Monday, September 29, 2014

Toons After Dark: Family Guy welcomes the Simpsons (2014)

This was one of the most one-sided crossovers in the history of crossovers.

Family Guy's season premiere on Sunday was a 1 hour special, as the Griffin family traveled to Springfield, USA, home of The Simpsons. Unfortunately, Fox really botched it, and at the same time, acknowledged whose creative bread they'd rather be buttering.

Let's just cut right to the plot, such as it is. Peter Griffin (Seth MacFarlane) decides to become a cartoonist, and starts a 1-panel humor strip in the Quahog newspaper. Being about as dumb as a doorstop isn't a deterrent, as Griffin's crude drawings get a negative reaction, and the family is forced to flee the city. The family car is stolen at a rest stop, and that forces the Griffins to hike to Springfield. Homer Simpson (Dan Castelanetta) takes the Griffins in, and the families bond. Well, everything seems to go smoothly. Lisa (Yeardley Smith) gives Meg (Mila Kunis) encouragement, then seethes when she sees that Meg has a talent as a saxophone player, just like her. Stewie (MacFarlane), after seeing Bart (Nancy Cartwright) bullied by Nelson Muntz, decides to avenge his new friend. Learning how to use a slingshot, Stewie captures and tortures Nelson. And if you thought that was wack.....

Brian (MacFarlane) and Chris (Seth Green, Robot Chicken) take Santa's Little Helper, the Simpsons' dog, out for a walk, and Brian unwittingly allows the greyhound to run loose after disengaging the leash. Talk about awkward. The best scenes, however, belong to Peter & Homer. First, there's a ridiculous car wash skit, set to Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar On Me". Then, after it's exposed that Peter had been fleecing the makers of Duff beer, the Griffins lose a lawsuit, and that leads to an epic fight between Peter & Homer, which exposes all the tropes of animation in a matter of minutes.

Just to remind fans of his aborted Flintstones project, MacFarlane throws in a cameo by Fred (Jeff Bergman) as a judge. Well, he knows this will be on [adult swim] eventually, unless Fox prohibits it, since The Simpsons' cable rights belong to one of their cable networks.

In case you missed it, here's a preview:

The right way to go about this would've been to do it old school style, with part 1 airing on Simpsons, but I'm guessing either Matt Groening, or the folks at Film Roman, which animates Simpsons, weren't asked, or were and declined. By putting this entirely in MacFarlane's hands, well, what did you expect? Too many cutaway gags, a MacFarlane specialty, plus a cameo by Bob of Bob's Burgers and the alien from American Dad, which, oh by the way, is leaving Fox for TBS after a brief fall run.

Rating: B+.


Samuel Wilson said...

A one-panel strip? Possibly a homage to/dig at Matt Groening's Life in Hell? I'd actually have to be motivated to watch to get a better idea.

hobbyfan said...

Recall, Sammy, that Life In Hell wasn't a 1-panel strip. I caught part of the show on Sunday during halftime of the Saints-Cowboys game, then watched the full show On Demand the next night, which was the basis for the review. Trust me, the strip that was credited to Peter Griffin on the show was meant to be a joke, aimed not at Groening, but a cheap joke at the newspaper strips in general. No shame from MacFarlane, of course.