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'Family Guy': Playing Tootsie

March 15, 2010 |  6:17 am

FGuy_GoStewieGo_00327F Feels like old times. New “Family Guy” at 9 p.m., sandwiched between a second episode of “The Simpsons” and whatever show Fox hopes will be the next “Malcolm in the Middle” and not anything that wasn’t “Malcolm in the Middle.” And reminiscent of the times back before Sunday night was crowded with the spawn of Seth MacFarlane (not to be confused with the Spawn of Todd McFarlane). “The Cleveland Show” and “American Dad” took the week off, leaving “Family Guy” to do what it does best. And I’m not talking about leading into “Sons of Tucson.”

Sunday night, “Family Guy” took an uncharacteristically feminine twist in a very characteristic way. When Stewie finds out his the American remake of his favorite TV show is only casting female roles, he Tootsies his way into the cast. Meanwhile, Lois goes all Mrs. Robinson on Meg’s new boyfriend. If only Chris was tortured for the location of Nazi diamonds, it would have been the Dustin Hoffman hat trick. I wonder if it hurts or helps “Family Guy” that the films they pay homage to were released before most of their viewers were born.

Stewie’s transformation into Karina Smirnoff, Jolly Farm Revue star and feminist activist, gives us a chance to peek into the mind of the world’s most eloquent toddler. It also gives MacFarlane a chance for some voice dexterity: spending an entire episode doing the voice of a character doing the voice of another character. I’m surprised they didn’t have Karina sing. Show-off.

Stewie follows the plot of “Tootsie” right through Jolly Time Revue, stopping off for magazine montages with his own theme song and long, detailed arguments between himself and his female persona. He takes it all the way to the dramatic confession on live television, only to lose the costar he has fallen in love with. Man, if you haven’t seen “Tootsie,” you really should. It’s good. Bill Murray’s in it.

Back at the house, Lois is feeling a little unappreciated, with Peter pointing out all her signs of aging and comparing her body in a vividly disturbing way to pressed ham and a slice of pizza. The Griffin matriarch finds herself going cougar all over Meg’s new boyfriend. Once again “Family Guy” treads into territory a live- action sitcom would never dare approach. Lois goes so far as to make out with the underage boy. Is “Modern Family” doing that? (Seriously, is it? I haven’t caught that show yet.)

“Family Guy” does take it to the extreme. Whether it is Lois’ inauthentic call of “rape” when caught with her daughter’s boyfriend or Meg’s willingness to pull out her own tooth for her man, the show has a way of taking everything so far that the plot doesn’t even seem that racy anymore. 

In the end, Peter confesses his mean-spirited comments were only intended to keep Lois from wanting to go out and snag a younger man, and all is forgiven. Stewie’s back to dressing like a boy and confusing us all with his sexuality. Just like the good old days.

Oh, and in case you don’t have TiVo, the other headlines in the magazine montage were “Larry King seeks precious blood,” George Clooney nails hot nobody,” and “Also: Larry King repealed by ancient amulet.”

Through lines – Even though “The Cleveland Show” and “American Dad” weren’t on, that doesn’t mean there weren’t any connections. The obvious being Cleveland showing up alongside the Quahog residents to verify the existence of Meg’s normal boyfriend. The episode also had a lot of similarities to when Roger dressed up as a woman to land a soap opera role in the “American Dad” episode “Vacation Goo,” which, because it was once given away free on iTunes, has the honor of being the episode of “American Dad” I’ve seen the most.

Obscurest reference – When Meg’s boyfriend says Lois is pretty enough to be a movie star, she deflects him to movie stars are people like Nancy Travis and Penelope Anne Miller. I’m giving that obscurest reference because, well, can you name three movies Nancy Travis was in? How about Penelope Anne Miller? Don’t use IMDB. That’s cheating.

Most possibly offensive joke – Jesus versus the Meek has a shot just because of its blasphemy possibilities, along with Stewie “touching it”, but I’m calling the most possibly offensive joke to be Pan Am Nursery Rhyme. Daddy really isn’t coming home.

-- Andrew Hanson


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Photo credit: Fox Television