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King of the Hill aired from January 1997 until September 2009 on Fox.

In this animated world of rednecks and " good old boys," Hank Hill ( voice of Mike Judge) was a conservative 40-year-old family man living in suburban Arlen, Texas. He made his living selling propane gas and accessories , hated liberals and politicians, and chugged bear with his buddies. The Hill household included his wife Paeggy ( Kathy Najimy), a substitute Spanish teacher who didn't take gruff from anyone; their chubby 12-year-old son Bobby ( Pamela Segall Adlon), a student at Tom Landry Middle School; and Hank's niece Luanne ( Brittany Murphy), a refugee from a trailer park who was attending beauty school. Hank hoped Bobby would be a jock, as he had been, but the boy had neither the talent nor the interest to succeed. In one episode, clumsy, insecure Bobby became a model for husky boys' clothing, much to his father's embarrassment. Living next door were The Gribbles-Dale ( Johnny Hardwick), one of Hank's buddies, who was preoccupied with conspiracy theories; Nancy ( Ashley Gardner), his philandering wife; and son Joseph ( Brittany Murphy and later Breckin Meyer) who it was obvious was not Dale's son although he was oblivious to it.Hank's other buddies were Bill ( Stephen Root), a divorced slob; and Boomhauer ( Mike Judge), a ladies man whose drawl was so thick he was almost unintelligible. Bobby became very friendly with Connie ( Lauren Tom), a classmate and the daughter of a Laotian couple, Kahn and Minh ( Toby Huss, Lauren Tom) who moved into the neighborhood.

At the end of the 1997-1998 season Strickland Propane closed its Arlen office and Hank went to work at Mega Lo Mart, the big company that forced his former employer Buck Strickland ( Stephen Root) out of business. Even worse, his new boss, the free-spirited Buckley ( David Herman), was Luanne's boyfriend. Hank staged a protest against the big impersonal chain and was caught in an accidental explosion at the store in the season-ending cliffhanger. Along with Luanne and Chuck Mangione, who were in the store with him , Hank survived but Buckley didn't make it. With Mega Lo Mart out of business , Hank went back to work for Strickland , and Luanne who lost her eyebrows in the explosion , became sullen because she refused to admit how much she missed Buckley. That fall Bobby and Connie were in high school. The following May Buckley's angel appeared to Luanne and motivated her to quit beauty school and enroll at Arlen Community College.

In the fall of 1999 Peggy was skydiving , but her parachute failed to open. She survived because she landed flat in a field of mud but was in a body cast until she recovered from compression fractures in her back. A year later she became a substitute teacher at Arlen High School . Hank's father, Cotten ( Toby Huss), had a baby boy with his young wife DeeDee and named the boy Good Hank, which ticked off Hank. Early in 2002 Connie and Bobby, who had been dating, broke up. They remained friends, but he had hopes that they would eventually get back together. Early in 2004 Luanne dropped out of community college and got her hairstyling license. A year later she started dating a redneck named Lucky and in the 2005-2006 season finale she revealed she was carrying his child. In the fall of 2005 Peggy began writing a column for the Arlen Bystander. When she lost the job a year and a half later she started selling real estate.

Created by Mike Judge, the driving force behind the much raunchier Beevis & Butt-head, and Greg Daniels, a former writer for The Simpsons.

A Review from The New York Times

New Stop on the Map Of Animated America

Published: January 12, 1997

IN A SUBTLE MOMENT OF vindicatory humor on ''The Simpsons'' several years ago, the cartoon family was in a graveyard, walking past headstones inscribed with names like ''Fish Police'' and ''Capitol Critters.'' Each grave represented a prime-time network cartoon show that had appeared in the wake of the success of ''The Simpsons'' and had then been canceled in less than a season.

Though it seemed for a moment in the early 1990's as if animation would become an integral part of prime time, ''The Simpsons,'' now in its eighth year, has been the only evening network cartoon to have any staying power for over a decade. Even in 1994 when ABC took writers from ''The Simpsons'' to create ''The Critic,'' the show ended up lasting only a season there.

Now Greg Daniels, another former ''Simpsons'' writer, is trying to defy the prime-time animation odds with ''King of the Hill,'' which will have its premiere tonight on Fox at 8:30, right after ''The Simpsons.'' The odds against Mr. Daniels would be even larger if it weren't for the fact that his partner in the endeavor is Mike Judge, the creator (and the voice) of cable's most successful nighttime cartoon, ''Beavis and Butt-head'' on MTV, and of the current hit film ''Beavis and Butt-head Do America.''

It seems like a surefire formula: mix the fast-paced humor of ''The Simpsons'' with the juvenile idiocy of ''Beavis and Butt-head.''

''Fox wanted to combine both cartoons to get the best of both,'' Mr. Daniels said recently. ''But we were thinking, this has got to be new. It has to have a unique voice.''

More influential on the new show than their own previous work, Mr. Daniels and Mr. Judge said, was everything from the English Claymation short ''Creature Comforts'' to ''The Andy Griffith Show'' to the 1947 movie ''Life With Father.'' But what ''King of the Hill'' has in common with ''The Simpsons'' and ''Beavis and Butt-head'' is that it looks with a mixture of disgust and affection at suburban life styles just a step above those of ''white trash,'' pitting ignorance against learning -- and letting ignorance win every time. All three of the shows put the notion of family values up for grabs and generally subvert the tenets of getting ahead in contemporary America.

''King of the Hill'' revolves around Hank Hill, a quick-tempered 40-year-old propane salesman who lives in a Texas suburb, and his relationships with his family -- a slow-witted son and a wife who works as a substitute Spanish teacher -- and his male buddies. The most memorable of the buddies is Dale, an avid conspiracy theorist who doesn't seem to realize that his wife has been cheating on him for 12 years.

(Although Fox Television's new president is named David Hill, studio executives insist that ''King of the Hill'' is not an inside reference, but the coincidence may give Mr. Judge and Mr. Daniels an opportunity to get in some playful jabs at the network.)

''Hank Hill is based a lot on neighbors I've had living in Texas and New Mexico,'' said Mr. Judge, who was reared in Albuquerque and now lives in Austin, Tex. ''I lived in different houses where I'd go out in my backyard to fix a broken fence and before I knew it, there'd be five guys showing me how to do it and eventually doing it for me. A lot of hardware-happy people. I also got a copy of Field and Stream and watched a lot of the Nashville Network to come up with a drawing for him.''

Mr. Daniels described Hank Hill as a man to whom Ross Perot would appeal. ''He's upset about how America is changing, and he doesn't know what to do about it,'' Mr. Daniels explained. ''The theme of the show is populism and common-sense Americans versus the silly elite.''

