Family Guy

The Husband:

King Of The Hill 13.15 “Serves Me Right For Giving General George S. Patton The Bathroom Key”

First, let us take a moment to recognize the best episode title of the month. See it glisten…and gleeeeeeeam…

It’s been a year since Hank’s father, Cotton, kicked the bucket, but despite Hank having pushed him out of his mind years ago, Cotton isn’t done with his disappointment of a son. While he waits for Cotton’s young wife come to Arlen in order to drop off a box of Cotton’s belongings, Hank realizes that he knows virtually nothing about his own damn father.

“He was a war hero, and he killed 50 men, and…” – Hank

As Bobby doesn’t want this to happen between he and Hank, he sets out a series of questions, but Hank is a bit too busy with Cotton’s box. Why? Because in it is a list of Cotton’s final wishes for Hank to perform, a list easily obtained from pausing Hulu’s feed:

  • Give the finger to the bouncer at Juggstore Cowboys
  • Spit on the steps of the Japanese Embassy
  • Give fork to Bill
  • Give perfume to Madame Francine
  • Slap the bottoms of the Cleery sisters [two VA nurses]
  • Give spat to fatty

When he achieves the final task, he and Peggy are given a key to a bus station locker that holds Cotton’s ashes with one final set of instructions – flush his ashes at a nearby saloon in the toilet that General Patton used right before shipping off. This is a common place to flush ashes, though, and Hank is not allowed to clog up the pipes just because he had a note from his father. Luckily, Bill is in tow, and as a veteran, he turns the saloon’s patrons against each other to declare which war they fought in was better than any other war, allowing Hank access to the toilet. As he looks around the restroom, Hank learns a few more pieces of info about Cotton scrawled on the stall wall, and he is happy to know that, while he may not know much about his father, he knows enough.

(Let’s just ignore the B-story, in which Dale and Bill fight over the concept of a littered aluminum can in relation to their lack of respect for each other, as the argument started with such silliness that I had zero sympathy for either of them as their friendship threatened to fall apart.)

It’s always understandable to want to know more about one’s parents. I personally don’t know nearly as much as I should about my father’s childhood, but it’s not because he’s a closed-off person like Cotton. He just doesn’t talk about it, and I am quite aware that the life he has had since moving to California is far more positive than much of what transpired during his early years on the east coast. But I do hope that, one day, we could have an information sit-down, just for my own sake.

In addition, I had hoped that Hulu would have posted the final fake PSA from the end of the episode on how to avoid clogging toilets, but alas, they weren’t clever enough to turn that into a stand-alone clip.

“Our best bet might be to take out the floorboards and turn this into a Flintstones car.” – Lucky

The Simpsons 20.18 “Father Knows Worst”

Now that Marge has found a sauna and has neither the time nor the energy to worry about anything, Homer steps up to the plate in taking care of the children. Unfortunately, he almost immediately discovers what we all already know — that Bart is a loser and has no future, and that Lisa is a loner and has no friends. And so, Monsieur Simpson does his best to help his two elder children advance in life.

First, he tries to help Bart get a good grade in class by taking on an assigned balsa wood project, but gets in over his head when he chooses to build the nigh impossible Westminster Abbey all by himself, and only learns his lesson after being visited by the ghosts of Geoffrey Chaucer and Oscar Wilde. (True, Simpsons writers, much of Wilde’s platitudes sound good and clever, but many of them don’t make a whole lot of sense sometimes.) And with Lisa, he attempts to get her new friends by updating her on all the cool trends, such as cell phone bedazzling parties on Facebook, but learns his lesson when he sees that his little girl is unhappy.

Of all the shows on Sunday’s Animation Domination, The Simpsons once again is the least funny, which is about halfway a sad commentary on this 20-year-old show and halfway a reminder that this Emmy winner is getting its ass handed to it every now and again. The sweetness that permeates much of this show didn’t seem to come through this week, and that’s a shame.

Good bits from the ep:

  • The Commie Swatter
  • “Ooooooh! Fire kebab!” — Homer
  • The image of Marge riding a stegosaurus on water-skis, and the fact that Homer’s mind would go there in the first place
  • “Awwww…that’s not Henry VII; that’s Henry VI.” — Homer

Sit Down, Shut Up 1.2 “Miracle’s Are Real”

Despite popular opinion, I didn’t find this ep as funny as the pilot, but goddamn did I still find myself laughing at the most bizarre instances. I don’t really understand why so many people don’t find this show funny. Are they afraid to laugh at some of the more bizarre bits of humor, like Miracle’s increasingly clothesless dancing and posing in the field while waiting for her birthstar and Pluto to align? Are people too PC to laugh at Happy’s intensely confusing mumbling? I don’t know, but it’s getting me, and it’s getting me goooooood.

When Miracle accidentally gives the entire teaching staff hemlock, the plans for the upcoming “Fair” Fair get thrown out of whack, but Acting Principal Sezno is damned if she can’t raise some money for the school in any way she can. And so the Fair Fair goes into effect only to have it all fall apart in various ways. This is made worse when Larry successfully convinces Miracle that her spirituality is no match for his science, which in turn only successfully turns Miracle into an emotional zombie, depressed and dejected. And so, of course, this has to turn into a parody of that creepy robot fortune teller in Big, a quest for Ennis to see Miracle’s breasts in any way he can, for Willard to find a home (one that’s not inside of an active church bell) and for Stuart to revert back to his former job as a prison clown (complete with song).

Disturbing on so many levels.

Disturbing on so many levels.

At this point, I don’t know if the show’s going to get any better for those who simply don’t get it, but I also don’t want to scare people off of checking out the rest of the short first season. Just open yourself up to the silliness and subversion, and understand that there are several layers of humor going on at one time instead of the assumed one level (you know, like Two and a Half Men, which is pretty much just bad sex puns). It’s true that it’s hard to relate to any character so far, but I like the general group overall. And isn’t that a good starting point?

Other stuff I laughed at:

  • The interestingly punctuated Teacher’s’ Lounge
  • “Boy, the man cannot hold his hemlock.” — Larry re: Ennis
  • “I only heard five bongs and a scream.” — Miracle
  • “Lift your head. I can’t see your chesticles!” — Ennis

Family Guy 7.13 “Stew-Roids”

Aside from the depressing fact that Joe’s son Kevin just happened to randomly die in Iraq while he was gone from the show over the last few seasons, and FG‘s continual insistence that killing pets is funny (IT’S NOT, YOU JACKASSES!), this was the second almost drop-down funny episode of Family Guy in a row. While Chris gets She’s All That-ed by the popular Connie, which in turn puts Meg into an even lower social standing at James Woods High School, Stewie decides to pump up his muscles when Joe’s infant daughter beats the crap out of him. Unfortunately, this leads almost immediately into steroids, which gives the show’s writers every opportunity they can to use every single musclehead cliché they could think of. I hate to say that most of it was funny simply because it was true, and that it was coming out of a baby’s mouth, but sometimes that’s all it needs to elicit a guffaw from yours truly.

Disturbing on so many levels.

Disturbing on so many levels.

True, it’s tough to get a laugh for doing a Buffalo-Bill-in-SilenceOfTheLambs bit with Chris when Kevin Smith beat you by three years, but you can always make up for that by having Stewie, huge muscles newly deflating, using his muscle flaps as wings to parody Rocky the Flying Squirrel. It’s the silly things in life, folks.

Other guffaw-eliciting yokes:

  • Meg’s bag lunch: bread crust, an orange peel and a picture of Lois eating a turkey leg
  • “You look like Lou Ferrigno’s poop.” — Brian
  • Paul Sorvino and Chazz Palminteri starring in the film Distracting Trumpet
  • “I like what you’re doing with your boobs.” — Peter

American Dad 4.17 “Every Which Way But Lose”

Another Steve-centric episode, another mild success. When Steve, as he often does, wants to spend more time with his dad, he joins the football team and have his dad coach, only to suck major hairy balls and get cut from the team. And so, with Roger’s help (and Roger’s disguise as Coach Buttermaker in The Bad News Bears), Steve and his ragtag group of misfits train in order to take on the undefeatable Wolverines and finally get Stan to cry. (Because how many times has Stan gotten Roger and Steve to cry? Too often.) They stink out loud as a team, though, and so Steve and Roger figure they can at least prove themselves by “spoiling” the game and winning on their own terms. Unfortunately, when Stan finally loses the match, he feels he has no other choice but to commit suicide. (As he is unable to cry, this is the only way he knows to deal with shame, or as called it, getting the emotions out through his throat.) But Steve is a perpetual loser, and so he is able to teach Stan to finally cry.

