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 123: Who Shot Mr. Burns? Part 1 vs. New Kids on the Blecch

Round 123: 2F16 vs. CABF12.

2F16: “Who Shot Mr. Burns? Part One” (Season 6 / May 21, 1995)
Written by Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein
Directed by Jeff Lynch
Showrunner: David Mirkin

2F16 Who Shot Mr. Burns? Part One

I like it.


CABF12: “New Kids on the Blecch” (Season 12 / February 25, 2001)
Written by Tim Long
Directed by Steven Dean Moore
Showrunner: Mike Scully

CABF12 New Kids on the Blecch

Funniest part of the episode. I think it’s the first act break. Maybe it’s the second? They were both pretty great.

I don’t like it.

The winner: 2F16, “Who Shot Mr. Burns? Part One.” Sorry, again, for being so short on words these days. But right now it’s either moving the tournament along without writing a lot, or not posting any new rounds at all.

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 112: In the Name of the Grandfather vs. Beyond Blunderdome

Round 112: LABF11 vs. AABF23.

LABF11: “In the Name of the Grandfather” (Season 20 / March 22, 2009)

Written by Matt Marshall
Directed by Ralph Sosa
Showrunner: Al Jean

The Simpsons flopping about like fish out of water

Symbolism!

I guess I must have at one point thought this episode wasn’t entirely terrible, because somehow it ended up here in this tournament. Oh, well.


AABF23: “Beyond Blunderdome” (Season 11 / September 26, 1999)
Written by Mike Scully
Directed by Steven Dean Moore
Showrunner: Mike Scully

The Simpsons AABF23 Beyond Blunderdome

I watched the first act. Then I turned it off because I remembered a) the rest of the episode and b) that I will have to (attempt to) watch it again, since…

The “winner”: AABF23, “Beyond Blunderdome.”

Round 109: Lisa’s Wedding vs. Treehouse of Horror XIV

Round 109: 2F15 vs. EABF21.

2F15: “Lisa’s Wedding” (Season 6 / March 19, 1995)
Written by Greg Daniels
Directed by Jim Reardon
Showrunner: David Mirkin

Future Lisa and Hugh enjoy the sunset

Mandy Patinkin!


EABF21: “Treehouse of Horror XIV” (Season 15 /November 2, 2003)
Written by John Swartzwelder
Directed by Steven Dean Moore
Showrunner: Al Jean

Dr. Dudley Herschbach and Jennifer Garner

-Jennifer Garner: “You know, Dr. Herschbach, our jobs are actually not that different.”
Dr. Dudley Herschbach: “I disagree.”

Pretty fun Halloween special. I wouldn’t consider any of the segments “classic,” but I laughed a few times.

The winner: 2F15, “Lisa’s Wedding.”

(Sorry for the long absence and now this super short entry. Was kinda preoccupied there for a while. Regular scheduling should resume any day now.)

Round 98: The Old Man and the Lisa vs. ‘Scuse Me While I Miss the Sky

Round 98: 4F17 vs. EABF11.

4F17: “The Old Man and the Lisa” (Season 8 / April 20, 1997)
Written by John Swartzwelder
Directed by Mark Kirkland
Showrunners: Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein

Lenny in charge of the Springfield nuclear power plant Charles Montgomery Burns all alone in Mr. Smithers' kitchen

Such a wonderful episode. A terrific Burns and Lisa story with emotional heft and a clever twist at the end. And the animation’s just beautiful, full of cinematic angles and lighting. I especially enjoyed the “Night of the Living Dead” thing at the end.

Also: bonus points for Burns’ usage of “Egad!,” my favorite minced oath.

  • -Bart: “Oh, recycling is useless, Lis. Once the sun burns out, this planet is doomed. You’re just making sure we spend our last days using inferior products.”

EABF11: “‘Scuse Me While I Miss the Sky” (Season 14 / March 30, 2003)
Written by Dan Greaney, Allen Grazier
Directed by Steven Dean Moore
Showrunner: Al Jean

Bart Simpson and Milhouse van Houten stealing Fat Tony's Emmy hood ornament wearing fake mustaches

I remember liking this episode when it first aired, but it really doesn’t hold up. Compared to “The Old Man and the Lisa” the script’s flaws and gaping plot holes become obvious, and the few jokes and gimmicks that might have made you chuckle at first don’t offer anything worth revisiting.

The winner: 4F17, “The Old Man and the Lisa.”

Round 97: A Milhouse Divided vs. King of the Hill

Round 97: 4F04 vs. 5F16.

4F04: “A Milhouse Divided” (Season 8 / December 1, 1996)
Written by Steve Tompkins
Directed by Steven Dean Moore
Showrunners: Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein

Luann Van Houten burning a box of Kirk's belongings

A great script, beautifully animated. I tend to enjoy episodes that focus on the family more than those heavily featuring secondary characters, but having Milhouse’s parents get a divorce is a great idea and I love the way it’s handled. Most other sitcoms would have restored the status quo at the end, and probably while teaching us some valuable lesson, too.

  • -Marge: “A punch bowl like that just screams good taste. Wouldn’t it be perfect for the dinner party?”
    -Homer: “We can’t afford that. Who do you think I am, Liz Taylor?”
    -Marge: “Well, maybe we can use it once and then return it.”
    -Homer: “Marge, we’re not talking about a toothbrush here.”
  • -Homer: “You can’t keep blaming yourself. Just blame yourself once and move on.”

5F16: “King of the Hill” (Season 9 / May 3, 1998)
Written by John Swartzwelder
Directed by Steven Dean Moore
Showrunners: Mike Scully

Yeti, the Abominable Snowman, helping Homer Simpson climb the Murderhorn

An interesting side-effect of this tournament, and one that I didn’t expect to happen, is that I look at episodes much more critically than I ever did in the past. I always enjoyed “King of the Hill,” and I still did, for the most part, on this viewing. But compared to not only the episode above but also to the kinds of episode I expect to make it to the last rounds of the bracket, a few things stood out to me. Homer is once again a tad too much of a jerk, he’s victim of too much physical abuse, and the (always lose) fabric of the show’s plausibility is  stretched too thin a few times.

These are, of cause, all symptoms of a Zombie Simpsons episode, yet “King of the Hill” is far from that. The difference, and the thing that saves the episode from falling into that dreaded category, are the effort, love, and care of the people involved in the making of it that is clearly on display.

The winner: 4F04, “A Milhouse Divided.”