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King of the Hill is an American animated series created by Mike Judge and Greg Daniels, that ran from January 12, 1997 to September 13, 2009 on Fox. It centers on the Hills, a small-town Methodist family in Arlen, Texasmarker. It attempts to retain a realistic approach, seeking humor in the conventional or mundane aspects of everyday life.

Judge and Daniels conceived the series after a run with Judge's Beavis and Butt-head on MTV, and the series debuted on the Fox Network on January 12, 1997, becoming a hit early on. The series' popularity has also led to syndication around the world, including every night on Cartoon Network's late night programming block Adult Swim. The show has risen to become one of FOX's longest-running series, and the second longest-running American animated series, behind The Simpsons. In 2007, it was named by Time magazine as one of the top 100 greatest television shows of all time. The title theme was written and performed by The Refreshments. King of the Hill has won two Emmy Awards and has been nominated for seven since its inception.

History

Conception

In early 1995, after the successful run of Beavis and Butt-head on MTV, Mike Judge co-created King of the Hill with former Simpsons writer Greg Daniels. Judge was a former resident of Garland, a suburb of Dallas, Texasmarker considered the basis for the setting of the series, the fictional Arlen. Mike Judge conceived the idea for the show, drew the main characters, and wrote a pilot script.

Fox teamed the cartoonist with an experienced prime-time TV writer. Greg Daniels rewrote the pilot script and created several important characters that did not appear in Judge's first draft (including Luanne and Cotton), as well as some characterization ideas (e.g., making Dale Gribble a conspiracy theorist).

Initial success

After its debut, the series became a huge success for Fox and was named one of the best television series by various publications, including Entertainment Weekly, Time and TV Guide. For the 1997-1998 season, the series became one of Fox's highest rated programs and nearly outperformed The Simpsons in ratings. During the fifth and sixth season, Mike Judge and Greg Daniels became less involved with the show. They eventually focused on the show again, though Greg Daniels steadily became more involved with other projects.

Facing cancellation

The series' tenth season was largely composed of episodes that did not air the previous season due to frequent sporting event preemptions. During the tenth season, in 2005, the show was scheduled to be canceled; however, it managed to attract high ratings and was renewed. Fox renewed the series for seasons eleven and twelve, making it the second longest-running animated television series after The Simpsons.

The thirteenth season episode "Lucky See, Monkey Do" became the first episode of the series to be produced in widescreen high-definition when it aired on February 8, 2009.

Cancellation

After declining ratings, Fox eventually decided to cancel the show, with one of their major reasons being to make room for the Family Guy spin-off series The Cleveland Show. With King of the Hill cancelled, the American adaptation of Sit Down, Shut Up also cancelled (though unaired episodes have been seen on late Saturday nights), and American Dad! renewed for another season, The Simpsons is now the only cartoon on FOX's "Animation Domination" line-up that wasn't created by Seth MacFarlane.

Hopes to keep the show afloat surfaced as sources indicated that ABC, on which Judge's new animated comedy The Goode Family aired, was interested in securing the rights to the show, but in January 2009 ABC president Steve McPherson said he had "no plans to pick up the animated comedy".

On April 30, 2009, it was announced that Fox ordered at least two more episodes to give the show a proper finale. The show's fourteenth season was supposed to air sometime in the 2009-2010 season, but Fox later announced that they would not air the episodes, opting instead for syndication. However Fox released a statement on August 10, 2009, that the network would air a one-hour series finale on September 13, 2009.

Setting and characters

Setting

King of the Hill is set in the fictional town of Arlen, Texas. In a 1995 interview prior to the show's debut, Judge described the setting as "a town like Humblemarker." In a more recent interview, Judge has cited Garlandmarker, Texasmarker, a Dallasmarker suburb, as the specific inspiration for Arlen. Despite the fictitious locale, the show strives to portray the region accurately, going so far as to have annual research trips to Texas for the writing staff. Time magazine praised the authentic portrayal as the "most acutely observed, realistic sitcom about regional American life bar none".

