In 2009, the producers of "Family Guy" made a bold decision to flee the animation category at the Emmy Awards and give comedy a try. With a full-scale campaign, the gamble paid off with a comedy series nomination, marking only the second time that an animated show made the race, after "The Flintstones" broke through in 1961.
Granted, "Family Guy" may have benefited from increased room in the category. Technically, the race had just been expanded to six nominees from the usual five, but there actually turned out to be seven nominees because of a close vote tally between the sixth- and seventh-ranked contenders. "Family Guy" competed against "Entourage," "Flight of the Conchords," "How I Met Your Mother," "The Office," "Weeds" and winner "30 Rock."
There were two main reasons the "Family Guy" producers decided to switch to the comedy race. First, they believed the show's writing process was more in line with that of traditional comedies (rather than children's cartoons). Second, let's face it: "Family Guy" hadn't done well in the Emmys' animation category during its first decade anyway. It had been nominated only four times and never won.
Last year, the Fox show tried again for the comedy category but didn't make the list. Some pundits blamed its "for your consideration" DVD campaign, which included a clip show instead of full episodes, but there may have been any number of reasons for the snub.
Not taking defeat to heart, "Family Guy" returns to the battle for top comedy series of 2011. If nominated, it plans to submit these five episodes to Emmy judges. It will submit five instead of the usual six because its one-hour Christmas episode counts as two submissions.
"AND I'M JOYCE KINNEY" (aired Jan. 16, 2011)
News anchor Joyce Kinney gets Lois to appear in a story about the average American housewife, but the idea backfires when Lois comes across in the worst way.
"HALLOWEEN ON SPOONER STREET" (aired Nov. 7, 2010)
The family is split up for Halloween night with Brian helping Stewie trick-or-treat, Peter and Joe pulling pranks on everyone they can find, and Meg going to a high school party.
"ROAD TO THE NORTH POLE" (aired Dec. 12, 2010)
One-hour show: Baby Stewie loves Christmas and pleads to be taken to the mall to meet Santa so he can tell him his wish list. After a brush-off from the fake Santa, Stewie and Brian take a trip to the North Pole to give the real Santa a piece of their mind.
"NEW KIDNEY IN TOWN" (aired Jan. 9, 2011)
Renal failure is Peter's reward after consuming so many energy drinks. Meg secretly writes an essay for Chris, which turns out to be the winner in a contest to introduce President Obama at the school.
"TRADING PLACES" (aired March 20, 2011)
Chris and Meg learn how hard their parents (Peter and Lois) have it when they trade places. Chris works at the brewery, while Meg is in charge of the house.
— Tom O'Neil
Photo: "Road to the North Pole" episode of "Family Guy. Credit: Fox TV.