|King of the Hill: Season Five (2001)
Starring: Mike Judge, Kathy Najimy, Pamela Segall Adlon, Brittany Murphy, Johnny Hardwick, Stephen Root, Ashley Gardner, David Herman, Toby Huss
Why oh why does Fox insist on treating “King of the Hill” as the bastard child of its prime-time animation lineup when it’s an almost-universally accepted fact that it’s the most consistently hilarious of the bunch, even nine years into its run? “The Simpsons” has been off its game since hitting double digits (if not a little before then), “Family Guy” delves into the low-brow more often than perhaps it should, and “American Dad,” well, is there anyone who thinks it’s ever been all that good?
“King of the Hill” is a show which actually lets its plots and premises unfold over the course of an entire episode rather than go with a constant barrage of often-unrelated gags. Like “Home Movies” on Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim” line-up, it’s the black sheep of the family because it’s not afraid to follow its own path. Perhaps as a result of this individuality, we have the fifth season of the show following a trend that’s been going on since the third season, with Fox maintaining its insistence on releasing it as bare-boned as possible. What happened? The first two years of the series came out with deleted scenes, audio commentaries, featurettes, bonus music videos, animatics, and what-not, but since then, it’s been just episodes and not a damned thing else. Meanwhile, “The Simpsons,” “Futurama,” and “Family Guy” are all packed to the rafters with bonus features. It’s shameful treatment, frankly. Fortunately, the content of the discs is so damned hilarious that it earns four stars based on the show itself…so you can imagine that, with even the slightest amount of bonus content, it would’ve cruised into 5-star territory with no problem whatsoever.
As ever, the comedy comes from not from incredibly outrageous situations but, rather, from things that could potentially happen to any family: a boy getting his first job, an encounter with a celebrity (like, say, former Texas governor Ann Richards, who provides the voice for her animated likeness), and, of course, the inevitable dealings with holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.
There are as many quotable lines of dialogue per episode as in some early “Simpsons” episodes. It’s a bold a statement, yes, it’s true. Here just a few classics from Season 5:
Hank: I'm not giving you my chores. You're getting a job.
Bobby: All right, but I'm not very employable. No skills, bad attitude, seventh-grade education. But we can try.
Bobby: “So that's the sound it makes when a train hits a truck. It was a little more truck-y than I would have thought, considering how much train there was.”
Dale Gribble: “They'll try to pin it on me. And since I did it, they will succeed.”
Luanne: “You know, someday I would like to travel through Thairabia and see those pyramids.”
John Redcorn: I barely see my son as it is.
Nancy Gribble: Sug, he's Dale's son, remember?
John Redcorn: You say that now, but when it comes time to get him into college, let's see what box you check.
Peggy: You know, it frightens me to think that we've raised Bobby for twelve years without the Internet. Parents without the Internet should have their children taken away.
Since the FX Network has been running episodes of “King of the Hill” on a regular basis and the show’s also in syndication, the only real reason to pick up this set is to be able to watch them at your own convenience in their uncut form; as such, if you’re a fan, no one’s going to blame you for picking it up. But with that having been said, if you wanted to take a stand and not buy the set as a way to telling Fox how annoyed you are that they can’t be bothered to come up with at least a few cursory special features…well, let’s just say that this critic wouldn’t complain one bit.