Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 20, 2006)
Want to find out about Season Six of King of the Hill? You’ve come to the right place! (Okay, that’s a lousy opening, but c’mon – it’s the sixth season, and I’m out of ideas.) I’ll examine each of these 21 programs in the way presented on the DVDs, which shows them in the order aired. The synopses come from the DVD’s packaging.
Bobby Goes Nuts (first aired 11/11/01): “Bobby (voiced by Pamela Segall Adlon) is empowered after taking a women’s self-defense class where he learns – much to Hank’s (Mike Judge) horror – to kick his attackers below the belt. Ouch!”
In no way, shape or form do I normally endorse ball-kicking humor. That said, “Nuts” offers an awfully good show. Bobby has a point: if someone otherwise more powerful threatens you, why can’t you mash him in the shnuts? Bobby’s pride over his accomplishments makes the program even more entertaining, and this ends up as a real winner with plenty of laugh out loud moments.
Soldier of Misfortune (first aired 12/9/01): “Dale (Johnny Hardwicke) humiliates himself by misfiring a gun at the Arlen Gun Club, and when Hank and the boys try to help him regain his confidence, Dale’s bungling nearly kills them all.”
As usual, Hill makes Dale the butt of plenty of jokes. However, it allows him a few moments of glory as he comes through in the end. This show doesn’t live up to the laughs of “Nuts”, but it gives us plenty of nice moments.
Lupe’s Revenge (first aired 12/12/01): “Peggy’s (Kathy Najimy) not as fluent in Spanish as she thinks she is, and when she takes Bobby’s class on a field trip to Mexico, she accidentally kidnaps a Mexican girl. Meanwhile, a saucy policewoman (Kathy Bates) has the hots for Hank.”
As I’ve noted many times in the past, I really hate Peggy. That means I welcome any and all opportunities to see her embarrassed and revealed as a fraud. Unfortunately, that never happens here, as Peggy always remains blissfully ignorant of her blissful ignorance. Some entertaining bits emerge, but I must admit that the ending acts as a disappointment.
The Father, The Son, and JC (first aired 12/16/01): “Peggy tries to help Hank mend his damaged relationship with Cotton (Toby Huss) in time for Christmas, but when the situation appears hopeless, they turn to the big JC – Jimmy Carter!”
True story: I once met Jimmy Carter at a college function and I asked him his shoe size. (Long story there.) The Carter parts of “JC” bring out its best moments. The program meanders at times, but once we get to its third act, it compensates and concludes on a high note.
Father of the Bribe (first aired 1/6/02): “Kahn (Huss) bribes Bobby to break up with Connie (Lauren Tom) but they use the money to continue seeing one another, only to discover that they really don’t have that much in common.”
Here we get a logical but still compelling twist on the Bobby and Connie relationship. The show follows the old “be careful what you wish for” theme as the kids finally see what it’s like to get Kahn’s approval for their relationship. That part helps explore their interactions in a good way, though a Dale subplot in which he runs his own 24-hour talk radio show offers the best elements.
I’m With Cupid (first aired 2/10/02): “With Valentine’s Day approaching, Bobby is distraught over his breakup with Connie, so it’s Arlen’s resident ladies’ man Boomhauer (Judge) to the rescue! Dang!”
The synopsis doesn’t mention it, but Bill causes Bobby’s downward spiral. He turns the kid into a mini-Bill and offers some amusingly pathetic moments. A desperate Bobby is a hilariously scary Bobby, and it’s cool to finally learn Boomhauer’s less than impressive “secret method”. All of this makes the program a winner.
Torch Song Hillogy (first aired 2/17/02): “Peggy hopes Bobby will be selected to carry the Olympic torch through Arlen, but the honor goes to Hank, who accidentally extinguishes the flame.”
Bobby’s desire to live up to his dad’s expectations often pops up as a theme, but here it takes a twist. We learn the roots of Hank’s repressed personality, and that allows for many fun moments. I like the way it messes with him and ends up as a satisfying show.
