Lifetime of Simpsons

S09 E23 – King of the Hill

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Two hundred episodes. There have now been two hundred episodes behind us. Sorry, I still can’t got over that. Anyway, what do we have on the docket for today? Homer climbing a mountain while being unable to pronounce the word gym? Right on.

The episode starts off with the family watching the newest terrible McBain movie, which features him trying to deliver pennies for Unicef while combating Commie-Nazis. Bart is super psyched about the movie, praising Wolfcastle’s crazy muscles, which results in Homer showing off the power of his flab, using it to crush a beer can. We also get a scene that made me laugh out loud:

[McBain snaps the neck of a Commie-Nazi]

Marge: “That’s what I call break-neck speed!”

Bart: “Mom, a man just died.”

Poor Marge, just can’t catch a break. But after shooting down Marge’s MST3K-style pun, she tells them to turn off the movie, because it’s time for them to go to some sort of church picnic. So it’s off to the park!

We’re then treated to some great sight gags, like Mr. Burns trying to run over Ralph with his car after getting tagged “it.” But things start going with Rod and Bart decide to start up a game of capture the flag. They start picking kids to join their teams, and Rod totally breaks the rules by picking Ned. Bart then has no choice to retaliate but pick Homer, who is busy being passed out drunk and shirtless next to a port-a-potty. But when he heads Ned is playing, he decides he needs to participate too. So the teams split up and start playing, while Bart and Homer devise a brilliant stategy that revolves around underwear. Homer’s able to steal the other flag, and starts running back to his home base, only to pass out just over the line, since he’s so out of shape that he can’t run like twenty yards. The children then respond by pelting him with deviled eggs.

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So yeah, Homer’s self-esteem isn’t that great. He’s in terrible shape and Bart is embarrassed by his performance in the game. So Homer makes a vow to better himself, and decides to start jogging in the early morning with Santa’s Little Helper. Unfortunately Homer passes out in front of the Flanders’ house. He thinks about giving up after Santa’s Little Helper has to drag him home, but remains committed, and just starts with babysteps. And things really start going great when he heads to the Kwik-E-Mart one morning and Apu recommends he eat some new healthy energy bars, called Powersauce!

And with that Powersauce Homer begins amping his workout up, even finding Springfield’s All-Night Gym. Which leads to the aforementioned hilarious gag of Homer mispronouncing gym, which I really can’t figure out how to spell. It’s just something you have to hear. And it’s great. So Homer begins working out, poorly, until he learns about a secret perk of the gym. Ranier Wolfcastle works out there! And he’s apparently bored enough to start personally training Homer. And after some time passes, Homer’s able to see some real results. He’s lost weight and gained a lot of strength, which really impresses the family. That is until he starts to get pretentious, and judges their eating habits.

But this isn’t going to be an episode about Homer becoming obsessed with health until the family can’t stand him anymore, because the plot takes another twist when Bart is hanging out with Homer in the gym while being stunned that Homer knows Wolfcastle. And as they’re working out two representatives from the Powersauce company show up with an idea for Wolfcastle to climb Springfield’s tallest mountain, the Muderhorn. Wolfcastle passes, but Bart overhears and convinces the suits that Homer would be a better alternative. And for some reason they agree, pushing Homer down the path of climbing a treacherous mountain.

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The family is obviously not cool with Homer climbing the horrible mountain, especially Grandpa who apparently tried to climb it in ’28, until he was betrayed by his partner and pushed off the mountain. But Homer ignores him and heads out. But it’s going to be okay, because the Powersauce guys have hired two Sherpa’s to help Homer survive the climb. They then head up the mountain where we learn the secret plan is to have Homer barely do anything during the day, and then have the Sherpa’s carry him up while he sleeps. And this plan goes well for a while, until Homer wakes up one night and finds the Sherpa’s doing all the work. Homer freaks out and fires them, declaring he’s going to do it all himself. Which is a terrible plan.

And that’s confirmed when he calls the Powersauce guys to tell them about the shakeup, and they inform him that Powersauce is actually apple cores and Chinese newspapers. But Homer ignores them and keeps going, even having an insane hallucination when the air starts to get really thin. But he doesn’t give up, and Homer just keeps climbing until he reaches the peak. Except it’s not the peak, there’s still a whole lot more to go. Homer thinks about giving up, and decides to hang out in a little cave for a while.

And inside he finds the frozen corpse of Grandpa’s partner. Homer starts looking through the guy’s belongings and finds that Grandpa actually tired to eat him, leaving the hilarious final message of “tell my darling wife my last thoughts were of her. Blinding and torturing Abe Simpson.” And after that hilarious little interlude Homer finally gives up. He takes out the flag he was supposed to plant at the top of the mountain, replaces the Powersauce flag with the capture-the-flag flag, and rams it into the ground. Which causes a crack to spread around the mountain, causing the rest of the peak to fall off, leaving Homer at the new peak. And now that he’s a success, he climbs atop the corpse of that other guy and sleds down the mountain to his adoring crowd. And even though the flag has flown away and there’s no proof he made it, Bart now thinks he’s the coolest dad of all time, so it’s all worth it.

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I really like this episode. Despite living in Denver my whole life, I’ve never had even the slightest interest in mountain-climbing. I’m not even particularly fond of hiking in the mountain, which is probably linked to me being in as good of shape as Homer in the beginning of the episode. It just seems crazy, and seeing Homer just randomly decide to climb a mountain in order to impress Bart was great. Because Homer’s kind of used to Lisa being ashamed of him. That happens a lot. And there’s usually not much that he can do about it. He tries to better himself, but a lot of episodes that revolve around Lisa being ashamed of Homer end up with them meeting in the middle. But this episode gave us a look at how much Homer freaks out when Bart is ashamed of him. Homer is not cool with that, and does everything in his power to change himself to a person that Bart can be proud of. I don’t really think I would expect my father to do something this insane to impress me, and I certainly won’t whenever I have a kid, but hey, it’s the thought that counts, and it had some sweet scenes between Homer and Bart. Plus it’s crazy funny. Grandpa trying to eat that guy, the insane way to pronounce gym, Homer’s ridiculous line “Hey, Deng Xiaoping died,” when he finds out that Powersauce is made of Chinese newspapers, it’s all great.

Take Away: Don’t flippantly climb mountains.

 

“King of the Hill” was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Steven Dean Moore, 1998.

 

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