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.
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.
“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.
Family Guy has done Christmas episodes before ? maybe nothing quite to the degree of American Dad’s insane Christmas episodes, but they’ve certainly been standouts. This year, the show combines its Christmas tradition with another one: its telling of stories with the cast playing the roles of other people. This time, it’s a satirical take on the birth of Jesus on “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!”
Really, it felt a little predictable. Plenty of crude references were made to the fact that Joseph may have been dating the attractive Mary, though she was still a virgin ? though it’s implied they did other things. Joking references to the culture of Biblical times were made. There were “Cher is old” jokes, for some reason. Various members of the cast appeared in a wide variety of Biblical roles. There were laughs, but it was pretty light satire.
“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!” is a thrifty attempt at that same kind of episode structure-one that dates back to “The Griffin Family History” in the first post-renewal season finale from 2006, when the family locked themselves in their panic room. This time, Peter tells his version of Jesus’ birth, focusing mostly on Joseph courting Mary while mixing in plenty of jokes about how archaic and barbaric ancient civilization was at the time. Peter is Joseph, Lois is Mary, Joe, Quagmire, and Cleveland (I like when he comes back for these kinds of episodes) are the three wise men, Carter is Herod, Stewie is the baby Jesus, and a few notable recurring characters show up in minor roles.
There is so much potential for a fun episode, since Family Guy has used this type of episode so well in the past. But the whole plot is so stripped down to bare bones because of other distractions-at one point in the second act there are back-to-back endurance humor scenes, neither of which elicit laughs-that it doesn’t even properly go through the motions. The wise men set off, Herod freaks out at the prophecy of Jesus’ birth, but there are also references to A Christmas Carol and crappy airlines that are never on time. The strongest jokes are the ones that point out how cruel and unfair the world was toward women, but all of the archaic humor wears thin quickly, turning into something like Year Zero instead of finding more material in the Christmas origin story.
In sports with scoring judges-mostly Olympic sports like gymnastics, diving, or figure skating-there are times when ambition and risk are more valuable than execution. The athletes who perform flawless dives or routines score less than the eventual winners because they chose elements with a lower starting value. Even with perfect execution, a lesser degree of difficulty prevents a larger potential for success.
“Lois Comes Out of Her Shell” is that kind of Family Guy episode, setting the bar very low with two telegraphed plots with very few surprises. It’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but compared to the times when the show is lazy in structure and joke execution, episodes like this one are vastly preferable. It takes a well-worn sitcom theme-desperately trying to appear younger while growing old-and peppers it with crude body humor and late to the game cultural references like Justin Bieber.
The emotional arc is simple and has been used by the show over and over again. Peter is a misogynistic moron to his wife, sending her into a midlife shame spiral. He then realizes the consequences of his ineptitude, only to revert back to his crude tendencies right at the end. That moral structure is Family Guy on autopilot, but again, the low degree of difficulty makes it hard to screw up. Instead of good cutaways saving a bad central plot, the tangential jokes build upon a thoroughly mediocre foundation.
Since Lois’ crisis stems from Peter constructing his entire birthday toast around a grossly insensitive description of Lois’ body changing with age, it’s somewhat nice to see that the show is competent enough to make him suffer a miniscule amount for the emotional pain he inflicts on his wife.
This week?s Family Guy pulled it together for a tight show. ?Joe?s Revenge? enters that world of farcical, bizarre scenarios that Family Guy makes a general practice of; unlike many of those other stories, though, the beats in the episode generally fall in the right places. Joe takes Peter and Quagmire with him on a journey of revenge against the heroin dealer that paralyzed him; the quest takes them to Atlantic City and then to Mexico, obviously. Meanwhile, Lois and the family watch Quagmire’s cat.
Even if I don?t always appreciate the crudeness of Family Guy’s humor (or, let?s be frank, the outright racism and misogyny that is ?supposed to be ironic? and really just isn?t), there?s no doubt that the humor is written into the plot at the right moments in “Joe’s Revenge.” I was surprised at the number of times I laughed out loud in this episode. It?s significantly funnier than last week?s ?Yug Ylimaf,? which never found its rhythm.
A device that Family Guy has leaned on with gratuitous, joyous impunity is the prolonged dry punchline: the long pause, interrupted by nothing except the blank, unmoving animated faces of the characters in the scene. Perhaps it is Peter gasping over his wounded knee for ten minutes; perhaps it?s Brian waiting for a response from an unenthusiastic crowd. In ?Joe?s Revenge? it was Quagmire handing Lois his cat, giving her instructions, petting the cat, going on for too long about the cat. It?s funny because it?s weird; it?s funny because the timing is off, and I do get that (I found the Peter/knee thing very funny the first time I saw it). But it isn?t the most engaging way to maintain viewers, is it? There?s a big drag in waiting for the punchline to find itself that makes it hard to stay with the joke. After some time of not watching Family Guy I found that it was a lot more difficult to maintain my attention span for Quagmire?s inane conversation with Lois about the cat. I think that particular brand of humor is directed at Family Guy?s stoned fans, which is fine, but it loses its edge after a point.
The Griffins are on a family outing this week, taking Stewie on his first tour of the firehouse. A very different experience from their first trip there with Meg – when they tried to abandon her as a baby. I don’t think Lois really understands “loneliness” as it applies to NBA players versus fireman and their guide’s demonstration of fighting a fire with his bare hands is, interesting. I’ve never seen a fire like that. We find out when they get home that Chris had hired a stand-in because he hates the firehouse and that this all has nothing to do with this week’s show.
