Monday, March 30, 2009

Family Guy, "Not All Dogs Go to Heaven": Please call me Dirk Diggler

I don't normally write about "Family Guy" -- nor, for that matter, do I always watch "Family Guy." But I wound up needing some laughs late last night, and after a very weird "Simpsons" episode (which somehow managed to combine a parody of Bing Crosby in "Going My Way" with a parody of "Saw") failed to provide them, I put on Peter, Stewie and company and wound up watching the best episode of that show I've seen in a while. A few brief thoughts coming up just as soon as I order a McDLT...

You can call "Family Guy" comedy porn, or comedy junk food, or whatever unhealthy-but-gratifying metaphor you prefer, but when the random jokes are good -- as they were throughout -- I can let go the fact that there isn't much of a story holding them up. And, actually, the story of born-again Meg and atheist Brian felt more cohesive than your average "Family Guy" plot, so it had that going for it -- in addition to Peter warning the audience to change the channel on a Meg-heavy episode, which is the sort of thing I imagine "The Simpsons" writers occasionally want to do if they're giving us an episode focused on Marge.

Stewie kidnapping the cast of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" was more what I usually expect from the show: nonsensical, and it and didn't have an ending, but the jokes made me laugh a lot, from the Trekkies all asking non-"Star Trek" questions at the con, to Patrick Stewart and Stewie getting into another of his endless h-before-w pronunciation arguments, to Stewart and Wil Wheaton recreating the "You'll get nothing and like it!" scene from "Caddyshack."

It ain't deep, but when you've got the voice of Lt. Worf asking to be called "Dirk Diggler" at the bowling alley, or God recast as the early-'80s Flash Gordon, it makes me happy enough not to mind.

What did everybody else think?

33 comments:

legion said...

Yeah, God as Flash (*Defender*of*the*Universe!*) absolutely killed me. And the Star Trek cast stuff was so unexpected. I laughed every time they were on screen. The Ending, where they do the cosmic pull-out was amazing too.

Yeah, top notch show.

Chris Littmann said...

I really enjoyed the Star Trek stuff. That was one of the funnier FGs I've seen in a while. Usually I'm out by the second commercial because it makes so little sense.

spiderpig said...

I'm definitely not a Family Guy fan since I consider it a very poor Simpsons ripoff usually, but I am a ST:TNG fan so I had to check it out. I wish the Star Trek stuff wasn't relegated to the "B" story because the Meg stuff really was painful to watch and pretty unfunny .... except for the part where she has Brian "fetch" the wooden cross and then there was the back and forth where she tries to retrieve the cross and he growls. The repetitiveness of it really reminded me of the rake scene with Sideshow Bob on the Simpsons "Cape Feare" episode but then they took it a step further with the growling to the tune of NKOTB's "The Right Stuff". Funny stuff. I stand corrected Family Guy fans.

Absolutely loved all the Star Trek stuff especially the Whil Wheaton pronunciation and the killing off of Denise Crosby early in the episode.

Mark B said...

The Trek stuff was great, especially the aforementioned Denise Crosby moment.

Of course, they had to ruin a good episode with the oh-so-predictable "Christians are nothing but narrow-minded bigots" meme. (You know, because we've never seen religion mocked on TV before.)

Nicole said...

I was aware of the TNG cast being on this week's episode so I made a special effort to watch it. I do wish there would have been more TNG cast and less Meg (although the NKOTB growl was an actual chuckle). It was nice to hear Michael Dorn and Wil Wheaton actually talk in the episode, which is probably more than what they have had to do in the actual TNG movies, Wheaton especially.

Of course, with Family Guy, there are always a few jokes that are questionable, the Shatner drowning his wife one being the one I cringed at the most.

Alex said...

I love when Patrick Stewart plays himself. Remember that episode of Extras? "I can see everything!" Dude is wasted playing one serious bald guy after another.

Henry said...

I personally couldn't stop laughing at the drive-thru scene, especially Stewie scolding LeVar Burton for wanting to get the VISOR off. And yes, Denise Crosby getting killed off early was hilarious, too...

The "Whhil Wheaton" ongoing argument between Stewie and Patrick Stewart didn't work so much for me, but Family Guy doesn't really have to nail every joke for the epsiode to work.

Kent said...

The B-plot was full of laughs to be sure. All the Next Gen stuff was sharp and funny.

Unfortunately the A-plot existed to once again be preachy about religion/politics. I have described the Family Guy writers' now frequently recurring monologues as college kids in Che Guevera shirts drunkenly espousing their beliefs with the subtlety of a sledge hammer to the testicles. Never thought American Dad would be the one bringing the funny while Family Guy ground to a halt on a regular basis.

Lane said...

just hearing Patrick Stewart say "Look! I have girl boobies!" was worth the price of admission

Oaktown Girl said...

I absolutely love Stewie. Last week, my friend tipped me off that Stewie will be making a special appearance on "Bones". That's a show I don't watch, but I most definitely will be watching that episode!

I'm a pretty big Family Guy fan, but one thing that's really bugged me since the show reincarnated is the over-the-top disrespect and abuse of Meg. It's straight-up sexist and misogynistic, and not funny. It's not even "cringe" funny. In the first incarnation of the show, it was clear Meg was a misfit, but she was openly loved by her family, so the misfit jokes worked. Now, it's just cruel and spiteful frat boy "humor".

Lane said...

shut up, Meg

Anonymous said...

*makes raspberry sound* haha

So Cal said...

I loved the shampoo bit they had...this ep and the previous one with Lois getting a job at Fox News have been pretty strong after a streak of pretty crappy eps.

Toby O'B said...

I liked best the cameo by Calvin & Hobbes. Now I wish Bill H'Watterson would bring the comic strip back.....

Anonymous said...

