King of the Hill [1993]

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Stars: Jesse Bradford, Jeroen Krabbe, Lisa Eichhorn, Kristin Griffith, Lauryn Hill
Genre: Drama, History
Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Runtime: 103 minutes

"You gotta be real, Bobby. Get in touch with your white roots. So advises African American comedian and driving-school instructor Buddha Sack (voiced by Chris Rock) in the episode "Traffic Jam," and in its second season, King of the Hill mines this fertile territory for some of the funniest and sharpest comedy writing on television. But it's the pitch-perfect ensemble, led by series co-creator Mike Judge as forthright Hank Hill and Kathy Najimy as the formidable Peggy Hill--that also gives King of the Hill a heart as big as Texas itself. Hank struggles to be the voice of reason in a world that often just "ain't right." In "Hilloween," Hank rallies the town after a lawsuit by a fundamentalist (voiced with hellfire by Sally Field) shutters the local haunted house and abolishes trick or treating. In "Hank's Dirty Laundry," the tenacious Hank is forced to immerse himself in adult video after a video store computer's false claim that he rented and did not return "Cuffs & Collars" sullies his credit rating. Hank may he hard-headed, but, unlike Homer Simpson, he is never a buffoon. His literal nature provides some of these episodes' biggest laughs, as witness his attempt to one-up put-down artist Buddha Sack in "Traffic Jam": "Your mother's hair is short, it looks like she's not a woman at all, but more like a man." In season 2, Hank continues to look for common ground with his misfit son ("How To Fire a Rifle Without Rally Trying"), and romance begins to blossom between Bobby and neighbor Connie ("The Son That Got Away"). But it is the throwaway moments that provide some of the series' giddiest delights. In "The Unbearable Blindess of Laying," Bobby is introduced to the Jewish idiom. "You said, 'You I like' instead of 'I like you,'" he tells his grandmother's new boyfriend. "That's funny." --Donald Liebenson

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