“That’s what life is — losing and crying.” — Steve

Meanwhile, Francine is hard at work baking pies for the upcoming fair, only to find that the mysterious woman she keeps losing to is actually Hayley in disguise, betraying her confused notions of feminism in the 21st century. (“Mom, it’s not what you think. I’m…cooking meth!”) This plot doesn’t really give too much other than having Roger describe how awful each pie is. (I believe I heard something about gerbil meat.) The storyline does, as it does on AD, end quite suddenly and with a one-word wrap-up, though, when Roger wins the competition and admits that he’s been competing against them secretly for years.

Not one of AD‘s best, but a solid effort.

Bits! Funny! Here!:

  • “Dad, you can’t really expect a non-Korean to place above ‘cobalt.'” — Steve on his platinum medal at a recent chemistry competition
  • “A sturdy groin is the lynchpin of victory.” — Stan
  • “Yes, I’m crying! He hit me with a chair!” — Roger
  • “Hey Steve, before the game, how many ears did you have?” — Roger

The Husband:

Now it seems that we have four shows to write about on Fox Sunday night, and all of them are funny, respectable and worthy of discussion. But I don’t want to overload you or this site with a bunch of black text (what? Me overwrite? Never!) and am sure you’d probably want me to get into the meat of it. But in case you’re wondering up front, I thought Sit Down, Shut Up was extremely funny, so much so that I even rewatched it yesterday on Hulu.

But now, let’s jump right into it.

King Of The Hill 13.14 “Born Again on the Fourth of July”

The Fourth of July celebrations in Arlen, Texas are fast approaching, and Hank and his buddies are in it to win it. Meaning, it’s finally time they showed up the a-holes a few blocks down (a group known for their ridiculously opulent fireworks thanks to their leader being a firefighter) with their own celebration of this country’s birth. Not everyone thinks they can stack up.

“You rednecks are as useless as a bucket of armpits!” – Kahn

But Hank is distracted. Why? Because Bobby has become so lazy, he can’t even muster up the energy to find his dress pants and go to church, choosing instead to take money out of Peggy’s wallet and order a pizza. This simply will not do, and despite some reservations, Hank allows Lucky to bring the misguided young boy to his own particular church.

“A church is a church no matter how much lucky makes it sound like a restaurant.” – Hank

Bobby’s mind is quite spongelike, though, and so he immediately takes to the overwrought spirituality of Lucky’s church, one that takes biblical implications and misreads them without considering the subtleties and changes to be made in our modern society. Bobby especially takes it upon himself to destroy all false idols, including the gigantic papier-mâché Uncle Sam that Hank and his buddies were to use for Independence Day.

As the show draws to a close – ABC hasn’t made any further advancement in buying up the show for next year, so this may be it – KOTH is easily reminding us what is so great, funny and loveable about this show. It’s about real characters with real problems, and while the rest of the Fox Sunday night lineup may be often funnier, its absurdity sometimes distances its viewers emotionally. KOTH has never suffered from that problem, even if its portrayal of conservative Texan life couldn’t be further from my own living experiences. Has anybody come up with a save-our-show campaign for this, even if it’s been on for over a decade?

“If he can see through fire, he can probably see through dark.” – Dale

The Simpsons 20.17 “The Good, The Sad and the Drugly”

When Milhouse takes the blame for a school prank he and Bart concocted (“Take him to the big house…where he lives.”), Bart considers becoming a better person when he falls in love with Jenny (voice of Anne Hathaway), a beautiful and goody-good fifth grader. But by the end, Milhouse finally learns to stand up for himself and Bart finds that he can’t be a good person without lying to those around him.

Meanwhile, Lisa is assigned a project to report on what the world will be like in 50 years, but when she plugs in a few numbers and hypotheticals, she learns that there may not be a world only five decades away. After reporting on her findings, the school decides to put her on a new medication, Ignorital. If you saw our last post on 90210, you’d know that I’m not entirely happy with this general pop culture consensus that taking behavioral medication is completely bad, but at least this episode made it much funnier and took on, specifically, the zombification that is assumed to come with taking something akin to Ritalin. While on Ignorital, everything Lisa sees turns into a smiley face, including blood and puke, and these images alone make up for the show’s own ignorance about behavioral psychiatry.

Other funny stuff from the episode:

  • Where the “Y” was (on Willie’s head)
  • “In 15 years, the vacuum will be quiet and not scary.” – Ralph
  • The fact that Ned is incapable of making devil’s food cake
  • “You can’t bleed through your nose when you have a broken heart.” – Milhouse
  • Lenny’s oddly specific speech to his dead grandma’s grave

Sit Down, Shut Up 1.1 “Pilot”

This show has about an equal amount of fans and detractors, so I was surprised to see how subversive and funny this project actually was. (It’s from Mitch Hurwitz, though, so I should have just expected it to be this way.) Intelligent, off-the-wall, bizarre and pretty damn hilarious, this is a bold slice of non sequitur humor that will no doubt confuse many but delight others.

A satire on high school comedies, as well as prime-time cartoons, this remake of an Australian show follows the exploits of several teachers and administrators at Knob Haven High School in Florida. (Even the name Knob Haven makes me giggle.) In the first episode, we learn that Larry Littlejunk (Jason Bateman) is hopelessly in love with the vapid flower child/Christian Miracle Grohe (Kristin Chenoweth), that the Knob Haven High football team is in dire need of a win (especially since, as the characters point out, it’s the pilot), Assistant Principal Stuart Proszakian (Will Forte) is given steroids that actually turn out to be librarian Helen’s female hormone treatment, Acting Principal Sue Sezno (Keenan Thompson) has to fire someone to support the new budget, etc. etc. etc.

Look at those things swing!

Look at those things swing!

The two characters that stand out so far is Ass Principal Stuart (not only because I think Will Forte is hilarious, but simply find his character’s design to be so goofily interesting) and Miracle (Chenoweth, a devout Christian, gets major props for being in on the joke that Fundamental Christianity doesn’t always mix with the public school system). Besides, they’re the two characters who get to say “You man!” in as many funny ways as they can. Happy (Spongebob himself, Tom Kenny), the school custodian, is also nonsensical enough to make me laugh for no real reason.

The fourth-wall breaking didn’t bother me in the slightest, and I was happy at how adult many of the jokes were, showing that there is indeed room for more “mature” humor on network TV. (Suck on it, PTC. Your concept of squeaky-clean television is more offensive to me than any problem you have with Family Guy or Nip/Tuck.) Keep it coming, Hurwitz clan.

Some good lines:

  • “Happy sad!” — Ennis Hofftard
  • “Do you have to dance to my kegel tape?!” – Helen Klench
  • “Why didn’t I sign up for the Internet when I had the chance?!” — Willard Deutschebog
  • “Can’t fire anybody who keeps kids from porno.” — Sezno

Family Guy 7.12 “Episode 420”

A rare mix from post-revival Family Guy, this yes-on-marijuana-legalization episode was both provocative and funny, and even if it’s definitely NOT humorous to nonchalantly stab a cat several times for no good reason, the rest of the ep more than made up for that instance of NOOOOOOOO!

After Peter accidentally kills Quagmire’s new cat, James, Peter gets pulled over, but even though he’s covered in blood, he is let go. Unfortunately, the cops find a baggie on Brian’s person and send him to jail.

“So, Brian, did you do any hard time, or hardly working? … Penis.” – Peter

When he gets out, Brian decides to change Quahog and puts through a petition to legalize marijuana. No matter where you stand on its legalization, certain facts cannot be denied, many of which Brian mentions. (The falsity behind why the herb became illegal in the first place, the propaganda about its untrue dangers, those animated anti-drug ads with the dog are really stupid, etc.) Culminating in FG‘s second musical sequence based on Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (following “I Have James Woods”), the town learns that “Everything is Better with a Bag of Weed.”

Truly, everything is better with a bag of weed.

Truly, everything is better with a bag of weed.

But when Carter’s business starts to be affected, he makes Brian a deal he can’t refuse — if he chooses instead to speak out against legal bud, then Carter will publish Brian’s novel. Brian accepts, but then is devastated to learn that his book does not sell one copy.

