Synopsis: Brian accidentally runs over a dog and is racked with guilt. He confesses and is upset to discover that no one cares. He begins an animal rights group which fails disastrously and Stewie has to step in to reassure him that his life has value.
The Good: The ending of the story was what you would expect from a cartoon. The family are upset at the (fake) news of losing Brian and give him the validation he has been seeking. I kept waiting for him to be further humiliated but it didn’t happen. The ending allowed for the episode to feel more complete and satisfying than it otherwise might have done.
That’s not to say it wasn’t interesting. But Family Guy isn’t interested in exploring Brian’s strange place in the world as a talking dog. So each time he brings up an issue about animal rights, it is simply a setup for a joke. Again, there’s nothing wrong with that, but it would be nice if there were a clearer delineation between the two. Brian actually emotes as if the issue is very serious and affecting him emotionally so each time the punch line kicks in it feels slightly off.
Still some jokes work out ok. The inventive cruelty of the “veal farm” as a calf goes from womb to grinder in seconds will make some chuckle. There is also fun to be had as each of Brian’s plans backfire, from un-tethering a dog to pointing out that in Asia people eat dogs. Stewie continues his evolution into the new Homer Simpson. As in he is able to comment on a situation and just by his intonation and amusing voice he can make you laugh. Brian finally stands up for himself against Lois’ teasing and questions what she has done, considering that he has written a book. “Ha! You got nothing going on” Stewie says to her in ever-amusing fashion.
The expansion of the Consuela the Maid joke was pretty good too. Her original appearance was pretty funny (605) and the stereotypes are taken to natural ends here. Seeing her shoo Brian out of the house or sleep in Chris’ bed were fun moments.
Flashback ratio (good-medium-bad): 0-1-3
The Bad: As usual the resort to violent exaggeration just feels a bit lazy. Brian buries two halves of his road kill and then the dog he frees goes on a rampage. The gross out factor does make some people laugh but one time per episode would suit me. The flashback jokes were pretty lame including Peter acting like an infant twice.
Best Joke: While drowning his sorrows Brian is offered some advice from the Dad from the Family Circus comic strip. He doesn’t want to hear it and so snaps back “All you do is judge other people. Everyday in the funnies all you do is judge. Why don’t you shut your BEEPing mouth for once and go home and BEEP BEEP your wife in the face.” The Dad responds thoughtfully, “You know what, that’s exactly what I’m gonna do.” Two scenes and a night later Peter is reading the funnies as Consuela cleans and he comments in typically understated fashion “This is a very shocking Family Circus.”
The Bottom Line: Pretty enjoyable. The emotional misery which Brian expresses and the violence indulged in take away from the fun for me. But I doubt it will bother many fans.
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