'Family Guy': No. 150
One hundred and fifty episodes. If an episode is 22 minutes, that’s 55 hours. Just over two days of “Family Guy.” Wow. Counting multiple viewings along with “American Dad” and “The Cleveland Show,” how much of my life has been spent listening to Seth MacFarlane’s voice? I’m sure I’d know if I read “Out and About with Julius.”
Some shows might have celebrated the milestone with an all-out, star-studded extravaganza. “Family Guy” marked the occasion with what could best be described as a one-act play. One location. No complex action or cutaways. Only two characters. I could totally see this episode acted out on stage if not for the fact that both characters are voiced by the same guy.
But before we get to the “Family Guy” main event, little brother “The Cleveland Show” is here to warm us up. Apparently we’re in the middle of “Fox Rocks” week. Tea and bed rest will get us through it, but until then, all our regular Fox programming has been a little more "Glee"-d. I posted on the 1940s film noir musical episode of “Fringe” last week. It’s easier on the MacFarlane toons, and “The Simpsons” too, because they’re so musically biased from the start.
“The Cleveland Show” got a little assistance in the rocking department by special guest Kanye West. He showed up as Kenny West, the best rapper in Stoolbend and Cleveland Jr.’s rival for the lovely Chanel (another special guest, Taraji P. Henson). Rallo was helping Cleveland Jr. connect with Chanel, until the tiny little ladies' man decided he wanted her for himself.
Rallo’s pursuit of Chanel is cut short by diarrhea meds and an airplane ride. I loved when Rallo became a little kid and enjoyed the airplane ride. It reminded me of the times when Brian acts like a dog. They’re always funny.
Cleveland Jr. ends up in a rap-off/auto-tune battle against Kenny West and wins, but he cedes his prize when he finds out Chanel and Kenny have a daughter together. Cleveland Jr. doesn’t want to break up the happy family. Plus, I’m sure his father has given him dating advice regarding women with children.
Speaking of Cleveland Sr., he’s out pimping his work buddy, Terry. It started with innocent stripping, but soon Terry is trading sex for money and Cleveland is buying pimping socks. I loved watching Cleveland go through the thought process of every sitcom character ever when he decides to first lie to his wife and then decides to say he isn’t lying if asked. What I loved more was the gas leak. The kids’ stupid laughter was already starting to get me, but when Cleveland burst in and announced it was because of a gas leak, it killed me.
Then we come to “Brian and Stewie,” the “12 Angry Men” of “Family Guy.”
The set-up is simple enough. Brian and Stewie get locked in a bank vault over the weekend. Could be the perfect set-up for a clip show, in a “Night Court” sort of way. The producers could have had Brian and Stewie reminisce about great moments in their friendship, but instead the producers go with an episode that hits the grossest and darkest moments in “Family Guy” so far.
The grossness, of course, spawns from Stewie’s diaper situation and the solution they decide on. I won’t go into any detail on it because it almost made me sick to watch, and that’s cartoon characters doing things mostly off camera. Way to go “Family Guy.” I’m sure that makes you happy.
The darkness grows from what Brian keeps in the safe-deposit box that brought them to the bank in the first place. Not the dead bird he wants to show Lois so she’ll be proud of him. It’s the gun Brian keeps in case he decides to end it all. Along with the scotch he plans to drink right before. Brian confesses to Stewie that he can’t find purpose in his life like dogs are instinctively supposed to do. Owning the gun and knowing he has that option makes it easier on Brian.
Kinda heavy for a cartoon, huh?
You have to admit that No. 150 was unique. It almost felt like one long riff that MacFarlane went off on one day in the writer’s room that got polished into an extra large episode of the show. I mean that in a good way. It’s nice to see that “Family Guy” is still trying new things and going out on a limb even at episode No. 150.
Obscurest reference – I’m sure I missed a couple obscure references in the rap battle, but I’m going to give the award to Kenny West’s day job of selling bone-density scanners. Wasn’t that how Will Smith’s character lost all his money in “The Pursuit of Happyness”?
Most possibly offensive joke – Hands down, the diaper situation. Not even a debate about this one. You’ll be hearing from all your “Family Guy”-watching friends in the next few days about how they felt watching that. I’m expecting a wide variety of responses.
Through lines – I read a comment online that compared “Brian and Stewie” to an episode of “All in the Family” in which Archie’s locked in the basement with a bottle of booze. And “The Cleveland Show” had its cut to Bea Arthur’s grave followed by the Normal Lear credits. Very appropriate. The 150th episode is another notch on MacFarlane’s bedpost. Love him or hate him (which seem to be the only two options nowadays), you can’t deny MacFarlane will go down in the annuls of television history alongside names such as Lear for pushing the boundaries of broadcast networks. Even if they are the boundaries you’d rather not have pushed while eating.
Musical numbers – To help fill up the hour and fulfill the “Fox Rocks” quota, “Family Guy” played a greatest hits of musical numbers -- a few previously unaired. We got the “Fat Guy Anthem,” a reenactment of a Jerry Lewis bit, Emmy-winning “You’ve Got a Lot to See,” the creepy pedophile version of “All I Need Is the Girl,” and, of course, “Shipoopi.” There was also the tease of the FCC song but not enough time to play it. I particularly enjoyed watching the Jerry Lewis scene, but there were a couple of musical numbers I would have added instead. “You Have AIDS” would be the first one. Anything you would have put in there?
And now that we’ve passed 150 episodes, can we put a ban on “Shipoopi?” I’m sure we’ll get a musical number in the next 150 episodes that will take its place.
-- Andrew Hanson
Photo credit: Fox Television