King of the Hill Seasons 1 and 2
March 27, 2006
Starring: Mike Judge, Kathy Najimy, Pamela Adlon, Brittany Murphy, Johnny Hardwick, Stephen Root, Ashley Gardner, David Herman, Toby Huss, Jonathan Joss, Breckin Meyer, Lauren Tom, ,
The love child of The Simpsons and Beavis and Butthead creators Greg Daniels and Mike Judge, King of the Hill follows the life of Texas propane salesman Hank Hill and his dysfunctional family as they encounter all manner of humorous shenanigans. Son Bobby wants to be a prop comedian, much to his straight-laced father’s annoyance, and wife Peggy thinks of herself as the best substitute teacher in the state, despite finding it hard to say the word ‘penis’ in her sex education class.
The family sitcom format and the odd slapstick moment are most likely Greg Daniels’ input, but King of the Hill is distinctly Mike Judge in tone, from the bizarre supporting players (Hank’s dad is a raging bigamist who got his shins blown off in the war) to his unique mixture of the everyday and the absurd. Witness Hank investigated for suspected child abuse when Bobby gets a black eye playing baseball – the child services man is sent back to LA in shame but the last thing he sees is Hank playfully tapping Bobby on the arm and starts babbling to the man sitting next to him on the bus that he knew Bobby was being abused all along. Judge is the unsung hero of American comedy, so far only making one live action movie in 1999 – the criminally underrated Office Space that has since become a cult favourite.
Season one of the show from 1997 consists of 12 episodes and obviously introduces us to everyone (Leanne is voiced by Brittany Murphy, now a huge movie star) but compared to other shows which have found their feet over time, King of the Hill pretty much had the format down in episode one: Boomhower mumbles about dang-ol’ this and dang-ol’ that, Hank tries to be the big man and fails, Peggy slowly implodes about some minute detail and Bobby ends up humiliating himself and or his family by just being himself. ‘The Order of the Straight Arrow’ episode where the men are on a rites of passage camping trip and try to sneak past a ranger with a rare bird Bobby killed is sheer gold. “Fly! Fly!”
The quality of animation in Season Two is slightly better but otherwise it’s a neat transition and the writing is just as strong through the 23 episodes. In ‘Texas City Twister’ a tornado comes to town and this time Bobby literally ends up with egg on his face, and the episode ‘Jumpin’ Crack Bass’ has Hank confuse cocaine for bait, leading to a bizarre environmental change and court case.
The Simpsons might have done it first but King Of The Hill also has its share of celebrity guests including Willie Nelson, Sally Field, Burt Reynolds and Jennifer Jason Leigh, but unlike The Simpsons you may not notice until the credits role as they often play normal people. Now in its tenth season the show is still going strong. As Hank and the boys might contently say over a beer: “Yehhhp”
Audio commentaries by the creators (and characters!), Deleted Scenes, Dale’s Conspiracies, ‘Meet The Hills’ Featurette, Bare naked Ladies Music Video, The Do’s and Don’ts of King of the Hill, Easter Eggs.
There’s an amusing commentary on the episode ‘Husky Bobby’ by Peggy, Bobby and Luanne (the actors staying in character throughout) as well as director/writer audio commentaries, Director’s introductions (Simpsons-style animated intros to episodes that were never used), Deleted Scenes, Featurettes, Stills Gallery, Music Videos, International clips, Easter Eggs.
These are great packages if you’re a fan of the show and the perfect chance to discover it if you’re not.