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'Family Guy': A blow-up doll, clones and wedding vows

November 16, 2009 | 11:34 am

Cleveland_LadiesNight_0084F Last week, Seth MacFarlane conquered Fox’s Sunday lineup like it was Russia in a game of Risk. But, like the largest landmass in that classic game of strategy, Sunday night isn’t meant to be controlled forever. Just get your extra seven pieces, and turn your focus to Australia. This week, “The Cleveland Show,” “Family Guy” and “American Dad” return to their normal routine. Thank goodness. Squeezing 2 1/2 hours of television into one post isn’t easy.

Starting off on “The Cleveland Show,” we finally get a taste of why Cleveland got married in his first episode instead of living his spinoff as a single dad. After watching this video on College Humor, I did start to wonder why all the MacFarlane animated shows were about guys with hot wives and loser kids, but Donna’s ladies’ night got us a little more face time with the new Mrs. Brown.

Donna isn’t interested in hanging out with the wives of Cleveland’s friends. Who could blame her? You have a conservative Christian bear who collects confetti, a morbidly obese woman on a Rascal and an Italian prostitute. Instead she ditches her wedding ring to go hang out with her old crew of divorcees. Drinking, dancing and stabbing guys in the hand. You know, ladies’ night.

As Donna propelled the story forward, Cleveland got to hang out and be more of the comic relief. My favorite was him having dinner with his inflatable woman (apparently, they eat cupcakes). Plus, how many other shows would squeeze “Moon River” and “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” into the same episode? The B story was Rallo helping Cleveland Jr. run for class president. It didn’t really stick out.

FGuy_QuagmiresBaby_0024F Then “Family Guy” squeezed three stories into one episode. We had Peter’s fun talking to Reagan’s ghost through a ham radio, Stewie and Brian cloning themselves, and Quagmire’s little girl. Personally, I was glad that the ham-radio bit didn’t last too long. Though the karaoke bit was funny, I wanted them to do more with Reagan, until I found out it wasn’t really him.

The dumbed-down clones really stole the show. Although I enjoyed the Flintstones car chase and Peter’s views on abortion, nothing topped watching the clones melt and Brian confessing that he was going to have to lick that up. I love when Brian acts like a dog.

AmDad_ShallowVows_0468F Finishing off the night, “American Dad” did what it does best. Stan and Francine planned to renew their wedding vows on their 20th anniversary with the help of one of Roger’s personalities. “American Dad” always takes interesting angles on topics we’ve all seen before. Stan only married Francine for her looks? Most other shows would have the story end with him realizing there were other things he loved about her. “American Dad” had Francine realize she married Stan for reasons that were just as superficial. Perfect.

And Roger is becoming my favorite character in the MacFarlane universe. At first I thought having an alien would just be a stupid gimmick, but the different personalities he creates get more laughs out of me than anything else. Jennie Gold is a perfect example: wedding planner with a bag of fixes (including a rubber glove), Steak-Ems burps and, somehow, two grown children.

Even Steve, Haley and Klaus got some good bits in there tonight. Yeah, “American Dad” was firing on all cylinders. Good job.

Through lines – “The Cleveland Show” and “American Dad” showed a few connections. The most apparent (pun not intended) was blindness. Cleveland Jr. faked being blind to compete against the deaf guy for class president, and Stan made himself blind to deal with Francine no longer taking care of herself. Though my favorite connection between the two shows was that we learned how to say prostitute in two different languages. Italian in “the Cleveland Show” and Spanish in “American Dad.” Funny and educational.

Most obscure reference – The prize this week goes to “The Cleveland Show” for the guy at the bus stop asking one of the Wachowski brothers if he has a vagina. Rumor had it that, after the first "Matrix" movie, Larry Wachowski started dressing as a woman and eventually had a sex change. I thought it was true until I did a little research online. Adding to the joke is the fact that it popped up on a night where “Ninja Assassin” (the newest film produced by the brothers) was one of the major sponsors.

Most possibly offensive joke – “The Cleveland Show” and “American Dad” both had their moments, but the winner and still champion, “Family Guy,” took the trophy. At first, I thought they’d won it with Peter’s Palestinian alarm clock, but then Quagmire wanted to make sure his daughter wouldn’t be adopted by Sand People. “Like from ‘Star Wars’?” “No.” Yowzers.

-- Andrew Hanson

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Photos: Fox Television

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