Thursday, March 23, 2006

KotH Protest Too Much

The news about the surprise renewal of "King of the Hill," which I broke on this blog several weeks ago, is now official. It'll be the first and last scoop I'll ever have access to.

This New York Post article describes the process of trying to get a long-cancelled show back into production very quickly: after the renewal, which came in January, the producers had two months to re-negotiate a deal for the show, sign back all the voice talent, find writers and animators, and so on. As with "Family Guy" and "Futurama," Fox cartoons never die.

One thing people don't remember about "King of the Hill" is that when it started in 1997, it was big -- more of a genuine pop-culture phenomenon than "Family Guy" or "Futurama" ever were. The ratings it got in the post-"Simpsons" slot sometimes even surpassed "The Simpsons"; it was named the number-one show of the year by TV Guide; it inspired a tie-in book within the first year ("The Boy Ain't Right"). The show's popularity stumbled in its third season when Fox moved it to a new night, Tuesday, hoping that it could anchor the network on a night on which it hadn't been particularly competitive. This didn't work out, and the following year KotH was in the unglamorous, under-publicized time-slot of 7:30 on Sundays, where it has mostly stayed ever since. It's been a solid fan favourite ever since, especially in syndication, but it never recaptured the media buzz it was getting in 1997-8. Also, since 2001 the show's Texas setting has caused it to be pigeonholed as a Southern/Western show, though its appeal is actually pretty universal and its portrayal of small-town suburban life rings true almost anywhere.

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