I am fairly confident most people have at least heard of King of the Hill, but some of those who have might not know much about it, so a little background. King of the Hill was created by Mike Judge (Beavis and Butt-head) and Greg Daniels (Parks and Recreation), and it ran from 1997 to 2010. King of the Hill follows “everyman” Hank Hill and his family and friends in Texas. The focus of most of the episodes was just typical situations that people find themselves in, or comedy of the mundane, however, because it is animated, there is always a bit of zaniness to it. It also both honors the Texas lifestyle of the main characters as well as pokes a little fun at it – somewhat like Metalocalypse did with metal, although not nearly as extreme –
The series is packed with a lot of great episodes but also a variety of things that make them great. Some episodes have a sweet message, especially with Hank and his troubles connecting to his son Bobby. Others, however, are just plain silly, and A Firefighting We Will Go is the latter.
The episode starts with Hank, Bill, Dale, and Boomhauer all being questioned by the fire chief about an “incident” and showing signs of having had a difficult time. – Hank’s glasses are broken, Boomhauer is wearing gauze on his ear, etc. – They are also notably angry with one another. Hank starts to recount their adventures as volunteer firemen during a strike. Their experiences are… what you’d expect. Bill, Dale, and Boomhauer are all pretty useless at it, but Hank’s bossiness is met with resistance rather than motivating them. This is a reoccurring joke type in this show that Hank is smarter, and they should listen to him more, but the way he communicates often gets in his own way.
The men mess up the firehouse, fail most of their training, destroy a fire hydrant, and just generally cause issues. They also fight nonstop during this. Then a retired volunteer firefighter dies, and we get a lovely little slapstick scene that… well, ends with multiple people in a grave. It’s honestly hilarious.
Yet none of this is the climax. No, the climax is that while called on a small dumpster fire that is put out before they even arrive, the whole building burns down. Yes, the guys burn down a firehouse. Wow.
There are a lot of reasons this episode is good. The fights are hilarious, and there are some pretty silly gags that make me laugh, even though I know I should be more mature – see Bill stuck in the hole the firefighters slide down and letting out a massive fart – There is also the resolution of Hank talking about their immaturity and coming up with a questionable person to blame for the whole incident.
However, one of the brilliant bits this episode provides is a look into Bill, Dale, and Boomhauer’s psyche. Each of them gets a chance to explain why they aren’t at fault and who they blame, and the animation and storytelling match their perspective. Dale is a long-haired put-together man. Boomhauer speaks normally while his gibberish speech pattern takes over for the others. Bill is pretty sad as he sees himself as even worse than he actually is. It’s both hilarious but compelling and well done. Bill seeing himself as more of a mess than he actually is, is a really smart move and fits with the character and what we know of him. Dale’s complete denial and disconnect check out. And Boomhauer’s lack of being understood while struggling to understand the rest of them is the most unexpected but interesting.
I really enjoy King of the Hill overall. I liked it when I was younger and appreciate it a lot more as an adult, and this is really one of my favorite episodes. I don’t find it as meaningful as say “Good Hill Hunting,” but it makes me laugh out loud a lot. I mean, I can’t stress enough how much the funeral scene and Bill’s damn fart give me the giggles. – And again, I am well aware a fart joke shouldn’t make me laugh that much, don’t judge me –
I also just love the quick look into the minds of each of the other guys in a show that has them around and often but rarely tells their story their way. Not even episodes where they go on side adventures manage to get us in their minds as well as literally putting us there.
So bottom line? Watch King of the Hill. Seriously, it’s a funny show and worth it. If you’ve never seen it, I can say that jumping around a bit is not the worst thing, but I wouldn’t jump straight to this one. Give it at least a few episodes to really understand the guys before jumping in. If you are looking to rewatch some highlights from the show, this is one of my personal top episodes. Just damn funny. Hell, I am fighting the giggles even writing this out.
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