The animation on ''King of the Hill'' is sparse and simple, in a class just above the sketchiness of ''Beavis and Butt-head.'' And the pace, unlike ''The Simpsons,'' is very slow, finding its humor in everyday conversations on topics like automobile repair, foreign trade policy and the latest episode of ''Seinfeld.''

''We tried to keep it realistically paced and about real people,'' Mr. Daniels said. ''A lot of animation moves fast because it's fun. We want our characters not to move at all, and then to do something small but well executed, like moving their glasses up on their nose. And we want to start out very slowly so that people get to learn what the characters are like and care about them. Once it evolves, we can cut to someone quickly for a joke and add more characters.''

In pursuit of realism, Mr. Daniels took the show's writing staff on a field trip to Texas. They traveled in a van, took pictures of Wal-Marts and visited schools to get ideas for characters. ''A lot of the writers hadn't been to Texas,'' Mr. Daniels explained. ''We wanted to make sure they knew that everybody didn't wear cowboy hats and say yee-hah.''

So far, Fox has ordered 13 episodes of the show, said Mr. Judge, who is also working on creating a live-action drama for the network. ''King of the Hill'' episodes already in production feature the voices of celebrities like Willie Nelson and Dennis Hopper, who play themselves; Laurie Metcalf of ''Roseanne,'' as a snotty Boggle champion from Dallas, and Chuck Mangione, as a faded star.

After broadcasting these episodes, Fox will decide whether to renew the show for another season. Many people who saw the rough cut of the pilot doubted that the show had a chance to survive. Mr. Daniels and Mr. Judge said that they saw flaws in the show's first few episodes -- not enough jokes, occasionally awkward character movements and voice-overs, music that was not always up to snuff -- and that these flaws would be ironed out as the season progressed.

(Several media analysts said early last week that they had not yet seen the pilot, but they agreed that they hadn't heard the kind of buzz that would indicate that ''King of the Hill'' would be a breakout show.)

Oh, and what about that ''Fish Police'' gravestone joke? Did Mr. Daniels write it during his tenure with ''The Simpsons''?

''I didn't write that joke,'' Mr. Daniels said. ''I promise you that no animals will talk on our show. It's very alienating to the adult audience.''

A Review from Entertainment Weekly

TV Review

A By Ken Tucker

A fine, nuanced portrait of a middle-class Texas family that also happens to be a cartoon from the man who gave us Beavis and Butt-head, KING OF THE HILL (Fox, Sundays, 8:30-9 p.m.) is both extremely funny and intelligent. Mike Judge and cocreator Greg Daniels (The Simpsons, Seinfeld) offer Hank Hill, good husband and well-meaning father, a little dim and short-tempered, perplexed by anything in life that can't be greased with a little WD-40. Judge and Daniels extract humor from the mundane -- Little League games, changing a spark plug -- and, most impressively, don't use the Texas twang for a cheap laugh. The animation is as intentionally flat and inexpressive as it is in Beavis and Butt-head, with the same paradoxical effect: Very quickly, these vividly written, barely stick figures come to life as three-dimensional humans confronting existence with deadpan glares. Having read the script, I can't wait to see the episode in which Hank takes up smoking; it should offer up as many yuks as you'll find in any live-action sitcom. It's always tough to get adults to watch prime-time cartoons, and it's adults who'll appreciate King, so pairing this show with The Simpsons is a smart idea.

An Article from Time Magazine

Monday, Jan. 20, 1997


Vulgar and spam-brained as they may be, Beavis and Butt-head need no spin doctors--they were born to win the world over all on their own. The crudely drawn pubescents were first unleashed on the public in a 1992 focus group session MTV held in Teaneck, New Jersey, during which the audience was given a peek at Frog Baseball, a short film by a then 30-year-old novice animator named Mike Judge. The group's response to the film, in which the boys take turns whacking a bat at a harmless amphibian, went way beyond a few thumbs up. "People asked to buy the tape right out of the machine," recalls Abby Terkuhle, then an MTV producer to whom Judge had submitted the film. "One guy wouldn't leave until he had a copy. It was then that we thought, Hey, maybe we're on to something."

And, of course, they were. Launched in 1993, Beavis & Butt-head, Judge's nihilist satire of a teenage wasteland, went on to become MTV's highest-rated series, despite loud put-downs from some critics who often took the pair's debased antics too literally. The wide-screen adaptation of the show, Beavis and Butt-head Do America, was the surprise winner of the holiday season, taking in $20 million in its opening weekend to finish No. 1 at the box office and going on to gross more than $56 million. Now Judge is bringing his lean, subversive vision of ranch-house America to prime-time network television with King of the Hill, an animated series that debuted last Sunday on Fox in the golden 8:30 p.m. time slot between The Simpsons and The X-Files.

The show, co-created by Simpsons writer Glen Daniels, came about when Peter Roth, then president of 20th Century Fox Television, approached the animator about coming up with "a Mike Judge equivalent to Homer Simpson," as part of a production deal Judge had signed with the network's parent company. "I went back to my sketchbooks," recalls Judge, who has lived in Austin, Texas, since 1993, "and I found all these bubba types. I wanted to do something about four or five guys who were really into their power tools."

The patriarch of a small family in the fictitious town of Arlen, Texas, Hank Hill--Judge's new Everyman--is the show's articulate voice and conscience. Unlike Homer, he is no bumbling dreamer but rather a man who takes earnest pride in his life as a father and propane salesman. If the Simpson family remains on a jaunty, fruitless ride to escape the banalities and inconveniences of middle-class life, the Hills--Hank, his wife Peggy and son Bobby--are a grimmer, reality-based lot, who doggedly accept the burdens of their position. The show is languidly paced and less wide reaching than the Simpsons in its comedy; absent is the nonstop barrage of cultural references ranging from Buckminster Fuller to Sammy Davis Jr. King of the Hill mines its humor instead from the narrow but brilliantly honed universe of Hank's no-nonsense populism and his coterie of dim-witted pals who fixate on cars and conspiracy theories and refer to the recently deposed U.N. Secretary General as "Boutros Boutros-Ghali Ghali."

Like Beavis & Butt-head, King of the Hill is a manifestation of Judge's longtime obsession with an America of tract homes and monster truck shows, Dairy Queens and Wal-Marts. "Mike has surrounded himself in Texas with great raconteurs," notes Sam Johnson, a former Beavis writer who is now executive story editor on NBC's NewsRadio. "They regale him with tales of misfit friends and trailer-park relatives. Mike is repelled by this world and also incredibly attracted to it."

