Splitsider

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

The Simpsons vs. NewsRadio and Party Down vs. The Bob Newhart Show

The Best Sitcom Episode Ever Tournament is pitting 32 of the greatest episodes of funny TV shows ever produced against each other in a single-elimination winner-takes-all (well, takes-nothing) competition. Every day, we're putting up episodes for you, our loyal readers, to vote on. Today: The Simpsons vs. NewsRadio and Party Down vs. The Bob Newhart Show.

The Simpsons — “Marge vs. the Monorail,” January 14, 1993

There are many reasons why “Marge vs. the Monorail,” one of three Simpsons episodes solely written by Conan O’Brien, is THE episode of THE greatest sitcom of all-time — including Phil Hartman’s fast-talking monorail man, Lyle Lanley; Leonard Nimoy’s fittingly random guest appearance; “The Monorail Song”; Springfield’s quintessential mob mentality-over-reason decision; Homer’s correlation between scientists and Batman; donuts getting the well-needed PR push they’d needed for years, because really, is there anything they can’t do?; the world-expanding inclusion of Ogdenville, North Haverbrook, and Brockway; and a opossum named Bitey — but the biggest one is: it’s really fucking funny. — Josh Kurp

NewsRadio — “The Cane,” December 12, 1995

NewsRadio was a show that could always take something seemingly small — like Bill McNeal buying a cane and using it to irritate Dave — and manage to turn it into a fully realized and funny story. The best moments in "The Cane" involve a battle between Bill and Dave over a cane ("hand-carved mahogany with a solid brass tip”) that Bill started using as an affectation, but there's great stuff here from everyone in the show's well-oiled ensemble. The cane plotline is a chance for Phil Hartman to run wild and show off his comedic prowess, but amazing comedy straight man Dave Foley and Stephen Root shine here too. — Bradford Evans

Poll closed.


Party Down — "Steve Guttenberg's Birthday," May 21, 2010

Party Down was a comedy about a group of people who were stuck in jobs that they really didn't want. Everyone had their dream job — from actor to Souper Crackers franchisee to sci-fi screenwriter — but somehow all of them were stuck serving cocktails in pink bowties. "Steve Guttenberg's Birthday" is so good because it allows for us to see them all let their guard down a bit and actually focus on their dreams. Of course, it's all in the setting of Steve Guttenberg's house, played by the Police Academy star himself, who had forgot to cancel catering for a party he had scrapped. It's meta, it's hilarious, it's surprisingly touching, and it's one of the best episodes of this short-lived gem of a show. — Adam Frucci

The Bob Newhart Show — “Over the River and Through the Woods,” November 22, 1975

TV is littered with classic Christmas episodes, but what about the holiday that comes a month beforehand, the one with the turkey and stuffing? There aren’t many great Thanksgiving episodes, but the few there are — like WKRP in Cincinnati’s “Turkeys Away” and Cheers’ “Thanksgiving Orphans” — are, well, great. But the best of the bunch is “Over the River and Through the Woods,” the beloved fourth season episode of The Bob Newhart Show. Bob makes up an excuse to his wife to not have to see his in-laws, so he can instead hang out with his friends, including Jerry (Peter Bonerz) and Howard (Bill Daily), on Thanksgiving. They get piss drunk, watch football, and order Chinese food. It’s funny because it’s true, a Newhart specialty. — Josh Kurp

Poll closed.

  • Steve Paulo@facebook

    I love NewsRadio, but it doesn't have a prayer…

  • http://twitter.com/joshung Joshua Ungerleider

    Yeah, today wasn't as stressful as yesterdays. NewsRadio is great, but its against a classic from the Simpsons, tough draw.

    And I love Newhart more than somebody my age generally does, but I'm thinking the demographics for this site pretty much mean its doomed against Party Down.

  • Jess@twitter

    How dare you put The Cane against Marge vs. the Monorail?! STRESS.

  • http://twitter.com/JesseDavidFox @JesseDavidFox

    From Day 1 this was a tournament of who was going to lose to "Marge vs. the Monorail." I feel bad for all the great TV episodes it will leave in this wake.

    Maybe next time we can do a "2nd Best Sitcom Episode After ' Marge vs. the Monorail' Tournament"

  • Joshua Kurp

    HARTMAN v. HARTMAN

    :(

  • Piss Cop

    Bob doesn't stand a chance in this one, and I pity any show that comes up against the Simpsons.

    • http://splitsider.com Adam Frucci

      @Piss Cop Seinfeld is actually beating the other Simpsons ep in the tourney right now by about 1.5%. So this may be the only one in it after the first round!

  • Nikolas Ehren Nelson@facebook

    Two of Hartman's greatest performances. I'm going for the underdog because I honestly can't say whether one is better than the other.

  • Jon O

    I'm so sorry, Newsradio.

  • Ava Adore

    I'm voting for my beloved NewsRadio even though it doesn't stand a chance against the Simpsons.

  • Multiphasic

    There were episodes of Newsradio that could stand up to "M v. M", but "The Cane" ain't one of 'em…

  • Luke Donatelli@twitter

    This series of posts has forced me to make harder decisions than Harry S. Truman ever had to make.

    (I went with NewsRadio, btw.)

  • Montana

    " I read your book, you magnificent bastard!"