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FAMILY GUY REVIEW
TV Review by Salome Bell

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Family Guy Review
by Salome Bell

Season Premiere 2008

After the scene when Cleveland yells 'Boom goes the dynamite' (a reference to the infamous YouTube video) after having an orgasm with a girl in a public washroom, I laughed out loud for the 5th time in the episode. Then I turned to the clock and noticed that it was only 9:15pm. I was happy that there was only 15 minutes left in the episode and realized that Family Guy is back!

Last season's strike shortened episodes were the worst in Family Guy history. A sub-par Family Guy episode is always better than most shows on network television, but I was very disappointed with their showing last year. It seems like creator Seth MacFarlane, fresh off his $100 million contract to show-run Family Guy, American Dad and the spin-off The Cleveland Show (to air in January 2009), is back as this premiere episode grabbed me. Now I'm looking forward to watch what he's got going next.

Whereas the last 15 episodes of Family Guy really had no plot at all, the premiere episode lead with a plot. Yes, Family Guy is all about randomness and strange events, but if there is no actually plot, we the audience will get bored even if the jokes are funny. Storytelling using plot is something we've been used to ever since our parents or guardians read us nursery rhymes as babies. We need to follow a plot, no matter how Family Guy insane it is, in order for us to be interested.

This episode follows Brian (with Stewie not far behind) on a journey of finding love. A common story in the Family Guy series. This time he abstains from sex with his new girlfriend in order to gain respect from her. Of course this backfires when she is horny and ends up with Cleveland. Cleveland is a funny character and it should be interesting if he can pull off leading an entire series when he's spinned-off into his new show. Brian tries to separate them with the help of Stewie, and tries to get Cleveland's ex to come back and take Cleveland away so Brian can have the girl.

Of course all of this is insane but Brian after all is a dog. And that's what this show is all about. Common storylines and pop-culture references in the crazy world of a talking Dog and evil genius talking Bab living with an even crazier family.

A colleague of mine suggested that universities should create a course about Family Guy episodes. It should be called Family Guy and the Pop Culture Influence of our World. He swears that it's needed in post-secondary schools because we need to understand how in our society why the entertainment industry is so prominent. And how Family Guy episodes really put the wink in the wink-wink of our world.

So here's to a solid first episode. Hopefully there are 20 more to come.

FAMILY GUY Review - Season Premiere 2007

Family Guy is a show that regularly leaves me gasping for breath.

Laughing, I mean. Not, like, being strangled by the TV or anything.

It's so irreverant I sometimes find myself saying out loud, "Did they REALLY say that?"

For a long time, the Simpson held the television crown for the quirky non-sequitur, and for the in-your-face social commentary. It didn't take long for the Griffin family to seize the title of most shockingly hilarious (hilariously shocking?) cartoon series on TV.

One of the side effects of this show being just so good has been, I think, to raise the bar for the Simpsons itself. Simpsons got a lot stronger after the Griffins' debut. Coincidence? Maybe, but I like to think Seth MacFarlane posted a little bit of a challenge, dropped the glove, whatever you'd like to call it, and the Simpsons responded.

The premiere offered up the return of one of the most popular guests the show has ever had - Drew Barrymore in her recurring role as Jillian, Brian the dog's girlfriend.

She's cute, but, in the immortal words of Thomas Dolby,

"While I'm impressed with the size of that chest,
She's not an intellectual giant..."

Brian gets talked into moving in with Jillian in order to impress her that he's really serious about their relationship. But when he can't meet his share of the rent, Stewie offers to lend it to him - if he lets him move in too.

I'm never sure about the line they walk with Stewie's sexuality. It's the one part of the show that seems to be nebulous, as if MacFarlane sometimes has one idea about what Stewie's about, and sometimes decides to go in a different direction.

It's like the worst of the Simpsons episodes where they revert to an older style or humor, one I was happy to see fade away after the first few seasons. The intelligence level drops, the humor hits below the belt, but it's not a solid hit.

That's the way it is with Stewie. I think MacFarlane is funniest, and most impressive as a writer, when he plays that exquisite fine line between Stewie's highly advanced intellect and his social inexperience.

But sometimes I really don't know what he's supposed to be - is he gay? a blossoming Hugh Hefner?

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When Stewie goes to one of those extremes, it sometimes works and is amusing, but more often it falls flat for me.

Stewie out of his depth is far more hilarious, especially when intellectually he is always ahead of the game.

Finally, though, it feels like the show really has a handle on Meg's character. For the first couple of seasons, it felt like she'd been added to satisfy a demographic, instead of being a character in her own right.

Looking forward to the continued inventiveness and irreverance.

CLICK HERE and read past TV Reviews by Mitchell Bard

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