I see it more as a Conan O’Brien-project than a Simpsons-episode. It has all the hallmarks of Conan’s style of comedy: it’s crazy, outlandish, absurdist. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, it stretches, even snaps the rubber-band reality of the show. It doesn’t have any of the emotional weight I missed in some other episodes, but here, that really doesn’t matter. It’s just too funny.

  • As usual, the commentary featuring O’Brien and others is pure gold.
  • After Conan’s been ranting about old people and how they all eat mush, Al Jean asks “Are there any other minorities you’d like to sound off against on this DVD no one will ever hear?,” to which he replies, “Old people, sadly, are not a minority.”

3F04: “Treehouse of Horror VI” (Season 7 / October 29, 1995)
Written by John Swartzwelder, Steve Tompkins, David S. Cohen
Directed by Bob Anderson
Showrunners: Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein

Bart Simpson's eyes popping out.

Possibly the funniest and most memorable Halloween special. I liked the second segment best, with the beautifully painted backgrounds in Bart’s dream and all the other visual references. (The poses on Martin as he’s dying in his sleep are just perfect.)

  • -“Don’t you ever get tired of being wrong all the time?”
    -“Sometimes.”
  • -“These monsters are destroying everything we hold dear. — And you kids should have jackets on.”
  • -“Lousy Smarch weather.”

The winner: 9F10, “Marge vs. the Monorail.”

Round 51: Bart’s Comet vs. Who Shot Mr Burns? Part 2

Round 51: 2F11 vs. 2F20.

2F11: “Bart’s Comet” (Season 6 / February 5, 1995)
Written by John Swartzwelder
Directed by Bob Anderson
Showrunner: David Mirkin

The dog Santa's Little Helper and the cat Snowball II watching TV at night.

I’m out of town right now, away from the comforts of my desk, and while I brought enough episodes for the next nine rounds with me, I’m not sure how fast I’ll get to watching them. Also, I hate typing on the old laptop, so expect entries to be even more pauciloquent than usual. (Hey, look, I used a fancy word!)

Anyway, “Bart’s Comet.” Perfect episode.


2F20: “Who Shot Mr Burns? Part 2” (Season 7 / September 17, 1995)
Written by Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein
Directed by Wes Archer
Showrunner: David Mirkin

Police Chief Wiggum opening a door.

2F20!

Very funny, as well, but given its unusual format and the fact that it’s a “Part 2,” it was never going to go very far in the tournament. So it’s comforting to know that it loses against a great one.

The winner: 2F11, “Bart’s Comet.”