128th-Final, Round 9: Lisa’s Pony vs. Treehouse of Horror IV

128th-final, round 9: 8F06 vs. 1F04.

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

The Simpsons 8F06 Lisa’s Pony

vs.

1F04: “Treehouse of Horror IV” (Season 5 / October 28, 1993)
Written by Conan O’Brien, Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein, Greg Daniels, Dan McGrath, Bill Canterbury
Directed by David Silverman. Showrunner: David Mirkin

The Simpsons 1F04 Treehouse of Horror IV

(Every time I come on here and apologize for not posting anything for so long and then vowing to do a better job from now on it only gets worse, so I’m not even gonna do that today.)

Whenever a Halloween special comes up on the tournament I go in thinking, well, even if it’s good I’m not gonna pick it over a decent regular episode, right?

Right. But this was a close one. “Treehouse of Horror IV” really is that good, and if I’m ever to rank the Treehouses o. H. I’m sure it will be near the very top. But I’m not doing that today.

The winner: “Lisa’s Pony,” of course.

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Round 127: Love, Springfieldian Style vs. Homer Goes to College

Round 127: KABF05 vs. 1F02.

KABF05: “Love, Springfieldian Style” (Season 19 / February 17, 2008)
Written by Don Payne
Directed by Raymond Persi
Showrunner: Al Jean

Goat sucking on a bottle.

Despite my best efforts, I did not manage to slow this blog down long enough for the 19th season DVDs to be released, so I can’t really comment on this episode. Except that there is no way that I’d like it more than “Homer Goes to College.”


1F02: “Homer Goes to College” (Season 5 / October 14, 1993)
Written by Conan O’Brien
Directed by Jim Reardon
Showrunner: David Mirkin

The Simpsons 1F02 Homer Goes to College

I think the DVD commentary track for this episode might be the one I’ve listened to the most often. And no wonder: it’s got Matt Groening, Jim Brooks, David Mirkin, Jim Reardon, David Silverman, and, on the phone from New York, Conan O’Brien. Those are a bunch of my all-time favorite people, so to get to hear them reminisce and make jokes about working for “The Simpsons” during its creative pinnacle – and the story of Conan’s exit from the show – is an amazing treat.

Oh, and of course “Homer Goes to College” is a fantastic episode, but you knew that already.

The winner: 1F02, “Homer Goes to College.”

Round 105: I Married Marge vs. New Kid on the Block

Round 105: 8F10 vs. 9F06.

8F10: “I Married Marge” (Season 3 / December 26, 1991)
Written by Jeff Martin
Directed by Jeffrey Lynch
Showrunners: Al Jean & Mike Reiss

Springfield at night, nuclear power plant, grid, car, headlights

Love this one. It’s an episode that I haven’t seen many time for some reason, so it felt kinda new and exciting. These flashback shows (origin stories?) are a lot of fun when done right, as this one certainly is.

  • -Homer: “I bet the guy she was singing that about was real happy.”
    -Marge: “Mh, actually, she was singing about God.”
    -Homer: “Oh, well, he’s always happy. … No, wait, he’s always mad.”

9F06: “New Kid on the Block” (Season 4 / November 12, 1992)
Written by Conan O’Brien
Directed by Wes Archer
Showrunners: Al Jean & Mike Reiss

Bart Simpson's heart getting ripped out

I hate to say this about an episode written by my hero Conan O’Brien, but, man, this one’s all over the place, plot-wise. There are a few good elements, but as a whole I’m not a big fan. It feels rather unfinished, like it needed a few more rewrites. Or maybe it had too many. Who knows.

  • -Bart: “Dad, I have some questions about women.”
    -Homer: “Uh, can’t you see I’m reading the, uh, cultural calendar? … Ooh! ‘Mostly Mozart‘ is in town.”

The winner: 8F10: “I Married Marge.”

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 18: Treehouse of Horror IV vs. Marge on the Lam

Round 18: 1F04 vs. 1F03.

1F04: “Treehouse of Horror IV” (Season 5 / October 28, 1993)
Written by Conan O’Brien, Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein, Greg Daniels, Dan McGrath, Bill Canterbury
Directed by David Silverman
Showrunner: David Mirkin

The devil and Homer Simpson

The talent behind this Halloween episode is amazing, and it shows. (If you don’t have time to listen to every single audio commentary, you should definitely listen to this one: Jim Brooks, Davids Mirkin and Silverman, Conan, Bill and Josh, and Greg Daniels!) Just like ToH V from Mirkin’s second season this one belongs up there in the pantheon.

  • The Devil and Homer Simpson is my favorite segment, and features one of the all-time great Lionel Hutz performances by Phil Hartman.
  • The whole episode is like a big long list of thing’s I have not read or seen: Night Gallery, The Twilight Zone, Fantasia, War of the Worlds (well, I’ve seen the Spielberg movie and loved it, actually, but I never read the book or listened to the radio play), (Francis Ford Coppola’s) Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The Lost Boys…

1F03: “Marge on the Lam” (Season 5 / November 4, 1993)
Written by Bill Canterbury
Directed by Mark Kirkland
Showrunner: David Mirkin

Lionel Hutz watching TV on the Simpsons' couch.

“Oh, sure. Like lawyers work in big skyscrapers and have secretaries. Look at him. He’s wearing a belt! That’s Hollywood for you.”

And again we have two episodes produced in a row, which makes it harder for me to decide, because they’re about equal, quality wise. Maybe it’s because I’ve never seen “Thelma & Louise,” which is heavily referenced, but some of the more outlandish plot and character twists don’t really do it for me. Homer’s a bit too dumb for my taste. As much as I love Lionel Hutz, his stint as babysitter seems a bit forced. And the third act, while beautifully animated, stretches the rubber-band reality of “The Simpsons” too far for my liking.

  • Great animation moment: When Ruth returns the power tool to Marge and she’s immediately pulled to the floor by it.
  • Mention ballet in my circle of friends and you’ll get to hear “Entrance of the Gladiators.”
  • Springfield is very much Los Angeles in this episode. As it is in many episodes.
  • Love Hank’s line reading as Wiggum, giving the dispatcher his current location:
    “I’m on a road. Looks to be asphalt. Trees, shrubs. I’m directly under the Earth’s sun… now.”
  • Commentary trivia: Matt mentions they’re recording on June 17, 2004, so right during production of the 16th season, which will be the next to come out on DVD.

The winner: 1F04: “Treehouse of Horror IV,” by a hair.