'Family Guy': Scaredy farts
It’s 2010, and Fox kicked off the new year with new episodes of “The Cleveland Show,” “Family Guy,” and “American Dad!” When other shows are waiting until mid-January or even April before they return (poor Glee), the Sunday night animation was already back to work. Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either. I could have sworn it was next week. No rest for the wicked.
“The Cleveland Show” started us off with a flashback to 1984. Cleveland’s living the life of the typical high school senior, drinking beers with his buddies and making explicit references to the year. Then nerdstrum Wally Farquhare threatens to turn them in. When will jocks ever be free from the constant torment of the computer kids? Cleveland stands up to nerd tyranny and threatens Wally until he falls over and pees himself.
Cut to the present day, when Cleveland’s drinking beers with his buddies and fighting with old ladies wearing red hats. Cleveland learns that his actions in the past have caused Wally, now Principal Farquhare, to cut the baseball team. Cleveland raises the money to restart the team, only to find out Cleveland Jr. would rather join the math club.
Of course, this becomes a lesson for Cleveland, learning to love his son even though he is so horribly, horribly bad at baseball. Eat-a-butterfly-and-then-act-like-a-butterfly-level bad at baseball. But there were some other lessons learned tonight. That overweight divorcees are easy pickings, that men use the word pride and love for the ladies, and most important, never bring up Phylicia Rashad in front of Donna. She hates that woman.
Then “Family Guy” starts off the new decade with the Griffins getting on “Family Feud.” This might possibly be one of my favorite “Family Guy” sequences ever. Every part of it made me laugh, from Peter’s audition story of the stitching needed after Chris’ birth, through Richard Dawson's and Lois’ make-out session, up to Peter unable to score one point in the final round. It was a set-up so perfect for “Family Guy” that I’m surprised it hadn’t happened up until now.
The “Family Feud” appearance ends with Peter kicked through the set and losing his memory, and we’re off on the story of the episode. Peter can’t remember anything, and as his family tries to reintroduce him to his former life, Peter doesn’t seem interested. He’d rather invite people over and then wait for them all to leave, like bachelors do. Unbeknownst to him, Quagmire takes this opportunity to sneak in on Lois with his strangely phallic-looking groceries. It seems like Quagmire takes every opportunity to hone in on Lois. Between him and Brian, Peter can’t turn his back on his wife for two minutes.
My favorite moments of this week’s “Family Guy” came from outside the story, though. The first being the fake Adult Swim bumpers. I’ll admit, I was fooled for a second. I watch “Family Guy” on Adult Swim so much, that I’m used to seeing those white on black cards. Then there was Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's wonderful reenactment of Peter's and Lois' sex scene (complete with awkward glances at the end). And don't forget Meg’s attempt at a joke. He came out so dark and bleak that the whole family reacted strongly. Chris literally kicked her out of the kitchen. Poor Meg, but that might be a sign of why everyone’s so uncomfortable around her.
Finally, “American Dad” worked through the recession. The Smith clan tightens the purse strings: Francine rolls her own tampons, Steve does odd jobs for the neighbor for video game money, and Stan gambles on horses in order to save his gas-guzzling SUV. Maybe God is indeed still mad at human beings for casting Whoopi Goldberg as him/her in the made-for-television Muppet Movie, because the horse Stan bets on loses. Turns out Roger has been acting as jockey (like Davy Jones was going to be), and Stan ends up buying the horse as part of a complicated scheme to pay for his SUV.
Roger is horrible in this episode. By horrible, of course, I mean incredible. He spends every conversation about saving money wasting huge amounts of food, he constantly rats out Stan to Francine, and he convinces Stan that he needs to give the horse a “full release” before bedtime. The last one ends up traumatizing the horse so much that Stan has to transfer his brain into the horse’s body to make the final race. Zany enough for you?
It’s nothing new. The CIA had already transferred Klaus’ brain into the fish body. In fact, Stan got the idea when Klaus offered to get a job if Stan would transfer him back into a human body. Klaus is quickly becoming the Meg of “American Dad.” He takes the constant beating of being forgotten. Better this than spending the entire episode stuffed and mounted on the wall, like in “Rapture’s Delight.”
Through lines – Besides having stories about messed-up brains, both “Family Guy” and “American Dad” had references to Lawrence of Arabia. “Family Guy” showed the extreme widescreen panoramic version of the movie, and Roger dressed up as Lawrence in the horse-riding sequence (after his awesome pink and purple cowboy outfit). And not to be left out, “The Cleveland Show” featured Oliver “I Can’t Hear You” Wilkerson, the deaf kid who lead a pep rally in an old episode of “Family Guy.” Connections all around.
Most obscure reference – In the beginning of the Griffin’s appearance on “Family Feud,” Richard Dawson compares the crowd’s reaction to the premier of Bob Crane’s movies in his closet. Crane was notorious for filming his conquests with the help of a buddy named John Carpenter (who was tried and acquitted in Crane's murder). Apparently Dawson originally introduced Crane to Carpenter. Yep, obscure. That’s why only Peter laughed.
Most possibly offensive joke – Light night for the offensive. Better night for the absurd. But “Family Guy” probably got closest to the offensive line. I’m going to have to go with the ending of a Mexican wedding as the most possibly offensive joke of the night. If you have better choice, let me know.
-- Andrew Hanson
Photo credits: Fox Television