'Family Guy': Superfriends
I’m still getting used to the idea of having new episodes of “Family Guy,” “The Cleveland Show,” and “American Dad” each week. Seems like it’s been so long. Though now it kind of feels like watching a Seth MacFarlane movie once a week. I’m not sure if it’s going to get tiring after a while, but for now, I’m fully enjoying it.
This week, Cleveland works to win over his new stepchildren in a perfect metaphor for “The Cleveland Show” trying to win over the 8:30 p.m. Fox time slot, which is much like the stepchild of the Sunday bloc. Of course, Cleveland only had to deal with killing the family dog, whereas “The Cleveland Show” killed “King of the Hill.
“The Cleveland Show” still feels a little like an extended “Family Guy” B story. It still needs to find its own voice. Though, “American Dad” was still making cut-away jokes in the first couple of episodes, and it seems to have found what makes it unique. I will say that “The Cleveland Show” did have some link-worth references. There was Cleveland’s version of Halle Berry’s Oscar acceptance speech, some ghost-riding the whip, and the ad for Men’s Warehouse. All funny. I guarantee it.
“Family Guy” took another look at Judaism this week. The first try didn’t do so well. Back in 2000, producers came up with the episode “When you Wish Upon a Weinstein” in which Peter falls in love with the Jewish faith and tries to get Chris a quickie Vegas bar mitzvah. That episode got shelved for fears that it might be seen as anti-Semitic, but it got leaked on the Internet back before everything got leaked on the Internet and finally aired on Cartoon Network in 2003 --and eventually made it into the syndication rotation.
Peter manages to take his feelings about Judaism to two extremes. First, he embraces it to a fault, going so far as to buy a Star of David necklace and the chest hair that comes included. Then, after a dream of his dead Catholic father, Peter decides to ban anything Jewish from his home for fear of going to hell. Luckily, Jesus shows up to say that he’s Jewish and that Judaism and Catholicism are not that different. When Peter asks what religion they should be, Jesus tells him that they are all complete crap, earning a “thank you” from Brain (appropriately the closest voice to Seth MacFarlane’s own).
Finally, “American Dad” goofs its way through the plot of “Moon Over Parador.” In the Richard Dreyfuss original, an out-of-work actor finds himself impersonating the dictator of a banana republic. Here, Roger impersonates the dictator of a country he renames Bananarama. “American Dad” is coming out strong with its film parodies. Last week’s re-envisioning of Vietnam War movies and “First Blood” was pretty spectacular too. But the all-time best still has to be the send-up of Bond movies, “Tearjerker.”
At the same time, Steve and Snot had an escalating competition over who could get the most sexual accidental touching from the other’s mom. Unfortunately for both of them, it ended with the line “I can feel your heartbeat.” Too bad Chad isn’t around anymore. Everyone can use a little help from Chad now and then. Remember Chad forever!
Obscurest reference – While searching for Meadowlark Lemon behind the chicken gizzard factory, Cleveland says it smells like Chloe Sevigny. Rallo asks who that is, and Cleveland says she’s just a “gross indie porno actress.” This being a reference to 2004’s “The Brown Bunny,” a film that garnered some controversy at the Cannes Film Festival for its unsimulated sex acts. It managed to get her dropped by the William Morris Agency, but it didn’t keep her from “Big Love” two years later.
Most possibly offensive joke of the night – Nominees are “The Cleveland Show” with Kurt Cobain taking the easy way out (with a nice cameo from Seth Green), Peter suggesting that breast cancer might be looking good after Lois found out her mother was Jewish, and “American Dad”… come on “American Dad.” You’re really going to have to bring it next week if you want to compete.
Through lines – I almost wonder if the shows were trying to reference each other. Most notably “choking on a corn dog.” During “The Cleveland Show,” high schoolers used it as an insult against Cleveland Jr. after they saw him kiss his dad. Then in “American Dad,” Gen. Pequeno actually choked to death on a corn dog. How can that be a coincidence? It’s so specific. Any one else notice through lines between the three shows?
-- Andrew Hanson
Photo credit: Fox Television