TV Draft Round 3 – Pick 7 – King Of The Hill

Welcome to the Hanspostcard TV Draft. The remaining 8 rounds will be posted here. We will have 64 different TV Shows by 8 different writers. I hope you will enjoy it! Today’s post was written by Dave from https://soundday.wordpress.com/

First I’d like to thank Max for keeping this project running, and for inviting me to take part. There are so many good TV shows to choose from, it’s hard to know where to begin, but I’ll opt for one that seems to hit close to home for me (LOL – literally)… King of the Hill.

King of the Hill was a long-running animated prime-time cartoon that somehow had characters a lot more “real” than most of its contemporaries made with real actors. It ran on Fox Network for 259 episodes from 1997- 2010, and has been seen in re-runs in syndication and on some of the streaming services. I’m not a gigantic fan of Fox overall, but one thing they do well is cartoons!

It typically ran on Sunday nights after The Simpsons, – itself a hilarious and ground-breaking show – at 8:30 Eastern time. Fox seemed to clue in on how much of a good thing they had going with Sunday night cartoons aimed at adults and forever were searching for ones to lineup with their corporate flagship show and its yellow-skinned Springfielders. Some of them caught on (e.g. Family Guy or, though I can’t fathom why, Bob’s Burgers), others were come and gone faster than you could say “Eat my shorts” …anyone remember Border Town? Although a few of the post-Bart and Homer series might have now topped King of the Hill in episodes, I don’t think any have topped it for humor and creating characters we felt we could relate to. No wonder Time magazine once called it “the most acutely-observed and realistic sitcom about American life, bar none.” Perhaps all the more surprising since its main creator was Mike Judge, whose previous claim to fame was Beavis and Butthead.

King of the Hill revolved around Hank Hill and his family – wife Peggy, tween son Bobby and their dog, a lazy hound called Ladybird. And the niece who lived with them, to Hank’s mild disapproval, Luanne. They were a typical, middle-class Texan family living somewhere in the suburbs, in the city of “Arlen.” Hank sold propane, and propane products and was proud of it. Peggy was a substitute teacher, specializing in Spanish classes (although her knowledge of the language was barely functional) who loved Boggle and making green bean casseroles; a woman described as “confidant, sometimes to the point of lacking self-awareness.”  Like most Texans, they loved things like rodeos, pickup trucks and Dallas Cowboys football – in one memorable episode Hank tries to get together a movement to move the Cowboys training camp to Arlen, but they pick Wichita Falls. To which Hank replies that city which claims to be “north Texas! More like south Oklahoma if you ask me!” a pretty stinging insult in the Lone Star State! Bobby, to his dad’s chagrin, is chubby, has little interest in sports and wants to be a stand-up comedian or worse yet, a clown.

Joining Hank is a supporting cast of neighbors we all seem to know in real life. There’s Bill, balding, overweight veteran who’s lonely and cuts hair on the nearby military base for income and amusement. Boomhauer, the suave, thin ladies man with the weird hillbilly accent who always seems to have female companionship and little to do outside of that but drink beer with the other guys and watch the world go by. (In the final episode’s surprise twist, we see his wallet lying open and find he’s a Texas Ranger – the elite branch of the state police.)  And there’s Dale, a man ahead of his time. Chain-smoker, exterminator by day, full-time conspiracy theorist and paranoid political commentator at night. Somehow he’s married to the lovely Nancy, the local TV weather girl and they have a son, Joseph… who looks nothing at all like him nor the blonde Nancy…but suspiciously like John Redcorn, the Native “healer” who has been giving her lengthy massages for her migraines for years. Dale has trouble figuring out why Joseph looks like that…but thinks maybe his wife was abducted and impregnated by aliens.  And we can’t forget Cotton, Hank’s cranky old father, lacking the bottom of his legs due to a war injury, nor the Khans. The Khans are from Laos, and while their daughter, Kahn Jr. (Connie to her friends) has assimilated well and is Bobby’s erstwhile girlfriend, and mother Mihn tries, Kahn Sr. fancies himself a successful businessman and can’t believe his bad luck landing up on a street full of hillbillies and rednecks. Somehow, the men all seem to get along and bond over things like appreciation of a good garbage can or love of (in Khan’s case, grudging acceptance of) Alamo Beer.

For the most part, the stories were fully relatable. They never starred in freaky Halloween episodes nor a big Broadway show (although ZZ Top did guest star once and put Hank unwillingly into a reality show following him around) or get abducted by aliens, perhaps to Dale’s surprise. Instead there were events like Hank trying to get the city to rescind it’s bylaw necessitating water-conserving toilets, or camping out in the local Megalomart with Dale (which bears a lot of resemblance to another American big box department store)  trying to catch a rat. In one episode, Bobby gets picked on by bullies leading Hank to try to get the boy into a boxing class. Instead of that, Bobby ends up in a women’s self-defence course and learns to kick anyone he’s mad at in the testicles…Hank included. And one of the final episodes really amused me … I was born and raised near Toronto, if you didn’t know that already. In it, Boomhauer decides to take a vacation in Canada and temporarily trades houses with a Canadian family. Hank and the Canadian dad take an instant disliking to each other, with them competing over who brews the best beer and whose brand of lawn mower rules. End result? Both get arrested for DWI while mowing their lawns; Hank and his buddies eventually sell a “keginator” beer-pump to bail the Canuck out of jail, because that’s what neighbors do. “We’re Americans,” Hank declares “we’re the world’s welcome mat. It doesn’t matter if they’re from Canada, Laos, or God forbid, even California!”