With King of the Hill, Judge's affinity has won out. Here he depicts low-rent suburbia far less brutally than he has with Beavis & Butt-head, a show set in a vast nowhere starring two cretins who do nothing, absorb nothing and stand for even less. No one on King of the Hill is skewered as savagely as educated elitists, whom Judge characterizes as blind bubbleheads incapable of seeing the world beyond their screen savers.

"I worked all kinds of horrible jobs before I went to school in San Diego," says Judge, 34, who graduated from the University of California branch there in 1985 with a degree in physics. "For the first time, I met a lot of people who came from wealthy backgrounds. The colliding of those two worlds has always fascinated me. I've met so many people who work in the movies and in TV who come from upper-middle-class New England families, and they're really out of touch with what the rest of the country is thinking. Whenever I see a fast-food place in a movie, it's always some '50s-looking thing or a building with a giant chicken on it. It's so over the top."

The son of an archaeology professor father and school-librarian mother, Judge grew up amid the grim sprawl of '70s Albuquerque, New Mexico. After college he sampled and ultimately rejected a number of jobs as an electrical engineer before devoting his energies to playing bass in various blues-rock bands. Comedy was his deepest passion, however. "I always wanted to be in Second City," he says, referring to the renowned Chicago-based comedy troupe. "But growing up in Albuquerque I thought, How the hell do you get to be one of those guys?" It wasn't until 1991 that Judge, already married and living in Dallas, decided to express his inner funnyman through animation. With the help of a few library books, he taught himself the craft, which quickly led to the making of Frog Baseball.

Although he never had a career in physics or engineering, Judge's training serves him well, for it left him with a scientist's sense of the exact. If Beavis and Butt-head seem unwavering in their testosterone-fueled stupidity, it is because their creator has been meticulous in executing his vision for them. Animators who first come to work on the show are given a long list of dos and don'ts. Judge insists that none of the characters move in any manner suggesting the effete. After rendering the image of a peripheral character shutting a car trunk, one former B&B storyboard artist was asked by Judge to try it again, this time with "no sissy wrists."

Judge has always performed the voices for both Beavis and Butt-head, and he is taking on Hank Hill and one of his sidekicks, Boomhauer. The latter character's purposely inscrutable speech was inspired by a voice-mail message Judge received a few years ago from a ranting Southerner who, Judge ultimately deciphered, was calling to complain that Beavis &Butt-head didn't start on time. Judge listened to the tape 40 times initially and now plays it repeatedly every time he records Boomhauer's dialogue.

"Mike has an unbelievable ear for normal conversation," notes Johnson. "He is obsessed with the details and nuances of the way people talk. If you go anywhere with Mike in his car in Austin, he'll pop in a tape of some recorded conversation, some prank phone call." Adds Judge's friend, movie director Richard Linklater (Slacker): "Mike just has that gift of being tapped in. He has all these great facial expressions and voices. Ask him to re-create a lunch he had with David Geffen."

By all accounts, a life of dining with casually chic moguls does not seem to be one Judge is avidly pursuing. He has made a choice to live away from the fray of show-business capitals. With the help of video-conferencing and other technology, he oversees both TV series--King is produced in Los Angeles and Beavis in New York City--from his office in Austin. His wife Francesca stays home with the couple's two daughters, one five and the other two, neither of whom gets to weigh in on their father's work because they aren't permitted to watch TV programs that have commercials.

Perhaps by the time Judge completes his next big project, the girls will be old enough to become fans. He is about to begin writing a script for a live-action comedy film he hopes to direct. Its subject? The eerie modern construct that is the suburban office park. Maybe someday Judge could do a catchy musical about aluminum siding.

An Article from Entertainment Weekly
Published on October 17, 1997

Cover Story


By A.J. Jacobs
Hank Hill has a secret.

''Hank Hill?'' my mom said when I told her I was interviewing the Texan-American star of the runaway Fox hitcom King of the Hill. ''I hear he's...''

Even my mom knows. Or suspects she knows: ''I hear he's...two-dimensional.''

We've all heard the rumors. Hank Hill is just a cartoon character, just scribbles on a drawing board. And yes, there may be some truth to those accusations. Then again, with his verbal tics (''I tell you whut''), his commonsense philosophizing (''Keep the government out of the bedroom business!''), and his exasperating medical problems (that narrow urethra), Hank sure seems like a real person.

Don't expect the prickly star or his tight-lipped publicist to address the rumors, however. Right to privacy and all. But animated or not, one thing's very clear: Hank Hill is a TV star. A Texas-size one. And this is his moment.

Who'da thunk that the Hills' little down-home sitcom -- featuring the propane salesman, 40; his Boggle-champion, substitute-teacher wife, Peggy, 39; pudgy 12-year-old son, Bobby; and dimwit teenage niece Luanne -- would be so dang huge? But since its January debut, the series, set in tiny Arlen, has consistently landed in the top 30, won its slot with 18-to-34-year-old viewers, and become the Fox network's most popular series after The X-Files.

Maybe it only makes sense. King, after all, filled a gaping prime-time void. Finally TV got some real Amurricans, an alternative to those loose-moraled, city-dwelling twentysomethings littering the TV landscape (shows that King cocreator Mike Judge describes as ''underwear models reciting lines from Harvard Lampoon guys''). King's stories are slow and peculiar. They center on such red-blooded topics as the joys of riflery, the importance of lawn care, and much to the network's alarm, the shame of constipation. (''I argued very strenuously that we were providing a service,'' says cocreator Greg Daniels. ''If one American man had his colon checked after watching that show...'') This season, expect Hank's mom to bring home a Jewish boyfriend and pudgy Bobby to become a big boy model.

Judge, who also created superstars Beavis and Butt-head, says he smelled a hit from the start: ''I saw Hank in Home Depot buying some WD-40 and some putty, and I knew then that television would never be the same.'' Fox president Peter Roth explains it this way: ''Hank represents a clear, disenfranchised portion of the country.''

Yes, real or not, the Hills are refreshingly different. But success has a way of spoiling folks. Already the Texas family is learning about showbiz image control: They wouldn't pose for EW's cover as the Beverly Hillbillies because it would be too ''hicky.'' Then Peg had the stylists frantically locating a ''Dohlsee and Cabana'' feather boa she'd seen on ''that Kirstie Alley.'' It's a danger, admits Judge: ''I'm worried Hank might start losing weight. We're trying to keep him away from the heroin-chic thing.''

