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Fox Home Entertainment presents
King of the Hill: The Complete First Season (1997)

"Bobby, if you weren't my son, I'd hug you."
- Hank Hill (Mike Judge)

Review By: Kevin Clemons  
Published: June 30, 2003

Stars: Mike Judge, Kathy Najimy, Pamela Segall, Stephen Root, Britney Murphy
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for mild inuendo, language
Run Time: 04h:27m:32s
Release Date: July 01, 2003
UPC: 024543069911
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ AB+B A

DVD Review

In the pantheon of Fox animated series, King of the Hill stands as perhaps the forgotten child amongst a gathering of much edgier and celebrated shows. Overshadowed by the success of The Simpsons and not quite as brazen as Family Guy, King of the Hill has quietly gained a loyal fan base and pushed past the 150th episode mark without fanfare this past May.

It's essentially the story of the Hill family and their day to day activities. Hank (Judge) is a well meaning father and propane salesman with a true love for his lawn, his Alamo beer, and his family. Hank's wife Peggy (Najimy) is a substitute teacher with a penchant for being the best at everything. Their son, Bobby (Segall), is a strange but good-natured adolescent who has a thirst for everything pop culture offers. Throw into the mix a group of eccentric friends as well as a few sharp jabs at the ways of the world and the stage is set for King of the Hill.

The greatest reason for the success of King of the Hill is the way in which creator Mike Judge has given the Hill family problems and situations that are similar to those of real individuals. The members of the Hill family, as well as the supporting characters, are not caricatures but individuals with situations that anyone can relate to. From Hank's struggles to get close to his son to Peggy's efforts to be the queen of her own world, there is rarely a moment that rings false.

Like most television shows, King of the Hill did not hit its stride until later in the run of the series; but the first season is better than most premier seasons, as the humor is still at the same level as it is today. This is an underrated television show if there ever was one.

Disc One: Episodes 1-5

Pilot

While coaching Bobby during a little league game, Hank becomes irate after Bobby fails to give 110%. After a foul ball goes wild, Bobby is hit in the eye and the community soon thinks that the black eye Bobby is sporting is from Hank. When social services enter the picture, the Hill family is the target of an investigation as to whether or not Hank has a rage problem. The episode flirts with edginess while still tackling a sensitive issue with aplomb. A solid beginning that rates four out of five beer cans.





Square Peg

When word spreads that the local school is planning a sex education class Hank nominates Peggy to teach the class to ensure that Bobby gets the correct education. This would be fine if Peggy were not mortified at the very thought of both the terminology as well as the subject matter. This is a funny episode that tries perhaps a bit too hard to push the envelope. There are a few laugh out loud moments including a flashback to Hank learning about sex from his father. Like a square peg in a round hole this episode rates three and a half beer cans.

>



The Order of the Straight Arrow

As one might expect, a trip planned by Hank and his friends for the local scout troop ends in disaster. When Hank fears that Bobby may not have what it takes to be the same level scout as Hank once was, he makes up a bravery test that ends with Bobby killing an endangered Whooping Crane. Hank tries his best to cover things up while attempting to avoid a park ranger who is on the trail of the dead bird. The show begins to hit its stride with this episode, as the tone shifts from tackling more sensitive issues to pure comedy. Three episodes into the season, this four and a half beer can episode proves things are going well.







Luanne's Saga

When Luanne (Murphy) is dumped by her boyfriend of only a few months, Hank tries his best to console her by offering to find her a new man in forty-eight hours. Hanks's plan backfires after the seemingly perfect individual that he picks out turns out to be less than a gentleman and Luanne goes home with Hank's friend, Boomhauer (Judge). The episode has a lot of fun with the topic of being dumped, and how men mess everything up simply by offering to help. This episode also makes the most out of the appearance of Boomhauer, the mumbler who would become a fan favorite. Four beer cans for this episode.





Hank's Got the Willies

A seemingly normal golf outing with Hank and Bobby leads to Bobby's accidentally assaulting of Hank's hero, Willie Nelson, with a golf club. A fairly simple episode that excels due largely to the father and son dynamic. Besides, in what other show can you see a conversation between two ramble-mouth mumblers (Boomhauer meets Bob Dylan) that is as funny as this one is? Four and a half beer cans for this episode.





Disc Two: Episodes 6-9

Westie Side Story

When a new family moves in next door, Hank does the neighborly thing and begins to forge a friendship, but the results are disastrous. While attending a barbecue with his new Laotian neighbors, Hank is convinced that the hamburgers are made out of dog meat and in doing so tests the friendship he is striving to create. This episode is possibly the weakest out of the Season One efforts, but it still has its moments, making it a three and a half beer can episode.





Hank's Unmentionable Problem

When Hank experiences a bowel irregularity it soon becomes the business of everyone in town. There are some very funny moments here that rank amongst the best that the first season has to offer. Four and a half beer cans.