The selection is Peter’s delight as he recalls that he never gets chosen for anything. Viewers then witnessed a flashback to a school shooting where the shooter saw Peter walking by on campus grounds, but decided instead to shoot the person walking by next to him.
After reporter Tom Tucker stops by the Griffins’ house to ask for Peter’s viewership Peter realizes that since what he watches is being tracked he has some power. He convinces Tom to shave off his infamous mustache just to guarantee Peter’s viewership.
The bit with Peter assigning material to TV writers was priceless, with JJ Abrams (voicing himself) being told, and I quote: “You take wonder and complexity and present it in a way no one can possibly understand.” Peter also adds a tree to “One Tree Hill,” orders 15 workplace comedies where the cast talks to the camera for no apparent reason (one exec promptly does), and orders 6 more “Law and Order” spin-offs from Dick Wolf (also playing himself), who he also directs to marry Matt Weiner so that he can be Dick Weiner. Wolf: “Couldn’t we be Dick Wolf-Weiner?” Peter: “I love it even more!”
Of course there was a shout-out to the Kardashians doing something on TV. Some of the humor was purely referential, as if to try and generate laughs simply by mentioning these cable shows that are popular among some of the audience, though actually getting Jon Hamm was a great touch.
Generally, “Family Guy” doesn’t displace its characters (with the exception of Brian and Stewie, who do quite a lot of traveling) for the sake of forcing a story, but it’s season 11, so… well, sometimes you need an idea. Enter Mt. Everest.
This season premiere episode starts with the family having dinner with Lois’ ex Ross Fischman and his family, who are generally more accomplished, wealthier, more refined and better behaved. In fact, they’re about to climb Mt. Everest together. So naturally, to compete, Peter says that they’re going to do the same thing.
Within minutes of the opening on the premiere of “Family Guy” entitled “Into Fat Air” they dropped a pedophilia joke and a domestic abuse debate-baiting crack about Chris Brown. Before the night ended, they’d also tackled old-school casual racism (“It’s okay, Sammy’s in on it.”) and cannibalism.
There was very little tension throughout the episode, especially on the ascent, which was never really frightening; while Peter fell seemingly to his doom at one point, he was definitely safe, and a joke opportunity about not dying due to a cushion of dead bodies was taken. Well-played, show. The Fishmans having beat the Griffins after all was somewhat deceptive due to the shots showing the Griffins alone on the mountains, so it seemed more like narrative convenience than anything, especially as at one point they were ahead.
The Griffins have dinner with the family of one of Lois’ ex-boyfriends, which makes Peter so jealous that he acts in an expectedly discourteous fashion at dinner. But this other family is pretty snooty, and sends its son to a private school, so Peter responds by saying his family will climb the mountain as well. What makes this a weaker motivation is that it serves no purpose other than to assert dominance over another family for dubious reasons. Homer wants to impress his son, and Stan tries to combat rapid aging, but Peter just wants to win and shove it in someone else’s face.
I really don’t have too much to say about Internal Affairs. I knew going into it that there was very little chance of me loving it, and while I wasn’t dreading it (as if I could dread an episode of this show), I wasn’t exactly excited for it either. This episode was a sort of followup to Foreign Affairs, an episode I didn’t really care for and never wanted to see a continuation of in the first place. Luckily, I found this episode to be a little better than its predecessor, and it wasn’t just because of the giant chicken fight that completely stole the show. Having the episode center more around Joe was a bonus because I actually really like Joe. On the season finale of Family Guy, “Internal Affairs,” Bonnie is being distant to Joe after he wins an award for a massive cocaine bust. This leads to Joe sleeping with a young female officer who has the hots for him after his buddies encourage him to do it as revenge on Bonnie for her indiscretions.
With Foreign Affairs I just didn’t care about what Bonnie got up to, but here I was actually somewhat invested in what was going on with Joe. Really, I just think Joe’s story here is more interesting than Bonnie’s affair was. It’s easy to see where Joe is coming from in this episode and what he’s struggling with. With that said, I was never concerned terribly about the fate of his relationship with Bonnie. The show has never given me a real reason to care about Joe and Bonnie’s marriage. Sure, we’ve seen some tender moments between them from time to time, but I can’t say that it would have bugged me one bit if they had actually gone through with the divorce, especially with the way Bonnie has been shown to act from time to time. I will say, though, that I enjoyed the flashback to the moment Joe and Bonnie first met. I don’t know if it was just the superb use of Africa by Toto or something more, but that scene made me care more about Joe and Bonnie’s relationship more than I ever had and at least provided me a degree of investment in the final scene where Peter and Lois are trying to get their friends to make up.
It all ends when Joe and Bonnie basically promise to be faithful to each other and to work toward their relationship, but isn’t that how “Foreign Affairs” basically ended? In fact, isn’t that how all episodes involving affairs end on this show? Huh. Guess Family Guy is more consistent than I think. And of course, it will all probably end up with more unresolved marital strife between the characters. The external philosophy from the writing staff seems consistent, but the internal philosophy of the characters is ill-defined at best. Quagmire once cheated on Loretta, then gave a big speech about respecting the fidelity of marriage in “Welcome Back Carter,” then in this episode goes and does exactly the opposite of that.