By Ken Tucker
January 17, 1997 at 05:00 AM EST

A fine, nuanced portrait of a middle-class Texas family that also happens to be a cartoon from the man who gave us Beavis and Butt-head, KING OF THE HILL (Fox, Sundays, 8:30-9 p.m.) is both extremely funny and intelligent. Mike Judge and cocreator Greg Daniels (The Simpsons, Seinfeld) offer Hank Hill, good husband and well-meaning father, a little dim and short-tempered, perplexed by anything in life that can’t be greased with a little WD-40. Judge and Daniels extract humor from the mundane — Little League games, changing a spark plug — and, most impressively, don’t use the Texas twang for a cheap laugh. The animation is as intentionally flat and inexpressive as it is in Beavis and Butt-head, with the same paradoxical effect: Very quickly, these vividly written, barely stick figures come to life as three-dimensional humans confronting existence with deadpan glares. Having read the script, I can’t wait to see the episode in which Hank takes up smoking; it should offer up as many yuks as you’ll find in any live-action sitcom. It’s always tough to get adults to watch prime-time cartoons, and it’s adults who’ll appreciate King, so pairing this show with The Simpsons is a smart idea.

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