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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-???


Episode 5 - The Man with Two Brians

29 March 2012

Synopsis: Peter decides to imitate Jackass and ends up nearly drowning in the lake. While trying to save him Brian hurts his back which makes Peter aware of how old Brian is getting. So Peter gets another talking dog called “New Brian.” “New Brian” is unerringly positive and everyone likes him except Stewie. Brian leaves home as he feels replaced. When “New Brian” humps Rupert, Stewie kills him and the family welcome Brian home.

The Good: The writing establishes well that everyone likes “New Brian” and why that would annoy Stewie. The use of “cool whip” (see 508 and 701) as a bonding action between Brian and Stewie is a nod to fans with good memories. One or two jokes are bearable, at least Lincoln’s neighbour being annoyed about slave liberation is plausible and is an amusing juxtaposition of modern behaviour in an historical setting. Stewie’s reactions to Peter’s implication that he is going to shoot Brian are funny. They play on the obvious cultural connotations of putting down a dog (e.g. Old Yeller) and Stewie milks the obvious with his amusingly inappropriate comments.

Flashback ratio (good-medium-bad): 1-4-1

The Bad:  The problem here is shock value which in this show has no value at all. Family Guy has been offensive in so many ways that it doesn’t have the power to shock anymore. Yet we have to sit through Jackass stunts that just aren’t funny. They aren’t funny because they have no consequence, they are random acts of violence and in the next scene you know the character will be fine again. I don’t see why Peter has to act so scared and hurt when he falls off the roof. It isn’t funny to see him hurt and it has no consequence for the plot. Is there something funny about breaking your spine which I am missing?

Again what is funny about ripping into Brian for being old? It seems to be just the idea that people will laugh at someone being repeatedly bluntly offended. Finally we have jokes about rape before and after Stewie murders “New Brian.” If you re-read that sentence you will see how wrong it is to put that in a comedy show which clearly appeals to younger people. What is funny about Stewie acting like a rape victims friend? Why would bringing the idea of rape into the story be funny? Yes it is a stuffed animal so nothing really happened but the joke conjures up thoughts which aren’t congruent with comedy.

As usual the problem with this episode is that there is no point to it. “New Brian” replacing Brian doesn’t lead to any actual revelations for Brian or the family about their relationship. Without that basic journey to go on, the jokes don’t flow from it they are just randomly inserted and so don’t work as well.

Best Joke: Buzz Killington returns and unlike most jokes in Family Guy it has a clear logical structure. Buzz lures you in with something that sounds interesting and then delivers a twee, old fashioned, dull punch line. It’s a simple formula and the things he says always fit ideally into his established persona. So he asks Stewie “Do you know why W.S. Gilbert was frequently drunk on his transatlantic crossings?” Stewie cautiously says no to which Buzz gigglingly replies “because he was quartered on the port side!”

The Bottom Line: Some needless jokes but others which were bearable and a logical enough story even though it addressed nothing.  



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