Monday, September 14, 2009

RIP: Tough times for Texans

No sooner had King of the Hill expired on Fox than Patrick Swayze lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. I stood by the sitcom for its entire 13-season run, through the thick of some choice episodes where its gently satiric tone was at perfect pitch to the thin of weeks where it was preempted by football (apparently its 10th, and nearly final, season was made up largely of shows that went unaired during its ninth). Mike Judge's other TV shows and movies get more ink but I think Hank Hill and the gang, whose travails held a mirror up to the red/blue state "divide," will endure as his finest work. Though animated, it was the best real-life family sitcom on air. Then again I couldn't not love a show with a character named "Bobby," a name drawlingly syllabilized the way Judge delivered it, with affectionate exasperation. Rumor has it that it may resurface on ABC but like Scrubs it came to a fittingly bittersweet end for me.

As for Swayze: Well, the 80s icon had trouble extending his career past 1990 and his biggest hit, Ghost--his extended cameo in the long-delayed Dirty Dancing sequel is something of an embarrassment. I liked him (maybe for the wrong reasons) in the down-and-dirty camp classic Road House (1989), his out-Zenning of Keanu Reeves in Point Break (pictured) is inspired, and he earned enough of a cult reputation to be a part of the cult sensation Donnie Darko (2001). His final campaign was as valiant as fellow Lone Star statesperson Farrah Fawcett's.

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