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


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.


Round 13: The Telltale Head vs. Flaming Moe’s

Round 132: 7G07 vs. 8F08.

7G07: “The Telltale Head” (Season 1 / February 25, 1990)
Written by Al Jean, Mike Reiss, Sam Simon, Matt Groening
Directed by Rich Moore
Showrunners: James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Sam Simon

Bart Simpson sneaking out of the house.

I’m pretty sure this was the first episode of “The Simpsons” I ever saw. And I would have been Bart’s age, too, although there wasn’t much about him and his life I could identify with. I was no misfit (at least not intentionally), my family didn’t go to church nor I to Sunday school. Back then I had never seen or experienced the kind of bullying and peer pressure that seems so prevalent in American schools, and I haven’t, since.

Still, even then, I knew this was not like anything else on TV. When Bart goes to Homer for advice and asks “How important is it to be popular?” we don’t get the answer that TV dads have been giving since the dawn of time but instead this: “I’m glad you asked, son. Being popular is the most important thing in the world.”

Of course in the end they both learn their lesson, but the way there is paved with jabs at religion (“Is a little blind faith too much to ask?”), nationalism (at least that’s how I read the instant mob mentality) and other sacred (TV) cows.

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

Aerosmith drinking beer at Moe's Tavern.

Look, it’s John Kalodner and Aerosmith!

This episode has always been very special to me. I was, after all, the biggest Aerosmith fan in my class, my school, my town, and possibly the whole country. And I still enjoy their music today. So seeing them on “The Simpsons” is a lot of fun.

But even apart from all that this is a great one. Compared to the first season episode above the show has come a long way. The animation is downright cinematic (just look at the scenes with Lisa and her friends chasing after Bart, or Homer’s “Phantom of the Opera”-inspired entrance at the end) and full of lovingly done references (the “Cheers” opening credits bit is beautiful). And there’s so much more, but we’ll have time to get into that in the next phase of the tournament, because…

The winner is: 8F08, “Flaming Moe’s.”