I hope to get back to the King of the Hill reviews soon (as part of a resolution to make this blog more upbeat, and there are few things in television I’m more upbeat about than seasons 2 and 3 of KotH), but I might add that you can see why, as a King of the Hill fan, I’m a Parks & Recreation fan. They’re not the same show, of course, and Parks as it’s gone on has developed as much in common with Green Acres and Newhart as it has with any other shows. (One thing I think is a clue to the show’s evolution is that even though it started as an office sitcom, it seems to spend an awful lot of time outside the office, and is actually funnier the more it goes outside, to town events, meetings, and the horrible small-town media.) But you can see plenty of connections in the types of stories being told and the way it glorifies — while simultaneously satirizing — a lead character who, on any other show, would be the villain.
And then you had the Native American character on the most recent episode, who was actually played by the guy who voiced John Redcorn from KotH. He also got some similar jokes, since both characters simultaneously resent white people’s ignorance of Native American culture and exploit it (in this case, to create a fake “curse” rather than to score with women). I hope he comes back sometime; one thing a crazy-small-town comedy benefits from is a roster of crazy or unscrupulous townspeople who can come back on a recurring basis. (Newhart had a lot of these beyond Larry, Darryl and Darryl; the characters played by actors like Jeff Doucette, Kathy Kinney and Todd Susman were not regulars but kept coming back for a line or two.) We already have some, like Mo Collins’ evil reporter character or the conservative “family” activist who appeared in one second-season and one third-season episode. It’s harder than it used to be for a show to keep bringing people back without signing them as full-time regulars, or for an arc, but some of the best moments on these shows are seeing townspeople pop up who haven’t been on for a while.