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"German Guy"

In a refreshing contrast to this season's haphazard moralizing, this week's episode was a solid return to form. It had high points of all sorts (although I don't think any of them topped Stan's baby legs on American Dad).

The episode begins with the entire family bemoaning Chris' incessant masturbation, which has rendered all of the fabrics in his room stiff to the point of shattering. ("I'm pretty sure our washing machine is pregnant," Lois says. "I don't even know how that's scientifically possible.")

Lois and Peter decide that it's time to find the boy a hobby. Peter tries to interest Chris in a number of different hobbies, but Chris is "meh" until he discovers a puppet store (do they really have those?) and is smitten. Luckily this scene is the first and last mention of puppetry in the episode, because I seriously don't think I could handle a Family Guy episode about puppets.

The puppet store owner is an old German guy who takes Chris under his wing. Herbert, the neighborhood pedophile, recognizes the German guy as being a Nazi who was in control of a concentration camp where Herbert ended up in WWII.

(This inevitably raises comparisons to Stephen King's story Apt Pupil, but I think it's just coincidence. I didn't find any other parallels, as much as I would have loved to see an episode where Chris starts killing transients because he can't sleep at night.)

So here is a thing: the neighborhood pedophile is one of this episode's main characters. Again!

Family Guy has a lot of mixed feelings about Herbert. On the one hand, he usually serves as the neighborhood boogeyman. On the other hand, no one seems to care, because he is often asked to (e.g.) babysit the Griffin children, or hire Chris to do odd jobs. And as skeevy as "the neighborhood pedophile" is as a role, Herbert is surprisingly protective of Chris.

I have always thought of Herbert's "You shall not pass" scene in the episode "Petergeist" as his finest moment. But the final fight in this episode, hilariously capped by "Take my hand!" is going to have to supplant it.

If the underlying plot was fairly simplistic, everything stacked atop it was hilarious. (Isn't that all we ask of this show? It doesn't have to make sense - it just has to be funny.) I have trouble picking out my favorite moment. Highlights include:

  • Herbert's concentration camp horrors ("Dear God, how my hands got kinda sticky!")
  • A lovely Silence of the Lambs reference. ("Oh, wait. Is he a great big fat person?")
  • Chris and Peter discover a window in their basement prison. They open it and spot Meg walking down the sidewalk. Instead of calling for help, they holler insults at her.
  • The entire extended fight sequence is one for the ages. Its ridiculously ineffective old man fighting was wonderfully punctuated by prosaic moments like Herbert and the Nazi stopping to take their pills ("It's Wednesday, right?"). Capped by the outstanding final moment, a six-inch fall.
  • And one for the Disturbing Files: Quagmire's "white noise machine," which plays the sounds of women screaming.