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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 8 - McStroke

29 March 2012

Synopsis: Peter grows a moustache and begins to adopt what he perceives as a moustache lifestyle. He helps put out a fire at McBurgertown but loses his moustache in the process. As a reward the owner gives Peter an unlimited supply of hamburgers. Peter eats too many and suffers a stroke. Through stem cell research he is healed and then he attempts to take down McBurgertown. Meanwhile Stewie bets Brian that he can be cool at high school.

The Good: This is a strange episode of Family Guy for a couple of reasons.

The stories no longer make real points (as they did in earlier seasons). You are lucky if they just make sense which I suppose these do just about. Peter fights McBurgertown who treat cows badly. They free the cows and tell the world which is pretty straightforward. Meanwhile Stewie convinces everyone at high school that he is cool until they find out that he is a baby. Again it seems logical enough (but see The Bad).

The humour is pretty good throughout, though it is oddly dated. The flashback ratio is really good but almost none of the flashbacks are very modern or very cutting. The digs at Robin Williams and Will Smith are both amusingly accurate but they are both portrayed from the 1980s – 1990s era. Similarly Helen Hunt is hardly a talked about celebrity in 2008. The Monopoly guy joke is a fun juxtaposition but the reference to the Shawshank Redemption is old too (the film came out in 1994). It’s as if the writers were all reminiscing that week.

There are some other good jokes which slot in nicely. Peter wearing Brian as a moustache is suitably silly. As is Peter’s attempt to fool the McBurgertown receptionist by pretending to be Asian. “Well I guess we’ll just take our millions of dongs elsewhere” (as the Vietnamese currency is the dong, this is even better – dong also being a nickname for a penis). And Stewie and Connie as an old married couple is also a fun visual.

Flashback ratio (good-medium-bad): 6-1-0

The Bad: So back to why those stories are strange: Peter’s moustache fetish doesn’t last long and just plumbs the stereotypes you’d expect. His war against McBurgertown is passable but there’s not much to it. As Lois and Brian point out, it was his fault for eating too many burgers that he had a stroke, so there is no reason for the audience to care about McBurgertown. Then the stem cells part of the story doesn’t really say much about anything, it is just a plot device. Finally Peter rescues a talking cow and runs around doing a parody of The Monkees before the story ends. One can’t help but think if they had a clearer vision in mind for the story it would have been better.

Similarly Stewie runs through all the teenage clichés before Connie laughs at him for his undeveloped genitals. Well, he is a baby so that makes sense. Of course it doesn’t make any sense that she and the others wouldn’t recognise him as a baby anyway, so that entire story is a mess. There is also no other side of the bet with Brian. When Stewie wins the bet there is nothing which Brian has to do. It seems odd to have the story be a bet when that is the case. The two of them attempt to tell yet another Stewie is gay joke which doesn’t work. Their joke about cars and parking spaces up at “Anal Point” is poorly written so that Stewie has no plausible reason to say “Well in that scenario it sounds like I’d rather be the parking space than the car.”

As you would expect from Family Guy there are also the usual collection of tasteless (Holocaust, stroke victims), pointless (Monkees chase scene) or stupid (Peter thinking he can speak Italian because he has a moustache) jokes.

Best Joke: Stewie is in the parked car with Connie.
S: “You enjoy the movie baby?”
C: “Yeah but I think I’m gonna enjoy this even more.” (She takes her top off)
S: “Uh, no thanks, I am stuffed.”
It’s these moments when Stewie acts like a baby instead of an adult that can inject much needed unexpected humour into the show.

The Bottom Line: Sometimes you get the impression each episode of Family Guy is written by a completely different group of people. Such is the variation in quality and tone and themes. But that can’t be true because the show consistently tells the same pointless stories and offensive jokes.

This week however the jokes are pretty good and although the stories are badly written they are not overly annoying.

('DiggThis)

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