TV Review | Family Guy (21×01: Oscars Guy)
“I am not overly optimistic for the future of Family Guy, and if we continue to get lukewarm jokes and disjointed episodes, this beloved titan may end before the dawn of the ’30s.”
Family Guy Season 21 premiered on Fox on September 25, 2022. It starts the season off with a now-norm retelling of 3 other tales, usually based on famous movies or novels. Family Guy saw massive success with adapting all three of the Original Trilogy Star Wars movies and felt it had a winning formula for comedy. That was 15 years ago.
The hit animated series is thankfully still on the air, but its reliance on this technique has eroded with age. Covering three stories in 22 minutes seems like a tall and impressive order. However, it has become very sloppy and unrefined. And they even make a meta-joke at the end about how it’s almost over. Yes, even the writers know they are running on fumes.
SILENCE OF THE LAMBS
The show did pretty well with the three Stephen King novels and three works of classic literature, to be honest. But you knew the three-retelling was dead last season when they attempted three popular TV shows. This time around, they did three Oscar-winning movies (hence the name) and the selection was relatively even. I knew one movie very well (Forrest Gump), one I knew vaguely (Silence of the Lambs) and one I never even heard of (American Beauty). All were released in the ’90s. And yes, there were plenty of 90’s jokes.
Silence of the Lambs wasn’t that funny, and I feel that all three rushed to get to the end. I had a strong feeling a lotion joke was coming for Lambs, and I was correct. I did laugh when the serial killer ropes down some Rite-Aid brand lotion to the girl he abducted. The victim cannot believe he is using such a “generic” brand and notes that it doesn’t even have a pump. “YOU PAY FOR THE PUMP” he screams. Having Chris be the maniac was an obvious choice. But I would have liked to have seen someone other than Meg as his victim.
I also got no amusement from Lois as Clarice as many of her jokes were stale and played out. Stewie as Hannibal Lector was pretty entertaining. At least at the end but it moved so fast that if you don’t know the movie, you don’t really remember the plot.
American Beauty was also rushed. And I finally know where the plastic bag blowing in the wind and the cheerleader revealing her chest seductively, only to have an object obscure it comes from. Both of these elements were spoofed in regular episodes of Family Guy. But because I was like, 12 at the time, I didn’t get these references. Now I learned where they came from.
Peter’s character also reveals that this movie was released in 1999 and makes a dig at The Phantom Menace which elicited a chuckle from me. I also like how they used satire to highlight gay couples in cinema during the ’90s; noting that they were one-dimensional and were only included to try and make the audience think the movie was deeper than it really was. Good for you.
However, I was very disappointed with the Forrest Gump adaptation. Once I knew Peter was playing Forrest, I was quite excited since Peter is a man of developmental intelligence. Only he’s kinda a jerk (unlike the kind simple Forrest) and I wanted to see how he would pollute this character. Instead, they took aim at elements of the movie itself and I don’t like that as I feel it is one of the best movies ever made. They joked the running scene was probably written by a 7-year-old and I feel they could’ve done better without insulting the direction. There were not enough funny Peter-as-Forrest moments, and it moved at high speed. I was very disappointed. I did applaud Cleveland as Bubba and Joe as Lieutenant Dan as they were literally built to parody these characters.
All, in all I was very underwhelmed by this Season Premiere and will be checking back in May to see how it wraps up. I don’t ever want to give up on Family Guy, but it just doesn’t seem to have the muster as it did at its peak. Which was around the middle of the aughts. The titles of the season episodes along with the plots of the first month have been revealed. And fans will see the Griffin family head to the last known Blockbuster store in existence (I recently read about this), in Bend, Oregon as they want to rent a great movie. This could be funny. And the fact that this particular Blockbuster (in real life) has more options than Netflix is in itself, hilarious.
Then we see Joe accidentally catch a glimpse of Lois nude, sparking a resurgence in his romance with his wife, Bonnie. Alone these two plot points could be hilarious IF written correctly. The other titles are The Manchurian Candidate, a reference to a movie I also don’t know, Chris Griffin Cum Laude. This is a dig at Chris’s intelligence as he is developmentally disabled (or borderline) like his father, Peter. The Candidate. No clue. From Russia with Love. Perhaps satirizing the current Russo-Ukrainian War. Or possibly a Bond parody episode. Carny Knowledge. Possibly a circus reference along with a double entendre of carnal relations. Get Stewie. Based on a movie I don’t know as well etc. etc.
It seems they are going to rely on old movie adaptations this season. Which is exactly the direction I don’t want it to go. Oh well. The Halloween episode is entitled Happy Holoween, possibly a play on words to reference holograms. Holograms are certainly a technology in Stewie’s wheelhouse and perhaps that could be funny. I am not overly optimistic for the future of Family Guy, and if we continue to get lukewarm jokes and disjointed episodes, this beloved titan may end before the dawn of the ’30s.
Family Guy airs at 9:30 pm on Fox 5 on Sundays. Check it out.
Max Nocerino is a regular Staff Writer for The Future of the Force. He is a passionate Star Wars fan and loves the literature of the galaxy far, far away. Follow him on Twitter where he shares his love of the Force frequently!