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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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/100

Episode 12 - 420

22 March 2012

Synopsis: Annoyed at Quagmire’s obsession with his new cat, Joe suggests they shave it. Peter kills the cat by accident and has to bury it. While out burying it the police arrest Brian for possession of marijuana. He leads a campaign to legalise pot and aided by a Stewie song it promptly is. Mr Pewterschmidt steps in to get it reillegalised because sales of hemp for paper are affecting his timber business. He prints two million copies of Brian’s novel to get him to change his mind. Brian soon regrets his actions when no one likes his book.

The Good: I like the plot structure of this episode better than usual. Brian is campaigning for life to change, we see the amusing consequences of change, then the forces of conservatism step in to corrupt Brian and put things back the way they are. It’s a simple story and the humour comes from the logic of how pot changes Quahog and how different characters react to the changes.

Peter enjoying hearing the name of a movie said within the movie was a simple joke but it setup a nice gag when Brian was arrested (and the cop says family guy). Brian comes out of jail to a volley of prison rape gags which at least have the virtue of showing that no one is taking the pot issue as seriously as he is. When he has to give a urine sample he turns to Stewie and Lois catches them. This leads to the amusing sight of Stewie trying to run away while being held in mid air.

Once pot is legal we immediately see the consequence in the chilled out Channel 5 News Room and with Peter (see Best Joke). Mr Pewterschmidt then steps in making up the lyrics to The Bangles “Walk like an Egyptian” which was pretty funny. Carter gets Peter on the case of coming up with an anti-pot campaign. Though his Hitler-based version is passable, I really enjoyed his pitch based on Harold and Kumar go to White Castle. “As you can see I’m enjoying a White Castle burger. Why? Because I don’t do drugs. Took me five minutes to get to White Castle. I didn’t get diverted by those crazy hijinks.” It’s such an obscure way to promote not smoking weed. It also leads on to a really fun query about How I Met Your Mother, but if you don’t watch the show it wouldn’t mean much.

The conclusion of the story is pretty good storytelling and will give the viewer more satisfaction for having paid attention to the plot. Having argued that marijuana was only illegalised to protect the timber business, current day timber magnate Carter Pewterschmidt bribes Brian by financing the publication of his novel (mentioned in 407, 415, 505, 602), complete with fake muscular looking picture of him. We even get a conclusion to the Quagmire cat story thrown in.

Flashback ratio (good-medium-bad): 2-5-1

The Bad:  The pot story could have been better though. Peter didn’t have a good enough reason to turn against Brian, nor did Stewie have a reason to defend him. There were opportunities there to make jokes about why they would care one way or another.

The three minute song about pot was a waste of time too. I have nothing against songs in animated comedies, but they need to be funny. Jokes about Texans, Michael Jackson and Helen Keller are so obvious and warn out that it just feels like a waste of time.

The killing of Quagmire’s cat seems needlessly gross, but the story itself was fine.

Best Joke: Peter is too stoned to set up a cut away joke. So he says “Here’s a list of celebrities I don’t like.” As with any list the repetitions and random inclusions make it funny. Geoffrey Chaucer, of all people, is on there. Princess Diana, “every rapper” and “that forehead guy from “The Office”” are also amusing in their own ways. Chris Martin gets the most hatred for no apparent reason.

The Bottom Line: A pretty enjoyable episode. The story flowed logically enough and the jokes had more focus as a result.

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