I think that the closer people get to the hemp/marijuana culture, the more they understand that its dangers pale in comparison to alcohol and tobacco, and that if treated with moderation, there really isn’t anything to worry about. But if that’s not your bag (in the figurative sense), then fine. Live and let live.

Funny bits from the episode:

  • Quagmire showing his kitty the Mary Tyler Moore company logo (a mewing kitten), which I have definitely done with my cats
  • Busting on both Baby Mama and Rocketeer, even though I thought the former was funny and the latter is one of the most awesome movies of the 90s.
  • “No! Those are my Diet Rites!” – Carter
  • Peter’s monologue regarding both Harold & Kumar GotTo White Castle and How I Met Your Mother.

American Dad 4.16 “Delorean Story-An”

Stan and Steve don’t seem to be bonding as much as they probably should, so Stan finally sucks it up and takes Steve on a quest to find the final part of the Delorean Stan has been rebuilding for years now — the passenger door. Going on a cross-country quest, they band together in order to beat another Delorean completist going for the same door.

Not a whole lot to write about, no, but it was a very touching and very funny episode, one of those American Dads I’ve been waiting for this season to show the haters that not only is this show remarkably funny, it also has a great big heart.

(And, of course, it can be extremely bizarre, demonstrated this week by the B-story in which Francine, Klaus, Roger and Hayley try way too hard to have an adventure of their own, leading to my favorite line of the night: “Your gibberish got me punched in the boob.” – Francine)

Other good lines from American Dad:

  • “Bet he’s having an affair with one of those self-storage whores.” – Roger
  • “Is that a story? No. It’s an addiction.” – Roger
  • The gas station called Gas of the Mohicans
  • “I like Criss Angel. He freaks my mind!” – Roger
  • Steve: You don’t know how to blow a bubble?
    Stan: Well you don’t know how to make love to a woman!

The Husband:

I’m sorry to say it, but it hasn’t been a very good two weeks for Animation Domination. The only episode I unabashedly liked was King Of The Hill (which focused almost entirely on a verrrrry supporting character), then about half of an American Dad and a third of a Family Guy. The rest had their moments, but something just seemed to be in the water over at Fox and all the offices and buildings where they make these shows. I’ll just get last week’s KOTH out of the way, pretty much.

King Of The Hill 13.13 “Nancy Does Dallas”

When Dale’s wife Nancy breaks a silly but attention-getting newstory at Arlen’s local affiliate, Dallas takes notice and invites her to become an anchorwoman with them. And Dale couldn’t be happier, even if this means she’d be hours away for days on end making her dreams come true.

“Come on, you’re a genius at making something from nothing. You made Joseph.” – Dale to Nancy

Arriving in Dallas, Nancy notices the major strife between the male and female lead anchors Gwen and Wade, and tries to exploit this hostility as much as she can.

Gwen: I hate that man.

Nancy: I always thought you and Wade were having an affair.

Gwen: We are. It’s good for ratings.

Unfortunately, Nancy gets so in over her head with ego and douchiness that it’s rubbing everybody the wrong way, and when she drunkenly collapses off of a parade float, it’s curtains for her. This is fine, since Dale, now unsupervised, is wreaking his own special havoc on Arlen, resulting in him nearly setting his own house on fire. But when Nancy finally returns, it becomes clear to their neighbors that while Nancy does a good job at keeping Dale on a tight leash, he has his own power over Nancy, her drinking and her ego.

This episode also had the best quotes of all seven episodes I collected for this write-up. Here are some of the ones I jotted down:

  • “Breakfast race!” – Dale and Joseph
  • “That wasn’t even a story. It was just a bunch of ‘ifs.'” – Hank
  • “Nancy, your prison fan mail is about to quadruple!” – Dale
  • “Security breach! Joseph, sniff the bags.” – Bobby
  • “Dale, you giblet-head!” – Hank
  • “It sure is great that you’re home, and not just for fire-retardant purposes.” – Dale to Nancy

Now onto the lesser eps, grouped via show.

The Simpsons 20.14 “In The Name Of The Grandfather”

When Homer forgets to show up at the retirement community’s father/son day, Homer learns of Abe’s very own bucket list and decide to follow up on one: to revisit Tom O’Flanagan’s Pub, where Abe had one of the best days of his entire life. Problem is, Tom O’Flanagan’s Pub is in Ireland, so the family jets out to the Emerald Isle to fulfill this wish. Unfortunately, Ireland is no longer the quaint village-driven country of yore and instead has been yuppified, including the presence of rhyming Yuprechauns. The bar, however, still exists, but it hasn’t been patronized in ages (despite having cabbage on tap). When Abe and Homer share a good drunken night with Mr. O’Flanagan, they wake up the next morning having discovered that they bought the pub while intoxicated, so to keep business up they allow the now-illegal practice of smoking inside bars, attracting all those patrons who feel cheated by the recent law.

I’ve spent some time in Ireland (three times to be exact), and there was definitely a noticeable difference in spirit between my second and third time visiting wherein the law was passed. I do not smoke, and I do not appreciate it as a lifestyle choice, but I just always associated Ireland with smokey bars, and something just felt off.

In a bar once I met this guy Dewey. And he bought me, like, 14 beers. And he told me that he was from Ireland, so I lived with him 10 years.

In a bar once I met this guy Dewey. And he bought me, like, 14 beers. And he told me that he was from Ireland, so I lived with him 10 years.

Unfortunately, the episode just kind of sputtered along, and other than the remarkably esoteric send-up of the Academy Award-winning film Once (“Stop buying pianos for my wife!”) and the amusement I had in recognizing that The Simpsons had no freakin’ clue what the Guinness factory actually looked like, it was pretty much a bust.

Some quotes:

“It’s like getting a backrub from an orgasm.” – Carl re: hot tub

“Lousy old man, making me look up at an airplane…” – Homer

“So it’s our syntax you’re criticizing!” – Irish cop

The Simpsons 20.15 “Wedding For Disaster”

What could have been a very sweet story goes awry when the show takes a page from that really bizarre Marilyn Monroe-Ginger Rogers ensemble film We’re Not Married when Reverend Lovejoy realizes that, due to some legal mumbojumbo, several of the ceremonies he blessed were always invalid. This would include Homer and Marge’s second marriage, and so the two of them decide to throw a third wedding, this time pulling out all the stops. But as Marge begins to turn into a Bridezilla, Homer begins really resenting her, to the point where he doesn’t even show up at their wedding.

Ah, but he’s actually been kidnapped and put into a Saw-like torture room, where he has to do such tasks as get to the key in the center of a hot sauce lollipop. Meanwhile, Bart and Lisa track some clues, including a keychain initialed “SB,” to Sideshow Bob, who for once has nothing to do with tormenting the Simpsons. Turns out, it’s just Patty and Selma Bouvier playing a trick on Homer, but when they look on, via a security camera, Homer read aloud his written vows to Marge, they relent and let him go.

The wedding stuff was nice, but the rest was far too haphazard and/or introduced to late to be either clever or properly referential, and so it’s another mostly laughless episode.

I also wonder how many people got all the Bing Crosby jokes in regards to the Presbyterian pastor who came to town and acted as a catalyst to Lovejoy’s story. Hint: rent the best picture winner Going My Way.

Family Guy 7.10 “FOX-y Lady”

Michael Moore jokes are so 2004, and jokes about handicapped ducks are so…never. And that’s pretty much all this episode was about.

First, Lois gets hired as an investigative reporter at Fox News, and aside from a not-bad Ann Coutler slam and Brian doing a pretty piss-poor job at vocalizing the country’s true problem with the troubling network, we didn’t get much. It was interesting to find out, however, that Michael Moore and Rush Limbaugh are actually both simply characters created and acted out by Fred Savage (among many other celebrities I did not write down), and thus Mr. Savage’s bizarre second run of his career (or if I counted that show Working, this may be his third career run) continues down a line of strange “underground” comedy such as this and episodes of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.

