Welcome back to another exciting Halloween cartoon recap! Whereas yesterday’s installment was a show I’d never before seen, today’s is a series that I’m very familiar with, but – much like Futurama – didn’t fully appreciate in its time.
I certainly liked King of the Hill upon it’s debut, but whether it was age (I would have been a sophomore when it started) or the fact that Fox shuffled this series as well between time slots (a recurring theme), it wasn’t something that I grew to love until it began getting released on DVD so I could binge and fall in love with it completely. Actually, looking back, it seems like some kind of a miracle that this show held on for 13 seasons, but that’s not a complaint at all. To this day, I have a cornucopia of Bobby Hill gifs that are easy go-tos for any situation.
And those are just easy ones. Check any gif library and there’s dozens to choose from! Or, if you really can’t decide, hit up pro-wrestler and co-host of The Off The Hop Rope Podcast, The Abominable CPA because he’s basically an encyclopedia of Bobby Hill content.
Anyway, this is an early episode from Season 2 where Hank promises to show Bobby the true meaning of Halloween. This show is available in its entirety on Hulu and is the perfect candidate for a nice, long rewatch if you need to take a break from the 43rd run through of Parks and Rec that you’re on.
Season 2, Episode 4: Hilloween
Original Air Date: October 26, 1997
We open in the Hill family garage where Hank, Dale, Bill and Boomhauer are preparing props for the school’s haunted house that Hank is in charge of this year. He’s excited to scare the pants of the local children and give them a Halloween like he remembers having when he was a young boy. Hank and Peggy take Bobby shopping for his costume and Hank is frustrated by all the costumes being novelty characters and not scary things like vampires. Bobby suggests he could be a dalmatian and it’ll be scary because dalmatians can bite you. I fucking love Bobby Hill.
At Luanne‘s bible study group, a new instructor, Junie Harper, speaks of the evils of Halloween and how it was invented by the druids (or “druish” as Luanne calls them) and sets her sights on putting a stop to Hank’s haunted house at the school. The principal says the school can’t handle another lawsuit so Hank and pals pack up all their freshly-made decorations and storm off in frustration.
Hank takes Bobby out to show him the other side of trick-or-treat since Bobby will be 13 next year and too old to dress up and get candy. They stand outside Dale’s house with a sack of eggs and toilet paper when Hank realizes Junie Harper lives just a few houses down and decides to set their target to her place instead. Of course Bobby is not quite adept at throwing rolls of TP just yet and he ends up just pegging a birdhouse, knocking it from its perch where it crashes to the ground and Junie Harper comes running out, yelling about Satanists. She’s able to ID Bobby as the culprit. Bobby, for his part, just feels bad about breaking the birdhouse and taking away the birds’ place to…I dunno…house.
In her rush to catch the Satanists, Junie Harper runs over her cat in the driveway while backing out and then uses that as evidence in a city council meeting to get Halloween canceled and a curfew put on the town of Arlen. Hank’s plans to set up an alternative haunted house in his garage are put on hold by the news and he now swears to avenge the holiday so he’s able to show Bobby the true meaning of Halloween. Luanne decides to take Bobby to a different kind of house: Junie Harper’s competing “Hallelujah House”.
The Hallelujah House tour begins with a model of a young couple sitting on a park bench barely holding hands who – Junie Harper says – are about to let their hormones get the best of them. She then spins the model around and reveals matching him and her toe-tags on a couple of bodies in a mock morgue. She says it appears the old saying is true: “Sex kills.” The next exhibit extols the virtues of creationism as opposed to evolution. Hank finally finds out where Bobby’s been this whole time and decides that enough is enough.
Peggy tries calming him down, worried that he’ll be arrested for breaking curfew, but Hank emerges from the house dressed in his childhood devil costume and stands in the middle of street continually yelling “trick-or-treat.” Boomhauer, Bill and Dale quickly join him and the Luanne even breaks down after Peggy gives her a stern talking to. A gaggle of neighbors eventually join the march all the way to Junie Harper’s Hallelujah House to free their kids of her absurd religious nonsense. Junie throws a fit and tells literally everybody in the neighborhood that they’ll all go to hell, but they’re much too concerned with having fun to give a shit.
King of the Hill is almost so basic that you forget how good it can be. There’s not a lot that’s over the top about any of the characters individually, but somehow it still works to make a completely entertaining package.
This episode in particular is a great example of how simple things can be and still turn into a terrific 30 minutes. Overly religious lady tries to ruin Halloween for everyone; Local man takes stand. That’s it. And it was great.
One of the things The Simpsons gets a ton of credit for (and rightfully so, mind you) was being able to create so many depth characters that you could spin to at almost any time and not have the audience mind that you were shifting the focus from the family. While not on the same level, King of the Hill does have a similarly rich character vault as way too often I can hear a line from Dale or Kahn or Cotton that will just catch me in a way where it completely steals the show in my opinion.
This series is wonderful and will always feel criminally underrated since its entire existence was spent in the massive shadow of The Simpsons when that show was still a juggernaut. Maybe a victim of timing, but it’s never to late to show it love. Mike Judge is a genius and I couldn’t recommend you doing a full watch of this show more. You’ll love it.
Until next time.