» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum

June 16, 2005
Family Guy // Animated Sitcom, Sundays at 9pm on FOX
Rating: 5.5/10

American Dad // Animated Sitcom, Sundays at 9:30pm on FOX
Rating: 1.5/10

First of all, let me say one thing: Family Guy (there once was a 'the' in the title, but that has apparently been dropped) was an incredibly funny show... the first three times you see it at least.

You see, there are two types of comedy: The 'enduring' variety such as The Young Ones (a show that consistently gets funnier each time you watch an episode for the first five or so times and then admirably stands its comedic ground) or The Simpsons. And seeing as how Family Guy has already borrowed so much form said series (jokes, characters, sight gags, etc.) one would think that The Simpsons' insanely lasting humor would rub off on Family Guy, but sadly it doesn't. Family Guy falls into the other style of comedy that I like to call the 'limited' humor category, which includes shows, usually 'gag' based as opposed to 'character' based, whose value decreases with each viewing, but in some cases (like Family Guy's) are generally worth watching again.

So I was quite happy when I learned that Family Guy was returning to the FOX network. Sure, it's virtually a one-trick type of show but sometimes a quick comedy fix is all you really need. Like that first drop on a roller coaster; you know it won't last, but it sure is fun while it's happening.

Although I was certainly prepared for Family Guy's non-PC and usually dark brand of comedy, it was hardly prepared to deliver the goods. Or even like, meet me at a predetermined location (like that one gas station on the outskirts of town) with the aforementioned goods.

Yes, gone are the days when characters like the sex crazed Quagmire delivered said dark quips like "I felt guilty once, but she woke up halfway through." Now Family Guy seems to have left the black bits behind in favor of more certain and time-tested jokes that the show's writers insist on overplaying. Such as the return of the giant chicken, whom Peter wrestled with in a previous, read: superior, episode. Which was pretty funny the first time, but in using this recycled gag, the series seems to be falling back on its old material as opposed to trying something new or even something remotely uproarious.

And although Family Guy was never known as groundbreaking television, it was typically a good source to find an enjoyably erratic sense of wit and whimsy. Besides, originality is totally overrated, so long as a show achieves its goal, anyway.

Other times, the series' plots seemed to be muddled and erratic in that inconsistent unenjoyable way like in the episode "Fast Time at Buddy Cianci Jr. High" where a plot involving idiot son Chris' (Seth Green, whose T.V. work is solidly superb) new teacher (voiced by Drew 'the Stroke shagger' Barrymore) tries to convince him to commit a murder ends with a copout. Or in the most recent episode "Blind Ambition," which tries, without much success, to involve plots about everything from nickel poisoning to Quagmire's sexual deviancy. It still has its laughs, but Family Guy is most likely a setting sun.

So then why has Family Guy's quality undergone a cataclysmic collapse? Is it the three year absence? The fact that show wasn't really suited for more then three seasons to begin with? Possibly, just as likely however is that creator Seth MacFarlane is now juggling two shows at once: Family Guy and American Dad. And while others have juggled two (Matt Groening) or even three (Joss Whedon) series successfully, MacFarlane has clearly proven himself to be of a different (lower) class with American Dad.

I caught the American Dad pilot after The Simpsons' episode that aired, 35 minutes LATE I might add, after the Super Bowl (American football and I have fallen out of touch, the FIFA World Cup however . . . ) and was utterly shocked by its profound ability to be absolutely without any real redeeming qualities other than, "It could have been funny, in the right hands."

Seriously, the American Dad pilot was among the worst television episodes that I can remember actually wanting to watch. It was abysmal. The main characters were nothing more than recycled versions of MacFarlane's Family Guy cast which were, in turn, essentially ripoffs of Homer and clan. The jokes all but got down on their knees and begged for your laughter before offering sexual favors for even the faintest of giggles.

Yes my friends, or total strangers really, it was one of the worst half hour's in television history. And now the show that won't, er... stop sucking I guess, returns with a full season order of (shudder) 19 episodes.

Admittedly, the series is getting better (in the same way that my house is getting safer because the city cut down that ominous looking tree a few feet from my bedroom) but still too heavily relies on outlandish plots which only the most talented of writers and producers could reasonably pull off, and the American Dad staff is clearly not among them.

The characters are bland and completely lacking any hope of artistic redemption and the jokes are predictable to the point of embarrassment. The series, a supposed attack on the conservative values of our government, brings nothing new to the comedy mix. For a more sharply aimed parody of our government, try to catch the short-lived and criminally forgotten That's My Bush from South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

Having the cast of Arrested Development (which has been renewed, FYI) silently blinking (or any other type of bodily maneuver for that matter) on camera for 22 minutes would elicit more laughs than this ton of rubbish (I love me some Jason Bateman and Will Arnett). Oh well, at least it's got... Oh wait, never mind.

SEE ALSO: www.planet-familyguy.com
SEE ALSO: www.american-dad.com

Tim Smith
LAS' resident television expert.

See other articles by Tim Smith.



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