Meanwhile, now that Lois is affiliated with Fox, Peter and Chris decide to create their own animated sitcom for the network, which becomes the poorly animated and unsubtle Handiquacks, featuring such characters as Red Heinie Monkey, Col. Tushfinger, Poopy-Face Tomato Nose and Bitch Duck. When South Park created the show-within-the-show of Terence and Philip, it was a way to hit back at the critics who called their show poorly animated and vulgar, showing them what a truly shit-animated and vulgar show looked like, and that in itself was a bold statement to make. Handiquacks is no Terence And Philip, though, so the point was completely lost amidst the dumbness.

Okay, there was one incredibly funny moment, when everybody around town is screaming, and we cut to Adam West sitting on a park bench.

“Aaaaaaaaa…I have to get all the A’s out of my body. Aaaaaaaaa…”

Family Guy 7.11 “Not All Dogs Go To Heaven”

Atheism and its relation to religion is a tough thing to deal with and even harder to turn into a proper narration, so I wasn’t surprised that FG ultimately failed to explain itself and its concept of secularism. Me, I’m baffled at how misunderstood atheism truly is. Religion does not corner the market on morality, and despite the fact that I do not believe in a god(s), that does not mean I believe in nothing. That’s nihilism. I believe in the goodness and spirit of my fellow man and have an optimism about the human race and its own concepts of morality, and I don’t need to worship somebody to get that done. I don’t need to reread a book hundreds of times to do that. But you wouldn’t know that from this episode, and so I consider its base-level understanding of the atheism-religion battle to be completely unimportant and pretty much dumb.

But as Meg and Brian go through that argument, one-third of the episode is hilarious. That would be Stewie’s story, where he gets so huffy about not being to ask Star Trek-related questions at a sci-fi convention that he teleports the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation into his bedroom and tries to continue along his own line of questions, only to realize that the entire cast is immature, silly and continues to harbor 15-year grudges against each other.

LeVar and I were going to pool our tickets together to get the fuzzy troll pencil topper!

LeVar and I were going to pool our tickets together to get the fuzzy troll pencil topper!

(I also must point out that Gates McFadden, a.k.a. Dr. Beverly Crusher, taught a class on clowning my sister attending during her time at USC, a fact I’ll never tire of telling people.)

And this section had a great variation of visual jokes (the unknown-to-me Denise Crosby getting shot after one line) and great lines.

Stewie: Hey, did you hook up with Whoopie Goldberg on the show?

Patrick Stewart: All the time.

“Look at me! I’ve got girl boobs!” – Patrick Stewart

Too bad the Stewie-with-TNG story was so short. I would have watched a two-parter just about that situation. But nope, my wish was not fulfilled.

Some good stuff:

  • The bevy of 90s references for a show more known for its influx of 70s and 80s references. This would include name-dropped Dan Cortese as well as a short bit regarding Calvin & Hobbes.
  • “Why would he wear these?! Who would make these for him?!” – Peter after looking through the LeVar Burton TNG shades, which turned every person he saw into a KKK klansman.
  • The inexplicable live-action ending with Adam West and Rob Lowe.

American Dad 4.14 “Bar Mitzvah Shuffle”

Here’s the episode that I like half of. To be fair, I actually liked the central story quite a bit from a plotting perspective, but can admit that it wasn’t necessarily very funny. And since this is a sitcom, that’s sort of an issue with which we shouldn’t have to deal.

When Steve learns that Debbie, his chubby girlfriend, is starting to have eyes for the ridiculously egomaniacal Jewish peer Etan Cohen (voice of Seth Green), he decides to try to ruin the kid’s bar mitzvah.

“I like my women like I like my dreidels – bottom-heavy.” – Etan

(I was going to make a point as to why they decided to choose the name Etan Cohen, like the screenwriter of Tropic Thunder and Madagascar 2, who is also not to be confused with Ethan Coen of the Oscar winning Coen Brothers, but then I noticed that the real Etan is one of AD’s producers and a former writer. Just another weird in-joke, I guess, like Neil Goldman over on FG.)

It was an inside joke all along . . .

It was an inside joke all along . . .

The manner in which Steve, Roger and Snot go about to destroy the bar mitzvah, with its Ocean’s Eleven references (and pretty much any heist movie post-Rififi), was pretty ingenious, involving several switches and a nasty double-cross by Roger (who just wanted to put on a silly accent but wasn’t allowed to.) But unlike most Steve-centric episodes, there were very few great nerd references or Roger non-sequiturs, so I just can’t in good conscious give it a positive review.

American Dad 4.15 “Wife Insurance”

Despite the genius Amy Sedaris doing not one but two voices in this episode, it was another blah episode from a show I desperately love, but also desperately want it to return to its peak sometime midway through season 3. When Stan gets lost during a mission, Francine is completely devastated, until Stan returns home (thanks to a fellow spy who can get out of any predicament by seducing women with a verse of Marc Anthony’s “I Need To Know”) and devastates her in his own very special way – by telling her on Valentine’s Day that he has a back-up wife, his dentist Meg, who he lined up years earlier just in case Francine kicked the bucket. To get back at him, Francine decides to make Stan’s spy friend her back-up husband, resulting in many confused hearts and a brutal bit of hand-to-hand combat later on. (And somewhere in the middle, the handsome spy pushed Stan out of a moving plane, who survived when he landed on the World’s Biggest Falafel.

Other than some quick bits regarding the return of Steve and Rogers TV detective duo Wheels & The Legman, as well as a the reappearance of Reginald the CIA koala, not much was very funny about the ep. And once again, this is a comedy, so that’s an issue. Stan’s stories especially this week have been more desperate and bizarre than laugh-inducing. Maybe somebody should sideline him until they find a story that really works, like in s3 when he traveled to Heaven, and we learned that Jim Henson isn’t dead so much as stuck in the Phantom Zone with Kermit.

The two lines I liked from this episode, one severely tasteless, the other punny but funny:

  • “In two hours I can have a dead baby stuffed with heroin planted in your mom’s car.” – Steve
  • “My heart has a cavity that only you can fill.” – Meg the dentist

The Husband:

The Simpsons 20.13 “Gone Maggie Gone”

The Simpsons decided to go into full-length-episode movie reference mode this week and ended up with a neatly plotted but somewhat empty episode. Combining the similar nuttiness one would find in movies such as National Treasure and The Da Vinci Code (and, of course, the book of the latter, which is pretty much just the movie but without Tom Hanks’ hairdo), it lead Lisa on a quest to find Maggie, who through a series of circumstances disappeared at a Catholic church. (Never mind the title being a reference to the Dennis Lehane novel and film Gone Baby Gone, which, aside from having a missing child, had nothing to do with the episode.

But how did Maggie get there? Well, Marge looked at an eclipse head-on instead of through a camera obscura and temporarily blinded herself, and so she has to be bandaged up for two weeks. The rest of the family have to do all her chores for her, but when the kitchen is overrun with rats (with a momentary Ratatouille cooking sequence), Homer goes to buy some poison, bringing Maggie and Santa’s Little Helper along with him. But driving back home, the dog and the baby begin fighting over a Life In Hell doll and some candy-colored poison (“What is it with kids and candy-colored poison?”) made Homer crash his car off of a bridge. As the car flies through the air into certain doom…

“Why did I bring a baby and a dog to the poison stooooooooooooooore?!” — Homer

Landing on solid ground, Homer tries to get himself, Maggie and the dog across a body of water, but there’s only enough room in an abandoned boat to bring two at a time, much like the common riddle with the fox, the hen and the chicken feed. In the distance, Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel is experiencing the same problem, until the fox eats the two other items.

“Well, the puzzle done puzzled itself out.” — Cletus The Slack-Jawed Yokel

When Maggie, during Homer’s solution of the riddle, ends up by herself in front of a church, she is picked up by a nun and brought inside.

Phew…so that’s why she’s there, and that was the funnier part of the episode.

Lisa, meanwhile, goes to find her, and discovers that she must go through a series of word problems and Rube Goldberg devices to find Maggie, all while unraveling the mystery of the “Gem,” an item that the nuns need to bring a new era of peace to the world. Lisa, through her own cunning as well as help from Skinner and Comic Book Guy, learns that she may, in fact, be the gem, and goes to the church to reveal herself. But she had misread a clue, an anagram that could have said either “Lisa” or “Maggie” depending on how you solved it, and finds that Maggie is the gem child. But as the sun hits Maggie and peace comes to Springfield, a blind Marge bursts into the church, having a mother’s instinct as to where her child is, and is unwilling to let her child be used as a spiritual conduit. She takes Maggie and the family home, leaving Bart there to be the gem child, but when the sun hits him, the walls begin melting and fire bursts from the walls.