Still, when EW recently paid a visit to the Hills' cozy home, the cast--including Hank's longtime compadres Dale and Bill--seemed friendly, relaxed, and down-to-earth. (Daniels and Judge came along for interpretive purposes; only Boomhauer stayed away, afraid he'd be misquoted.) In the end, if Peggy's apple brown Betty always tastes this good, who cares if the Hills are 2-, 3-, or 72-dimensional?

EW: Now that you're stars, you had to visit Hollywood. How'd you like it?

HANK: I hated it. Fox flew us out there to meet the press and to stick my hands in cement, which, if you ask me, they've ruined the whole sidewalk. You'd never think Clark Gable was such a vandal.

PEGGY: They put us in some noisy hotel by the airport. Just as well, though, 'cause we knew we could get out quickly, in case of a riot, earthquake, or a sudden need to leave L.A. Which is what happened.

EW: Did you have any problem with paparazzi?

BOBBY: We went to Planet Hollywood and Jean-Claude Van Damme was doing a split on the dance floor, and we couldn't see it because of all the photographers.

HANK: I didn't mind so much, 'cause I'm taller and could see over them. But do you know what that place gets for its T-shirts? I'm in the wrong business. Heh. Just kidding--don't print that.

EW: Are you worried that the press will start digging up skeletons in your closet?

HANK: I have none. But, ah, try asking that again in season 6 if the ratings start to dip. Yeah, I may just hurt my back and develop an addiction to painkillers. Like ibuprofen and whatnot.

EW: Bobby, now that you're famous, do you get lots of girls chasing after you?

BOBBY: Nobody recognizes me from TV. That's probably 'cause the camera adds 10 pounds.

EW: What's it like growing up in front of millions of people?

BOBBY: It ain't easy. I just hope I can keep my hormones in check. Dad says that's important.

EW: So Hank, how did you convince Fox to do a show about you? HANK: Well, I guess you haven't paid any attention to our opening credits, which explain the whole funny story. You see, I'm standing there, drinking beer, and well, before you know it, I got my own show. Yep.

EW: We've gotten to know your sidekicks Dale, Bill, and Boomhauer. Are they really your friends, or are they actors?

HANK: No, no, they are all my friends. I tell you, though, we almost had to get an actor to play Dale. He refused to be on TV--something about his soul being stolen, broken down, and sold for parts to an Iranian.... Well, that's kinda where I stopped paying attention.

EW: Dale, you're a man who seems interested in theories of secret governmental corruption. Any ideas about why the movie Conspiracy Theory did poorly?

DALE: Well, I could make up a lot of crazy stories, but the simple truth is, America's love affair with Julia Roberts is over. The CIA made sure of that.

EW: Now that you've become role models, tell us who you admire.

BOBBY: Well, aside from my dad and Jesus Christ, I'd have to say Colonel Sanders. He single-handedly won the war against dry chicken.

PEGGY: Personally, I have never found an American hero to match the great Baby Jessica. I hope you'll join me in wishing her "well."

EW: What's must-see TV in your house?

HANK: I think the whole idea of "must-see TV" is kind of silly. I mean, sure we watch TV every night, but if Walker, Texas Ranger is a rerun, then we'll just flip channels.

EW: Peg, you can be a tough cookie. For instance, you taught sex ed against your husband's wishes. Do you consider yourself a feminist?

PEGGY: Oh, no. I'm all for equality, but with my armpits shaved clean, thank you.

EW: How is El Nino going to affect your lives there in Arlen?

PEGGY: We don't eat there anymore.

HANK: No, not since they changed ownership and Bobby got the food poisoning.

BOBBY: We could still go there.

EW: What makes you cry?

HANK: Jalapeno in the eyeball. And Brian's Song, of course.

EW: I understand you were born and raised in Arlen. It must be a nice place to live.

HANK: I tell you whut, Arlen is a great place to live, but I'm not gonna say much more about that. I don't want to give those bastards at Disney any ideas about where to build their next theme park.

EW: What's something about Texas that most people don't know?

BOBBY: Brian Benben makes his home here. But you probably knew that.

EW: What would you do for a living if there was no propane, Hank?

HANK: I'd probably spend most of my time lying around with a bullet in my head. Now ask me a real question. EW: Okay. Where do you stand on capital punishment?

HANK: Right up next to the switch, if I could.

EW: I see. Another political question: How do you feel about President Clinton's initiative on volunteerism?

HANK: Just fine. I think it's an excellent idea. The sooner he volunteers to step down, the sooner we can put a more "qualified" man in the White House, if you catch my drift.

EW: Luanne, we know your mother is presently incarcerated for trying to kill your father with a fork. He survived and is at work on an oil rig. Tell us how he's doing. Has he been there for you?

LUANNE: Oh, absolutely. I mean, he hasn't called or written or anything, but he's been right there for me.

EW: Peggy, you're a substitute Spanish teacher...


EW: Why a substitute teacher? Why not teach full-time?

PEGGY: A full-time teacher only has 24 students a year. A substitute teacher may have hundreds. So you can just get off your high horse.

EW: Let's talk a little about the Hills' relationship. What is the secret to a successful marriage?

HANK: The main thing is, don't get too personal. A certain emotional distance, that's what keeps things spicy.

PEGGY: Don't be afraid to lower your expectations. That way, everyone's a winner.

EW: And how important is a good sex life to a healthy marriage?

HANK: I'm sorry, but I won't answer that. Maybe people in Hollywood go for that potty-mouth talk, but that won't cut it at the Hill House. It's our business how healthy our marriage is, and as for the sex part, that's nobody's business.

EW: Moving on, then. We all know about your obsession with lawn care, Hank. Care to share any secrets?

HANK: Communication.

BILL: Now, wait a minute, Hank, you don't have to give away any secrets.

DALE: You reporters and your fancy-schmancy typewriters, always comin' around diggin' for our lawn secrets. Give it up!

BILL: We ain't talkin', newsman guy!

DALE: Yeah!

HANK: This interview is over.

An Article from US Weekend Magazine
Published September 4-6, 1998

TV's new First Family
King of the Hill, a cartoon family with real-life values, leads a new wave of animation in prime time.

By Mark Morrison

He's a 40-year-old white guy married to his high school sweetheart: He manages a propane company, coaches Little League, chugs beer from the can, argues with liberals and bureaucrats equally and suffers from a congenitally narrow urethra.

She's a strong-willed wife, mother and substitute Spanish teacher who commands universal respect; she plays a mean game of Boggle, loves her ruby lipstick and defines her personal style with the latest shopping finds at Lubbock's Very Large Shoes. And, of course, there's their overweight 12-year-old son, who, let's just say, is no Bart Simpson.

