Monday, 25 January 2016

Family Guy – Season 15

Another year, another season of Family Guy. Growing up, I loved Family Guy. I won’t deny that. But as I’ve grown older, I’ve become less and less amused by it. Out now on DVD comes Season 15, although technically, it is Season 13 – due to the way seasons are split in the UK, we’ve had more individual DVD releases than seasons and it’s gone wrong somewhere along the way. It’s all a bit confusing. In any case, this Season 15 release is technically Season 13. The simplest way to review this is by saying that if you like Family Guy, you’ll enjoy it. It’s just more of the same. However, there is one thing that makes this season stand out as one of the most historic and important.

After much planning, Fox delivered a huge announcement in July 2013 – Family Guy and The Simpsons were going to have a crossover episode. It would be an extended hour-long special, and would finally give fans what they wanted – Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane said it would be “really about the character interaction. People want to see Peter interact with Homer. They want to see Bart interact with Stewie. In a way, the story in a crossover episode, while it has to be there, is never quite as important as how the characters interact with each other”. Hype built, and on September 28th 2014 the episode aired to 8.45 million people. But it was met with a far less warm reaction than expected. The episode, entitled The Simpsons Guy, was more Family Guy than Simpsons – obviously, being part of the Family Guy season as opposed to The Simpsons. This in itself was a problem for many. 

The episode was written by Family Guy’s writers and so lacked elements of Simpsons humour, while the over-the-top Family Guy humour in a Simpsons world felt uncomfortable and just didn’t work. There were some moderately smart jokes – the argument between Peter and Homer about their show’s beers was a clear statement on the argument between the shows themselves, and it felt fresh to see them debating it themselves. But this culminated in an uncomfortably long and unfunny fight sequence which, along with a completely out-of-place erotic carwash sequence, were the episode’s low points. The Simpsons is a show that has succeeded without shock value, so to see these characters involved in violence and rape jokes felt completely out-of-character and ridiculous. Critics panned the episode and The A.V. Club named it in their ‘Worst TV of 2014’ list.

So, aside from this episode, is there much else to report? Not really. Family Guy is a show that has succeeded on standalone episodes with no overarching plot, so there’s nothing here that feels any different to previous seasons. It’s the same childish humour, the same animation, the same ‘cutaway jokes’, the same endless references (some of which are lost on UK audiences), and the same inappropriate pushing of boundaries. If you like the idea of Stewie becoming pregnant with Brian’s baby, Meg becoming a foot-fetish model, Peter becoming Liam Neeson’s servant and Jesus admitting he’s a virgin to try and get Lois to pity-f**k him, then you’ll love this season. Seth MacFarlane is a man who finds what his audience likes, and doesn’t change his formula when he knows it is working. Just look at Ted 2. It’s just more of the same after the first Ted. And his A Million Ways To Die In The West? Well, that was just ‘Family Guy in the West’. This is the best way to explain each passing season of Family Guy. Nothing changes. Because MacFarlane knows the fans will eat it out of his hand. But from what I’m hearing, even the most loyal fans are losing patience with the show.

The voice-actors are all on their same good form, while Liam Neeson shines as the best cameo voice actor of the season who seemed to have a ball with the ridiculous material. And after roles in Ted 2 and A Million Ways To Die In The West, he’s clearly made a friend out of MacFarlane. There are some funny jokes scattered across the series, but there’s not enough. A good episode made me laugh once or twice at best, but for the rest of the time I was left with a vacant face and a vacant mind. Maybe I’m just too old for Family Guy now. I’m sure the 13-year old fans out there are still loving it. But in today’s world with such sharp, smart comedy available to us, we’re running out of space for this shit.

Family Guy – Season 15 is a mediocre season of a show that seems to be on its way out. 2/5.


Sam Love

Family Guy – Season 15 at CeX

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