128th-Final, Round 11: Bart the Mother vs. A Fish Called Selma

128th-final, round 11: 5F22 vs. 3F15.

5F22: “Bart the Mother” (Season 10 / September 27, 1998)
Written by David S. Cohen. Directed by Steven Dean Moore
Showrunner: Mike Scully

5F22 "Bart the Mother"

Hey, look, it’s Homer getting violently hit in the groin with a baseball. That’s not even three minutes into this episode – which, if past me is to be believed does get better as it goes on – and that’s when I turned it off and declared “A Fish Called Selma” the winner of this round. Not that that outcome was ever in doubt, anyway.


3F15: “A Fish Called Selma” (Season 7 / March 24, 1996)
Written by Jack Barth. Directed by Mark Kirkland
Showrunners: Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein

3F15 "A Fish Called Selma"

-Lovejoy: “And do you, Selma Bouvier Terwilliger Bouvier, take the fabulous Troy McClure to be your lawful wedded husband?”
-Selma: “I already told you, yes.”

That is such a subtle little joke and such a perfect line reading from Julie Kavner. (Have I mentioned the word perfect, yet?)

The winner: 3F15, “A Fish Called Selma.”

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128th-Final, Round 2: Secrets of a Successful Marriage vs. 22 Short Films About Springfield

128th-final, round 2: 1F20 vs. 3F18.

1F20: “Secrets of a Successful Marriage” (Season 5 / May 19, 1994)
Written by Greg Daniels
Directed by Carlos Baeza
Showrunner: David Mirkin

Barney Gumble playing poker

vs.

3F18: “22 Short Films About Springfield” (Season 7 / April 14, 1996)
Written by Richard Appel, David S. Cohen, Jonathan Collier, Jennifer Crittenden, Greg Daniels, Brent Forrester, Rachel Pulido, Steve Tompkins, Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein and Matt Groening
Directed by Jim Reardon
Showrunners: Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein

Cletus the slack jawed yokel

Oh, wow. So, after trying to go the “I’m gonna really get into why I like one episode more than the other” route resulted in me not writing anything for almost two months, I decided to just go with my gut, announce the winner here, move on, and hope that I’ll have more to say in the future.

The winner: 3F18, “22 Short Films About Springfield.”

Round 125: In Marge We Trust vs. The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase

Round 125: 4F18 vs. 4F20.

4F18: “In Marge We Trust” (Season 8 / April 27, 1997)
Written by Donick Cary
Directed by Steven Dean Moore
Showrunners: Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein

The Simpsons 4F18 In Marge We Trust

I liked the idea of giving Lovejoy a bit of a backstory, but the episode lost me somewhere on the way from there to crazy monkeys attacking Ned Flanders. The Mr. Sparkle thing had some fun bits, I guess.


4F20: “The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase” (Season 8 / May 11, 1997)
Written by David S. Cohen, Dan Greaney, Steve Tompkins. Story by: Ken Keeler
Directed by Neil Affleck
Showrunners: Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein

Wiggum, P.I., and Skinner

This episode must feel so weird for anyone under 30.

I love all the different genre parodies and references. Of course this is a stand-out in the series, and comparing it to a regular story gets kinda tricky. But of the two episodes here, it’s my clear favorite.

The winner: 4F20, “The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase.”

Round 115: Trilogy of Error vs. The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show

Round 115: CABF14 vs. 4F12.

CABF14: “Trilogy of Error” (Season 12 / April 29, 2001)
Written by Matt Selman
Directed by Mike B. Anderson
Showrunner: Mike Scully

Martin Prince holding a plasma globe on the school bus

Oh, hey, I remember this episode. This is where they tell the same story from three different point-of-views, each filling in more and more details, right? That sounds kinda fun.

(Watches the first act.)

Homer gets hit in the head with a skateboard (in the opening credits). Homer gets his thumb cut off by a kitchen knife, with gruesome amounts of blood splattering everywhere. Homer drinks himself to the point of passing out and violently slamming his head on the bar, only to be woken up by being forced to gulp down a pot of scolding hot coffee.

You know: fun.


4F12: “The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show” (Season 8 / February 9, 1997)
Written by David S. Cohen
Directed by Steven Dean Moore
Showrunners: Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein

Hey, it's David Silverman and his beloved Tuba!

Hey, it’s David Silverman and his beloved Tuba!

Love how they make fun of obsessive nerds who go on the Internet to complain about the countless hours of entertainment they’ve been given free of charge. Ha! In your face, nerds!

