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.”

128th-Final, Round 10: Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadasssss Song vs. A Streetcar Named Marge

128th-final, round 10: 1F18 vs. 8F18.

1F18: “Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadasssss Song” (Season 5 / April 28, 1994)
Written by Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein. Directed by Bob Anderson
Showrunner: David Mirkin

Bart Simpson and Principal Skinner

vs.

8F18: “A Streetcar Named Marge” (Season 4 / October 1, 1992)
Written by Jeff Martin. Directed by Rich Moore
Showrunners: Al Jean & Mike Reiss

Play Enjoyed By All

 

The winner, you may be surprised to read, is 1F18, “Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadasssss Song.” I honestly did not expect “Streetcar” to exit the tournament this early, but the truth is that both episodes are excellent and I just happen to like SSSBS a tiny bit more. It’s a really, really close call, though.

128th-Final, Round 7: Flaming Moe’s vs. My Sister, My Sitter

128th-final, round 7: 8F08 vs. 4F13.

8F08: “Flaming Moe’s” (Season 3 / November 21, 1991)
Written by Robert Cohen. Directed by Rich Moore, Alan Smart
Showrunners: Al Jean & Mike Reiss

The Simpsons 8F08 Flaming Moe's

vs.

4F13: “My Sister, My Sitter” (Season 8 / March 2, 1997)
Written by Dan Greaney. Directed by Jim Reardon
Showrunners: Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein

The Simpsons 4F13 My Sister, My Sitter

The winner: 8F08: “Flaming Moe’s.”

I like “My Sister, My Sitter” a lot, and especially Lisa’s story. Her struggle to prove herself a responsible and reliable babysitter feels very true to her character, and Bart makes the perfect foe. Homer and Marge’s visit to the Springfield waterfront promenade offers some fun sight gags, but this really is Lisa’s episode to carry, and she does it well. The way the episode wraps up is a tiny bit clunky, but that can be said of “Flaming Moe’s” as well, I suppose.

It’s easy to overlook (or even embrace) the lack of a perfect resolution in “Flaming Moe’s,” because everything leading up to it is just so masterfully constructed. I love that you really don’t need to know anything about the characters and their relationships going in – the episode flawlessly sets up Homer and Moe’s friendship and then rivalry. And of course the acting and animation is on a level that is so much higher than anything else on television then. Or now.

128th-Final, Round 3: Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment vs. The Trouble with Trillions

128th-final, round 3: 7F13 vs. 5F14
Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment vs. The Trouble with Trillions

7F13: “Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment” (Season 2 / February 7, 1991)
Written by Steve Pepoon. Directed by Rich Moore
Showrunners: James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Sam Simon

The Simpsons 7F13 Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment

vs.

5F14: “The Trouble with Trillions” (Season 9 / April 5, 1998)
Written by Ian Maxtone-Graham. Directed by Swinton O. Scott III
Showrunner: Mike Scully

5F14

So, two big questions: First: which of these episodes do I like more? Second: will it take me another two months to write another 50 word blog post?

I really do like both of these, and it’s kinda hard to even compare them because they are so different in style and Simpsons-ness. But in the end I just gotta go with 7F13, even though 5F14 has some of my favorite jokes ever.

  • Fantastic touch of having Ned look directly at the viewer when talking about “the folks who just don’t feel like working, God bless ‘em.”
  • -Moe: “So, Lenny, let’s say you pull a thorn out of the pope’s butt and he grants you one wish. What’ll it be?” -Lenny: “Hm. Only one, huh? Well, I’ve always wondered what it would feel like to wear something that’s been ironed.”

The winner: 7F13, “Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment.”

And as for that second question… we’ll see.

Round 126: Lisa the Greek vs. Treehouse of Horror XI

Round 126: 8F12 vs. BABF21.

8F12: “Lisa the Greek” (Season 3 / January 23, 1992)
Written by Jay Kogen & Wallace Wolodarsky
Directed by Rich Moore
Showrunners: Al Jean & Mike Reiss

The Simpsons 8F12 Lisa the Greek

Sweet little episode. Homer and Lisa stories are always special to me, and this one explores their relationship very nicely.

