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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Round 22: Missionary: Impossible vs. A Fish Called Selma

Round 22: BABF11 vs. 3F15.

BABF11: “Missionary: Impossible” (Season 11 / February 20, 2000)
Written by Ron Hauge
Directed by Steven Dean Moore
Showrunner: Mike Scully

Marge Simpson saying "I just don't think it's funny."

You and me both, Marge. You and me both.

I didn’t see this one when it aired on TV, only later when the 11th season came out on DVD. Watched it once, watched the commentary once, forgot about it. If not for this tournament I could have lived a long and happy life without ever thinking of or watching it again.

But here we are. I can forgive a lot. Plot holes, laser-shooting Teletubbies, an ending that should be the textbook definition of the word “lazy.” But what I won’t forgive is just not being funny. I laughed once. I sighed many times.

  • Good couch gag. Reminds me of Paris.
  • Is that PBS guy supposed to be some cheap Troy McLure knock-off?
  • This is another episode where you can just switch out Homer for Peter Griffin, Bart for Brian, Marge for Lois and so on. “Family Guy” can be entertaining, but it’s also very forgettable. If an episode of “The Simpsons” is indistinguishable from one of “Family Guy,” it has no place in this tournament.

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

Troy McLure on a date with Selma Bouvier.

“I can’t remember when I’ve heard a funnier anecdote. Okay, now you tell one.”

Phil Hartman at his very best, plus great performances from Julie Kavner and Jeff Goldblum. You know all the great bits and don’t need me to remind you.

In stark contrast to the episode above, this one has an actual story, with emotion, an arc, conflict and resolution. It also has a dozen quotable lines, great jokes, and a perfect musical number that has rightly found its place in pop culture history.

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