Crumbs: Reviews » Comedies » Family Guy » Season 6 » Play It Again, Brian
Critical reviews of U.S. TV shows
and analysis of what makes them
good, bad, irritating and enlightening.

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-???


Episode 10 - Play It Again, Brian

26 April 2014

Synopsis: Brian wins an essay contest and goes to collect his prize at Martha’s Vineyard. He invites Peter and Lois along as they keep arguing and they think a vacation will do them some good. They leave Herbert (the paedophile) in charge of the three kids.

The Good: There are a lot of jokes on offer. For once there are probably more from the main story than from flashbacks.

Peter being a bad husband and a drunk can be funny when it is kept light. Here it works in places. They build up his appearance in different outfits (fishing, bee keeping etc) pretty well and his selfishness is funny throughout. His drunk voice is fun as well as he taunts Lois over hiding the minibar key. There is also a dig at old sitcoms when he laughs way too hard at a bad joke.

Stewie is barely in the episode but manages to be funny when featured. His Scategories questions are suitably surreal and although very vulgar the delivery of his vaginal diatribe about Lois is good.

Family Guy has managed to get a lot of good laughs over having Brian occasionally act like a dog. When presented as a contrast to his normally human behaviour it usually surprises you into laughing. However here they overuse it to the point that it loses its effectiveness (see below). But I imagine you will smile at him eating grass and telling Lois that when she goes to the market he thinks she may never come back.

Flashback ratio (good-medium-bad): 1-5-0

The Bad:  Let’s get the obvious gripes out of the way first. Putting Herbert in charge of the kids is a surprisingly tame B-plot. I was expecting something pretty disturbing but instead got some lame one line jokes. I suppose that’s better than where it could have gone.

Do we really need Lois calling Vanilla Sky an abortion? It’s a tasteless comment made for shock value. Surely comments like that turn more people off than they attract.

The “Spirit of Massachusetts” song is a waste of time. If it is a parody then it isn’t funny. The montage of Brian and Lois having a nice time served a purpose at least. But between the two musical interludes and the fight scene (which resolved nothing) there is a lot of time wasting going on.

Now to my main complaints! Family Guy long ago decided that it didn’t need a constitution for its plots and characters. It’s a sad state for a show which could be so much better. Peter is unbearably inconsiderate and mean to Lois without apologising. Then Brian tries to have sex with Lois and instead of it being treated with any gravity, they portray him as a horny dog. This is very odd as they spent the episode establishing his love for her as a serious thing. It’s frustrating to watch because there is no real attempt to put any character in a position of sympathy. Lois is shrill, Brian is disloyal and Peter is as boorish as possible.

Brian is portrayed as a dog throughout the episode. From sitting on the family bed on all fours to catching Lois’ golf ball it is clear that he is more dog than human for this show. By doing that the jokes about him being a dog are watered down as they work best in small doses, contrasting with his humanity. At the end Lois implies if Peter weren’t around she would be with Brian. If true then it seems to defeat the purpose of the show which felt like it was making the point that Brian was too much of a dog for Lois to really love him.

There is no conclusion to the plot either. The fight scene serves no purpose and isn’t funny. It feels like a shortcut to actually writing a real story. If the writers don’t care about the characters then why write a love triangle in the first place?

The wider problem is that Family Guy has no established framework for its storytelling. It just seems to throw things at the wall and hope people are laughing. The story may be irrelevant to some viewers but I believe comedy comes from consistent characters and believable stories. If you undermine those you get less good jokes. At this point the jokes are all this show has.

Best Joke: Stewie calls Brian with another Scategories question: “The category is type of pet. Herbert put Cambodian. That’s not right, right?”

The Bottom Line: There is enough good humour throughout the episode to make you laugh. In a way that is what makes the plot so frustrating. You want to sit back and enjoy it but instead you sit through a love story between three un-likeable people which doesn’t get resolved.



Add your comments on this episode below. They may be included in the weekly podcasts.

Post your comment


  • One thing I hate about this review is how it doesn't mention the musical numbers. Brian's /Seth MacFarlane's first song was really well done. Little know fact is that they use a live orchestra for all their musical numbers.

    Viewer score: 65 / 100

    Posted by Deadwillieguy, 25/04/2014 4:31pm (6 years ago)

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments