I never really got into King of the Hill when it was on the air. I like Mike Judge, and Greg Daniels has created one of the best sitcoms ever with Parks and Recreation, but their joint efforts on a folksy Texas animated series always felt disconnected at best and mean spirited at worst. Most episodes feel like they’re making fun of people in “fly over states” as lazy, stupid, or debilitated by their old fashioned moral code.
It appears the show did find a way to be funny without condescending in its later series as I saw in this season 12 release. Maintaining the southern charm Hank Hill and his family, and using their conservative values to comment on things that actually matter like Childhood obesity. Even the episode in which Hank is obsessed with nurturing Bobby’s budding love of football is a sweet story about a father and son bonding, with some legitimate comedy along the way.
The last time I watched King of the Hill, I didn’t know Greg Daniels was affiliated with it, or even who that was. I was familiar with Mike Judge’s work on Office Space and Bevis and Butthead, but the latter never appealed to me. I was also unaware that Pamela Adlon (Louie) did the voice of Bobby Hill. I’m a huge fan of Adlon’s work with Louis C.K. so it was interesting to discover that she is the funniest part of this series too. I also had no idea that Greg Edmonson did the score for the series, but knowing that now I can definitely hear the Firefly composer’s influence.
The comedy is a bit predictable at times, like in an episode where Hank and Bobby go to a football game and Hank is mistaken for a famous football player from Nebraska. Hank gives the coach a terrible play so that Nebraska will lose the game, and wouldn’t you know it?; the play works and they win. In the context of this episode, Hank’s reasoning for these decisions is justified and he struggles with the moral dilemma of deceiving the coach so his team can win, in case you were worried. Surprisingly, a lot of the comedy was less predictable. When Bobby becomes a student activist at his school to impress a girl, I didn’t see it coming that the girl would turn out to be a lunatic who proposes setting fire to city hall to send a message.
Season 12 aired in 2007 so I’m not sure why it’s just now coming to DVD. Since it’s being released by Olive Films, I assume that the rights to it lapsed at some point and was bought up by Olive for distribution. I definitely have friends who will be excited for these “lost” seasons to finally come to DVD, and ultimately it is a good show that I’d be interested to watch more of now that I can appreciate it’s more low-key tone. As a kid though it never held my interest the way The Simpsons or Family Guy did.
Available now on DVD from Olive Films.