I did not expect to write as much as I did on this episode, so I guess that’s a sign that I liked it more than originally reported. Yes, I liked the story just fine, but the humor, the actual laugh-out-loud humor, was all in the first act, and as I’m not the biggest fan of either National Treasure or The Da Vinci Code (I’m kind of morally opposed to non-children’s books that have five-page chapters), the rest of the episode was just one extended gag, clever but tedious.

Other funny bits from the episode:

  • The mocking of Ed Begley, Jr.’s environmentalism, despite the fact that I agree with everything he stands for
  • “Wolves are taking all our women!” — Homer’s reaction to a Tex Avery cartoon
  • “I’m not an albino. I just use a lot of sunblock.” — Smithers

King Of The Hill 13.12 “Uncool Customer”

Peggy, upon visiting a music store desiring a cassette of the new Michael Bublé album, discovers that she hasn’t kept up with the cool trends for about 20 years now, and sets out to find a place in the new millennium. And what better place than with the hip, trendy mothers of the cotillion class Bobby convinced his parents he’d like to attend. And oh, are they trendy. They have names like Kat Savage, give their daughters hip boy names like Michael and frequent hidden wine bars that needs passwords. Much to her delight, they take a liking to Peggy.

“You’re fun. You say what you think. Like you’re already drinking.” – Kat

Soon, she is struggling to keep up with all the “cool things,” from purses to vacuum cleaners, while Bobby follows her around also trying to find out how to be cool, as he has a major crush on Kat’s daughter Michael. Soon, Bobby is doing the best he can to keep up with fashion statements, even though his baggy, sagging jean-phase is about ten years too late.

“How about you wear pants and I think of them as pants!” – Hank

When Peggy and Bobby are deemed worthy enough to attend Michael’s party, they show up looking like Kid ‘n Play, thus ruining the party. But when they happen upon Kat’s room, it seems like that of a crazy person, as she maps out her struggle to stay trendy above all else. Kat comes in and proclaims how difficult it is to keep up with the times (e.g. she visits 142 blogs a day) and how it completely wears her down.

“I’ve even done some streetfighting.” – Kat

Finally, she admits that she loves Peggy because of how uncool she is, which has in turn allowed Kat the ability to let loose of all her “coolness” and just be herself, which concludes with her watching shitty sitcoms with Peggy at Chez Hill.

I think Peggy cribbed this outfit from Tyra Banks, actually.

I think Peggy cribbed this outfit from Tyra Banks, actually.

Meanwhile, Hank doesn’t want anything to do with the cotillion (no surprise there), so he goes to see what’s up at the old polygamist compound that has now been turned into a restaurant. Turns out that the sandwiches are delicious, but the seating is community-style along very long benches.

“This table smells like a diaper, and this is still the best meal I’ve had in years.” – Hank

Hank tries to get over the seating arrangements, but he soon begins overhearing conversations that are simply TMI and none of his business. (This episode’s main example? Women talking about birth control.) When he brings the gang to the restaurant to indulge in their meatloaf sandwiches, they stake out a private four-top and rush to it in its tiny turnaround time.

“That pregnant woman was fast, but we wanted it more!” – Dale

Still, Hank can’t take this untraditional restaurant, and so he accepts the fact that it is not for him. However, the sandwiches are so good that he’s willing to take a hit in the wallet and pay somebody to bring him his sandwich.

I’m starting to really gravitate toward Peggy’s stories, perhaps as I get older, as I can relate to them more than I could Bobby’s ten years ago. I’m nowhere near as culturally clueless as her, nor am I close to as old, but I appreciate her effort to be a better person, or at least a more outwardly cool person, which is pretty much a struggle for anybody. But as I am no longer of “party” age and I vastly prefer coming home after work and watch television to grabbing a beer at a noisy bar, I get it. Life gets in the way, and that may not be such a bad thing.

Family Guy 7.9 “The Juice Is Loose”

I can understand why the show decided to put a disclaimer at the beginning, claiming —true or false I am unsure — that this was a “lost episode” that took place in the fall of 2007, as the focus of the episode, O.J. Simpson, is now in jail for non-murder-related charges, but it really didn’t make this lame episode any funnier.

After Peter and his friends are left to look after the kids, they nearly destroy the house with a pillow fight-turned-fistfight while Stewie accidentally locks himself out on the roof. Peter distracts Lois and all of us with an extended rehash of the Conway Twitty joke from a few seasons ago (it was more strange than funny the first time ’round, so I felt pretty damn cheated by this 3-minute cutaway) to ease the tension on him. At the dinner table, he discovers an old winning sweepstakes ticket from decades earlier that entitles him to a round of golf with a celebrity, who just happens to be O.J. Simpson.

Despite protests from his family and friends, Peter decides to go through with the game of golf — it helps that he doesn’t even remember, you know, the Trial Of The 1990s — but soon becomes suspicious of O.J. and tries to get him to confess, going to the golf game wearing a wire. O.J. discovers the trick, though, but instead of killing Peter, he convinces him that he was innocent, and living the past 14 years of his life being thought a killer despite being acquitted has turned him into a lonely man.

Pete brings him back home to see his family and assures everybody that O.J. is a human being just like everybody else, but when the town of Quahog hears that an alleged murderer is in their midst, they form an angry mob and make way to Spooner Street. There, O.J. and Peter convince the mob that he is not a bad guy, and everybody apologizes and begins living in peace…

…Until O.J. stabs three townspeople and runs away.

So, an old joke that really doesn’t have any bite left and an unfunny three-minute cutaway? Not one of FG‘s brightest moments.

Some good bits, however:

  • The Robert Mitchum film Out-Of-Shape In-Shape Guy In The 50s
  • “We’ll stay in, pop some popcorn and watch Jimmy Kimmel try.” — Peter
  • “You know how much mustache cream costs?!”

American Dad 4.13 “Jack’s Back”

When Steve joyfully informs his father that he has signed them up for a father-son bike race, he learns Stan’s terrible secret — Stan doesn’t know how to ride a bike. (Stan has a lot of terrible secrets, doesn’t he?) As his criminal father was never around, he never learned any of the things a young son is to learn, including car mechanics.

“Now it’s making a black tinkle out of the hoozy-wuzza!” — Stan on an oil leak

This is okay, since Francine has her own things she simply cannot deal with (i.e. she doesn’t like spumoni, because while it’s ice cream, it sounds like pasta to her), but this doesn’t stop Steve from wanting to reunite his father with his own father. But after a bit of research, he finds out that Pappy Smith is in prison, trial is soon approaching, and he needs a good character witness. So Steve is allowed to bring Stan and the elder Smith camping, but Stan, never having been taught how to fish, begins shooting into the lake.

You're just mad because you can't ride a bike!

You're just mad because you can't ride a bike!

After a series of incidents, Steve discovers that Grandpa Smith really is a bad guy and not the misunderstood misanthrope Steve assumed he was, but he wants Steve to learn a good lesson and decides to turn himself into the court house and be slapped with a “guilty” verdict, all while Stan rethinks his own position on his father-son relationship and surprises himself by ferociously riding his bike across town to the tune of Queen’s “Bicycle.” (Any excuse to use this song is okay by me.) But Stan is too late, and his father goes off to jail once again.

In the extremely bizarre B-story, Roger lets Hayley intern at his bar in the attic, but the lazy Hayley doesn’t like doing any of the actual work. And so the two one-up each other with costumes and assumed personalities, being anyone from a labor board supervisor to members of the Armenian mob to a time-traveling half-cow-half-person from the future to finally each other, where Hayley finally “Duck Season/Wabbit Season” tricks Roger into signing her internship form. Hey, if Roger isn’t going to be in the A-story, I’m fine if all of his B-stories can be this strange and funny.

Funny stuff. A little lightweight. I’m still waiting for AD to get back its sharp satirical edge, but this was definitely an improvement over the last couple weeks.

Other funny!:

  • “I just Mr. Belvedered myself. Google it.” — Roger (To wit, Christopher Hewett, who played Mr. Belvedere on his eponymous show, had diabetes. Put two and two together.)
  • According to Steve, taking a #4 is two men taking a poop while holding hands
  • “I have to air it out at night or else I get eye mushrooms.” — Pappy Smith about his usually eyepatch-covered eye.

