Round 70: Brother from Another Series vs. One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish

Round 70: 4F14 vs. 7F11.

4F14: “Brother from Another Series” (Season 8 / February 23, 1997)
Written by Ken Keeler
Directed by Pete Michels
Showrunners: Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein

Bart Simpson falling to his doom

Kelsey Grammer’s performances as Sideshow Bob are always a delight, and giving him David Hyde Pierce to play off of is a great idea. I’ve only seen one or two episodes of Frasier, so I bet there are a lot of references I don’t get, but there are a ton of other funny things to enjoy here, plus beautiful, dramatic animation and scoring.

If you like the occasional glimpse behind the scenes of The Simpsons, you could do worse than to follow David Silverman on Twitter, where he, a while ago, shared a page from this episode’s storyboards, with notes by Brad Bird:

4F14 storyboard with notes by Brad Bird


7F11: “One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish” (Season 2 / January 24, 1991)
Written by Nell Scovell
Directed by Wes Archer
Showrunners: James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Sam Simon

Dumb Things I Gotta Do Today

I still do this every time I make a list.

What can I say? A pivotal episode for the series, one that announced to the world that this wasn’t just some cartoon, but a show that has something to say, stories to tell, make you think, and make you laugh.

  • -“What are you in for?”
    -“Atmosphere.”

The winner: 7F11, “One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish.”

Round 36: Make Room for Lisa vs. Krusty Gets Busted

Round 36: AABF12 vs. 7G2.

AABF12: “Make Room for Lisa” (Season 10 / February 28, 1999)
Written by Brian Scully
Directed by Matthew Nastuk
Showrunner: Mike Scully

Lisa and Homer Simpson in an esoteric new age store.

“Other cultures are fine. I’m just saying I can get along in life without a… ‘toothbrush.'”

While I went into last round‘s “Lard of the Dance” with one specific, dreaded image in mind but then was pleasantly surprised by the whole of the episode, this time it was the other way around. “Make Room for Lisa” ends with a touching moment of bonding between Homer and Lisa, and that’s what I fondly remembered about it. But the way there? Boy, it gets rough.

I guess the writers decided that in order to give the final reconciliation between father and daughter more of an impact they had to crank up Homer’s lack of fatherly skills and basically make him World’s Greatest Asshole. And in the end he doesn’t grow or learn anything, it’s only Lisa who has the questionably epiphany of realizing that she really is a pain in the neck sometimes.

  • We do get, as is illustrated above, one of the two all-time great toothbrush jokes of The Simpsons. (The other one will come up in round 97. So any day now.)

7G12: “Krusty Gets Busted” (Season 1 / April 29, 1990)
Written by Jay Kogen & Wallace Wolodarsky
Directed by Brad Bird
Showrunners: James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Sam Simon

Bart Simpson with a Krusty the Clown doll.

I’m a huge Brad Bird fan (“The Iron Giant” is one of my favorite movies) and it’s great fun to watch this episode and listen to the commentary with him, Matt, Jay & Wallace. The first season can be a bit rough at times, but this is a masterfully written and animated episode.

Full of jokes, both high and low brow, but also there’s real drama going on, and a crime mystery, too! Plus Kelsey Grammer, perfect as Sideshow Bob in this and the many follow-up episodes to come.

The winner: 7G12, “Krusty Gets Busted.”

Round 17: Like Father, Like Clown vs. Lisa’s Pony

Round 17: 8F05 vs. 8F06.

8F05: “Like Father, Like Clown” (Season 3 / October 24, 1991)
Written by Jay Kogen & Wallace Wolodarsky
Directed by Jeffrey Lynch & Brad Bird
Showrunners: Al Jean & Mike Reiss

The Simpson family waiting for Krusty the Clown

The weird thing watching this episode again was that I barely remembered any of it. I must have seen it when it was first on TV and then again when the DVDs came out, but for some reason it just didn’t make an impression. I was also surprised at how dated it looks and feels, especially compared to “Flaming Moe’s” from the same year. The third season is the one where the show really found its footing, I think, and this episode shows just enough second season residue to stand out as an “old” episode.

  • This has nothing to do with this episode, but on the DVD commentary Jay Kogen talks about the time he went to Germany to oversee the casting of the local voice actors, and how the Germans “tried to convince us that this really angry, horrible sounding Homer was really the same thing as our goofy Homer here, that in Germany the most lovable German screams and yells and is horrible and mean and angry all the time.” So that explains that.

8F06: “Lisa’s Pony” (Season 3 / November 7, 1991)
Written by Al Jean & Mike Reiss
Directed by Carlos Baeza
Showrunners: Al Jean & Mike Reiss

Lisa Simpson playing the saxophone for her horse.

For the second time in a row we have to episodes that were produced back-to-back competing against each other. (Will this trend continue into next round? Yes. Yes, it will.) This is happening purely by chance: I put all the episodes in random order before I entered them into the bracket to avoid just that. But here we are.

There are things in “Lisa’s Pony” that place it unmistakably in the third season, but there are also a lot of signs of the great timelessness the show would achieve just a year later. I love the elaborate references to “2001,” “The Godfather” and “Little Nemo,” and of course I’m a sucker for Homer and Lisa stories.

  • I was amazed when I found out that “My Ding-a-Ling” was a real thing.
  • So Apu dated Princess Kashmir?
  • Wikipedia says that Matt Groening, Sam Simon and Jim Brooks showran this episode, which could be kinda plausible because Al and Mike wrote it, but on the commentaries (both the regular one and the hidden one) Al and Mike both identify themselves as writer and showrunner for this episode. So I’m going with that. (In your face, Wikipedia!)

The winner: 8F06: “Lisa’s Pony.”