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'Family Guy': Dads

Cleveland_FromBedToWorse_0089F A couple weeks ago, I brought up a College Humor video referencing how all of the Seth MacFarlane animated shows seem to be about dads with hot wives and loser kids. I still think that MacFarlane needs to make his next spin-off/show based around a workplace, but since we have three family-based animated shows in a row (four if you count "The Simpsons"), it helps that each father has his own unique parenting style.

Cleveland is the new stepfather, still adjusting to his new family, and they’re still adjusting to him. Cleveland’s parenting skills can be a bit lacking at times. He bribes his stepdaughter Roberta $41 to look after Cleveland Jr. on his first field trip/night away from home. Then he battles it out with 5-year-old stepson Rallo for position in his new wife’s bed more like rival lovers than parent/child. Maybe he should take a class in child psychology. It seems to have worked well for the mascot of Cheese E. Charlie’s. Two smacks and a “listen to your mother.” Good parenting advice for only two tokens.

“The Cleveland Show” is definitely finding its voice, which seems to include plenty of sexual humor, vomiting and random product placements for Cascade. Seems like they were trying to squeeze in a little self-deprecating humor with their ad for “the Vomiting Family,” but then they had another vomiting scene with Cleveland Jr’.s Girls Gone Wild moment (I’m glad I upgraded to an HDTV in time for all this beautiful vomiting animation).

This episode even managed to find lots of humor out of what I previous thought was the show’s weakest link: the bears. They acted as chaperones on Cleveland Jr. and Roberta’s D.C. field trip. From Tim accidentally clawing and making a freak of one of the students to their extremely vocal outdoors love making, I have to say, the bears may have stolen the show.

FGuy_DogGone_0063F Peter is the man-child father. We didn’t get too many examples of his parenting Sunday night, but his moments spilling Kool-Aid with Quagmire and hogging the swing set, it’s clear that Peter is the least mature member of the Griffin family.

Brian carried the weight Sunday night. After going to visit a “special” book club that was honoring his novel “Faster than the Speed of Love,” Brian hits another dog with his car and kills it. At first he tries to hide his crime, but when Brian finds out that killing a dog is considered no big deal by anyone else in the town, he becomes an animal rights advocate. The episode seemed a little spastic about its feelings on animal rights, but I can be pretty forgiving on message for the sake of humor, which this episode had in spades.

While Brian was out championing for animal rights, the rest of the Griffins were adjusting to their new hire: the maid, pulled from numerous cut-aways (my favorite being answering the door at Superman’s Fortress of Solitude). I was afraid she’d be a little too one note, but her moments telling Stewie he can come get the money she stole or sharing a bed with Chris worked perfectly.

AmDad_GStringCircus_0113F Stan is the involved father, always trying to advise and guide his kids. Though normally that doesn’t work so well. Sunday night he tried to guide Haley into opening a dry cleaner instead of a mulch company. When Haley won’t listen, Stan gives his fatherly advice to a stripper, hoping to prove to his daughter that his advice is worth following. Instead, Stan ends up working at the strip club to pay back the money he borrowed for the dry cleaners, which leads to his hilarious animated gyrating, possibly the funniest moment of the night.

And continuing the trend of unexpected hilarity throughout the evening, Steve’s side story about space camp had some great moments as well: the introductions of NASA’s administrative staff, the “Raising Arizona” escape sequence. “The Cleveland Show,” “Family Guy,” and “American Dad” are all getting great mileage out of characters and situations that I didn’t think would be funny. Hope they keep that up.

Through lines – Maybe it was just me, but it felt like there was an increase in the number of bleeps this week. In all three shows. Anyone else notice that?

Most obscure reference – Not really an obscure reference, but I feel I have to call out the PETA/Peter confusion that veered closely to the classic “Who’s on First” routine. I would have loved to see it get even closer to mimicking the classic Abbott and Costello bit, but nothing would have topped Stewie asking “Are we really going to do this?”

Most possibly offensive joke – For an episode about animal rights, “Family Guy” had an exceptional amount of critter violence tonight. The dog Brian hit ripped in half, the bunny used to test lipstick’s ability to block bullets, the tied up dog’s release, and the dog forced to listen to NPR until it scraped its paws down to the bone trying to escape. I doubt an actual PETA member would have been able to stomach the entire show. Bravo.

-- Andrew Hanson

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PHOTOS: Fox Television

 
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