The Husband:

Ahhh…the first Sunday in months where we got a new episode for each of Animation Domination’s four shows. How’d they stack up? Quite well, actually, and I’m all the happier for it.

The Simpsons 20.12 “No Loan Again, Naturally”

I guess the showrunners of King Of The Hill are either more prescient than those behind The Simpsons, or their episodes get made more quickly, because the former beat the latter into getting an episode about the housing crisis to air by quite a few months. It doesn’t really matter, because while both shows concern the plight of the middle class in fly-over America (yes, I know we don’t know technically where The Simpsons takes place, but it’s always felt Midwestern to me), they took somewhat different approaches.

After throwing yet another Mardi Gras party and putting the finances through their already poorly mortgaged house…

“Oh Mardi Gras, oh Mardi Gras, you see a lot of boobies.” — Homer singing to the tune of “Oh, Christmas Tree”

…742 Evergreen Terrace now has no choice but to be foreclosed and then sold to the highest bidder during an auction, thus putting the Simpson family out on their ass. But as a last minute reprieve, Flanders listens to his Protestant (but not Baptist) heart and buys the house, letting the Simpsons stay there and letting them pay him back the $101,000 whenever they get a chance. But now that Flanders is the landlord, it is his duty to fix every single one of the house’s problems at the beck and call of the Simpsons, something they abuse almost immediately.

Sorry, Homer!

Sorry, Homer!

Fed up, Flanders tries to kick them out of the house in order to sell it to somebody more worthy and less deadbeat-y, but Homer has a trick up his sleeve. Since you can’t evict anybody from a house over a certain age (65, was it?), Homer lets Grandpa live in the house. Grandpa is very happy to be used, but when the Simpsons go out for a good time, they come back to find all their crap on their lawn. (Grandpa had succumbed to living next-door with Flanders, who fed him “people food.”) But Flanders, in his great big googlyooogly heart, knows that no matter how horrible the family is, he just can’t be the one to kick them out, so he accepts them back, warts and all.

Like I said, this episode was a little late to the gate, but I also think it might have been their best story so far this season. It was more relatable than most of the shenanigans they’ve recently been put through, and while I don’t demand that The Simpsons always be more down-to-earth, I’m thankful when they are.

Some other good bits from the episode:

  • “Boy, where are my zydeco records?!” — Homer (I know it’s not meant to be that funny of a line, but coming out of Homer’s mouth it kind of is)
  • Woman: What are you, some kind of talking dog?
    Moe: Uhh…yeah.
  • “Learn to make soup from rocks and grass.” — Mortgage Broker to Marge
  • Homer: he’s nailing something to our door.
    Lisa: Is it theses?
  • The DVD that Homer puts in to distract his grandfather: Dwight D. Eisenhower talking about golf

King Of The Hill 13. 11 “Bwah My Nose”

It seems that for Hank, he has been the shame of Arlen for decades now. But why? Well, back in high school during the big football game against their rivals the Mustangs, Hank let his fellow Longhorns down by getting injured and thus losing the game. And ever since that day, the former Mustang team has come around time and again to harass their archenemies with taunts and teases (even though, technically, they won entirely on field goals). Hank, no longer willing to be mocked, decides to get the gang together for one final, deciding game – although it’s going to be flag football, as each member of the team is well into middle age.

He goes far and wide to find his fellow teammates, including one who was so shamed that he moved to Phoenix (where it’s even hotter than Texas!). Now that the team is together, seemingly nothing can stop them. Even Bill is feeling some of his former glory as a ball player.

“Stay out of the Bill-dozer’s way!” – Bill

But when Bill gets a little too into a practice scrimmage, he accidentally breaks Hank’s nose, and his bloody appearance shocks his family.

“I don’t have to beat up someone’s son, do I?” – Bobby

This leads Hank to do something completely against his belief system – go to a plastic surgeon. But he is amazed to find that, with the surgery, he can also correct something he felt was always wrong with his nose – one of his nostrils. And his new nose, as he considers it, is beautiful.

“I don’t care if they had to use part of your butt. You look great.” – Bobby

But for perhaps the first time ever, Hank is now obsessed with his looks, and so he finds himself avoiding the football at practice, simply to protect his glorious new nez. He decides that to save face, he pretends that his nose is still sensitive, and that he can no longer play in the game. But Peggy knows when her husband is lying, and Bobby (who claims that he uses “I have the cramps” as an excuse to get out of gym class) knows a faker when he sees one. They bring him into the plastic surgeon to get him to fess up, but Hank throws a hissy.

“I love my perfect, perfect nose. Is it so wrong to be beautiful?” – Hank

But that sentence is enough to make Hank realize that he’s being a namby-pamby, and so he rejoins the team, and even breaks out of a vicious tackle to score the winning touchdown. Finally victors after all these years, the gang decides to give the Mustangs a taste of their own medicine and taunt them at work, because even if they are successful businessmen, they are losers in the eyes of the football gods.

A funny, decades-later look at the same general concepts behind the brilliant show Friday Night Lights. And it’s always fun to see Hank turn into something so stereotypical, as whenever he says anything like “is it so wrong to be beautiful” as if a teenage girl would say it, I fall down laughing. I’ve been with his character so long that I guess it comes with the territory.

But the best quote of the night?

“Come on, dad, you can do it. You may not be able to run, but you can flee.” – Joseph to Dale

Family Guy 7.8 “Family Gay”

FG takes on a controversial issue, whether homosexuality is nature or nurture and if it really is a choice, in a completely bonkers way and yet somehow does so with a weird mixture of vulgarity and understanding. (The answer: well, if you’ve ever actually treated gay people with any kind of respect and understanding, you’d know the answer. Now to get off my soapbox…)

When Peter is sent out to simply buy one can of beans, he comes back from Louisville having just bought a defective racehorse for the house. Why? No reason, really.

“Peter, I don’t think it’s wise to have a brain-damaged horse as a house pet.” — Lois

Just like The Simpsons, though, the first act of FG has progressed to be less and less about the actual story and simply acts as a catalyst, so when the brain-damaged horse ends up doing $100,000 of damage at the racetrack before dying, Peter has to pay off the family’s debts by being a guinea pig in some scientific experiments.

The Seth Rogan gene also makes you schlubby, but inexplicably attractive.

The Seth Rogen gene also makes you schlubby, but inexplicably attractive.

What kind of experiments? Why, genetic testing, of course. After receiving genes that turn him into a squirrel and then Seth Rogen (not at the same time, although I’d love to see that), he is injected with the “gay gene,” turning him into a ragingly effeminate and silly version of himself. While he goes overboard with the not-entirely-fair gay stereotypes (prancing, making muffins, being ridiculously sexualized), his family tolerates his new personality, until Lois is distraught to find that he just won’t have sex with her anymore. Brian decides to send him to a “straight camp” with very questionable tactics, until they all realize that they love their Peter, gay or not, because he clearly isn’t making the choice for himself.

But when the gay gene wears off after only 2.5 weeks (right in the middle of Peter having an 11-way), Peter comes running home to his family, who would love him no matter what.

I’m not sure if 100% of FG‘s audience is going to get some of the sarcasm of this episode, and some would say that its remarkably silly approach to the subject might actually do some damage within the brains of those not paying attention, but I’m just hazarding a guess, really. It was a particularly funny episode, and maybe I’m just underestimating some viewers. Prove me wrong, but if you came out of this episode simply thinking that gay sex was gross, brother, you missed the point.