Hank and Peggy Hill, son Bobby and big-haired niece Luanne Platter (whose home with the Hills represents a significant climb from her trailer-park roots) are not as famous, or as merchandised, as the stars of their former Sunday night lead-in, The Simpsons. But King of the Hill has quietly surpassed Matt Groening's groundbreaking series to become the top-rated prime-time animated show, No. 25 in the Nielsen ratings at the end of last season. Astonishingly, the series ranked fourth among men 18-34, behind only Seinfeld and ER.

This season, Fox is gambling with the show's success, moving it to Tuesday, where it will anchor the night and wage war with Home Improvement, Mad About You, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Moesha.

Thanks in no small measure to King of the Hill, animation is big again. No fewer than five more cartoons are scheduled to debut in midseason, though none is likely to have the quirky sweetness that makes Hill one of a kind -- and the surprise hit of the year.

Even though they're cartoon characters, "Hank and his family are one of the realest families on TV right now," TV Guide critic Matt Roush says. The new cartoons coming up "are more edgy and twisted in one way or another. And though certainly there are some strange things that happen on King of the Hill, it's not a twisted show. No matter how weird things get, at the end of the show everything is OK. Most episodes come with a sense of family values without being ideological."

Beyond Beavis and Butt-head

Series creators Greg Daniels and Mike Judge are both 35 but otherwise are a study in contrasts. Daniels wears wire rims, lives in Los Angeles and has the slouchy demeanor of a young Walter Matthau. Judge wears a black T-shirt and jeans, lives in Austin, Texas, and, thanks mostly to his ebbing hairline, bears a rough resemblance to Sting.

But they're no Odd Couple -- and certainly no Beavis and Butt-head, the

popular MTV series with which Judge first made his name. In contrast to that show's sophomoric sensibility, King of the Hill, which debuted in January 1997, finds its humor in crafty truths and edgy observations about family life.

"Out-of-the-loop boomers"

In creating Hill, Daniels and Judge decided to avoid the cliche of the bumbling TV dad, finding inspiration in a mutual TV favorite.

"He's like an alternative Andy Griffith," says Daniels. "We kept saying, 'Andy Griffith is back -- and he's p----d!' "

Like The Andy Griffith Show (1960-68), Hill is more sophisticated than it seems, merging Judge's irreverent views of blue-collar America with the Harvard-educated Daniels' National Lampoon-inspired political incorrectness (Daniels was a writer-producer on the equally irreverent The Simpsons). Though an early episode about constipation may have set the stage for pushing the TV envelope, the producers say that is not what Hill is about.

"A lot of what we're doing is to try something original without doing something we all find personally repugnant," says Daniels. "The generation Mike and I are from is a tiny, skinny generation. It's not the big slacker thing. We're the very tail end of the baby boom. I don't want to make generalizations, but one thing we have in common is a distaste for the excesses of the people who would have been our older siblings -- all the older brothers of friends I had who went through weird phases where they had to dry out or got into weird trouble at the end of the '60s."

Being part of this generational wedge may have left them feeling culturally adrift, but that's often a good thing when it comes to breaking comedy molds.

"To me, the job's never been about trying to be edgy," says Judge, who is probably more conservative and soft-spoken than his critics would expect. And while episodes often end with a lesson learned, as in most family shows throughout television history, it's sometimes an unpopular lesson.

"People think a TV show has to show the way the world should be instead of the way the world is," observes Daniels.

Not Hill. Take the "Husky Bobby" episode, in which the Hills' pudgy progeny becomes a model for extra-large clothing without Hank's blessing. Apparently embarrassed by his son's new celebrity status, Hank stubbornly pulls him out of a fashion show -- and just in time. Bullies pelt the stage with doughnuts, proving that sometimes even a seemingly insensitive father knows best.

Says Daniels: "Hank was really saying, 'I care about my son, but cruelty exists, and why let him be the butt of it?' It's hard to tell that story."

Tweaking sitcom conventions, these two talents have tapped a vast constituency of Americans who may fall between the cultural cracks -- not unlike Hank and Peggy Hill, whom Daniels describes as "out-of-the-loop baby boomers."

"Most people aren't hip," says Judge. "I like the fact that the show is about completely unhip people and we're not making fun of them."

An Article from Entertainment Weekly
Published on April 9, 1999

TV Review
King of the Hill

A By Ken Tucker Ken Tucker

Nearly lost among the sudden proliferation of prime-time cartoon series has been a succession of superior fresh episodes from King of the Hill, the saga of a Texas family guy, not to be confused with Fox's new show Family Guy, the saga of a Rhode Island clan, which is a cruder-in-every-sense cartoon show with more buzz.

When King debuted in 1997, it was a pleasant surprise: Who knew Mike Judge, progenitor of Uberlouts Beavis and Butt-head, had it in him to create such a subtle, detailed portrait of contemporary middle-class life? This season, the show's only gotten better deeper, richer, more true to its guiding intention of presenting people with Texas twangs as something other than the media cliche of rubes with bad taste.

Instead, propane-gas salesman Hank Hill, his substitute-teacher wife, Peggy, their 12-year-old son, Bobby, and their live-in niece, Luanne, have become vivid, sympathetic people with bad taste (notwithstanding the recent episode in which Bobby evinced a precocious predilection for capers). King of the Hill has faltered in the ratings since moving to Tuesdays, which is a shame because artistically it has surged. Cocreators Judge and Greg Daniels have spent the new season providing vivid showcase episodes for every member of the Hill family.

Recently, Hank took a car trip with his elderly mother and some of her friends (the varied voices included those of Phyllis Diller, Betty White, and Uta Hagen). They ended up in the middle of a town inundated with college kids letting loose with an MTV Spring Break crew. The mixture of rage, panic, and protectiveness on Hank's part was a marvel of filial complexity.

And the Feb. 23 episode was as remarkable a study in comic behavior as any live-action sitcom this year. If I tell you the primary plot concerned Hank being sexually assaulted by a dolphin, with a parallel subplot about Luanne being sexually harrassed at her golf-course job, you'll just have to trust me that this was handled with a combination of tact, drama, and a cogent critique of a certain New Age strain of anthropomorphism that still has me in awe.

The King writers seem particularly attuned to Bobby, a sensitive little lump whose fondness for show-business fantasies and solitary play, as well as a whining reluctance to take part in his dad's lifeblood, football, render the kid a lovable outcast. The March 23 episode summarized all this brilliantly: Bobby was thrilled when a ''New York-style'' deli opened in the Arlen mall and proceeded to stuff himself on such exotic fare as chopped chicken liver, which in turn brought on a case of gout. (The doctor gives him a cane for his inflamed foot, which Bobby immediately deploys for a little vaudeville song-and-dance act.) If only live-action sitcoms were as in touch with their characters' psyches as King is with Bobby's.