Joust Like a Woman (first aired 2/24/02): “Peggy leads a troupe of ‘wenches’ to protest their unfair treatment at the Renaissance Faire, where Hank is trying to land a big-money propane account.”
Ugh – a show in which I actually agree with Peggy’s viewpoint? That’s depressing. At least the presence of Alan Rickman in an excellent guest spot helps eliminate the bitter aftertaste; he offers a terrific take on a pretentious Renaissance-mad “king”.
The Bluegrass Is Always Greener (first aired 2/24/02): “Hank and the boys recruit Connie for a bluegrass fiddle contest, but Kahn insists that she focus on classical music.”
Connie provides an inherently dull character, so an episode that concentrates on her finds it tough to become interesting. Dale’s obsession with Yakov Smirnoff offers the best moments, though I think the show lets the lame comic off too easily. It’s mildly interesting to see Hank turn into Kahn in some ways, but overall this show remains lackluster.
Trivia note: this episode offers the series’ second guest vocal from Charlie Daniels. He appeared back in Season Four’s “Peggy’s Fan Fair”. He gets off much easier here, though, as the show makes him look like a nice guy. “Fair” portrayed him as a freeloader.
The Substitute Spanish Prisoner (first aired 3/3/02): “After taking an online IQ test, Peggy is convinced she’s a genius, but when she’s scammed out of $1000, she comes up with a scam of her own to retrieve the money.”
Has any animated character ever displayed as exaggerated a sense of self-worth as Peggy? That’s why she drives me so nuts, and that’s why I love to see her failure. “Prisoner” goes down an unusual path in that Dale’s suspicions are correct for once. Peggy grates more than usual here; I actually hoped the bad guy would win. I like the way it spoofs The Sting, though.
Unfortunate Son (first aired 3/10/02): “Hank encourages several Vietnam vets to join Cotton’s financially-strapped VFW group, but things go horribly awry when some of the vets experience flashbacks at the VFW barbecue.”
I love Cotton as much as I loathe Peggy. “Son” lets the elder Hill shine via his usual war hero-obsessed antics, and he consistently entertains. However, the gags at the expense of the Vietnam vets seem a little tacky and out of character for Hill. As sometimes occurs, the “B”-story adds the funniest moments; Dale’s acquisition of a falcon provides predictable but solid laughs.
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret Hill (first aired 3/17/02): “Peggy poses as a nun in order to land a full-time teaching job at a private Catholic school.”
Isn’t impersonating a nun some sort of sin? It seems low even for Peggy. At least the show offers up some good opportunities for comedy, especially when Peggy offers her imbecilic religious lessons.
Tankin’ It to the Streets (first aired 3/31/02): “Bill (Stephen Root) goes on a drinking binge and steals a tank when he learns that the army has used him as a guinea pig for an experimental drug, which has made him fat, hairy and lazy.”
“Streets” is an episode in which the “B”-story outdoes the main plot. The tale about Bill seems a little too goofy for my liking; it offers some laughs concentrates too much on wackiness connected to the tank. However, Peggy’s obsessive attempts to win free sundaes at Mega Lo Mart provide great humor.
Of Mice and Little Green Men (first aired 4/7/02): “Dale is having trouble bonding with Joseph (Breckin Meyer) because he’s convinced he’s not the boy’s real father… an alien is!”
Parts of “Men” feel a bit recycled, especially in Hank’s problems connecting with Bobby. Yeah, we know they don’t have much in common, and this gets old after awhile. That said, the whole alien thing gives it a twist, and the reversals in which Hank bonds with Joseph and Dale helps Bobby makes it unusual. This is a good episode though not a splendid one.
Man Without a Country Club (first aired 4/14/02): “Kahn is flabbergasted when Hank is asked to become a member of an exclusive all-Asian country club, but Hank doesn’t realize that he’s only been asked because the club needs a token white member.”