A whole lot of random funny, comin’ at ya:

  • The Dragon’s Lair reference during the show’s first few minutes was excellent, so esoteric I had to explain to my wife what the hell it meant
  • “Is Paul Sorvino standing behind me?” — Stewie re: hard-breathing brain-damaged horse
  • How many times has Cleveland’s house been destroyed while he’s in the tub?
  • The racehorses all being named after canceled FOX shows is a recycled joke from FG‘s first episode back from cancellation, but it was still damn funny. (Especially the dig at still-on-television-for-no-discernable-reason ‘Til Death.)
  • “Penis for your thoughts.” — Peter
  • The Lifetime movie: Meredith Baxter in Raped By A Clown
  • “Take back your f@#&ing horse!” — Mort

American Dad 4.12 “Roy Rogers McFreely”

If we’ve learned anything from this show over the years, it’s that hell hath no fury like a Roger scorned. (Remember what he did to Steve when simply told, “You snooze, you lose?” I rest my case.) When forbidden from having him simple coke-and-grenadine concoction of a Roy Rogers, Roger takes on the persona of Roy Rogers McFreely, a cowboy-hat wearing son-of-a-gun, and becomes president of the Langley Falls homeowner’s council and proceeds to turn the monotone and rigidly structured community into a mess of self-expression, wild paints jobs, bight motion-sensor lights and…oh god…

“Oh no, Steve — non-native ornamental grass!” — Stan

For once in his life, Stan is being put down by The Man instead of simply being The Man, and can no longer take it. Finally able to relate to the plight of his daughter Hayley (although without the hippieness, the drugs or the shitty Ghostbusters II body paint), Stan bands together with Steve, Hayley, his gay newscaster neighbors, and old man and an agoraphobe communicating through a Charlie’s Angels speakerphone, to take to the streets and secretly do some “constructive vandalism” in order to return the community to its former glory.

It’s a battle amongst giants, and Roger won’t take this insubordination lying down, especially not with his band of fighting Mexicans, but he is no match for a backed-into-a-corner-while-wielding-a-firehose-from-the-newly-installed-hydrant, so Stan is ultimately the successor. Silliness abounds.

I have to agree with the AV Club that some of the episode’s points had already been covered just fine so far this season, but if it can make me laugh, I care far less. It was a good night from each show, and American Dad capped it off nicely.

Funny stuff! You know you wanna:

  • “Absolutely not. I’m zombie-dancing with my son.” — Stan
  • “Humans are talking!” — Francine to Klaus before breaking his fishbowl
  • “Sergei don’t need to go on another treasure hunt.” — Sergei
  • “To the bathroom, princess style!” — Roger
  • The elementary school Spanish-level lyrics of the Cilantro song that Stan hates so fervently.

The Husband:

The Simpsons 20.10 “Take My Life, Please”

The Simpsons comes back with a bang with their sweet new HD intro, complete with good new material mixed in with the classic stuff we’ve known for 20 years. As far as the episode is concerned, though, it’s a little lacking. (Perhaps the thing that made me giggle the most was in the opening couch gag, simply by showing how a couch may look when it tries to sneak away from its family.)

Springfield is celebrating the newest addition to their central wall of fame, a man who Homer knew mostly as the man who defeated him as class president back in high school, leading to a very long life of success and happiness. Homer isn’t pleased, though, and tries to find any way he can of taking this man down a peg.

Homer: Tears of a clown.

Lisa: He’s not crying, and he’s not known for clowning.

Upset that he could have had this man’s life and not his own sad, poor existence, Homer mopes and mopes and mopes, but Lenny and Carl come to him with a secret they’ve been holding onto for decades, one Homer could probably use. It turns out that Homer may have technically won the high school election, but the principal had it out for him and asked Lenny and Carl to bury the box with the true results, promising that he will write a shitty letter of recommendation for the both of them so they don’t have to go to college and will do what they actually want, which is to stay in Springfield forever and have no ambition.

“Screw this up and it’s Carnegie Mellon for the both of you!” – Homer’s principal to Lenny and Carl

Lenny, Carl and Homer retrieve the box to see that Homer was, in fact, the winner, and so we start a way-too-late-in-the-episode story where the Simpsons go to a local Italian restaurant, where the cook has a special kind of sauce that acts as a view into alternate timelines, so they can see how Homer’s life could have gone differently. He still manages to work at the power plant as well as end up with Marge (although there is a side-track involving a cheerleader as well as a nice reference to Artie Ziff, the Jon Lovitz-voiced Marge-stalker), but ends up never having his children, which is enough to let him know that his life is okay the way it is.

Funny but poorly structured, this is an episode that the naysayers may point to as evidence of the show’s declining quality, but I just think it was a slight misstep that ended up having some good emotional impact at the end. Sometimes Homer just needs to cherish what he has and not always strive for the impossible, and as long as the show keeps us emotionally invested in the Simpsons themselves, I don’t see this show faltering too much.

Other bits from the ep that I liked:

  • The high school poster that said “Moe: Still Available For Prom”
  • “In this reality, I am not gay. Hubba hubba!” – Bizarro Patty
  • “Ohhhhh…look at who thinks he’s smarter than sauce.” – Homer to Bart

King Of The Hill 13.9 “What Happens At The National Propane Gas Convention In Memphis Stays At The National Propane Gas Convention In Memphis”

In an extremely funny episode that takes Hank down a few notches, Buck is made an honorary member of the National Propane Gas Convention’s “Hall of Flame,” asking Hank to come along and be his right-hand man…or a sherpa, which he has trouble describing:

“…one of those goat men who keep you from freezing to death.” – Buck

Hank is worried that Buck, as usual, will be his usual drunken self and dishonor their business by acting a fool, but with Peggy’s help – a self-described “expert fun-blocker” – everything seems to be going fine at the convention in Memphis. Buck is behaving himself just fine, until he discovers that he has a bastard son who is also in the propane and propane accessories game.

Instead of this turning into a bizarre plot-twisty episode – I was certain that the bastard son would have been a con man for some reason – he instead gets Buck to lower his guard so they can make up for all their lost time, which pretty much means boozing and whoring, so much so that Buck keeps missing all the meetings he is scheduled to attend.

After trying to get him to focus, Hank finally has enough, and with an emphatic cry…

“You have not honored propane!”

…Hank gets wasted and ruins his introduction to Buck’s induction into the “Hall of Flame,” screaming obscenities and vomiting on some high-level propane wives. This is not like Hank, and I was surprised to see him be the one to lose his shit so thoroughly, but there’s only so much he can do throughout the years to help Strickland Propane be the successful business that it is.

This website does not honor propane.

This website does not honor propane.

Peggy, worried for her humiliated husband, guilts Buck and his bastard son into going to the convention board, who are meeting to decide on Hank’s punishment, where they set up the board members with some nice booze and whores and then take some incriminating pictures. Thus, Hank is off the hook.

I’m never wild about the episodes that take viewers away from the inner sanctum of the Hill family, but I appreciate the glimpse into Buck Strickland’s life. (This is also the first time I actually noticed that Stephen Root did his voice, I’m that distant from his character.) But I especially like the amount of ridiculousness thrust upon his character this week, with great line after great line:

  • “Who wants breakfast whiskey?!”
  • Buck: “Son, what’s the bad part of Memphis called?”
    Bastard Son: “Memphis!”
  • “Damn! My breath stinks of blood and peppermint!”

Not much of a heartwarming episode to be sure, but holy hell was it funny.

Family Guy 7.7 “Ocean’s 3.5” (it seems I’ve been calling this season six all year, which apparently is wrong)

Family Guy returns not with a gigantic, hilarious bang, but still a nice re-entry into its irreverence, its far-too-long extended gags and its extreme silliness. I can’t ask for too much when it comes to this show (especially post-revival), but if it makes me laugh, I’m game. I lost emotional investment with this show long ago, so I’m pretty much just in it for the comedy. (This is not to say that I don’t enjoy the occasional dramatic episode, such as when Peter goes back in time and fucks up his relationship with Lois, but FG has nothing on King Of The Hill or The Simpsons in this particular department.)

I can't believe Bonnie has been pregnant for seven seasons, let alone six.

I can't believe Bonnie has been pregnant for seven seasons, let alone six.

When Joe and Bonnie finally have another baby, they find that their hospital bills are so high that Joe has to take another job, so Peter and the gang do their best to raise money for him. First, sell spiked lemonade to children (fail). Second, beg Pewterschmidt for money (fail). They finally band together, Ocean’s Eleven-style, to steal money from Pewterschmidt, but Peter finally has a change of heart at the end and decides not to steal the money. (This is, of course, having gone through many security doors, including one that involves Cleveland’s uncanny vocal impersonations, one with Quagmire’s penis, and one that asked what the most unattractive male name is, which is apparently “Keith”…huh?).

Stewie, meanwhile, gets a glimpse of the new Swanson baby and falls in love, going so far as to try to compose a song for the young female, leading to my favorite quote of the night, more out of delivery than anything else, from Brian to Stewie.