  • -Homer: “Is this episode going on the air live?”
    -June Bellamy: “No, Homer. Very few cartoons are broadcast live. It’s a terrible strain on the animators’ wrists.”

The winner: 4F12, “The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show.”

Round 100: Separate Vocations vs. Das Bus

Round 100: 8F15 vs. 5F11.

8F15: “Separate Vocations” (Season 3 / February 27, 1992)
Written by George Meyer
Directed by Jeffrey Lynch
Showrunners: Al Jean & Mike Reiss

Mayor Quimby polling the electorate.

I enjoyed how dynamic this episode was. Jeff Lynch does some fantastic action-directing, especially in the police car chase and later in the Bart-as-hall-monitor montage, which featured a terrific score, as well. And of course the episode is drawn and animated beautifully – this is the third season, after all.

The story, centered on Bart and Lisa, exploring their characters by putting them in unusual positions, still feels fresh and relevant 22 years after it first aired. It’s always fun to see the kids behave like kids in situations that, while exciting, are not some of the crazy, outlandish things people on TV are thrown into at times.

(Like, I dunno, being stranded on a deserted island or something like that.)


5F11: “Das Bus” (Season 9 / February 15, 1998)
Written by David S. Cohen
Directed by Pete Michels
Showrunners: Mike Scully

The children sit around a camp fire on the deserted island

It’s a very funny episode, but also a very gimmicky one that doesn’t quite hold up to repeat viewings like “Separate Vocations” does.

Homer’s Internet business is a nice little time capsule, and Dan’s reading of “It’s Patty” as he hands Marge the phone is among my favorite things he’s ever done.

The winner: 8F15, “Separate Vocations.”

Round 95: Girly Edition vs. Treehouse of Horror VII

Round 95: 5F15 vs. 4F02.

5F15: “Girly Edition” (Season 9 / April 19, 1998)
Written by Larry Doyle
Directed by Mark Kirkland
Showrunner: Mike Scully

Lindsey Naegle and Krusty the Clown

Homer gets a monkey while Bart and Lisa become famous TV newscasters. This episode is awful, and surprisingly so when you consider it happened in Mike Scully’s first season as showrunner.

I didn’t even make it all the way through this thing.


4F02: “Treehouse of Horror VII” (Season 8 / October 27, 1996)
Written by Ken Keeler / Dan Greaney / David S. Cohen
Directed by Mike B. Anderson
Showrunners: Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein

Homer and Marge entering through the door as lightning strikes.

Back in Round 16 I wrote that “we all know that no ‘Treehouse of Horror’ will win this thing in the end,” but, wow, this one? It’s the one to beat. All three segments are awesome, the second and third are downright masterful.

  • The whole “waffle” run in Lisa’s story is just perfect:
    -“Hey, these aren’t waffles. These are just square pancakes.”
    -“I’m sorry, honey, the waffle iron’s in the shop.”
    -“The waffle iron’s been in the shop forever.”

The winner: 4F02, “Treehouse of Horror VII.”

Round 85: You Only Move Twice vs. Lisa the Skeptic

Round 85: 3F23 vs. 5F05.

3F23: “You Only Move Twice” (Season 8 / November 3, 1996)
Written by John Swartzwelder
Directed by Mike B. Anderson
Showrunners: Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein

The Simpson family entering their new house in Cypress Creek

This is one of the three episodes I, before starting this tournament, would cite as my all-time favorites. It doesn’t get funnier than this.

  • On the commentary track, recorded four years after “Die Another Die” and before the release of “Casino Royale,” Ken Keeler feels the need to explain to the listener who James Bond is: “People will be listening to this at some point in time when, possibly, a significant fraction of the population won’t know who James Bond was.”
  • Josh Weinstein: “He was a secret agent… guy, who would often fight these… big villains.”
    Dan Castellaneta: “Parodied in the ‘Austin Powers’ movies. If you’ve seen those, that’s what that’s a take-of of.”

5F05: “Lisa the Skeptic” (Season 9 / November 23, 1997)
Written by David S. Cohen
Directed by Neil Affleck
Showrunners: Mike Scully

Springfield's school children working in the blistering sun

I don’t dislike this episode, but I feel that it could have been better. The whole science vs. faith thing doesn’t really go anywhere, and parts of the story are a little too outlandish for my taste. It’s an okay episode, it just doesn’t look that good compared to 3F23, I guess.

  • -“Now that’s interesting!”

The winner: 3F23, “You Only Move Twice.”