  • -Homer: “You see, Lisa, your mother has this crazy idea that gambling is wrong, even though they say it’s okay in the Bible.”
    -Lisa: “Really? Where?”
    -Homer: “Uh… somewhere in the back.”

BABF21: “Treehouse of Horror XI” (Season 12 / November 1, 2000)
Written by Rob LaZebnik, Mike Scully, John Frink, Don Payne, Carolyn Omine
Directed by Matthew Nastuk
Showrunner: Mike Scully

The Simpsons BABF21 Treehouse of Horror XI

Only made it half-way through. It’s crazy, I know, but I’m one of the few people who actually can get enough of splattering blood and horrible violence in my cartoon shows.

The winner: 8F12, “Lisa the Greek.”

Round 118: 24 Minutes vs. Bart the Murderer

Round 118: JABF14 vs. 8F03.

JABF14: “24 Minutes” (Season 18 / May 20, 2007)
Written by Ian Maxtone-Graham & Billy Kimball
Directed by Raymond Persi
Showrunners: Al Jean

Goat sucking on a bottle.

Yeah, I’m not gonna lie. I haven’t seen this one in seven years, and since it’s not out on DVD or streaming anywhere, yet, I can’t really tell you anything about it. It’s season 18, so there’s probably a lot of Homer falling down or hitting his head or having his crotch punched by Jack Bauer. Maybe Lisa uses her one line in the show to sarcastically praise the writers for having the great idea of cross-promoting another FOX series.


8F03: “Bart the Murderer” (Season 3 / October 10, 1991)
Written by John Swartzwelder
Directed by Rich Moore
Showrunners: Al Jean & Mike Reiss

The Simpsons 8F03 Bart the Murderer 8F03d

They don’t do those kinds of contrasting shots anymore, do they? They don’t do a lot of the things on display in this episode anymore, I guess.

Even if “24 Minutes” (which I’ll revisit as soon as it shows up on DVD or online) turns out to be some kind of season 18 masterpiece, I doubt that I’ll like it better than “Bart the Murderer,” which is just so damn great and funny and beautiful.

  • -Marge: “Bart, your father and I don’t want you doing that. Homer, say something.”
    -Homer: “How much does it pay?”
    -Bart: “Thirty bucks a week.”
    -Homer, scoffing: “I make more than that.”

The winner: 8F03, “Bart the Murderer.”

Round 108: Stark Raving Dad vs. Black Widower

Weblog, it’s your birthday!
Happy birthday, weblog!

Round 108: 7F24 vs. 8F20.

7F24: “Stark Raving Dad” (Season 3 / September 19, 1991)
Written by Al Jean & Mike Reiss
Directed by Rich Moore
Showrunners: James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Sam Simon

Maggie celebrating Lisa Simpson's birthday

Such an odd and quirky and wonderful episode. Having Michael Jackson as a guest star could have so easily been nothing more than an empty cameo, a gimmicky publicity stunt. Instead, he actually gets to act as a genuine character who is bridging the A plot of Lisa feeling sad and alone on her birthday to the B storyline of Homer, through equal faults Bart’s and his own, being committed to a mental hospital.

“Stark Raving Dad” came at the very tail end of the Brooks/Groening/Simon tenure, and it shows how much the show has grown in just two years, both in style – the beautiful animation by Rich Moore – and content – a brilliant, funny, and emotionally rich script by showrunners-to-be Jean and Reiss.

  • -Homer: “Pink?! Marge, I can’t wear a pink shirt to work. Everybody wears white shirts. I’m not popular enough to be different.”

8F20: “Black Widower” (Season 3 /April 9, 1992)
Written by Jon Vitti and Sam Simon & Thomas Chastain
Directed by David Silverman
Showrunners: Al Jean & Mike Reiss

Reverend Lovejoy marrying Selma Bouvier and Sideshow Bob

Sideshow Bob is always fun. I like that there are clues throughout the episode as to his murderous scheme, so the attentive viewer can actually solve the case as it unfolds. And, being directed by David Silverman, of course we are treated gorgeous, cinematic visuals.

But, while I liked “Black Widower,” I enjoyed the other episode even more. So:

The winner: 7F24, “Stark Raving Dad.”