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Mountain of Madness

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"Mountain of Madness"
The Simpsons episode
Episode no. 165
Directed by Mark Kirkland
Written by John Swartzwelder[1]
Showrunner(s) Bill Oakley
Josh Weinstein
Production code 4F10
Original air date February 2, 1997
Couch gag The couch is folded out into a bed with Grampa asleep on it. The Simpsons fold him into the couch and sit down as normal.[2]
Commentary Matt Groening
Josh Weinstein
Dan Castellaneta
Dave Thomas
Mark Kirkland
David Silverman[2]

"Mountain of Madness" is the twelfth episode of The Simpsons' eighth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on February 2, 1997.[1] In the episode, Mr. Burns forces the workers of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant to go for a team-building hike in the mountains. Burns and Homer are paired together and trapped in a cabin that gets buried by multiple avalanches.

"Mountain of Madness" was directed by Mark Kirkland and written by John Swartzwelder. The script underwent many rewrites and the story was completely rewritten. Several new designs and backgrounds had to be created for the wilderness scenes. The episode received mostly positive reviews.


Mr. Burns holds a fire drill at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant; the employees panic and fail to evacuate the plant within 15 minutes. Outraged, Burns declares that everyone will be subjected to a teamwork competition at a mountain. Homer is partnered with Burns while Smithers has to journey on his own. The objective of the competition is to reach a cabin at the top of the mountain; the last team to arrive will be fired.

Burns talks Homer into cheating and they use a snowmobile to reach the cabin. Arriving early, they settle down in the comfortable surroundings and quickly become friends. While clinking their champagne glasses, they inadvertently cause an avalanche that buries the entire cabin. The two make several attempts at escaping but are unsuccessful. The other employees reach what appears to be their destination; however, it is actually a ranger station and they begin to realize that something bad has happened to their colleagues.

Homer and Burns are beset by cabin fever and attempt to kill each other. After a vicious struggle, Burns ignites the cabin's propane tank, launching the building out of the snow and propelling it toward the horrified onlookers. Once it comes to a halt, Burns reminds everyone of the contest, and all the workers hurry inside. Lenny is the last person in the cabin, and is fired. Burns is informed that the completion time of the competition has set a new record, and decides that no one will be fired after all.[3]


"Mountain of Madness" was written by John Swartzwelder, although the script underwent many rewrites. According to Josh Weinstein, "a Swartzwelder script is like a finely tooled crazy German machine and if you have the wrong engineers try to fix it, it blows up. And that's the thing, 'cause it had great jokes but we sort of changed the story and went through a bunch of drafts."[4] The story was completely rewritten and as a result, the plot became odder and quirkier with the scenes of paranoia deriving from this.[4] The original script was "really crazy" but a lot of the more insane material was cut.[5] However, most of the rewrites were done during the script-writing and did not require any major animation changes.[6] One change was the ending, which was added after the animatic.[6] The episode features several pairings of established characters who had previously interacted little, such as Waylon Smithers with Bart and Lisa. Weinstein feels that this was one of the first episodes to really feature the duo of Lenny Leonard and Carl Carlson and developed them more.[4]

The episode was directed by Mark Kirkland and a lot of new designs and backgrounds had to be created for the wilderness scenes.[6] The backgrounds were designed by animator Debbie Silver.[6] The design of the forest ranger was based on then-Vice President Al Gore.[4] In the episode, Marge watches an old film which includes a comment from naturalist John Muir. The impression of Muir was done by Dan Castellaneta, who originally based the voice on an impersonator he met at Yosemite National Park. However, the producers asked him to make the voice older and crazier.[7]


In its original broadcast, "Mountain of Madness" finished 38th in ratings for the week of February 2–9, 1997, with a Nielsen rating of 8.8, equivalent to approximately 8.5 million viewing households. It was the second-highest-rated show on the Fox network that week, following King of the Hill.[8] Since airing, the episode has received mostly positive reviews from television critics. The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, called it "an inventive episode, with several memorable moments".[2] Tim Raynor of said there are some "good, sidesplitting moments to say the least for this witty episode".[9] DVD Movie Guide's Colin Jacobson called the episode "a good show" and praised it for the "snowy setting [that] allows the other characters to expand as well".[10]


  1. ^ a b "Mountain of Madness". The Retrieved September 21, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). "Mountain of Madness". BBC. Retrieved May 2, 2007. 
  3. ^ Groening, Matt (1997). Richmond, Ray; Coffman, Antonia, eds. The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family (1st ed.). New York: HarperPerennial. p. 236. ISBN 978-0-06-095252-5. LCCN 98141857. OCLC 37796735. OL 433519M. 
  4. ^ a b c d Weinstein, Josh (2006). The Simpsons season 8 DVD commentary for the episode "Mountain of Madness" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  5. ^ Silverman, David (2006). The Simpsons season 8 DVD commentary for the episode "Mountain of Madness" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  6. ^ a b c d Kirkland, Mark (2006). The Simpsons season 8 DVD commentary for the episode "Mountain of Madness" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  7. ^ Castellaneta, Dan (2006). The Simpsons season 8 DVD commentary for the episode "Mountain of Madness" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  8. ^ "NBC Leads Nielsen Race". The Orlando Sentinel. February 12, 1997. p. A2. 
  9. ^ Raynor, Tim (August 21, 2006). "Simpsons, The: The Complete 8th Season (DVD)". Archived from the original on September 28, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2009. 
  10. ^ Jacobson, Colin (January 5, 2006). "The Simpsons: The Complete Eighth Season (1995)". DVD Movie Guide. Retrieved December 1, 2008. 

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