The real-life details that make King of the Hill so compelling are precisely what Family Guy seeks to avoid. Much attention has been paid to Guy's 25-year-old creator, Seth MacFarlane, who's traveled quickly from the Rhode Island School of Design to a job at Hanna-Barbera writing scripts for series like the Cartoon Network's pseudo-hip, mediocre Johnny Bravo, to overseeing his own ballyhooed creation Fox gave Family Guy a prime debut after this year's Super Bowl, and has slotted it cozily between The Simpsons and The X-Files.

My fondest hope is that the smart people who watch those last two shows will use the Family Guy half hour to turn off the set and jump-start a quick debate over the air strikes in Kosovo. Family Guy about dumbbell dad Peter Griffin, his wife, three children, and dog is The Simpsons as conceived by a singularly sophomoric mind that lacks any reference point beyond other TV shows. Whenever MacFarlane and his writers aren't spoofing tired targets like Fox disaster specials (Fast Animals, Slow Children har-har), they're trading on South Park's breakthrough bad taste to make ''jokes'' about, for example, African Americans (the pilot went out of its way to make a stupid Aunt Jemima jibe; the second episode featured a white newscaster who thinks she's not on the air when she says, ''I just plain don't like black people'' I dare you to har-har).

What is laughable is the clunky animation, which makes the static, retrograde stuff pumped out by MacFarlane's old employer, Hanna-Barbera, seem state-of-the-art. Combine all of the above, and the acclaim for writer-artist-actor MacFarlane (who does three regular voices on the show) is shaping up to be the hollowest hype of the year.

King of the Hill: A
Family Guy: D

An Article from Entertainment Weekly
Published on May 23, 2003

TV Review

King of the Hill HEART OF TEXAS After 150 episodes, the Hill family's compassionate conservatism has elevated ''King'' to sitcom royalty

A By Carina Chocano

Society is going to hell in a handbasket,'' says Dale Gribble, King of the Hill's resident conspiracy theorist and genius of self-delusion. He and his buddies Hank, Bill, and Boomhauer have just discovered that a vandal has tagged the fence in the street where they drink beer and try to make sense of the world. At a loss to explain a crime this senseless (after all, Hank and his wife, Peggy, took their wedding photos in front of that fence), Dale ventures, ''I blame the media blamers.''

The real culprit turns out to be a neighbor's delinquent teenage niece, visiting the fictional town of Arlen, Tex., from (where else?) Los Angeles. But the details hardly matter. As long as society keeps churning out fresh horrors for the nightly newscast, ''King of the Hill'' -- which wraps its seventh season and airs its 150th episode on May 18 -- won't run out of material any time soon.

''King,'' which was created by former ''Simpsons'' writer Greg Daniels and ''Beavis and Butthead'' creator Mike Judge, is a warmhearted comedy of manners that swaps urban sophisticates for worried suburbanites who prefer to let their greeting cards do their quipping for them. The animated series skips the tired sarcasm and fun-house pop-culture references that somehow still pass for comedy on TV. It views middle America as neither a quaint, homespun paradise nor a wasteland populated by mean-spirited cliches. The Hills may eat Frito pie and wear culottes from the Megalomart, but ''King'' never uses these habits as an excuse to trivialize or dismiss them. The show is a bellwether for the anxious mood of the small town, and its best jokes come from the darkest places. When Hank's boss promotes him to manager and Hank blurts out, ''I love you, Buck,'' in front of his wife, his son, Bobby, and worst of all, his horrible dad, Cotton, Bobby asks: ''Why did Dad have to go and act like a woman in front of Grandpa? Grandpa hates women!''

What makes ''King'' so deceptively subversive is that it subtly takes apart TV's nuclear-family archetypes that we have come to accept as real, slyly exposing the liberal pieties underneath them. From the smartest sitcoms (''The Simpsons'') to the ones with the scabbiest knuckles (''According to Jim''), television writers have been ''subverting the patriarchy'' for so long it's hard to remember a time when dads weren't ineffectual fools, moms weren't smarmy know-it-alls, and their kids weren't automatically light-years ahead of both simply by virtue of their youth, their fashion sense, and their media savvy. In this context, Hank Hill, dedicated propane salesman and paterfamilias, is radical.

Meanwhile, Peggy -- the product of an era when messages of female empowerment are even embedded in commercials for antiperspirant -- is the family buffoon. An overconfident, undereducated substitute teacher absolutely popping with self-esteem, Peggy has been Oprah-ized to the point of megalomania. When she fails (which she does often), all she needs is a leg up from the self-esteem industry to restore her faith in herself. As she tells Bobby, explaining why it's possible for her to have a ''career'' and be a devoted housewife at the same time, ''I am what the magazines call a superwoman!''

A couch-softened media sponge, Bobby is the kind of kid who is transported to ecstatic heights by fabric-softener commercials. He may be like no other kid on TV, but he is a lot like a real kid who watches too much TV. Vague, passive, filled with inchoate longings, Bobby dreams of becoming a magician; on TV, things happen as if by magic and everybody has a ''trademark.'' When Hank objects to Bobby's friendship with the town ''sorcerer'' -- a 30-year-old warlock who works in a video store -- Bobby accuses him of standing in the way of letting him find his ''thing.'' Hank shoots back with a weary ''I'm afraid of you getting your ass kicked every day for the rest of your life because you found a new way of being a nerd!''

No wonder Hank is anxious. It's hard to compete with sexy boy bands, permissive hipster parents, and cool gangster girls from L.A. when you are trying to raise your kid. At least ''King of the Hill'' lets him have the dignity of being right once in a while. Even when his efforts are doomed to fail, they are never ridiculous -- which makes Hank the only conservative, uptight white guy on the Fox network to earn this distinction.

An Article from The New York Times

The Way We Live Now
'King of the Hill' Democrats?

Published: June 26, 2005
Correction Appended

If you watch a lot of cable news, by now you've probably heard someone refer to a bloc of voters known as '' 'South Park' conservatives.'' The term comes from the title of a new book by Brian C. Anderson, a conservative pundit who adapted it from the writer Andrew Sullivan, and it refers to the notion that Comedy Central's obscene spoof of life in small-town America, with its hilarious skewering of liberal snobbery, is somehow the perfect crucible for understanding a new breed of brash and irreverent Republican voters. In truth, aside from its title, Anderson's book has very little to say about ''South Park'' itself; it's really just a retread of the argument that the mainstream media is losing its grip on world domination, marketed rather cynically to appeal to the same red-state radio hosts and book clubs that make so many right-wing polemics best sellers.

