128th-Final, Round 13: Lost Our Lisa vs. The Front

128th-final, round 13: 5F17 vs. 9F16.

5F17: “Lost Our Lisa” (Season 9 / May 10, 1998)
Written by Brian Scully. Directed by Pete Michels
Showrunner: Mike Scully

5F17 Lost Our Lisa

Didn’t like it quite as much as last time.

-Lisa: “Can I take the bus to the museum?”
-Homer: “Museum? I don’t like the sound of that.”


9F16: “The Front” (Season 4 / April 15, 1993)
Written by Adam I. Lapidus. Directed by Rich Moore
Showrunners: Al Jean & Mike Reiss

9F16 The Front

Don’t know what I was going on about last time. Brilliant episode.

The winner: 9F16, “The Front.”

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Round 104: Last Exit to Springfield vs. The Cartridge Family

Round 104: 9F15 vs. 5F01.

9F15: “Last Exit to Springfield” (Season 4 / March 11, 1993)
Written by Jay Kogen & Wallace Wolodarsky
Directed by Mark Kirkland
Showrunners: Al Jean & Mike Reiss

Homer Simpson in Mr. Burns' office, polar bear and dramatic shadows and all

Two things tangentially related to this episode (which is perfect, by the way):

  • Not only would I demand “Now do Classical Gas.” from anyone who had just finished a song on the guitar in my vicinity for many years (although not as much recently), I also credit the mention of Mason Williams‘ song in this episode for leading me, via Google – or whatever it was we used to google things back then (AltaVista?) – to another Mason Williams, and, more specifically, his groundbreaking, exceptional, 1,000-days web comic project 1/0, which remains one of my all-time favorite pieces of literature and which you should go and read, like, right now.
  • I saw Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” the other day, and as the credits rolled I noticed the name Wally Wolodarsky, who, with Jay Kogen, wrote this and many other classic Simpsons episodes. He appeared in a couple of Anderson’s films, mostly in small roles but also more prominently in “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” which is something I always forget about so it’s a surprise each time a new one comes around.

5F01: “The Cartridge Family” (Season 9 / November 2, 1997)
Written by John Swartzwelder
Directed by Pete Michels
Showrunner: Mike Scully

Homer Simpson gunning down a plate

Well. This is a rather problematic episode. I kinda remembered at least respecting it for its anti-gun stance, and Homer buying the gun (Five days? But I’m mad now!) does make for a good clip.

But the episode’s actual message, if it has any, is pretty murky. Homer’s jerk-mode is dialed up to 11, making even the NRA look sane and rational in comparison, and the last scene not only conveys that guns can be useful if in the hands of the right people (which is quite troublesome in itself) but then tags along the even more disturbing message that, hey, guns are pretty cool.

Anyway, none of it really matters. 9F15 clearly is the superior episode. So:

The winner: 9F15, “Last Exit to Springfield.”

Round 102: When You Dish Upon a Star vs. Boy-Scoutz ‘n the Hood

Round 102: 5F19 vs. 1F06.

5F19: “When You Dish Upon a Star” (Season 10 / November 8, 1998)
Written by Richard Appel
Directed by Pete Michels
Showrunner: Mike Scully

Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin with her Academy Award

-Alec Baldwin: “Honey, why don’t you give that thing a rest? You’re taking the finish off.”
-Kim Basinger: “When you win one, you can take care of it however you want.”

Alec Baldwin’s in the news right now because he wrote something or said something that somebody then wrote about or maybe he tweeted something that the New Yorker then blogged about. Look, I’m not here to talk about Alec Baldwin, but you know, if people happen to search for his name in combination with the term “gay slur” (as Google’s auto-complete suggests many do) and in turn find this website that has nothing to say about Alec Baldwin’s shocking (I guess?) behavior, well, that’s unfortunate. Bad Google!

Anyway, I was in a bit of a bad mood when I watched this episode and I’m still in a bad mood now, so that might tell us something. It’s not panda rape bad, but it’s pretty bad. There are a few funny things I can see making the writers laugh when they came up with it but maybe after the third draft they should have said, You know what? Let’s just not make this episode, after all.


1F06: “Boy-Scoutz ‘n the Hood” (Season 5 / November 18, 1993)
Written by Dan McGrath
Directed by Jeff Lynch
Showrunner: David Mirkin

Barney Gumble, and Bart and Milhouse high on an all-syrup squishee

One of the most memorable Simpsons episodes, no doubt. And it’s only in the context of the tournament that I find flaws with it, but I’ll go into them (hint: it starts with an “H” and ends with “omer is too much of a jerk”) when we see 1F06 again, because…

… the winner is: 1F06, “Boy-Scoutz ‘n the Hood.”