Arlen includes settings such as Rainey Street, where the Hills reside, and Strickland Propane, the business where Hank works. Also included are parodies of well-known businesses, such as Mega-Lo Mart (a parody of Wal Martmarker), Luly's (a parody of Luby's), and Bazooms (a parody of Hooters). Most of the children in the show attend Tom Landry Middle School (named after the former Dallas Cowboys coach). Early in the series, the school is referred to as being in the Heimlich County School District (according to markings on the school buses), though in later seasons this is changed to Arlen Independent School District. The school's mascot is a longhorn steer (named after the University of Texasmarker Longhorns ). The local country club is the Nine Rivers Country Club, though this club exclusively admits Asian-Americans.

Characters

King of the Hill depicts an average middle-class family and their lives in a typical American town. It documents the Hills' day-to-day-lives in the small Texasmarker town of Arlen, exploring modern themes such as parent-child relationships, friendship, loyalty, and justice. As an animated sitcom, however, King of the Hill's scope is generally larger than that of a regular sitcom.
Hank Hill
The family patriarch is Hank Hill, assistant manager of Strickland Propane, and salesman of "propane and propane accessories," who is obsessed with his lawn, propane, and the Dallas Cowboys. He is uncomfortable with intimacy and sexuality but has a healthy relationship with his wife, as well as the rest of his family. Hank's trademark sigh in times of discomfort or exasperation, his scream of "Bwah!" when startled, his whispered "Ugh" when disgusted, the phrase "I tell you what!" are running gags on the series; additionally, when someone angers him, he tends to respond with, "I'm gonna kick your ass!" though, he rarely resorts to this. In contrast with his emotional distance from members of his family, he dotes unashamedly on his aging Bloodhound, Ladybird.
Peggy Hill
Hank is married to Peggy Hill, a substitute Spanish teacher who has a poor grasp of the language (referring to it phonetically as "es-puh-nole"). Peggy is also a freelance newspaper columnist, real estate agent, notary public, and Boggle champion. She often displays her naïveté and arrogance with an inflated sense of her intelligence and appearance. She considers herself knowledgeable, clever, and very physically attractive, although she has on occasion noted her self-consciousness of her large feet. More often than not, Peggy's ego will preempt better judgement, leading to actions that, while initially "helping" her, ultimately lead to a path of agonizing realization of what she has done.
Bobby Hill
The two have a son, Bobby Hill, an overweight 13-year-old, who wants to be a famous prop comic when he is older. Although he is not particularly attractive or intelligent, Bobby has an excellent sense of self-esteem; he is not ashamed of his body or his often sub-par performance in sports or other activities. Bobby lacks his father's athletic prowess and dislikes most sports, but has participated- often in a peripheral way- in wrestling, baseball, and track at Tom Landry Middle School. He has also attempted to play football and soccer. He has an offbeat sense of humor that clashes with Hank's more collected and conservative manner. Such sentiments are fueled by Bobby's liking of activities more often viewed as traditionally feminine, such as cooking, high fashion, and dolls. Hank's discomfort with Bobby's proclivities is a regular narrative element in the series, and is manifested with remarks like "That boy ain't right."
Luanne Platter
Luanne Platter (named after the Lu Ann Platter from Luby's) is Peggy's niece. Sensitive and a bit of an airhead, her conflicts most often stem from her inability to think for herself and her naiveté, which allows others to take advantage of her. She follows a very implicit pattern in the men she dates, which are usually all the wrong kinds. She came to live with the Hills after her mother, Leanne, was sent to prison for stabbing Luanne's father (Peggy's brother) with a fork. Her full name is Luanne Leanne Platter, as heard on the episode "Edu-macating Lucky."
Dale Gribble
Dale Gribble is the next-door neighbor of Hank and Peggy Hill. He is an exterminator, bounty hunter, chain-smoker, gun fanatic, and paranoid believer of almost all conspiracy theories. Mike Judge and Greg Daniels named him in tribute to Dan "Gribble" Costello, a close friend of Judge. The character himself is loosely based on William S. Burroughs and Hunter S. Thompson, both of whom were avid gun collectors and wrote pieces on conspiracy theory. Some of his Dale-isms are "S'Go," which he says whenever he wants a person to go somewhere with him, "sh-sh-shaa" to mark a point of accomplishment, such as releasing an eagle to chase away some pigeons--"sh-shaaa!"--only to have the eagle turn on him, and "Wingo!" when excited.
Bill Dauterive
Bill was Hank's best friend in high school and now lives across the street from him. In his younger years, Bill was extremely fit, athletic and competent, with a full head of hair. Now bald and pot-bellied, he works as a barber for the U.S. Army and pines for his ex-wife Lenore, who left him. He remains lovelorn and melancholy and is attracted to Peggy. Whenever he feels down, he lets out a pitiful squeal before launching into a harmful binge. He often uses pity as a device to garner attention from his friends and neighbors. He often gets involved in crazy schemes, either with Dale and/or Boomhauer, or by himself, which often end with him getting physically injured or in some sort of trouble. Bill is also a fluent Cajun-speaking native of Louisiana; one relative owns a successful chili-pepper plantation.
Jeff Boomhauer
Boomhauer (who is always addressed by his last name) was a high-school chum of Hank, Dale and Bill. He has a deep, all-over suntan and speaks in a barely understandable mumble, though when he sings, his voice is clear. He has a brother named Patch. He is a committed bachelor sometimes depicted as promiscuous with his various girlfriends. According to the commentary on the "Pilot" episode DVD, Boomhauer's unique speaking style was based on a voicemail left on Mike Judge's answering machine. In the series finale, "To Sirloin With Love," it is revealed that Boomhauer is a Texas Ranger. Prior to this it was hinted that he was an electrician on worker's compensation. His driver's license is also shown in the series finale, revealing his name to be Jeff Boomhauer.
The series also featured numerous celebrity guests during its run including: Troy Aikman, Brad Pitt, Heather Locklear, Sally Field, Johnny Depp, Chuck Mangione, Kid Rock, Snoop Dogg, and Jason Bateman. In the later seasons, Tom Petty joined the cast as Lucky, Luanne's boyfriend/husband.

