Friday, January 26, 2007

The Return of King of the Hill

I have to admit that Beavis and Butthead was never one of my favorite shows to put it mildly, so when King of the Hill premiered in 1997, I didn't have the highest of expectations. A decade later, this low key comedy has become one of my favorite shows of all time. While I do give out an award based on a fellow Fox cartoon, King of the Hill will always occupy a special place in my heart.

There is a gentleness to the humor that makes it ever so appealing, and the fact that while some of the situations are very strange, they are wholly plausible within the context of that community. It is in essence as close to a live action situation comedy as an animated series could be. And to think, it was almost cancelled after its tenth season, but lucky for us fans of the show, it is returning to the television this Sunday.

If you've never seen the series, it is based around the rather conservative and uptight Hank Hill, a man who fights for his core beliefs, even when they are being challenged by his friends and family. Whether it is trying to keep his son Bobby out of trouble and away from the oddities of the liberalizing world to trying to keep Strickland Propane a tightly run ship, he is always battling for what he thinks is right, and upon that base, our whole conception of Arlen, Texas is developed, and it does seem like a nice little place to live.

In another person's hands, the show could have been pure caricature and devoted to nothing but making fun of the supposed "redneck" mentality, but what emerged from Mike Judge's skillful development after that first season was a deeply thought out and well-developed set of characters with a great deal of subtlety and nuance. The situations seem like things that could actually plausibly happen to anyone and the solutions to the problems they face aren't outlandish.

It is solid writing, low key performances and pure atmosphere that make this show a winner and the second longest running animated series of all time, and one respected by its peers, and it is great to see it returning to the Fox Sunday Night lineup.


Jess said...

I always hear people bad-mouthing King of the Hill as not being funny--especially disgruntled Futurama fans (among which I count myself).

I have no idea what show they're watching, but King of the Hill is absolutely hilarious. Peggy is easily one of my favorite characters on television. I'm glad that it's getting some time slot love in the near future.

MC said...

I think that people expect things to be a little more over the top in animation, and really, King of the Hill doesn't go that route. I mean, I don't think there are many shows that could make the line "That's my purse. I don't know you!" not just a little funny by damn hilarious, but King of the Hill managed it.

johnnyhongkong said...

Indeed - you nailed it on the head. I was, and am continually, surprised at how remarkably heartfelt and genuine it is.

I had always thought of Mike Judge as "that guy who made Beavis and Butthead" (which like you, I'm not a great fan of) but as he's proven with King of the Hill, Office Space, and Idiocracy (which is by no means perfect but one of the most important movies made in the last 20 years), Judge has some really important things to say.

MC said...

It certainly makes me appreciate some political issues from the other side, I'll tell you what.