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Top 10 Reasons I'll Miss 'King of the Hill'


King of the Hill premiered on Fox on January 12, 1997 as a mid-season replacement. This underrated comedy took its final bow on Fox on September 13, 2009. So, it comes in like a lamb and goes out like a, well, lamb. For over a decade creator Mike Judge and his team of writers and the talented cast gave us sly humor and tender moments, each with ease. Though I can watch re-runs in syndication, I will miss fresh episodes of this gem. Here are the top ten reasons I will miss King of the Hill.

1. O Creator, We Adore Thee - Mike Judge

Mike Judge
Robert Mora / Getty Images

Mike Judge has created his own brand of humor in film and cartoons, much like Kevin Smith, only a bit more sophisticated than Smith's Clerks. With under-the-radar comedic gifts like Office Space, Idiocracy and Extract building a bigger following, it's obvious folks are figuring out that Mike Judge is smart and funny. You can even see his ability to strategically deploy jokes in his early projects, like Beavis and Butt-head. Some would consider that cartoon, and its subsequent feature, to be low-brow. I suggest they aren't looking closely enough. King of the Hill offers the same gut-busting laughs, in a more refined manner.

2. The Hills Are Alive

King of the Hill
Twentieth Century Fox
King of the Hill centers around a middle-class family without superpowers, potty mouths or FCC problems. Hank, Bobby and Peggy Hill find themselves in tough situations that are only slightly exaggerated from real-life problems: Bobby starts kicking people in the crotch in order to be tough; desperate for a teaching job Peggy masquerades as a nun, and Hank wears implants when his back end starts to disappear into his jeans. Through it all they remain honest, loyal, moral and hard-working. Watching their hair-brained schemes we laugh at how silly they are, but love how hard they're trying to do the right thing.

3. I'll Tell You What

King of the Hill - Death Picks Cotton
Twentieth Century Fox
The message of King of the Hill is the heart of the show. Literally. Each episode usually involves a crisis of faith in something, whether it be high school football or organic gardening. But the characters always find their way back to solid footing, and usually learn a lesson along the way. And occasionally, I wind up with a warm smile on my face, and my heartstrings tugged a bit.

4. You Can't Handle the Truth

Nancy Gribble and Hank in "Sug Night"
Twentieth Century Fox
Believe it or not, King of the Hill has told stories that incorporate hot button issues. For years the show dealt with the thorny topic of adultery in the relationship between John Redcorn and Nancy Gribble. King of the Hill has presented the economic evils that can happen when a large chain store like Mega-Lo-Mart (a stand-in for Wal-mart) comes to a small town. The show has also dissected religion, the military, environmentalism and more. But all this political and pop culture examination is done quietly and subtly, unlike South Park or Family Guy, which may be why King of the Hill didn't garner the same amount of attention.

5. They Lift and Support

King of the Hill - Serves Me Right for Giving General George S. Patton the Bathroom Key
Twentieth Century Fox
The so-called secondary characters on King of the Hill are just as important to the show as the Hills. The supporting characters are colorful, varied and funny. Consider ladies' man Boomhauer, conspiracy-theorist Dale, shin-less Cotton, ditzy but handy Luanne, the Loatian neighbor Kahn and so many more. These characters help create a familiar world on King of the Hill, and their foibles and flaws are just as ripe for humor as any of the Hills.

6. The Stars at Night Are Big and Bright

King of the Hill
Twentieth Century Fox
Arlen, Texas may not exist on the United States map, but over the years it's become very real to King of the Hill fans. I love Arlen. I love that they named two of their schools after NFL figures, Roger Staubach and Tom Landry. (Who else but Texans would do so?) I love that the origin of Arlen was as a stop on the trail for settlers looking for a roll in the hay. I love that they have events that feature eating contests, grilling contests, medieval fairs and the passing of the Olympic torch. Yes, Arlen, Texas has seen a lot of changes and excitement through the years.

7. And the Emmy Goes To...

Bobby Goes Nuts
Twentieth Century Fox
In 2002, Pamela Adlon won an Emmy for her work as Bobby Hill in "Bobby Goes Nuts." I can't believe that's the only performance Emmy King of the Hill has snagged. Mike Judge's Texas twang for Hank Hill is dead on. (I smile every time he sayd, "Vid-ya game.") Kathy Najimy's histrionics as Peggy are a riot. The regular cast also boasts acting heavy-hitters Stephen Root and Brittany Murphy. Time and again this talented ensemble underlines the humor and heart of King of the Hill's dialogue.

8. We'll Leave the Light on For Ya

Renee Zellweger and Snoop Dogg Guest Star on King of the Hill
Twentieth Century Fox
Lots of folks have passed through Arlen, Texas through the years. Guest stars have included Oscar winners, like Renee Zellweger and Reese Witherspoon, or musicians, like Tom Petty and Ani Difranco. (It helps if they have a homegrown drawl.) These guest stars are complementary to the top-notch regular cast; they don't pull stunts to draw attention to themselves. (I'm looking at you, Paris Hilton.) All of them make King of the Hill more fun to watch.

9. Music Makes Hank's Head Go 'Round

The Bottle & Fresh Horses
No words. No vocals. But I dare you to start humming the theme song to King of the Hill and not feel better about the world instantly. With its driving guitar licks, the song, by the Refreshments, instantly puts me in mind of rodeos and barbecues. It's a great musical introduction to Arlen, Texas.

10. Time After Time

King of the Hill - Tears of an Inflatable Clown
Twentieth Century Fox
Unless you're into sobfests like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, King of the Hill was the best show in its timeslot. Sometimes the Hills were relegated to 7:30, but most often they offered a breath of fresh air between the slapstick stunts of The Simpsons and the potty mouths of Family Guy. Taking over at 8:30, The Cleveland Show will not offer me the same respite.
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