King of the Hill (The Simpsons)
"King of the Hill" is the twenty-third episode of the ninth season of the animated television series The Simpsons, which originally aired May 3, 1998. It was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Steven Dean Moore, and guest stars Brendan Fraser and Steven Weber. The episode sees Homer trying to climb a large mountain to impress Bart; it has no relevance to the animated series of the same name.
The family goes to a church picnic. When the kids start a game of capture the flag, Bart chooses Homer to be on his team. Soon, Bart realizes Homer is not physically fit and is disappointed in his father when he collapses. That night, Homer thinks about how ashamed Bart was and, at midnight, he sneaks out to exercise. A later night, Homer is running and decides to stop at the Kwik-E-Mart, where he discovers an energy bar called "Power Sauce," which he starts to eat regularly.
During another one of his late-night runs, he finds a 24-hour gym. There, he meets Rainier Wolfcastle who becomes his fitness coach. In two months, Homer is slimmer and has defined muscles. Homer then reveals to the family that he has been secretly working out. The family is impressed, even Bart. He goes with Homer to the gym one day, where Rainier is being asked by two "Power Sauce" representatives to climb the tallest mountain in Springfield, "The Murderhorn", as a publicity stunt. When Rainier refuses, Bart informs them that Homer will climb it and, when he is asked, Homer accepts.
When he finds out that Homer is climbing the mountain, Abraham Simpson urges Homer not to do it, as he attempted to when he was younger, and was betrayed by his friend C. W. McAllister. In the flashback he remembers that he was thrown off the mountain by McAllister to his "death." Homer ignores him and publicly begins his climbing. He is aided by two Sherpas as guides, who were instructed to drag Homer up the mountain as he sleeps. During one of these nights, Homer wakes up to discover that he is being secretly dragged, and fires the two Sherpas. After a loss of communication with Homer, many, including the "Power Sauce" representatives, predict Homer's death and claim to him that the bars are made of just apple cores and shredded Chinese newspaper. Homer ignores their plea and continues to climb while having hallucinations, and when he believes he has reached the top, he only sees that he has made it to a ledge.
Homer enters a small cave on the side of the mountain and discovers the frozen body of McAllister and his journal. Homer reads that it was actually his father that betrayed McAllister and even attempted to eat him. Ashamed of himself and his father, Homer climbs out and sticks his flag on the ledge causing mountain's peak to break off, thereby making the ledge Homer was standing on the peak. Proud of his work, Homer uses McAllister's body as a sled to go down the mountain, where he is greeted by a crowd. Homer is happy that Bart is finally proud of him, but chagrined when Marge notes that he left his wallet on the summit.
The episode was pitched and written by John Swartzwelder. The writing staff had to find a new angle for Homer's weight problems, as the idea had been used several times before. This was emphasized in this episode when Marge does not seem to care that Homer is going to try to lose weight again.
In the scenes when the Sherpas were speaking, the show staff went to great lengths to find translations. Originally, the producers of the movie adaption of the book Into Thin Air were contacted to help. The movie producers were shocked at the trouble the Simpsons staff were going to, and replied that they had simply made up translations in the movie. The staff then had to consult various experts by telephone.
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The mountain Homer must climb, the Murderhorn, is a reference to the mountain Matterhorn, which is located in the Swiss Alps. The episode title itself refers to FOX's other popular animated sitcom at the time of the episode's production, King of the Hill.
When Homer reads the Chinese newspaper inside his Power Sauce bar he reads that Deng Xiaoping had died. Xiaoping actually died in February 1997, more than a year before the episode aired, but since it took around a year at that time for shows to go from a script to being fully finished, the reference was pretty timely.
In its original broadcast, "King of the Hill" finished 23rd in ratings for the week of April 27 - May 4, 1998, with a Nielsen rating of 9.4, equivalent to approximately 9.2 million viewing households. It was the fourth highest-rated show on the Fox network that week, following The X-Files, King of the Hill, and Ally McBeal.
The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, thought well of the episode, calling it, "A quite charming little adventure in which, in an effort to impress Bart, Homer undertakes a dangerous adventure and comes through successfully. It's nice because just for once, to all intents and purposes, Homer actually succeeds in something."
- Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). "This Little Wiggy". BBC.co.uk. Retrieved 2007-11-01.
- Gimple, Scott (1999). The Simpsons Forever!: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family ...Continued. Harper Collins Publishers. p. 40. ISBN 0-06-098763-4.
- "King of the Hill" The Simpsons.com. Retrieved on November 1, 2007
- Scully, Mike (2006). The Simpsons season 9 DVD commentary for the episode "King of the Hill" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Associated Press (May 7, 1998). "'Merlin' magic works again for NBC". Sun-Sentinel. p. 4E.
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- "King of the Hill" at The Simpsons.com
- "King of the Hill" episode capsule at The Simpsons Archive
- "King of the Hill" at TV.com
- "King of the Hill" at the Internet Movie Database