Monday, July 16, 2007

Family Guy

Family Guy; animated comedy series, USA, 1999 - 2009; D: Peter Shin, Dan Povenmire, Roy Allen Smith, Pete Michaels, S: Seth MacFarlane, Alex Borstein, Seth Green, Mila Kunis

The Griffins are a truly bizarre Rhode Island family. The head of the family, Peter, is a lazy, dim-witted guy who works in a toy factory while his wife Louis always tries to be a good housewife. They have three kids: Meg, Chris and Stewie, a baby trying to conquer the world. They also have a talking dog, Brian. Together, they go through a lot of adventures: Peter winds up in jail or discovering his ancestors were black, Meg desperately wants a date, Brian falls in love with Louis, Chris becomes a famous painter in New York...

"Family Guy" is a completely decent alternative to "The Simpsons", but it suffers from similar flaws, like the fact that it is overstretched, crude at moments and that its characters become puppets: in accordance to that, Peter, Louis and Meg are just different versions of Homer, Marge and Lisa in different situations. Still, the show is a real oasis of nostalgic references from the 80s ("Charles in Charge", "He-Man", "You Can't Do that on Television"...) and, although denounced by many - there were even whole two episodes in "South Park" dedicated to humiliating this show - because of its episodic format of clip gags that appear in flashbacks all of a sudden and have no connection to the structure of the story, even that doesn't seem that bad since even the "Monty Pythons" didn't have a clear linear story, but also just a set of gags. Throughout "Family Guy", numerous jokes appear: some are bad, some are even disastrous, but some are genius. Among the ones that is absolutely fantastic is the one that is making a parody out of the famous music video "Take On Me" from the group A-ha, in which Chris falls into, and with such an amazing sense for details and animation that it's incredible.

There are also many other hilarious gags present. For instance, the one where a doctor says to Popeye that his hands are actually infected by tumors and that he talks strangely because he suffered a stroke is simply deliciously absurd and cynical take on naivete from that cartoon. Peter's singing and dancing of his own version of the song "U Can't Touch This" from MC Hammer is a little perfection of musical parodies in the episode where he establishes his own state Petoria around his house, as well as his line in another episode where it is revealed he actually over-taped his wedding video by a porn and accidentally sent it to Louis' parents. The O.J. Simpson opera, similarly, is also a howlingly funny comedy classic. A small jewel is also the underrated character Meg - like in the gag where she guest appears in the sitcom "Everybody loves Raymond" just to publicly announce to Neill that she doesn't like him - as opposed to the useless Stewie who never does anything funny. A completely mad theatre of absurd, "Family Guy" is a nice source of cynical humor if one can pass by its irreverent stories, and one would simply have to lie if one would deny at least a little bit of brilliance that so many are dismissing. However, in order to enjoy it, one should avoid the later seasons, which polluted the storyline with too much trash and garbage.


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