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 107: Bart’s Dog Gets an “F” vs. Homer Simpson in: “Kidney Trouble”

Round 107: 7F14 vs. AABF04.

7F14: “Bart’s Dog Gets an ‘F’” (Season 2 / March 7, 1991)
Written by Jon Vitti
Directed by Jim Reardon
Showrunners: James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Sam Simon

Santa's Little Helper burying a potted plant

It’s no “Dog of Death,” and a few of the first season remnants, like Homer’s jealousy of Flanders’ prosperity, do stick out. But it’s a nice story with a couple of good jokes here and there. And I think it was this episode that ignited my love for an enthusiastic “Aloha!” greeting every once and a while.


AABF04: “Homer Simpson in: ‘Kidney Trouble’” (Season 10 / December 6, 1998)
Written by John Swartzwelder
Directed by Mike B. Anderson
Showrunner: Mike Scully

Call Me Delish-Mael Taffy Shop

I hate this episode. It’s not very funny, the characters (especially Homer) are erratically jumping from one emotion to another, and the “resolution” at the end is appalling. I don’t mind kicking this one out of the tournament, at all.

The winner: 7F14, “Bart’s Dog Gets an ‘F’.”

Round 48: Homer’s Phobia vs. Future-Drama

Now that the Season 16 DVD box set has arrived, I can finally do the rounds I skipped, starting with…

Round 48: 4F11 vs. GABF12.

4F11: “Homer’s Phobia” (Season 8 / February 16, 1997)
Written by Ron Hauge
Directed by Mike B. Anderson
Showrunners: Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein

Homer, Barney, Bart, and Moe going hunting

Nice touch that their clothes are modeled after those from “The Deer Hunter.”

I like the idea behind this episode better than I like the actual episode. Similar to Frank Grimes, John, brilliantly voiced by John Waters, comes upon the Simpsons as somebody from “the real world” (Baltimore, presumably), and the ensuing culture clash is a fun and interesting one.

For a season 8 episode, “Homer’s Phobia” feels strangely season 14-ish at times. (A better way of saying that is that certain moments feels more like they’re from an Al Jean episode than from an Oakley & Weinstein episode.) Especially Homer’s behavior is annoying to me – although I do recognize that they had to amp up his lesser qualities to make the final redemption work.

  • “Force majeure!”

GABF12: “Future-Drama” (Season 16 / April 17, 2005)
Written by Matt Selman
Directed by Mike B. Anderson
Showrunner: Al Jean

Slightly older Mrs. Krabappel, Ms. Hoover, Homer and Bart Simpson

Where did Ms. Hoover go? Where did her glass go? Where did Homer go?

I laughed a few times.

Not during the actual episode, unfortunately, but during the DVD commentary.

Oh, well.

The winner: 4F11, “Homer’s Phobia.”

Round 86: The Secret War of Lisa Simpson vs. Homer’s Triple Bypass

Round 86: 4F21 vs. 9F09.

4F21: “The Secret War of Lisa Simpson” (Season 8 / May 18, 1997)
Written by Richard Appel
Directed by Mike Anderson
Showrunners: Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein

Lisa and Bart Simpson doing push-ups in the rain

I don’t think there’s a single Oakley & Weinstein episode I actively dislike, but there are a few, like this one, that just don’t quite resonate with me the way that, say, “A Fish Called Selma” does.

“The Secret War” is funny and well-crafted, the kids’ story is interesting and relevant. I have no complaints. It’s just… if the episode suddenly disappeared I don’t think I’d miss it.


9F09: “Homer’s Triple Bypass” (Season 4 / December 17, 1992)
Written by Gary Apple, Michael Carrington
Directed by David Silverman
Showrunners: Al Jean & Mike Reiss

Homer Simpson and Smithers in Mr. Burns office

When trying to explain how, when, and why The Simpsons went bad, the focus is mostly on the writers and the showrunners. And most of the blame certainly does lie with them. But looking at the astonishingly beautifully animation of this and other episodes directed by David Silverman, it is clear that the show lost something crucial when he stopped directing. Silverman is still on staff as supervising director, but his last own episode (that’s not a clip show or a Halloween special) is season 7’s “Mother Simpson.”

There are other, unquestionably talented directors working for the show, but, to me, David Silverman stands out as the most ambitious and innovative of them all. His episodes look and feel as dramatic and cinematic as they are funny. (I also wrote about the stark contrast between the way the show used to look and how it looks now in Round 23.)

  • -“Remember your hippopotamus oath.”
  • Always love seeing Homer with his half-glasses on, in bed, going over bills.
  • -“And that’s why God causes train wrecks.”

The winner: 9F09, “Homer’s Triple Bypass.

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.”

Round 84: Old Money vs. The President Wore Pearls

Round 84: 7F17 vs. EABF20.

7F17: “Old Money” (Season 2 / March 28, 1991)
Written by Jay Kogen & Wallace Wolodarsky
Directed by David Silverman
Showrunners: James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Sam Simon

Grandpa Abe Simpson in Edward Hopper's Nighthawks diner

Another very good episode from the second season. You can tell that David Silverman directed it, as again we get some beautiful, inventive angles and shadows. Great story, too, with a real emotional depth to it.


EABF20: “The President Wore Pearls” (Season 15 / November 16, 2003)
Written by Dana Gould
Directed by Mike B. Anderson
Showrunners: Al Jean

Vote Lisa Simpson

One marking of a Zombie Simpsons episode (that I hadn’t really thought about until Dead Homer Society pointed it out but now can’t stop noticing) is that characters just appear out of thin air in places they have no reason to be in, just for the sake of a throwaway joke or as a lazy way to move the plot forward. This happens at least three times in this episode, with Chalmers, Skinner’s mother, and Homer and Marge walking into frame without even the attempt of an explanation as to why they would be anywhere near the school.

The winner: 7F17, “Old Money.”

Round 71: Margical History Tour vs. Dial “N” for Nerder

Round 71: FABF06 vs. KABF07.

FABF06: “Margical History Tour” (Season 15 / February 8, 2004)
Written by Brian Kelley
Directed by Mike B. Anderson
Showrunner: Al Jean

Bart Simpson, as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, dying

I get why the writers like to stick our familiar characters into historic settings every once in a while, and there’s some fun stuff here, but overall I can live without these anthology episodes. And, this being season 15, there are of course a few crude jokes that probably replaced better ones in the last draft of the script, like Lisa trying to grow a penis. Sigh.


KABF07: “Dial ‘N’ for Nerder” (Season 19 / March 9, 2008)
Written by Carolyn Omine & William Wright
Directed by Bob Anderson
Showrunner: Al Jean

Nelson Muntz as Lieutenant Columbo

Bart and Lisa’s story is pretty solid for an episode so far into Zombie Simpsons territory, but it can’t redeem the awfulness that is the Homer and Marge plot.

The winner: FABF06, “Margical History Tour.”