Episode 7 - Road to the North Pole (1 + 2)
14 December 2010
Synopsis: Jilted at the local mall Stewie asks Brian to take him to the North Pole so he can kill Santa. Brian tries not to reveal that Santa isn't real and is shocked to discover he is when they arrive. Santa is in rough shape though and Brian and Stewie offer to help out.
The Good: This was a story. So many Family Guy plots fall to pieces these days that this was a change in that sense. In fact the anti-consumerism message might have been refreshing if it weren't drenched in so much unpleasantness along the way. Brian was twice given sufficient motivation to take Stewie on this ridiculous quest and they did accomplish a happy resolution which doesn't happen often.
Flashback ratio (good-medium-bad): 0-2-1
The Bad: The problem with the plot, if you want to take it seriously, surrounds the idea of Santa. Family Guy is set in a simulation of our world and accordingly Brian knows that Santa doesn't really exist. Yet when Santa doesn't deliver any presents the world is shocked. Why? He doesn't exist. Those presents are delivered by the parents. I imagine the writers gave it no thought.
The whole dystopian world at Santa's factory was inventive but disgusting. Inbreeding, death, misery and mutilation just aren't pleasant to watch. As usual the writers are more concerned with shock value than comedy value as they crafted a world where greed and population growth has driven Santa to the point of suicide.
Then Stewie and Brian go through the process of trying to deliver presents and things go horribly wrong. Again the idea is solid as they struggle with the chimney, get accused of breaking and entering and discover they are at the wrong house anyway. But in between they have to bloody and traumatise the family they have woken which was again unpleasant.
The humour in the episode was littered with the kind of mistakes which have robbed Family Guy of the laughs which can offset its poor taste. Canadian stereotypes are treated with dull familiarity (and the first of two limb decapitation jokes) and Gary Busey and Eeyore are mocked with little thought. A fun joke about Stewie leaving robots behind to cover for their absence gets rinsed and rinsed until it's not funny anymore. We get two pointless musical numbers which had nothing of comedy value to offer.
Finally we had a linking narration from Seth MacFarlane's father Ron. The story needed no narrating and Ron was given the kind of lame material which served no purpose either. So why was he there? I'm not joking when I claim that Seth MacFarlane has contempt for his audience. I think he and his team waste so much time with their programme and don't really care about what they put on air. It still feels like an extended middle finger to FOX for cancelling the show in the first place. This feels like Seth throwing his Dad something fun to do at our expense.
Best Joke: Stewie manages to find a truck to give him a life to the North Pole. He asks the driver what they are hauling to which the driver responds "a flock of birds who were too tired to fly back North." We cut inside the truck where two birds are sitting relaxing. Bird 2 asks Bird 1 if they are being lazy to which he responds "Nah! We're still in the V shape." Pan out to show the birds sitting in the shape they fly in. A nice simple, unexpected joke.
The Bottom Line: A little more interesting plot wise than the usual fare but otherwise just as gruesome.
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