Insight: Hulu’s King Of The Hill Reboot To Feature Just One Writer From OG Series

King of the Hill is arguably one of adult animation’s finest examples of the industry. Having premiered on January 12th, 1997 and wrapping May 6, 2010. But, can new showrunner Saladin Patterson put together a good enough show with new castmembers and an entirely new writers’ staff?

Everything’s bigger in Texas…even the animated series. In terms of Mike Judge’s career, King of the Hill might go down as his career achievement, even more so than Beavis and Butt-Head in terms of sheer importance to the industry.

With a setting derived from Judge’s former home town of Garland, Arlen Texas would prove to be more of a down-to-Earth setting whence compared to the rest of FOX’s animated lineup, and as such, would bring with it, an abundance of fruits that would last for 13 seasons. This despite the fact that they were on a network that did everything they could to kill the show at the end despite the strong ratings. So how the hell did this thing last for so long?

King of the Hill has as good a foundation as any. When initially pitched, King of the Hill featured the Hill family, but it’s when FOX directed Greg Daniels to co-create the show with Judge that a lot of the mustard that made King of the Hill special, much in the same way Sam Simon did with The Simpsons. Daniels was responsible for developing Lucky and Luanne and had given added depth to Hill’s friends who would become important crutches for future episodes.

None more so than Hank Hill (voiced by Mike Judge), the patriarch of the Hill family, Hank, enjoys propane, the Dallas Cowboys, and mowing his lawn like a mofo. When he’s not working, the Hill family is his priority which provides the basis for a lot of King of the Hill plots. The most prominent of which, trying to turn his son Bobby (voiced by Pamela Adlon) into a man despite all odds. His wife, Peggy (Kathy Najimy) was very much a contrast to the typical animated moms of the time. Instead of being the voice of reason for Marge Simpson and later Lois Griffin for their screwed up marriages, Peggy was a working mother that could often become dense on her own accord, going along with scams and agreeing with a lot of loose logic that her husband and son would convey on a weekly basis.

Another major difference with The Simpsons, King of the Hill didn’t leave the “guy talk” to a local bar like the aforementioned series did, rather, the writers took the “guy talk” and put the “bar “right in the middle of the sidewalk down the street. This “bar” was really Hank, Dale (Johnny Hardwick), Bill Fontaine (Stephen Root), and Jeff Boomhauer (Judge). The four kicked off a multitude of episodes that could include a litany of topics like Dale’s conspiracy theories or Bill’s depressing tales of loneliness and would serve as just as much a launching off point for plots as any other device utilized.

After a few seasons Mike Judge and Greg Daniels would work on other projects and the quality of King of the Hill could felt in dips as time wore on, but probably the duo that would help catalyst a strong finish would that be of Elroy (Tom Petty) and Luanne Kleinschmidt (Brittany Murphy).

First the setup to why Elroy and Luanne were important. FOX, as with the case of most TV networks, did not believe in animated shows having arcs due to the fact that they were harder to play back in syndication (a notion that would prove to be laughable years later). So, enter Luanne and Lucky’s pregnancy adventure that REQUIRES your attention each and every week thereby making King of the Hill quite possibly the fore-bearer for the type of stories told on Netflix, unimpeded, decades later. The problem was FOX had begun increasing sports coverage that ranged from NASCAR to the MLB Playoffs and even NFL games that would overrun and cause whole episodes of King of the Hill to not be shown to the public. In fact, this got so bad that affiliate networks began fielding complaints right up until the engrossing last month or so of the season when full episodes of King of the Hill that centered on Luanne and Elroy weren’t shown until years later on Adult Swim.

So, when King of the Hill was unceremoniously canceled after 13 seasons, fans were shocked. It was not uncommon for King of the Hill episodes to get higher ratings than The Simpsons on any given Sunday, but with the growth of Seth MacFarlane’s empire, FOX saw a potential opportunity to get a few more Family Guy home runs with the likes of American Dad and The Cleveland Show.King of the Hill really didn’t finish up until Summer 2010 despite the fact that FOX axed it in Fall 2009, prior talks of revivals have happened, none came to fruition on FOX.

That all changed when a few months ago, Hulu announced that they would be rebooting the highly-sought after syndicated series that still gets big ratings on Adult Swim, FXX, and elsewhere. For those expecting a straight rehire of any of the fabulous writers from the OG run of King of the Hill to be brought back, you are going to be disappointed. Of the 50 or so writers from the original King of the Hill series, only ONE is expecting to return, Norm Hiscock. Greg Daniels and Mike Judge are co-creators, Saladin, who also wasn’t part of the OG series, is also part of the series as the showrunner. 20th Television Animation and Bandera Entertainment are producing the series.

As for the voice cast, Judge (Hank Hill, Boomhauer), Kathy Najimy (Peggy), Pamela Adlon (Bobby), Johnny Hardwick (Dale),Lauren Tom (Minh, Connie), and Nancy (Ashley Gardner) are all returning but Toby Huss (Kahn Souphanousinphone ) is not and right now we do not know who, if anybody, would take over for the voices of Luanne (previously portrayed by the late Brittany Murphy) or Lucky (previously portrayed by the late Tom Petty).

Suffice it to say, Saladin Patterson (who was already on an overall deal with 20th Television Animation when he got the showrunner gig) has a lot on his plate. Can he stick the landing on the reboot?