Shins of the Father

Where most television shows introduce the parents of the lead characters as a ratings ploy, King of the Hill does so simply to gain laughs and they do so admirably. Much of what makes this episode something special is the genius of the creation of the overly sexist Cotton Hill and his impact on the other characters. In what other show would you see a young boy slap his mother on the behind and order her to cook him dinner?

>



Peggy the Boggle Champion

It is in this episode that King of the Hill truly separates itself from the crowd. When Peggy enters herself into the Texas Boggle championship in Dallas, it just happens to be going on while the Mower expo is in town. Which will Hank choose? This is a very funny episode that also benefits from a Bobby and Luanne subplot, which involves burning a wall and ruining cherished pieces of furniture at the Hill house. Four and a half beer cans for this episode.





Disc Three: Episodes 10-13

Keeping Up With Our Joneses

When Bobby and a friend find a cigarette in a dumpster they sneak off to smoke it in a gas station bathroom. When Hank happens to walk into the same bathroom he is mortified, and makes Bobby smoke an entire carton to make him sick at the thought of cigarettes. The plan backfires as Hank takes a cigarette to show Bobby how to inhale properly and in turn become addicted. Soon both Peggy and Luanne are hooked as well, and the entire family must battle their addiction. One of the better episodes of the season. Four and a half beer cans for this episode.





Plastic White Female

Like any other young boy, Bobby is intimidated by the girls at his school. So when the time comes for Bobby to go to a party, he practices playing spin the bottle with a plastic beauty school mannequin. While Peggy is mortified, Hank feels that Bobby is just going through a phase. The episode concludes with a very funny party sequence that is among the highlights from the first season. Four and a half beer cans for this episode.





The Company Man

Though this episode aired in the second season, it is included here and is perhaps the most straight forward of the collection. When Hank tries to land a large account, he finds that he has to dress as an "authentic" Texan to impress his Northern client. In doing so, Hank goes against everything he stands for in order to land the account. This is a funny episode that also introduces Burt Reynolds as the voice of Hank's adversary, Tatherton. Four out of five beer cans.





King of the Ant Hill

A sort of Greek tragedy about lawns, this entry is the crowning achievement in the first season. When Hank tells his friend and neighbor Dale never to spray insecticide on his grass, Dale sabotages Hank's new lawn by dropping fire ants, which infest Hank's yard. Shocked and distraught that his yard is being ruined, Hank is at a loss until Peggy discover Dale's plan. Throw in a subplot about Bobby being controlled by the queen ant and you have a delicious, surreal look at the life of the Hill family. A full five beer cans for this classic episode.



Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio, =King of the Hill looks fine given its origins as a lower budget animated show, but it fails to live up to the efforts of the other releases from Fox. Colors are vibrant with no bleeding, while black levels look sharp and deep with no grain. Sharpness and detail are each done nicely, though at times the image appeared to have a softness that hampered the overall grade for the transfer.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
3.0
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby 3.0 Surround track offers a nice representation of the original soundtrack but it is far from overly active. The center channel produces sharp and crisp dialogue throughout, while the surround speakers do a fine job of reproducing ambient effects and the musical selections.



Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 6 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
13 TV Spots/Teasers
52 Deleted Scenes
1 Alternate Endings
1 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by Creator Greg Daniels, Director Klay Hall, various characters from the show
Packaging: custom cardboard cover with sl
Picture Disc
3 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Character Introductions
  2. Character Profiles
  3. Barenaked Ladies Music Video
Extras Review: This is where the set becomes something truly extraordinary. Each disc houses humorous menu designs that feature character introductions as well as themed screens for each character. The true genius is in the audio commentary tracks. While series creator Mike Judge is largely absent, co-creator Greg Daniels and director Klay Hall offer commentary on several episodes. Daniels and Hall mainly focus on their love for the show, as well as the technical information as to what happens behind the scenes. The genius mentioned above is in the commentary tracks by characters Peggy and Bobby Hill, as well as Dale Gribble and Bill Dauterive. These tracks are not informative, yet they are still very humorous. The best ones belong to Peggy and Bobby as they discuss their motivations and their ways of life. I really appreciate the time and effort that the creators went through to add these truly unique tracks to the set.

Next are over 50 brief deleted scenes and animatics that showcase both lost treasures as well as throwaway scenes. A piece entitled The Dos and Don'ts showcases the many choices in terms of style and décor for the show. The Making of King of the Hill is an extensive look at the production of the show, featuring interviews with the actors and the animators.

Meet the Hills is an interactive gallery for each main character with a grouping of concept sketchesand highlights from the first season. Finally, a music video for Get in Line by the Barenaked Ladies is a fun exercise in technical direction, while thirteen television spots are presented and are fun to look at.

Extras Grade: A

 

Final Comments

Though King of the Hill lags behind The Simpsons on nearly every level, there is no denying that the show is indeed a treasure that deserves to live on for years to come. The Hill family may be animated, but there is more heart in these characters than in many live-action sitcoms. The three-disc set of the entire first season is a treat for fans of the show and newcomers alike. Highly recommended.

 


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