Once again Family Guy goes back to the well of taking a well-known story and retelling it with their own characters in the various roles. Why even bother retelling a story? Sure they put some humorous touches on it. And I guess this is the same formula that made Mad Magazine such a juggernaut, back in the day. But these days it seems pretty stale.
"Jesus, Mary and Joseph"
Despite beings scattered, predictable, and somewhat bland, I laughed a few times. Peter's gag about rearranging the letters in the name of producer Cherry Chevapravatdumrong was pretty great, and it was the kind of unexpected fourth-wall-breaking humor that Family Guy used to excel at. It felt like a flash of the show's earlier, pre-cancellation greatness.
Stewie's remark that Jesus lived with the Griffins for a week may have been the most honest thing the show had to say. It called into question the entire point of the episode, as well as reminding viewers of the better episodes of the past. That episode, season seven's "I Dream of Jesus," had more to say about Christianity and religion, and in fact helped launch the show its Emmy nomination for "Outstanding Comedy Show."
(It also has my all-time #1 favorite Family Guy scene: the Griffins visit the new '50s diner in town, but Cleveland is greeted at the door by a squadron of riot police with dogs, and hit with a blast from a fire hose. But I digress.)
I don't know, though. It could have been a lot worse. Thinking back over some of the episodes this season, maybe "Jesus, Mary and Joseph" wasn't so bad. On the one hand, you have all these heavy-handed emotional episodes like the Thanksgiving stink-fest. And on the other hand you have the "TOO FAR" episodes and scenes. (Did you realize that Stewie has been raped twice this season? For laughs? Yep.)
There were some pretty good one-liners. I liked the joke about "Dial IX-I-I," and the mock trailer for an Adam Sandler movie called "Ben Him/Ben Her" was solid. Even though I raise an eyebrow at the scene of Family Guy making fun of Adam Sandler movies, that was dead on target.
What really saved this episode, however, was the scene at the end where the Griffins turn away a desperate young pregnant couple, with extreme prejudice. Peter's grim "I'm getting the baseball bat" was just the dollop of cynicism that this episode needed.