Now then, on to the fun!
12. “The Man Who Grew Too Much” – Original Air Date: March 9, 2014
When I started putting this together, I couldn’t remember what happens in this one. Considering that it’s not even a year old, that can’t be a good sign. In case you forgot too, this is the one where Sideshow Bob gets super strong from experimental drugs after he becomes the Chief Science Officer at the prison. Why they would put a clearly insane person in charge of that is beyond me. I mean, yeah, he’s smart, but you have to draw the line somewhere. I could deal with leaps of faith like that if the laughs were there to back it up, but this one didn’t have a lot going for it.
11. “Funeral For A Fiend” – Original Air Date: November 25, 2007
The question of what would happen if Sideshow Bob died is an intriguing one, but sadly the answer was “a really boring episode.” First off, the notion that the entire town would turn on Bart and support a man who repeatedly attempted to murder a child is completely ridiculous. Secondly, Sideshow Bob’s big feet being utilized as the solution to the story was already done in the first Sideshow Bob episode, so that just felt lazy. The only good thing about this one was John Mahoney guest starring as Sideshow Bob’s dad, making the Frasier connection complete.
10. “The Great Louse Detective – Original Air Date: December 14, 2002
This episode relies far too much on shock humor. I mean that literally — about half of the episode is just Sideshow Bob getting shocked over and over again. Apparently, the writers found that a lot funnier than most of the viewers did. Still, this one isn’t devoid of redeeming qualities; the idea of Sideshow Bob teaming up with Homer to solve the mystery of Homer’s killer is interesting, as is the ultimate reveal of Frank Grimes, Jr. looking to avenge his father. Still, this episode seems like a waste of potential, especially the tacked-on ending with Sideshow Bob having a chance to kill Bart, but deciding he can’t because he’s “grown accustomed” to Bart’s face. When Sideshow Bob’s singing ruined his scheme in “Cape Feare,” it was clever. This time it just seemed lazy.
9. “Day Of The Jackanapes” – Original Air Date: February 18, 2001
I still don’t understand this one. In Sideshow Bob’s previous appearance, he was reformed and no longer homicidal. Now, he wants to kill Bart AND Krusty? Okay, maybe being falsely imprisoned at the end of “Brother From Another Series” made him crazy again, but this is NEVER mentioned. Instead, he’s angered that Krusty taped over his old episodes, while Krusty is sick of network notes, so he decides to retire. This culminates with Sideshow Bob trying to kill both of them in a dynamite explosion at Krusty’s final show. The whole storyline was underwhelming, and Sideshow Bob’s motive should have been explored more. Still, I can’t hate an episode that has Homer’s line about “gettin’ drunk at the old flower shop.” I use that one in conversation a fair amount.
8. “The Italian Bob” – Original Air Date: December 11, 2005
Sideshow Bob escapes to Italy and is free of the Simpsons once and for all … or so he thinks. Naturally, when the family greets him in the Italian village, they screw everything up, with the lone difference being that this time, a drunk Lisa is the culprit. This one is fairly enjoyable, combining a travel episode with a Sideshow Bob episode. The Simpsons escape Sideshow Bob’s wrath yet again, while his urge to kill them all grows stronger than ever. Most of all, I’ll remember this one for reminding us that cheese insurance does not cover mortadella.
7. “The Bob Next Door” – Original Air Date: May 16, 2010
Let’s not beat around the bush here: yes, the face-switching thing is weird. Like, really weird. Probably the grossest thing The Simpsons has ever done outside of the “Treehouse Of Horror” episodes. I can certainly understand why that turned some fans off, but I’ll argue that the rest of this episode is entertaining and clever enough to make up for it. Bart being frightened by a new neighbor who sounds exactly like his arch-nemesis is a great concept, as is Bob’s plan to kill Bart at the Five Corners — he fires a bullet in one state that kills Bart in another, therefore no crime has been committed. The face thing is weird, but there’s still a lot to like about this one.