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'Family Guy': Stewie's brain hole

March 29, 2010 | 12:55 pm

Cleveland_BrownKnight_075TK1AF Alas, the poor women of the MacFarlane cartoons. They seem like such strong, intelligent women married to destructive, under-employed man children. Francine usually supplies some much needed balance. She’s the only one of the three that seems as unhinged as her husband. Unfortunately, “American Dad” is still absent from the Sunday night schedule, leaving Lois and Donna to deal with the cartoon men.

Donna describes herself as being born dialed up to eight, but being a single mother pushed her up to a 10. She’s used to being loud and aggressive to get what she wants. At school, she’s clothing the naked, putting out fires and saving lives. An unstoppable force for education. But when she comes home at the end of the day, she runs into another unstoppable force: the Blizzard of Bucks machine. Who hasn’t wanted their chance inside one of those phone booths full of flying cash? 

Donna isn’t pleased with the purchase or being shoved into it after a long day’s work, but over a romantic dinner with a mysteriously limping waiter, Cleveland convinces Donna her pushiness embarrasses him. The point is driven home when they’re mugged outside an ATM and her refusal to give up her wedding ring ends up getting Cleveland shot. Donna decides to dial it down to a four. I’m kinda surprised that’s the conclusion she came to. Seems more like going to get cash to put in the Blizzard of Bucks was more to blame.

Cleveland is seen as a hero (mostly by himself) until he’s exposed by Dan Rather on “Rather Early,” the early morning show he cohosts with Tila Tequila, as the screaming coward he really is. Cleveland decides to track down the mugger through some “24” style, nonsensical computer hacking and one of the two “Last Call with Carson Daily” hats in the world. In the end, Donna has to save her husband again, but she lets him take all the glory. A confusing moral to the story if there is one at all.

FGuy_HouseofPain_0058F Lois didn’t have quite as much to deal with this week, but she did have Brian shoving his old script in her face, asking her to read it. Oh, how many friends of an aspiring screenwriter sympathized with that? How many of my friends sympathize with that?

Turns out Brian’s script is much better than his novel “Faster Than the speed of Love.” Lois actually ended up loving it. So much so, she even goes through 18 hours of checking to make sure he didn’t rip it off from somewhere. She encourages him to try to get it produced, and it goes straight from the page to the screen with no changes from studio executives. Ah, just fooling with you. They ruin it with the help of Griffin family’s own Sideshow Bob, James Woods.

While I enjoyed Brian’s story, I was drawn to the Stewie/Chris/Meg story like an accident on the side of the road. After Stewie’s older siblings knock him down the stairs, Chris and Meg cover up by playing "Weekend at Beanie’s." Only Stewie’s not dead, and Bernie didn’t have a gaping hole in his skull. Boy, all the references to Stewie’s brain hole were enough for me to rethink my Zankou.

Through line -- There were a lot of common threads between the two shows. The side story in “the Cleveland show” revolved around Rallo discovering Roberta was on her period without understanding what it is. When Chris sneaked a peek at Meg’s diary, he also got an unfortunate look into her menstrual cycle as well.

Also, both shows decided to take a few cracks at rival networks. Brian’s pilot was filmed for CBS, and now that I mention it, there seems to be a lot of producing going on in Quahog. Just a few weeks ago, they were filming Jolly Time Revue and now CBS has studios there. Must be some big tax breaks.

Cleveland compared himself to a bad joke from "SNL," only to have Donna defend him and refuse to let her man be compared to anything on NBC. So sad to kick poor NBC when it’s down.

Most possibly offensive joke – I’m going to have to go with Brian’s first meeting with the studio executives when he failed with a Hitler reference then asked if anyone was Jewish. Seeing the two men’s profiles as they turn, made me think I had my most offensive moment down, but then they protected themselves with the old “Italians are not Jews” defense. Shrewd.

Obscurest reference – There were a couple obscure references. Though I want to know if anyone can help me with one I missed. When the mugger has Cleveland tied up, he confuses our hero with someone else. I didn’t catch the name or the reference. Can anyone fill me in?

Last-second comments -- To the opening sequence of “Family Guy.” I just loved Stewie’s computer animated imagination attacking the Death Star shaped like Peter’s head and the reality reveal at the end. So cool and creative.

And what perfect timing that we find out Tim the Bear’s secret online username is Tom the Bear. I messed his name up last week. Oh, not messed up. It was, um, totally planned.

-- Andrew Hanson


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Photos: Fox