Nothing like a good dose of ethnic role reversal to make a fun show! After seeing his obnoxious son on occasion, it’s interesting to meet the amusingly stiff and stilted Ted Wassanasong, and the way these folks fawn over Hank is awfully funny. Along with its ethnic role reversal, these elements provide a nice kick and help make this show a strong one.
Beer and Loathing (first aired 4/14/02): “In the midst of a major crisis – a beer shortage in Texas – Peggy takes a job at Alamo Beer, where she signs a nondisclosure agreement so she can’t tell Hank that the beer he’s been drinking is tainted, making him violently ill.”
Our first images of the Hill gang showed them in the alley drinking Alamo Beer. The loss of their precious brew makes for an interesting change, though the episode doesn’t focus on their withdrawal as much as it could. The issues at the brewery compensate, though, and help turn this into a fun program.
Fun with Jane and Jane (first aired 4/21/02): “Peggy encourages Luanne (Brittany Murphy) to join a sorority, which is actually a cult that brainwashes its members, while Hank is assigned to kill Mr. Strickland’s (Root) emus but can’t bring himself to do it.”
Usually the two plots of Hill episodes don’t really connect, and that initially seems to be true here. However, the threads match up neatly at the end for a fun twist. It’s a clever show with many entertaining moments.
Note that this is the first Season Six episode to strongly feature Luanne. Actually, up to this point, we heard Murphy do more work as anonymous characters than as Luanne. I assume something in her life kept her from more time in the Hill studio, but it seems odd that we get so little Luanne in Season Six.
My Own Private Rodeo (first aired 4/28/02): “Nancy (Ashley Gardner) wants to invite Bug, Dale’s estranged father, to the ceremony when she and Dale renew their wedding vows, but unbeknownst to his family, Bug works at a gay rodeo and is himself gay. Giddyap!”
Obviously a gay rodeo and Bug’s sexuality opens up the show for many easy gags, and “Rodeo” indulges in a few of them. However, it doesn’t stick solely with cheap jokes, as it offers the series’ usual subtlety. Of course, Dale’s oblivious nature helps.
Sug Night (first aired 5/5/02): “Peggy feels threatened after Hank has a dream about him and Nancy grilling hamburgers in the nude. Sizzling hot!”
Wow – two episodes in a row that prominently feature Nancy! She’s gotten more attention this year than Luanne. One can’t blame Hank for fantasizing about Nancy, as she’s a million times hotter than that hag Peggy. Only Hank would have such a lame fantasy as grilling, though. Hank’s guilt and conflict brings out nice laughs, especially when we learn the real root of his fantasy.
Dang Ol’ Love (first aired 5/5/02): “Bill is heartbroken when the beautiful jogger he pining for falls for Boomhauer, who is in turn heartbroken himself when the jogger dumps him.”
Of the four guys, Boomhauer offers unquestionably the least complex character. “Love” lets us see things from a different perspective as the eternal womanizer sees things from the other perspective. Add to that a look at Boomhauer’s grandma and this becomes a fine show.
Returning Japanese (Parts 1 & 2) (first aired 5/12/02): “The Hills are off to Japan so Cotton can apologize to the widow of a soldier he killed in WWII, but something about Cotton’s story doesn’t quite add up. Hank learns that he has a half-brother, Junichiro, and the two must put aside their differences to stop the embittered Cotton from sparking an international incident by spitting in the face of the Japanese emperor.”
“Japanese” stands as the first Hill double-length episode. The series presented cliffhangers that spanned Seasons Two and Three as well as Seasons Three and Four, but the double-length season-ender is a new thing for them.
It takes a while to get there, and the payoff of the Japanese Hank isn’t worth it. The show sure drags up until then, and then it doesn’t do much to exploit the potential humor. When we learn that love and not nightmares motivates Cotton, then it doesn’t make sense that we see his flashbacks. It gets better when Cotton declares war on Japan, and the show becomes fitfully amusing. It just lacks the punch that I’d like, and it concludes a good season on a lackluster note.