May 2010

Family Guy: Five Great Fake Ads

Oh summer, how boring you are, with nothing to offer on television but reruns.  For some reason I'm stuck in the rerun doldrums early this year.  Last night I found myself trolling around YouTube looking for a clip of the Family Guy "ad" for Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man.

1. WACKY WAVING INFLATABLE ARM FLAILING TUBE MAN!

"Something, Something, Something, Dark Side"

I'm going to go on record right up front by saying that "Blue Harvest" remains my absolute least favorite episode.  (Or special episode, or mini-movie, or whatever you want to call it.)  

Any given episode of Venture Brothers has at least one Star Wars reference, and I remember listening to a podcast (was it an episode of "The Sound of Young America"?) where the creators talked about the art and science of making a Star Wars joke.  They pretty explicitly called out Family Guy, saying "You can't just say "STAR WARS!" and call it a Star Wars joke."

"Quagmire's Dad"

If I ever had any doubt that "Family Guy" is pandering to the frat boy crowd, "Quagmire's Dad" quashed those doubts.  In a nutshell, Quagmire's dad turns into a woman, and everyone is disgusted.  Because that kind of thing is SO SICK AND WRONG, amirite?  Well, it is if you're a narrow-minded frat boy.  And if you are, then you will have thought this Sunday's episode was a laff riot.

"Brian and Stewie"

This was a special full hour episode with two parts: an unusual "locked room" story with Brian and Stewie, and a collection of the show's musical numbers.  Ostensibly this was done to celebrate the show's 150th episode, although Wikipedia labels this as the show's 147th episode.  That's confusing.  There was also a tie-in to a "Fox Rocks" theme night, but since I watch everything on Hulu I wasn't aware of this until I read about it later.  (This does explain the Simpsons' "Tik Tok" intro, which I thought was as delightful as it was unexpected.)

"Brian and Stewie"

"Brian and Stewie" is that rarest of Family Guy episodes, where cheap humor and tired gags are replaced by witty dialog and a legitimately interesting story. Given how formulaic the series has become in recent times, "Brian and Stewie" may not return Family Guy to its days of glory, but it's a relief to see that Seth MacFarlane can still write genuinely good television on occasion, and leave us with an offering that remains in memory long beyond the credits. And for good reasons, to boot.