Round 46, Part 2: The Father, the Son and the Holy Guest Star

Back in July I declared Season 7’s “Lisa the Vegetarian” the winner over Season 16’s “The Father, the Son and the Holy Guest Star” despite never having seen the latter episode.

I promised to revisit Round 46 as soon as the Season 16 DVD box set would come my way, though. And it did, on Christmas! So…

The Father, the Son and the Holy Guest Star” (Season 16 / May 15, 2005)
Written by Matt Warburton
Directed by Michael Polcino
Showrunner: Al Jean

Homer Simpson confesses to Father Sean (Liam Neeson)

Okay, so I hated the opening set piece (the school is holding some medieval fair for some reason?) and not just because it was basically just a setup for cheap, rat-based gross-out humor, but also because it reminded me that, at this point in the series, the characters on screen might look like the ones I love and remember from the show’s golden years, but they’re not behaving like them. When Matthew Pury wrote about “Lisa’s Substitue” for his tournament, he noted how Lisa used to be vulnerable and shy, but lost those qualities as time went on. In this episode, Lisa revels in being named Queen of the Fair (or something like that) not because it fits her character but simply because it gives Bart something to play off of. Sherry or Terry would have worked just as well, and actually made more sense.

Anyway, the episode got better after the main plot kicked in. Liam Neeson and Tress MacNeille are fun, and there are some nice jokes to be had at the expense of religion – easy target, I know, but still.

Sadly, though, there are too many moments that, I suspect, wouldn’t have made it into the final draft of a pre-Al-Jean-as-sole-showrunner-episode. I’ve said it about Season 15, I’ve said it about Season 17, and now I’ll say it about Season 16: restraint and focus are long gone. Too bad.

Verdict: “The Father, the Son and the Holy Guest Star” is a decent enough episode with some regrettable flaws. “Lisa the Vegetarian” still wins Round 46.


Round 46: Lisa the Vegetarian vs. The Father, the Son and the Holy Guest Star

Round 46: 3F03 vs. GABF09.

3F03: “Lisa the Vegetarian” (Season 7 / October 15, 1995)
Written by David S. Cohen
Directed by Mark Kirkland
Showrunner: David Mirkin

The Meat Council Presents: Troy McLure in an educational film about meat.

Meat and You: Partners in Freedom

Phil Hartman, ladies and gentlemen.

And a whole lot more. This episode bursts at the seams with meaty comedy goodness, perfect performances by the whole cast, beautiful animation and a great script. This one will be hard to beat.

GABF09: “The Father, the Son and the Holy Guest Star” (Season 16 / May 15, 2005)
Written by Matt Warburton
Directed by Michael Polcino
Showrunner: Al Jean

Goat sucking on a bottle.

Confession: I have not seen this episode. I missed it when it first aired and never caught up with it later. The sixteenth season is the next to be released on DVD, but there’s no date for that, yet. Maybe Christmas?

I included the episode in the tournament because it received some favorable reviews and also Liam Neeson is in it, and he’s always fun. But I won’t know until the DVDs come out.

So, what to do? Let’s be honest, even if “The Father, the Son and the Holy Guest Star” is good, chances are really, really slim that I’ll like it better than “Lisa the Vegetarian.”

The winner*, then: 3F03, “Lisa the Vegetarian.” With an asterisk. Whenever I get to see it I’ll write a few words about GABF09. And if it’s better than 3F03, I’ll go back and change the outcome of this round. Promised.