The show had Greg Daniels co-writing early on, a good pedigree since he’d worked on Saturday Night Live, the Simpsons and co-wrote the Seinfeld episode “The Parking Space”… Music City Mike probably remembers that one.  When it first came on, I liked it and often watched it, but it took years for it to really grow on me and come to appreciate how fully nuanced the characters were and how much attention to detail of human nature it showed…all the while being hilarious. There was a great sense of humanity in it all. People like Hank were trying their best, having a hard time keeping up with the changing times (he was the holdout on the office’s love of Facebook, for example) but doing his best to understand and be better. Nancy had her ongoing affair, but called it off eventually when she realized it was wrong to do to her husband, wacky as he was. And Luanne, sweet as pie and about as dumb as one too, with her little Christian puppets trying to teach kids right from wrong, boyfriend Lucky in tow. Lucky got his nickname when he slipped on pee at a Walmart and sued them for hundreds of thousands! (That makes watching it a tiny bit sad as both of the voice actors are gone – Brittany Murphy who did Luanne, and the one and only Tom Petty who was ‘Lucky’). They were all good people and the shows funny. But once I came to Texas…boy howdy, it took to another level for me.

Judge spent time in the Dallas Metroplex when young and said he based it on the suburbs like Arlington and Garland, Texas. Once I saw Waco, it seemed like Waco was Arlen…or vice versa. There are so many details that ring true like the Bush’s beans at dinner or love of Whataburger. When Peggy wants to have a serious talk with Bobby, she’ll treat him to one of those burgers…leading him to suspiciously note last time she took him there, she told him about Doggie Heaven!

I started this thinking I wouldn’t have enough to say about King of the Hill. Turns out I have too much to say for one column really. So one more thing – I just reminded myself how funny the show was. I think I’m going to go watch a few now!

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

31 thoughts on “TV Draft Round 3 – Pick 7 – King Of The Hill”

  1. We Texans, especially around the DFW area love this show. I watch it once in a while on Youtube TV. My wife thinks it’s juvenile, and perhaps it is, but like you say, it’s more believable than any sitcom out there, or even the hour-long tv shows on the big networks. Judge did live in Garland for a while and played in a band with Anson Funderburgh, a friend of mine in Plano Texas, who is the model for Boomhauer. Plenty of Luann’s around Garland, and my favorite dish at “Luby’s” cafeteria was the “Luanne Platter,” for 6.99, Judge must have liked it too. Great post about a great show. I hear it may be coming back with everyone older.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’ve heard that too (possible reboot) – could be good, Hank and the crew sure would have a lot to talk about these days! Boomhauer- yep, another thing people don’t get until you spend time here and you’re bound to find someone who talks just like him!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yep, Anson talks a bit like him, sort of mumbly. Look up Anson Funderburgh and you’ll see the similarities. I’m not sure of which band they played in together, possilby The Bee’s Knee’s or another earlier version.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I’ll try to find him…. never knew there were real people who inspired any of them, rather than conglomerations of various typical people Judge had met.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I don’t know about the rest of the characters, but Judge did use him as Boomhauer. Anson was flattered. He also said he never got a penny from the series, but he and Judge were friends so it didn’t matter. He’s still playing the blues around DFW and nationwide. His lead singer passed away some years ago and I’m not sure he replaced him with. He was in my sisters class at Plano High School and used to come and listen to my band rehearse back in the mid 60s. Back in 75 or 76, Linda Rhonstadt had his band, the Bee’s Knee’s open for her first show at the University of Arlington. She stipulated that the act had to be all acoustical as to not compete with her band. The show was the kickoff to promote her Simple Dreams album and had some great musicians in her lineup. Anson, was the only one in the band, besides the bass that played a Fender, the rest of the pickers used acoustics with pickups. Linda, must have heard them at rehearsal and flipped out because they were as good as her guys. She told the band that Anson couldn’t play and they would have to do without him. I was at the show, and him not being on stage hurt their sound and left them somewhat discombobulated. Didn’t care of Rhondstat after Anson told us what really went down.

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    2. Phil… when I think of Texas one of the things that pop in my head is this show. I think it’s a compliment. It’s much more realistic than most normal sitcoms.
      I do hope they bring it back.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’ve spent many years re-examining what made my ex tick. Have you ever seen the movie The Prince of Tides with Nolte & Streisand? The family history in that movie is, somewhat, similar to his (not the actual prison break but, family dynamics). I suspect there was something about that show that triggered bad memories…but, it is a mere guess.

        He never considered himself a Texan, so that was not an issue. He called himself a “nomad.”

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Dave, many moons ago (before 2011,) when I had cable TV I watched King of the Hill for awhile. The Simpsons was probably my favorite cartoon on FOX, but King of the Hill seemed the most like real life. I got a charge out of the show. The characters were well-drawn both in personality and actual drawing. Good write-up. TV characters can become so well-known to us that they feel like family. I think Vonnegut was the one who wrote years ago about a room where the walls had TVs on them and they were called family.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I enjoyed your description of the show and characters. I haven’t watched KOTH faithfully, but do indulge in an episode now and then for the pure enjoyment. The show is full of people and situations everyone seems to encounter in real life. As a Kansan, I laughed out loud at the ‘south Oklahoma’ line.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. ‘Family Guy’ always had some funny lines & cultural references but the stories themselves seemed absurd & rather mean-spirited at times. But all of them came from Fox…they were willing to take chances!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Fantastic write-up Dave! I have watched this show for years and it’s time to watch it again. Jennifer usually doesn’t like cartoons but this she will watch and it’s because of what you said…it’s so realistic.
    I love Boomhauer… he is the “cool” one of the bunch if that can be said at all. Yes, I know people that talk like him. My cousin does and I played him that and he was like…really? Everyone else said yep.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks also for the nice words at the beginning…I meant to mention that earlier. We are going to watch a few tonight.

        Liked by 1 person

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