Episodes

Season # of

Episodes
Original airdate
1 12 1997
2 23 19971998
3 25 19981999
4 24 19992000
5 20 20002001
6 22 20012002
7 23 20022003
8 22 20032004
9 15 20042005
10 15 20052006
11 12 2007
12 22 20072008
13 20 20082009
Fox initially ordered 13 episodes with production code DABExx, but decided to keep the show in production for four additional episodes (DABE14-DABE17) bringing the actual amount of remaining unaired episodes to four, however the network nevertheless has yet to license those extra episodes. Fox later announced that they will not air the episodes in primetime opting instead for syndication with the possibility that the episodes may air first on Adult Swim.

Awards



References

  1. The 100 Greatest Television Shows of All Time, Time. Retrieved 2008-01-02.
  2. King of the Hill kept alive by Fox, is in its prime. Long live the king, The San Francisco Chronicle, 2007-01-26. Retrieved 2008-01-02.
  3. King of the Hill at FutonCritic
  4. Rice meets the press
  5. Bruce Westbrook. "Remote control: Back home in Texas, Mike Judge keeps 'Beavis' clicking," Houston Chronicle, October 15, 1995, page 8.
  6. Kathryn Shattuck. "It was good to be 'King,' but what now?" The New York Times, April 22, 2009 , page AR22.
  7. King of the Hill: Hank Hill
  8. King of the Hill: Bobby Hill
  9. King of the Hill
  10. King of the Hill: Luanne Platter


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