Alan, if you stuck around for the closing credits, you would have seen the Star Trek:TNG spoof ending. In that ending, Stewie does a complete 180 on his impression of the series to the point that he thinks the castmembers are bastards.

Jonathan said...

Kent wrote:

"Unfortunately the A-plot existed to once again be preachy about religion/politics. I have described the Family Guy writers' now frequently recurring monologues as college kids in Che Guevera shirts drunkenly espousing their beliefs with the subtlety of a sledge hammer to the testicles. Never thought American Dad would be the one bringing the funny while Family Guy ground to a halt on a regular basis."

I have stopped regularly watching Family Guy because of their penchant for spouting off their beliefs and ridiculing the beliefs of others (whether it be religion, politics, or ideology). I have no problem with cleverly mocking anyone or any group as I can laugh at all sides of issues. But just ridiculing others because you disagree with them without it being witty or funny in any way is just boring. If the creator of Family hates religion, that is fine with me. Go ahead and mock it, but do so in a funny way.

BigTed said...

I read that David Goodman, who's currently one of the producers of "Family Guy," wrote the incredible, nerd-riffic episode of "Futurama" that reunited the cast of the original "Star Trek." This one was good, but it didn't stand up to that classic. (Or the "Family Guy" "Star Wars" parody, for that matter.)

Anonymous said...

The Simpsons is no longer funny. Fox must have given them the option to go HD or keep the writers. They chose HD.

This probably is not good form but... one of the comments about The Family guy was classic. Apparently it is NOT OK to ridicule others but IS OK to mock others as long as you mock both sides of an issue.
If you don't think The Family Guy is funny when they mock/ridicule religion go to Hulu and search family-guy-evolution-vs-creation.

Bobman said...

If the creator of Family hates religion, that is fine with me. Go ahead and mock it, but do so in a funny way.

As an atheist I find most of it hilarious :)

Savvy Veteran said...

I'm totally with Family Guy in regards to religion, but I thought that the ending of the episode, with Brian somehow shattering Meg's faith in under a minute, was a little disappointing, mainly because it stopped trying to be funny and got preachy instead. But I did love the stuff about Brian being persecuted for his Atheism. I agree that it was one of the better episodes of the season though (that OJ Simpson episode from a week or two ago was just painfully bad).

Anonymous said...

You can mock things without being mean (I laugh alot at South Park making fun of religion and politics). With Family Guy though, you can pretty much tell what their specific thoughts on religion/politics are.

Nic S. said...

For the longest I've been holding onto Simpsons as my favorite cartoon, even though I smile at it more than laugh at it now, but this episode of Family Guy has officially made Family Guy my new fave cartoon. As an atheist, I totally enjoyed the religious mockery. Nic Cage's movie, Knowing, gave me more than enough religious BS for the weekend. But you can't please everybody. I'm glad atheism gets to trump religion once in a while. Face!

Sean said...

It was a standout episode, and they managed to more-than-likely piss off two of the biggest demographics in America: fundamental Christians and Star Trek geeks.

James Sims said...

Having a family connection to Star Trek TNG, I found this Family Guy episode hilarious. Having Wil Wheaton getting his name butchered by Stewie was priceless.

Anonymous said...

Much better ep than in recent weeks. But...Why was Stewie driving? How, rather?

"Sometimes, it's a regional thing."

"Do they have beer?" Dorn was awesome in this. And Stewart. They can get that guy to say anything and like it.

Oaktown Girl said...

Much better ep than in recent weeks. But...Why was Stewie driving? How, rather?

Stewie's been known to drive on more than one occasion. It's usually pretty funny when he does. He drives the same way he does every other thing that's miraculous for a baby.

DolphinFan said...

When FG started its run, the episodes were plotless grab bags of jokes that tried so hard to be shocking and offensive that they landed right back on "unamusing". But post-cancellation(s), the lion's share of episodes find central storylines and stick to them, and the cutaway or flashback jokes are generally funny (and sometimes more: Peter's mayday call from the plane in "Airport '07" and the gag after he says "I'm the worst father since Abraham!" are pause-the-DVR-while-laughing hilarious). An episode like this one worked because it stuck with Meg becoming devout and Brian being castigated for his atheism, and used the ST:TNG material for quick chuckles (especially that agonizing attempt to order at the McDonald's drive-through).
As for Meg being a hated character: sometimes it gets uncomfortable to see that, but the writing staff and S. McFarlane have said they don't really understand the mind of a a teenage girl, and that's why she's so unpopular in every area. Not saying it's right, just that it's not likely to change.
And yes, Stewie seems to be aware that he will be gay once he's old enough for that to mean something.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Hey Alan, did I say something wrong?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Yes. Talk about the show. Not religion, not politics. Not each other. The show. Period.

Anthony Foglia said...

This was a good episode of Family Guy? I thought it was bad. I watched only because the TNG cast was on, and their B-story was good for the small doses it was, but the A-story was clumsy and unfunny. The random cutaways need to be stopped. They have too many random jokes as is. (Why was it funny that the bottles got into a helicopter? Because... helicopters are funnier than planes? Because... "copter" has a k-sound?) Seriously random does not equal funny, manatees.

GTriest said...

I find that a lot of what people consider unfunny on family guy stems from their not catching the pop-culture reference. I myself catch about 98% of them, but at least I recognize that there was one when I don't catch it.
(This episode I couldn't place the tune from the NKOTB, but it sure sounded familiar)
The epitome of this syndrome was showcased rather effectively on the FG 100th episode special, and Seth's interview w/people who absolutely hated the show.

Anonymous said...

After watching this episode, I have to admit that the entire Star Trek thing was quite humorous, but FG's constant bashing of any group that doesn't have the same beliefs or opinions as them just gets pathetic. Honestly, bashing the other side of the argument on T.V. is just sad.