Family Guy Review: ‘Ratings Guy’
The terrible race jokes aside, there were points in this week’s episode that were humorous, and I guess I’ll just say it: smart.
Last week, Family Guy started off pretty rough. It actually wouldn’t be too far off to say Family Guy has been pretty rough for a while. The writers seemed to have dug themselves into a hole with jokes that appealed to the audience, who, it would seem, consisted only of forgetful morons. The jokes were always rehashed and overused. It wasn’t uncommon for a joke to be used multiple times throughout the season, and even brought back in later seasons—such as Peter’s scraped knee bit, that always lasts much too long. However, watching last night’s episode, I was actually chuckling at some of the jokes. Sure, not all of them were spot on, and some were flat out horrible—these tended to be the “try hard” jabs at race or people in general the show tries to pull off in almost every episode. With “terrible” race jokes aside, there were points in this week’s episode that were humorous and, I guess I’ll just say it: smart.
The episode started as any Family Guy episode would, set in a random location. It seems the show rarely starts out at the family’s house anymore, but rather somewhere else to establish somewhat of a plot. Although this week, the visit to the fire station played no role in the rest of the episode; it didn’t even lead up to how the family wound up with their Nielsen box (a box that tracts views for television ratings.) Even though it played no role in plot, it still held some of the funniest moments of the night. The dispute between the firemen and police officers was quite funny, as well as the fireman’s fist fight with fire.
After their visit, the family is chosen to be a “ Nielsen family”, holding a Nielsen box in their house. Once the Nielsen box is hooked up and set—after of course, a somewhat excruciating bit of hearing the Nielsen man explain how it works to Peter three times—the family talk about what they want to watch. Chris of course wants to watch “boobs” and Stewie takes a humorous jab at The Cleveland Show by saying he wants to watch “the black version of our show.” Sure, it’s a stupid fourth wall joke, but it was well executed.
Tom Tucker, the town’s local news anchor, comes to the door to ask Peter to watch the news as to increase the ratings. Peter says he will, but only if he wears a funny hat and shaves his mustache. He does and Joe and Quagmire get upset with Peter for using his “power” for “evil”. Peter enjoys the power he has over the show, but feels like he needs something more; he wants to change national television. So while the Nielson man is checking up and changing the family’s chip, Peter steals the rest of the Nielsen boxes in the Nielsen man’s van. He hooks them all up and eventually ends up putting a lightsaber fight/KISS guitar solo into a scene in Mad Men as well as put Breaking Bad on roller skates. (Is it just me, or would this have been better to see than the Mad Men bit?)
An angry mob winds up outside of the Griffin house, wanting Peter to change television back. Mort, coming out to see the mob, swallows all of his valuables and takes his menorah jetpack to the bank. Dang Family Guy, did you need to fill extra time with a bit or were you behind on your weekly Jew-joke quota?
Peter finally realizes he’s done something wrong—after the tediously long radio bit, that started out quite funny, but as is the custom, went on too long—and decides after Brian’s spew about how television needs to go back to the way it was before. There’s probably some underlying message here for television producers, since the show does occasionally take a satirical route, but I would almost point this message toward the writers of Family Guy the most. Family Guy seems to be the epitome of the degradation of a show, and Brian’s rant seems to fit the show perfectly, seeing as it did change a tremendous amount from the very beginning to now.
“No, Family Guy is nowhere near the best satire on television right now, but it’s clear from this week’s episode that not all hope is lost.”
Just as Peter is about to change everything back, Adam West, the town’s mayor, comes in and destroys all of the boxes, telling Peter he did so for “adding another tree to One Tree Hill.” With nothing left to do, Peter decides he must go to the producers in Hollywood and make them change the shows which he’s so horribly mutilated back.
Peter somehow makes it all the way Hollywood to talk to the producers, not before an unneeded joke about how producers don’t care about the troops. Peter then changes everything back in what was the funniest moment of the show. He tells the writers to write 15 workplace shows with talking heads—oh look, a cutaway—a few reality shows about people doing embarrassing things for money, a show about “horrible New Jersey freaks”, and remaking Law and Order 6 times. And huzzah, Peter has saved television.
It’s clear that Family Guy, although occasionally has an issue to point out, has completely disregarded plot as an attention grabber. The laughs come purely from cutaways and elongated jokes with a little plot thrown in to keep the show from being a cartoon version of Robot Chicken. So when the show has good cutaways and bits, it makes the show, although just one or two slip ups can seriously dumb the experience down. This week held a decent plot, showing—or trying to, at least—what television has turned into, with an underlying message of us needing to turn it back. And no, not all of the gags were laugh out loud funny, many of them actually held up to a couple chuckles. And although the writers didn’t make their message as clear as, oh, let’s say, South Park, would have, it’s clear there was at least some point to get across going into this week’s episode. No, Family Guy is nowhere near the best satire on television right now, but it’s clear from this week’s episode that not all hope is lost for the show.
-It might be just me, but the “Everyone hates Meg” jokes are just too old.
-Will we see more of Chris’s clone, Mike? No, definitely not, but it was a funny bit.
-The Hungry Hungry Alec Baldwins joke was stupid, but it made me laugh.
-Stop hating on comedians. Aziz Ansari is one of the funniest people on television right now, and Parks and Recreation is a wonderful show.
-I really want to see Walt and Jesse on rollerblades. Can we make this happen? Please?
-“You turned Anderson Cooper 360 into Anderson Cooper 720, he’s turning around too much!”
-Quagmire: “I read it in a book, you monster!”
-Joe: “Bonnie! Come push me out in a huff.”
-Do you really need to make it clear that The Simpsons haven’t done a “Homer ruins/has to save television” episode? We get it; you’re thought to be a Simpsons clone.
For more on Family Guy, head over to the show’s website.
For more reviews by Andrew Walker, click here.-By Andrew Walker