If politicians and pundits are really so desperate to understand the values of conservative America without leaving their living rooms, then they should start setting the TiVo to record another animated sitcom, which Anderson mentions only in passing and which, despite its general policy of eschewing politics, somehow continues to offer the most subtle and complex portrayal of small-town voters on television: ''King of the Hill,'' on Fox. North Carolina's two-term Democratic governor, Mike Easley, is so obsessed with the show that he instructs his pollster to separate the state's voters into those who watch ''King of the Hill'' and those who don't so he can find out whether his arguments on social and economic issues are making sense to the sitcom's fans.

For those who have somehow missed ''King of the Hill'' during its nine-year run, here's a lightning-quick primer: It revolves around a classic American everyman, the earnest Hank Hill, who sells ''propane and propane accessories'' in the small town of Arlen, Tex. Hank lives with his wife, Peggy, a substitute Spanish teacher who can't really speak Spanish, and his son, Bobby, a sensitive class clown who exhibits none of his father's manliness. (''This is a carburetor,'' Hank tells his son. ''Take it apart, put it back together; repeat until you're normal.'')

The important thing here is that Hank Hill may be a Texan, but he and his friends could live in any of the fast-developing rural and exurban areas around Columbus or Phoenix or Atlanta that are bound to become the political weathervanes of the new century. The families in Arlen buy American-made pickups, eat at chain restaurants, maniacally water their lawns and do their shopping at the huge Mega Lo Mart. This could easily be the setup for a mean parody about rural life in America, in the same vein as ''South Park,'' but ''King of the Hill,'' which was created by Mike Judge (who is the voice of Hank and who also created ''Beavis and Butt-head''), has never been so crass. The show's central theme has always been transformation -- economic, demographic and cultural. Hank embodies all the traditional conservative values of those Americans who, as Bill Clinton famously put it, ''work hard and play by the rules.'' He's a proud gun owner and a Nascar fan. When Bobby announces that he has landed a job selling soda at the track, Hank solemnly responds, ''If you weren't my son, I'd hug you.''

As Arlen becomes more built up and more diverse, however, Hank finds himself struggling to adapt to new phenomena: art galleries and yoga studios, latte-sipping parents who ask their kids to call them by their first names and encourage them to drink responsibly. The show gently pokes fun at liberal and conservative stereotypes, but the real point is not to eviscerate so much as to watch Hank struggle mightily to adapt to a world of political correctness and moral ambiguity. When Peggy tells him he'll look like a racist for snubbing his Laotian neighbor, Hank replies, ''What the hell kind of country is this where I can only hate a man if he's white?'' And yet, like a lot of the basically conservative voters you meet in rural America -- and here's where Democrats should pay close attention -- Hank never professes an explicit party loyalty, and he and his buddies who sip beer in the alley don't talk like their fellow Texan Tom DeLay. If Hank votes Republican, it's because, as a voter who cares about religious and rural values, he probably doesn't see much choice. But Hank and his neighbors resemble many independent voters, open to proposals that challenge their assumptions about the world, as long as those ideas don't come from someone who seems to disrespect what they believe.

The composition of the audience for ''King of the Hill'' is telling. You might expect that a spoof of a small-town propane salesman and his beer-drinking buddies would attract mostly urban intellectuals, with their highly developed sense of irony. In fact, as Governor Easley long ago realized, the show's primary viewer looks a lot like Hank Hill. According to Nielsen Media Research, the largest group of ''King of the Hill'' viewers is made up of men between the ages of 18 and 49, and almost a quarter of those men own pickup trucks. ''This is only the second show that's a comedy about the South -- this and 'Andy Griffith' -- that doesn't make fun of Southerners,'' Easley told me recently, adding that Hank and his neighbors remind him of the people he grew up with in the hills near Greenville. (Which is probably why Easley does startlingly good impressions of the various characters, including the verbally challenged Boomhauer.)

Easley polls surprisingly well for a Democrat among these voters, and he says he thinks that understanding the show's viewers might resolve some of the mysteries confronting his party about the vast swaths of red on the electoral map. Easley is reasonably progressive -- he raised taxes during his first term to protect education spending -- but he's also known as a guy who cracked up a race car during a spin on a Nascar course. When the governor, a former prosecutor, prepares to make his case on a partisan issue, he likes to imagine that he's explaining his position to Hank -- an exercise that might be useful for his colleagues in Washington too. For instance, Easley told me that Hank would never support a budget like the one North Carolina's Senate recently passed, which would drop some 65,000 mostly elderly citizens from the Medicaid rolls; Hank, after all, has pitched in to support his own father, a brutish war veteran, and he would never condone a community's walking away from its ailing parents. Similarly, Hank may be a lover of the environment -- he was furious when kids trashed the local campground -- but he resents self-righteous environmentalists like the ones who forced Arlen to install those annoying low-flow toilets. Voters like Hank, if they had heard about it on the evening news, would have supported Easley's ''Clean Smokestacks'' law, which forced North Carolina's coal-powered electric plants to burn cleaner, but only because industry was a partner in the final bill, rather than its target.

If other Democrats want to learn from ''King of the Hill,'' they may need to act fast. John Altschuler, one of the show's executive producers, fears that the show's 10th season next year could be its last; despite decent ratings, Fox has been buying fewer episodes and shifting its time slot, and there are rumors that the network may want to substitute yet another new reality show in its place. This is odd: after all, there is more reality about American life in five minutes of ''King of the Hill'' than in a full season of watching Paris Hilton prance around a farm in high heels. But none of this would come as much of a surprise to Hank Hill and his neighbors, who realized long ago that, as a nation, we often discard the things we once cherished in favor of a more synthetic modernity. ''The only place you can find a Main Street these days is in Disneyland,'' Hank once said. ''And just try to buy a gun there.''

Correction: June 26, 2005, Sunday:

An essay in The Times Magazine today about the animated television series "King of the Hill," and what politicians, especially Democrats, could learn from it, misidentifies the hometown of Gov. Mike Easley of North Carolina, an ardent fan. He grew up in Rocky Mount, not in the hills near Greenville.

An Article from USA TODAY
Published on May 9, 2006

'King of the Hill' retains its foothold
By Bill Keveney, USA TODAY

King of the Hill is approaching its 200th episode how Hank Hill might if he won an award for selling propane and propane accessories: with pride, but little fuss.
The Fox animated comedy (Sunday, 7:30 p.m. ET/PT) hits that milestone May 14 in a season-ending episode that until recently was going to be a series finale. But Fox, seeing its dedicated if small audience (5.4 million viewers for 2005-06) and syndication popularity, decided to bring back the Arlen, Tex., family for Season 11 just as producers were cleaning out their offices.

