"Trans-Fascism"

At this point I've pretty much given up trying to figure out what new shows FOX will deliver unto us each Sunday night; I just sit back and let Tivo tell me what's up. Tonight, I was happy to see a new King Of The Hill, which we haven't seen round these parts for over a month now, waiting in the queue. Granted, there was ONLY a new King Of The Hill, but seeing as that show generally lands nearer the top of my personal preference list than a couple of its neighboring shows, I was looking forward to some pleasant viewing.

And that's what I got: some pleasant viewing. I think KOTH is the only show of the four on the Sunday night lineup that I still consider enjoyable even when there aren't many laughs to speak of; The Simpsons has such an entrenched comedic history it's generally harder to forgive a lackluster episode, while Family Guy and American Dad are so gag-heavy that when they fall flat in the jokes department, they tend to deflate completely. King Of The Hill, on the other hand, can dish out a solid narrative that amuses for a full half-hour without ever really turning in a full-on belly-laugh. I suppose there's something to be said for good, stalwart entertainment, but at what point does it become repetitive and boring?

The problem with this season of King Of The Hill so far has been its repetitiveness; several of the storylines have seemed rehashed, and tonight's was no exception. When Arlen decides to outlaw trans-fats (and rare burgers AND raw oysters) to curb the "obesity epidemic," Hank joins up with Buck Strickland to man an illegal lunch truck, serving up pretty much anything fried, unhealthy, and delicious. Of course, the venture rapidly devolves (because anything involving Buck Strickland always rapidly devolves), and Hank soon finds himself party to bribery, minor traffic violations, and a turf war with a competing lunch truck, none of which good ol' Hank can stomach. Luckily, he's able to disentangle himself from the shady dealings with a characteristically practical speech to the community board (who have all been poisoned by the second renegade lunch truck's sub-par food). They turn over the ban and, just like every week, it turns out Hank was right all along.

Anyone who recalls the fourth-season episode "Flush With Power" probably felt more than a few twinges of familiarity tonight; the basic plots of the two episodes are nearly identical. Does that mean tonight's episode was bad? No, like I said, it was a solid episode, especially from a narrative perspective–a whole lotta plot happened in 22 minutes. But it's hard to get too excited about a new episode when it feels like a rerun the first time around. Also, like most Hank-heavy episodes, this one suffered from a lack of secondary characters–unless you love Buck Strickland. But it's telling that the chuckles that did come tonight usually came courtesy of Peggy, Bobby, and the alley guys, all of whom comprised about 10 percent of the episode, combined. I think this episode would have been improved by scaling back the main narrative in favor of a B-plot. (I have to note that "Flush With Power" did this, with excellent results–the B-story of Bobby blackmailing Kahn for use of his water not only fed into the A-plot, it resulted in most of the episode's big laughs).

Grade: B

Stray observations:

-"Raw ceviche from a moving truck? What went wrong?" quoth a puking Dale Gribble.

-Is this the first time we've seen Rooster? Buck's explanation of who he was made it seem like it, but he's very familiar.

-I think it's safe to assume at this point that we are not going to hear nor see anything about Luanne and Lucky's baby until the "very special episode" where it finally pops out. So much for character development.