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Family Guy

Family Guy is an animated comedy about the dysfunctional Griffin family. Head of the house is lazy drunk Peter, married to Lois, with dim son Chris, unattractive daughter Meg, evil genius baby Stewie and talking dog Brian. FOX 1999-???

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Episode 4 - Mind Over Murder

22 March 2012

Synopsis: Peter is increasingly neglectful of Lois and his family. He gets drunk at one of Chris’ soccer games and hits a pregnant woman. He is put under house arrest and gets deeply bored. He decides to build a bar in the basement to encourage the guys to come and hang out with him. Just as Lois is about to scream at him, he manages to convince her to play piano and sing. But once she does all the guys come to the bar to see her and not Peter. Meanwhile Stewie builds a time machine in order to rush through his teething pains. He uses it to reverse time and prevent the house from burning down.

The Good: The Family Guy formula is solidly in place here. Peter plays Homer Simpson and Stewie saves the day with his deus ex machina meddling.

Peter punching a pregnant woman by mistake is certainly an unexpected twist. It also leads to a fun line later when he asks a guy at the bar if he is a woman before punching him. We slowly begin to get to know Peter’s friends Cleveland and Quagmire. Peter’s excuses lead to the odd fun joke such as drunk Stewie after Peter understandably (but foolishly) gives him whisky to get over the teething pains. “Oh yeah, he’s a real lightweight” Peter comments.

Stewie is fun to watch as ever. His teething pains are such a simple and understandable issue and the jump from that to a time machine in his mind is such a nice idea. The joke about his teeth going to war with one another (but not being able to move) was very clever too.

As usual we also get our pop culture parodies with The Chronicles of Narnia (“you goat bastard!”) and Sesame Street (“Burt, I wish you wouldn’t drink so much, Burt”) being the best gags.

Flashback ratio (good-medium-bad): 1-6-2

The Bad:  This episode focussed quite heavily on Peter being a slob and inconsiderate husband. Peter never seems to have the affection for Lois which Homer has for Marge. Somehow it makes Peter’s behaviour a lot more grating. He is almost unbelievably inconsiderate and selfish. Essentially their relationship doesn’t feel very convincing. I know for most viewers, as this is a cartoon, they won’t care one bit. But the majority of the episode is concerned with their relationship and how it affects Lois’ happiness. The writers can’t ask a viewer to care on one level and not on another.

Of course a lot of the gags in Family Guy play with reality and aren’t meant to have ever happened. But the rapid expansion in size of the Griffins’ basement (to incorporate a whole orchestra) is stupid.

Best Joke: Peter says he has broken the law before. Cut to Peter standing still and looking shifty in front of a sign saying “No Loitering.”

The Bottom Line: Family Guy doesn’t seem to have found the right balance yet between silliness and seriousness. So far it’s plots have been either irrelevant or emotionally unappealing. This was also a bit short on good jokes.

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