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1 legendary episode that makes even more sense in quarantine

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Producer Josh Weinstein has spoken in DVD commentaries about the script needing to be retooled, how the fan-favorite writer Swartzwelder’s scripts resembled a “finely tooled crazy German machine and if you have the wrong engineers try to fix it, it blows up.” The script for “Mountain” needed to be polished a few times, and some of the more “insane” jokes were cut There’s no telling what might have been, but the episode ends with the cabin turned into a rocket house and riding to freedom.

Events canceled. Trapped inside. Slowly losing sanity. Pants quickly deemed optional. There’s a Simpsons episode for everything, but the definitive Simpsons episode for quarantining has to be “Mountain of Madness,” the 1997 classic written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Mark Kirkland.

By 1997, The Simpsons had reached a level of cultural dominance. The moment was one of slowly emerging trends, as the televised monoculture began to crack and the wide world of the Internet was just starting to emerge. As Sean O’Neal of A.V. Club , by the show’s 8th season it wasn’t just going after audiences and mainstream critics, but was also “in the early stages of its tense alliance with the internet,” then taking the form of newsgroups.

Like many of the episodes at this moment, “Mountain of Madness” is chock-full of visual gags and classic quotes that would take a whole article to write about. Just up to this point, there’s Burns saying “you’ll get more than you bargained for,” Homer telling Bart that “your ideas are intriguing and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter,” Lenny anxiously waiting for coffee, and the family car crashing into every other car in the parking lot.

Here’s where the quarantine metaphor comes rushing out. Burns and Homer do their best to stave off cabin fever for a while, at first digging through their avalanche, only to have several more trap them. Then they take up hobbies, building snowmen. Then they lose their minds.

They give their snowmen all their clothes, and then fear them as upper-crust monsters. They hallucinate armies for each other, with Burns backed by snowmen in Pith helmets and German World War One attire, while Homer claims to be protected by “powers.political powers!” and is quickly joined by figures ranging from Mao Zedong to Abe Lincoln.

Producer Josh Weinstein has spoken in DVD commentaries about the script needing to be retooled, how the fan-favorite writer Swartzwelder’s scripts resembled a “finely tooled crazy German machine and if you have the wrong engineers try to fix it, it blows up.” The script for “Mountain” needed to be polished a few times, and some of the more “insane” jokes were cut

There’s no telling what might have been, but the episode ends with the cabin turned into a rocket house and riding to freedom. Burns and Homer recover from their incident but still glare at each other with conspiratorial glances, not quite through with their paranoia.

As Covid-19 has shown, even when it seems like you’re done getting trapped inside, you’re not quite done yet. Just like Burns and Homer, we’ll probably never get over our own quarantine experiences — at least not until the next episode begins.

The Simpsons is streaming now on Disney+.

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