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 82: Homer to the Max vs. Duffless

Round 82: AABF09 vs. 9F14.

AABF09: “Homer to the Max” (Season 10 / February 7, 1999)
Written by John Swartzwelder
Directed by Pete Michels
Showrunners: Mike Scully

The Simpson family watching television

Me, watching this episode.

You know how that show, “Breaking Bad,” took one character and over many years turned him from good to bad so gradually that you can’t really pinpoint any specific incidences that put him over the edge? “The Simpsons” is like that. It was good, now it’s bad. This episode is somewhere in between, although I’d say it leans more towards the bad side. (Not coincidentally, this is another one that feels an awful lot like a “Family Guy” episode.)

  • -“Wow, look at this place. The house number is spelled out with letters.
    -“Get used to it, honey. From now on, we’ll be spelling everything with letters.”

9F14: “Duffless” (Season 4 / February 18, 1993)
Written by David M. Stern
Directed by Jim Reardon
Showrunners: Al Jean & Mike Reiss Homer Simpson screams, Bart has a giant tomato

A funny episode with a sweet ending and an incredibly cool “A Clockwork Orange” reference thrown in. It’s not my favorite season 4 outing, but obviously it’s the better episode here.

The winner: 9F14, “Duffless.”

Round 70: Brother from Another Series vs. One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish

Round 70: 4F14 vs. 7F11.

4F14: “Brother from Another Series” (Season 8 / February 23, 1997)
Written by Ken Keeler
Directed by Pete Michels
Showrunners: Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein

Bart Simpson falling to his doom

Kelsey Grammer’s performances as Sideshow Bob are always a delight, and giving him David Hyde Pierce to play off of is a great idea. I’ve only seen one or two episodes of Frasier, so I bet there are a lot of references I don’t get, but there are a ton of other funny things to enjoy here, plus beautiful, dramatic animation and scoring.

If you like the occasional glimpse behind the scenes of The Simpsons, you could do worse than to follow David Silverman on Twitter, where he, a while ago, shared a page from this episode’s storyboards, with notes by Brad Bird:

4F14 storyboard with notes by Brad Bird


7F11: “One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish” (Season 2 / January 24, 1991)
Written by Nell Scovell
Directed by Wes Archer
Showrunners: James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Sam Simon

Dumb Things I Gotta Do Today

I still do this every time I make a list.

What can I say? A pivotal episode for the series, one that announced to the world that this wasn’t just some cartoon, but a show that has something to say, stories to tell, make you think, and make you laugh.

  • -“What are you in for?”
    -“Atmosphere.”

The winner: 7F11, “One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish.”

Round 25: Homer the Heretic vs. Lost Our Lisa

Round 25: 9F01 vs. 5F17.

9F01: “Homer the Heretic” (Season 4 / October 8, 1992)
Written by George Meyer
Directed by Jim Reardon
Showrunners: Al Jean & Mike Reiss

Homer Simpson having a little talk with five-fingered God.

A beautiful, smart episode, featuring a happy, relatable Homer, great jokes, just the right amount of absurd humor, and a “lesson” that is fun, ambiguous and never preachy.

  • Similar to what happened in “Weekend at Burnsie’s,” Homer has animals land on his shoulders and treat him as their master. But here it is actually funny. And no one gets their eyes pecked out.
  • Nice car chase scene, animation and music are just right.
  • All-time great “Itchy & Scratchy.”
  • “Coming up next: Make Your Own Ladder.”

5F17: “Lost Our Lisa” (Season 9 / May 10, 1998)
Written by Brian Scully
Directed by Pete Michels
Showrunner: Mike Scully

Homer and Lisa Simpson watching the Orb of Isis.

I don’t know why exactly this is, but I enjoy few things more in life than the sight of fathers spending quality time with their daughters. I don’t have a daughter nor am I one, but it just stirs something up inside me and I get all emotional. Many of the Simpsons moments I hold most dear are ones between Homer and Lisa, and we get a handful of beautiful examples in this episode.

Another reason to love “Lost Our Lisa” are the many great observations of being a kid, from super glue accidents to riding the city bus for the first time. Nancy and especially Yeardley are perfect as Bart and Lisa, they bring so much emotion to their performances.

And there’s Homer, of course, happy, adventurous, wise (in his own way) and most of all proud of (and concerned for) his daughter. It’s just wonderful, and a far cry from the angry, careless Homer we get to see these days.

But it’s not all emotion, the episode is actually very funny, too. I imagine I’ll get into some of my favorite quotes when we see “Lost Our Lisa” again in the next phase of the tournament, because…

The winner is: 5F17: “Lost Our Lisa.”