King of the Hill (1997-2010)
I try to be light on spoilers, but sometimes I can’t do it.
This is your SPOILER WARNING.
There is too much that I can’t avoid saying. So if you have seen the show or don’t mind some spoilers. Read on!
Created by Mike Judge who also brought us Office Space, Idiocracy. Also being part of Beavis and Butthead, and most recently Silicon Valley.
“King of the Hill” was unique from other shows because it was very realistic (sometimes pushing that term). It was an animated soap opera in small-town Texas (Arlen). Day to day life of this neighborhood and in particular the Hill family. It really was an animated depiction of Arlen, Texas (the accuracy is remarkable).
What I liked about this show is how it was the opposite of the others. It wasn’t in your face or shocking. The humor was very subtle. You could easily miss the turn of phrase or a running joke. All delivered with a seriousness and yet absurd. It also had a lot of heart and character growth which many animated shows to this day refuse to do.
I will mention this again later on, but “King of the Hill” does have one fault and that is sometimes it messes up its consistency of its universe for the sake of creating another episode (Peggy’s mother for example).
Season One: Episode One
Air Date: January 12th, 1997
As for first episode of this season. What it lacks in animation quality, it more than makes up for in its setup.
From someone who has seen the show from start to finish. You can go back to this first episode and see the birth of these running jokes and familiar names. It is brilliantly executed in this episode and often throughout the series.
The show references pop culture of the 1990’s such as Seinfeld (stay tuned) and makes casual conversation about things like global warming.
The pilot dives right into Hank’s anger issues (a recurring theme) and the slight dissection of child abuse and social services. (A noble profession, but not without mistakes.) It goes on to casually discuss climate change in a reasonable and short fashion. Finally the differences of living in small town America vs the big city and the prejudices of both sides of the equation.
This episode introduces us to many characters and all of them are hit pretty square. You know what they are about after this first episode.
Bill Dauterive (Stephen Root) Neighbor to the Hill family. He is bald, heavyset, down on his luck guy.
Dale Gribble- Classic conspiracy nut. Not stupid, but overzealous about his passions.
Boomhauer (Creator/writer Mike Judge)- Someone who speaks borderline incoherently. (If you pay attention, you can catch most of what he says, but it isn’t easy)
Peggy Hill (Kathy Najimy)- Mother of the family. Understanding, strong-willed. A good person, if not a bit naive and let’s be honest, a bit too proud of herself.
Bobby Hill- The son, a young boy who is average in about every way you can imagine. (Needs more time to develop his finer qualities).
Nancy Hicks Gribble- The stunning and inexplicable wife of Dale. Doting enough, but clearly having an affair with John Redcorn (the studly local Native American healer) played by Jonathan Joss.
Joseph Gribble- The Gribble’s son who is obviously the son of Redcorn. (The only one completely oblivious being Dale himself. )
Hank Hill- Moral compass of the entire neighborhood. He is organized, honest, loyal to a fault, with a great work ethic. He loves football, steak, cars, and his family. Hank Hill is in many ways the ideal American. What we strive to be every day (still not without faults which must be worked on).
Luanne Platter- The beautiful blonde cousin who is staying with the family after her dysfunctional (redneck/trash) family gets torn apart. Played by the late Brittany Murphy (RIP)
The best animated shows set up their universe early and “King of the Hill” is no exception.