"I felt good about where I thought it was ending, so it was a little weird to come back," says co-creator Mike Judge, the voice of Hank. "But we started looking at the story ideas we had, and we had some good stuff worth doing."

Judge wouldn't come back without executive producers John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky, who run the show day to day. Altschuler explains the allure: "To be blunt, there's not too much that's good on TV. So if you're working on something good, you want to do more."

Next season's episodes will touch on such topics as big-footed Peggy buying shoes where drag queens shop; Hank and Peggy's son, Bobby, leading school protests because it makes him more desirable to girls; and Peggy getting a real estate license.

None of these topics touches on the world of fantasy, a trait that sets King apart from most animated shows. Judge says the real world is just his style.

"I love The Simpsons. I love Ren & Stimpy and South Park, but they're not the kind of thing I do. I guess my stuff is more observational," he says.

Most of the humor comes from the characters, rather than from jokes or gags. The producers credit voice actors, including Kathy Najimy, Brittany Murphy, Pamela S. Adlon, Stephen Root and Johnny Hardwick, with providing the depth needed to achieve that.

The series also has attracted eclectic guests, including Ben Stiller and Johnny Depp. Tom Petty returns in the 200th episode, Edu-macating Lucky.

The show's humor, more heartland than Hollywood, stands out, too. It often skewers political correctness.

"It's an interesting way of looking at society from the average Joe's point of view and making fun of the elite," Krinsky says.

King also sends up its own characters, including dignified Hank, whose black-and-white view of things can bump into a different reality. But it's not mean-spirited, says Judge, a New Mexico native who lives in Texas.

"We're actually making fun the way you would of your own friends, of your own neighborhood. We're not in an ivory tower, making fun of the South."

An Article from The Winnipeg Free Press

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
King of the Hill hanging up cartoon crown

By: Alex Strachan

Posted: 25/04/2009 1:00 AM

King of the Hill has reached the end of the road. After four years of rumours that the long-running cartoon comedy was about to fall to earth, it's official: This season, King of the Hill's 13th, will be the show's last. Barring a last-minute miracle, it is about to ascend into rerun heaven for good.

The ending is bittersweet. This coming Sunday, King of the Hill marks its milestone 250th episode -- not bad for a prime time SSRqtoon many said would never get off the ground, let alone outlast long-forgotten sitcoms like Veronica's Closet, Just Shoot Me and Union Square. Hard as it may be to believe, all three of those sitcoms were in the Top 12 in the Nielsen ratings in 1997, the year King of the Hill debuted as a companion show to The Simpsons.

The milestone 250th episode celebrates 13 seasons of beer, barbecue, bickering and male bonding. The story-within-a-story finds family patriarch Hank Hill opening a box of his late father's prized possessions on the first anniversary of his father's passing.

He's asked to dispose of his father's ashes -- a year later, to the day -- by flushing them down a public toilet said to have been used once by legendary Second World War Gen. George S. Patton. Complications ensue.

Like The Simpsons, King of the Hill struck an immediate chord with viewers when it debuted -- though, unlike The Simpsons, few thought it would last. The laid-back, laconic comedy about the Hills, a close-knit, God-fearing, country-living family in small-town Texas, seemed too slow and earnest for the frantic pace of most prime-time TV animation. King of the Hill creator-producer Mike Judge's previous effort, after all, was the MTV pop-cultural touchstone Beavis and Butt-head. Where Beavis and Butt-head was analyzed, talked about, dissected and constantly complained about, King of the Hill was largely ignored.

And yet, like the similarly never-say-die Family Guy, King of the Hill clung to life, while noisier, more loudly hyped comedies came and fell by the wayside. During the 1997-98 season, it even topped The Simpsons in the ratings.

Ten years later, however, the bloom had fallen off King of the Hill's rose. Rumours of imminent cancellation started circulating in 2005, in the show's 10th season, but it would still have three years left in it.

Now, however, the die is definitely cast.

The Fox network announced in October that King of the Hill had climbed its last hill. Hopes that another network might rescue it were dispelled earlier this year when ABC, which was thought to be interested, announced it had no plans to pick up the show.

Judge is philosophical about King of the Hill's ending. At the season's outset, he was worried about disappointing the show's longtime fans with an off-year.

"I kept thinking I had one bad season in me," Judge said. "And then we would end up having some really good episodes, and I wouldn't worry so much. As long as the episodes were still good and it was still fun to do, I'd keep doing it."

Cancellation is a relative concept, Judge added with a rueful laugh.

"We have been completely cancelled and all different degrees of cancelled, and so there's no such thing as final finality, it seems."

Family Guy remains the classic example of a series that was cancelled not once but twice, and went on to live another life on DVD -- only to be brought back to life all over again.

King of the Hill co-producer John Altschuler noted the vagaries of animation leave the door open for possible resurrection down the road. Futurama, another animated comedy that ran briefly as a companion show to The Simpsons and King of the Hill, will be back on the prime time TV schedule, after enjoying a second and third life as a series of straight-to-DVD movies. Unlike live action actors, voice actors in animated series are easier to bring back later if called upon. Also, cartoon characters don't age.

Judge noted that, back in 2005, when he was convinced King of the Hill was about to be cancelled for good, he produced an episode that was specifically designed to be a series finale.

Don't think that episode is still sitting on the shelf, though.

"That episode aired," Judge said, deadpan. "It was adjusted to not seem so final."

He wouldn't identify which episode it was, though.

"It had little weird remnants of a last episode, but that was it."

For now, the final episode scheduled this season is Uh-Oh Canada, which is tentatively slated to air on May 17. It's not certain whether it's intended to be the final episode, though. The only clue is a simple, one-line plot description. According to Fox, the episode finds Hank Hill's neighbour Boomhauer swapping homes with a Canadian family for the summer, leaving Hank and his friends "to deal with the less-than-agreeable visitors."

This weekend's milestone episode will be much like any other King of the Hill episode, Altschuler said.

"One of the things I've been proud of over the years is that we don't go out of our way to do milestone episodes, whether they're the 100th, 200th or 250th," Altschuler said.

"They fall where they fall. This one just happened to be the 250th because we didn't have, A) the energy to get gimmicky -- because it's a horrible, tiring process -- and B) because, frankly, if we worked that way, the show would have been long gone by now. We treat every episode like just another episode. They're all equal."

Even season finales.

-- Canwest News Service

TV Preview

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