Monday, February 23, 2009

David Forsmark: Save King of the Hill!

From National Review Online:
King of the Hill, unlike The Simpsons, has not suffered a creative decline, nor have its ratings plunged. Fox’s official statement attributes the decision to nothing more than a desire to “freshen up” its “Animation Domination” Sunday-night schedule.

The “solution”? In the course of 2009, Fox will add two shows to Animation Domination. One is called Sit Down, Shut Up. The other is a spinoff of the foul-mouthed Family Guy, whose creator, Seth MacFarlane, already has a second Animation Domination show, American Dad. So Fox Sunday nights will rise from 50 to 60 percent MacFarlane. Right, how fresh.

It’s been a long time since King was a ratings champ, but viewership is still solid and comparable to the rest of the Fox Sunday lineup. The show has beaten the odds, in fact: It was frequently the victim of Fox’s Sunday football schedule, so first-run episodes sometimes were pre-empted or aired only in part. Despite my diligence, there were some I never saw until the DVD release. King was even on the cancellation block once before, but it was saved by the ratings bump that followed the announcement.

Perhaps even more intriguing, however, is the fact that Judge is creating a series for ABC that could be called the flip side of King. Judge’s animated The Goode Family follows the misadventures of an ultra-liberal vegan family that tries too hard to be politically correct in all things, particularly the environmental (even their dog is not allowed to eat meat products).

Historically, animated shows have performed better when paired. A late ratings rally for King might make ABC consider that strategy — especially since King regularly outperforms ABC’s Life on Mars, Homeland Security USA, and Wife Swap by considerable margins. It even draws more viewers than the venerable 20/20.

However, the real reason to watch King of the Hill on Sunday nights is the same as it’s always been: It’s a really good show.

While I don’t want to go back to the days when three TV networks battled for about 90 percent of the viewing audience, there is something to be said for the shared common experience of, say, a Mary Tyler Moore Show farewell episode. It would seem that a fourteen-season show deserves that kind of sendoff.

Though if there’s one thing we can be sure of, it’s that King of the Hill will not end with a group hug. Not if Hank has anything to say about it.
Here's a promo for The Goode Family from YouTube: