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The Griffin household includes two teenagers, a cynical dog who is smarter than everyone else, and an evil baby who makes numerous attempts to eradicate his mother. Heading up this eclectic household is Peter Griffin. Peter does his best to do what’s right for the family, but along the way, he makes mistakes that are the stuff of legends.
In a drunken night of eating, Peter & Brian eat the Thanksgiving turkey so they are forced to go out in search of another bird. Meanwhile, in Peter’s absence, Chris decides to become the man of the house.
Peter helps Joe with his dream of becoming a published author, but tensions rise as Peter begins to take total control of the project, and at the same time Brian gets his first runner’s high, which inspires him to start working out excessively.
Peter and the Griffins get out of dodge and end up in Springfield, where they are greeted by a friendly stranger named “Homer Simpson”, who welcomes his new “albino” friends with open arms. The families get along famously: Stewie and Bart make out like bandits, when Stewie trades in his mind control device for a good old-fashioned slingshot; Lisa takes Meg under her wing and teaches her the saxophone; Marge and Lois ditch housework for a little bonding; and Peter and Homer fight over the best beer in town ? Pawtucket vs. Duff.
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The episode starts out slow, with Peter taking Stewie to the park for some quality father-son bonding time, only to abandon him for the Clam (and a car full of clowns). So far, so boring. But Peter takes the wrong baby back from the park, and Lois throws a completely justifiable fit—Peter may claim repeatedly that he’s not an idiot, but yeah, we’ve been watching the show long enough to know that he is (the other baby, however, does not—Peter tells him he works at NASA). In an effort to make himself more interesting and less of a dolt, Peter goes to Chicago on a business trip and heads out to experience the world.
Peter’s visit to the Art Institute in Chicago was, hands-down, the funniest bit the show has done this season. Partly, that’s because I live in Chicago and have spent some time there, so I’m inclined to give it additional credit here. Mostly, though, it’s because of the welcome vocal presence of the sadly deceased Dennis Farina, who narrates Peter’s tour through the museum with aplomb. Farina will be forever linked to Chicago, and he’s a perfect choice for this extended sequence, spending most of the tour talking about the food he’s eating and wondering how marble statues of women can have carved vaginas. Mostly, Farina is able to sell and elevate the crassness of the normal Family Guy dialogue. If only he were still around, and if only Family Guy got voice actors as gifted as him more frequently.
After his Farina-fueled epiphany, Peter becomes intelligent and cultured, visiting all of the world’s major cities and, in a great little cutaway, renting a car with the radio stuck on NPR. (“How was the car?” “Coastal and superior.”) Smart Peter is a good variation on the character, one I’m sure has been done before, but that does allow for some actual contrast in a really poorly-drawn character—whatever Peter may be any given week, he’s never not an idiot. His newfound intelligence gives the writers the opportunity to make another solid “Brian is a blowhard” gag, in which he can’t name a single book he’s read (this is one of my favorite recurring jokes, dating back to his novel). It doesn’t hurt that Peter’s futile attempts at getting his family to not laugh at words like “Balzac” is reminiscent of one of my favorite episodes ofHow I Met Your Mother’s “Robots Versus Wrestlers.” The tension between smart things and the ways in which they sound dirty is rarely not funny.
Chris builds a birdhouse, and Peter hangs it up, and they happily watch as lots of little birds move into it, until an falcon swoops down and eats them all. They are horrified.
That night, Peter reveals to the family that he has become a falconer, and introduces his falcon Xerxes.
He shows it to Quagmire, and Xerxes quickly attacks him. Peter says that Xerxes mainly eats rodents, and that’s probably why he was after Quagmire. Xerxes knocked him to the ground and dug into his pants, eager to get at the rodents that Quagmire was hiding. However, as he was screaming, the rodent escaped “out the front”, and fled from his mouth.
Inside the house, Xerxes lands on Stewie’s head, and he panics, asking Brian what to do. Brian says there’s nothing he can, and just hope he doesn’t stand on his soft spot. He does, and Stewie’s skull sinks in.
Family Guy has never really been renowned for its tight plot structure, but tonight’s episode feels like a particularly shaggy entry. While the tale of Stewie and Brian’s burgeoning love affair with the ballads of Canadian songstress Anne Murray has a discernible beginning, middle, and end, the main Chris-centric plot is less a story than it is a trio of loosely connected set-pieces. The first set of gags revolves around Chris’ unpopularity at high school because he doesn’t have the right shoes. Once he steals money from his mother’s purse to get new shoes, the high school story is dropped entirely to make way for Meg blackmailing him and forcing him to do her bidding.
And once Chris can no longer endure his sister’s increasingly disturbing demands, he runs away to live with the elderly predator Herbert, who soon finds Chris a less-than-ideal houseguest (and, yes, illicit lover, but I’d prefer not to think too much about that). There’s a vague attempt at the end to spin a sentimental moment out of Chris and Meg’s sibling reunion, but other than that, the Herbert subplot doesn’t really have anything to do with what comes before it, and there’s no payoff for Chris’ earlier theft.
Part of the problem is that Chris really doesn’t have a personality, at least not as depicted in “Chris Cross.” Admittedly, outside of Stewie and Brian, most of the show’s characters tend to be one-note, but at least they have that one note. Chris’ defining trait is usually his stupidity, and of course, Chris has to be pretty damn idiotic to think going to live with Herbert is a good idea.
But whereas the episode plays up his obliviousness while living with Herbert, Chris is relatively sharp when dealing with Meg’s particular brand of crazy, so there’s little sense of Chris as a consistent character with coherent motivations, even purely in the context of the episode. When the episode needs Chris and Herbert to act like a squabbling couple, Chris gets a joke-mandated jolt of personality, but before that, he’s often a blank slate, barely reacting to the things his schoolmates, Meg, and Herbert say and do.
“Valentine’s Day: A day of love, right in the middle of Black History Month.”
We are treated to a very special Valentine’s Day intro, spoofing most generic romantic comedies, especially “Valentine’s Day”.
Lois suggests that she and Peter spend the whole day in bed because it is Valentine’s Day.
Meg tells Brian and Stewie that she has a date with a guy she met on the internet. Stewie gives some dating advice when the doorbell rings. The man, Toby, flatters Meg, saying she’s much prettier than her picture, and they head off.
The latest episode of “Family Guy” drove the joke home started earlier in the evening on “The Cleveland Show”?or came pretty close, if you get my meaning. Basically, “The Giggity Wife” was like a cross between “What Happens in Vegas” and the indie comedy “Humpday” with Quagmire waking up hitched to a skanky hooker and having to fake being gay to get out of it when the woman wanted to make a go of things.
Peter, of course, had a field day with all of this, laying on the insults fast and furious. Two of my faves include: “Your wife is a human toilet” (um, eew- especially given the visuals that went with it) and “I’ll bet she’s what happens if you put a Hooters girl in a microwave on high.” Not that the hilariously-dubbed Charmese was any easier on herself: “I got to check on a whistling sound” she told everyone at dinner, after confessing she couldn’t have kids because she’d “been stabbed in the vagina.” (!) Stay classy, “Family Guy.”
In no time, Quagmire was screaming to get out of the arrangement, especially after the least effective makeover montage in history. Some people just can’t be helped, and it wasn’t long before Quagmire was declaring himself “super-duper-double gay.” Alas, Charmese smelled a rat- or maybe just herself- and demanded proof in exchange for a divorce. So, naturally Quagmire turned to pal Peter for help.
The road to the Quagmire drunken marriage plot takes up the first act. Joe confiscates a Harvard dining hall ID, so he, Peter, and Quagmire go to Boston. After admiring Harvard’s campus-Peter recognizes the school not for its litany of leading alumni, but for Fred Grandy (Gopher from The Love Boat), Amy Brenneman, and Ted Kaczynski-stop in at a college bar, get bored, and then go to a strip club and get hammered. When they wake up in Quahog the next day, after a still drunk Peter tries to explain his drunk driving to Stewie, Quagmire discovers that he brought a hooker back with him, and that they’re married.