“You sound like an unbelievable douche.” –Brian to Stewie

Stewie finally creates a wildly bizarre music video set to him singing Bryan Adams’ “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You,” which while far too long to sustain any kind of credibility storywise, does manage to cram in references to at least 25 other music videos. Unfortunately, whenever FG goes into extended joke territory, I think of something I once read about The Simpsons:

A few years ago, The Simpsons decided to shorten their episodes by, I think, two minutes, and one of the producers proclaimed that this was a disappointment since with two minutes they technically lose one entire sub-plot. With FG’s crazy extended jokes (which are way longer than two minutes for the most part), I can’t help but wonder how much they could have done with the time they spent being ridiculous. I always try to say story over jokes, but with FG’s stories as of late, I’m not sure how good of a trade that would be.

As usual with FG, the best bits and lines come out of nowhere, so here’s some of the ones I wrote down:

  • “Babies come out of the butt, right?” – Peter
  • The fact that the lame-ass Two And A Half Men is filmed in front of a live ostrich. I don’t really know what that means, but it was funny
  • Yes, Alan Colmes is Droopy Dog
  • “Now we don’t have any money, and our feelings are hurt.” – Cleveland
  • While I didn’t think the quick-to-air Christian Bale meltdown extended joke was entirely necessary, Peter’s retorts were funny enough to get me by, especially “Jeez, you punch your mother with that mouth?”
  • Cynthia Watros did a voice? Libby lives?

American Dad 4.10 “Family Affair”

Well, Roger the emotional terrorist, has struck the Smith family again. While lying about his involvement with a local theatre company (which has been closed for years, despite having a guy who still sweeps up in front just cuz he feels like it), Roger has actually been seeing another on the side, in essence cheating on the Smiths. Everyone is viciously hurt by this revelation, including Steve (who Roger accidentally calls Scotty) who starts destroying whatever he can get his hands on, complete with the most pathetic scream I’ve heard in a long time.

“Go back to your whore family!” – Francine

They take Roger back, only to find that he has a slew of families to feed his addiction, and so they completely abandon him. But he finally comes back once again with the explanation that all this comes from his pre-Smith family, who abandoned him at a gas station so many years ago, thus emotionally scarring him forever.

When I write out the plot, as with many AD plots, they don’t sound altogether great, but like the wonderful King Of The Hill, it’s the energy this show puts into the stories and the characters that gets me coming back time-after-time. The AV Club made a good point that despite some of AD’s lows, it might be the most consistently funny show of Animation Domination, not only with its resistance of FG-like insanity but its insistence on staying true to the characters. Roger is a selfish prick, but he’s a lovable one, and the family accepts him for what he is.

But Klaus, oh Klaus, even when he gets his own story, it sputters and dies, and this week was no exception. Where the fuck was that plot supposed to go and why was I supposed to care?

Some good lines/noticeable awesomeness:

  • “You defiled my moment. Right in front of my wife.” – Stan
  • “Want me to tell you how a broom’s like a phallus?” – Janitor
  • The always-welcome presence of Will Forte
  • “You know, there was a time I was afraid of uncircumcised penises.” – Stan

Okay, the final bit about the CIA koala with the brain of a homeless man was, in fact, FG-like insanity, but goddamn was it funny. Maybe if I show that to all the Simpsons and FG fans out there, they may come back to this show after abandoning it after the first season. Truly inspired, much like the Gilbert Grape squirrels or the terrifyingly spot-on Francine-and-Roger Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? homage a few years back.

The Husband:

The Simpsons 20.7 “Mypods & Boomsticks”

“Your heart is blacker than your turtleneck!” – Comic Book Guy

In a plot that I liked better when it was on the short-lived offensive humor fest The War At Home, Bart becomes friends with a Muslim kid (Bashir) from Jordan that has just moved into the neighborhood. Homer, ignorant about the ways of Islam, misunderstands several situations and becomes convinced that Bashir’s father is a terrorist set on blowing up the local mall. (In fact, he is actually a demolitions expert and the Old Springfield Mall is scheduled to be destroyed.) Homer, trying to save the mall, accidentally blows up a new bridge that goes out of the Duff Beer plant, and so his ignorance comes to affect him in the most literal way possible – less beer for him. In the end he puts up his “Pardon My Intolerance” banner – which he apparently uses often – and everything is fine in Springfield.

Lisa, meanwhile, becomes obsessed with the world of Apple – excuse me, “Mapple” – when Krusty, frustrated by this newfangled technology and the state of modern music, gives Lisa a MyPod while at the Mapple Store. (Which is apparently full of items “fueled by dreams and powered by imagination.) In the episode’s funniest moment, Bart grabs a microphone and dubs over a video of Steve “Mobs” (Get it? Get it?!) and lets all the customers know that simply buying shiny expensive shit doesn’t make you cool. Not even Comic Book Guy.

I grew up as a PC guy, but I’ll admit that I do have a Powerbook G4 (and also a Dell laptop, so I’m set), am now on my fourth iPod (the first was a first-gen hand-me-down, the second a lunky second-gen one, the third a Video iPod that got stolen and now a 120g classic) and am looking into getting an iPhone after a couple years of just trying to avoid the hype. That said, I think that people get a little too connected to their Apple merchandise and are blinded by the promise of coolness, when in actuality they’re overpaying for something that is technically available from other companies with just as much promise. That’s the thing about advertising – it makes people stupid. I still think that one day the monochromatic silver demon machines are going to take over the world.

All in all, a middle-of-the-road episode worth a few laughs but missing that Simpsons charm that creates the show’s best episodes.

King Of The Hill 13.7 “Straight As An Arrow”

“If I can reach just one child through candy and matches, it will all be worthwhile.” – Dale

Continuing its tradition of taking on the big topics, this week’s KOTH tackles a very important American issue – what George Carlin would refer to as the “pussification” of America. When a new family moves into Arlen, Hank is thrilled to help the new father, Wesley (voice of Andy Richter), start up the Arlen chapter of the Straight Arrows, a Cub Scouts-like organization for boys. Hank is dumbfounded when he discovers that Wesley plays everything far too safe with the children, never letting them play outside, building fake stick-and-paper fires, letting them have the occasional bit of sugar or allowing any kind of boys-will-be-boys activities. Hank will have none of this, so he gets the troop to himself and allows them more “dangerous” activities (because, you know, learning about a little bit of pain is more educational than living in a damn bubble), but when he loses track of two of the troop’s members, he enlists Bobby to find them using his wits.

As usual with KOTH, I’m sort of in a middle ground with a lot of these topics. I was a Cub Scout and I do appreciate the occasional hike and played many sports when I was young. Now, however, I am definitely an indoors person who makes his living (or at least a living right now) in front of a computer, but I do appreciate the fact that I was able to get cuts and bruises growing up, as they in turn made me stronger. But I also understand that children need a guiding influence, a rope that lets them go out far but not too far. Hank is a good father and he understands that, but every once in a while he needs a reminder that he is not the be-all and end-all of fathers or men.

Much more fun than paper guns shot at real deer.

Much more fun than paper guns shot at real deer.

American Dad 4.7 “Phantom Of The Telethon”

“Prepare to meet your Mecca!” – Stan

A goofily funny, yet underwhelming, episode of AD that spoke to the silly parts of my brain and not much else. When the Democrats in office decide to cut the CIA’s torture budget (using that money to teach inner-city kids how to read), Stan decides to steal Roger’s idea and do the first ever CIA Telethon to raise the necessary one million dollars to cover the budget.

The telethon and its bits seem to be going just fine – the two gay anchorman reenact the slow-motion volleyball game from Top Gun, Stan introduced a funk number by saying “And now…black music” – until the Phantom strikes, changing portions of the script and releasing the apprehended terrorist the CIA was planning on torturing. But who is this Phantom of the telethon? Well…Roger. Duh.

Wreaking havoc and playing not-so-menacing music on a Casio keyboard, he is hellbent on destroying Stan’s telethon for stealing his idea in the first place – it turns out Jerry Lewis had also stolen his telethon idea – and ends up causing more problems than the grudge is worth. By releasing the terrorist and in turn his bombmaking skills, he has doomed the entire building of people, so Stan pleads with the viewing audience and finally raises the necessary one million dollars, giving him the ability to quickly torture the suspect (behind a raised curtain) and getting the code that would stop the bomb.

This was not one of AD’s best episodes, but it was a solid thirty minutes that continues to make me feel baffled as to why more people don’t like this show. It’s funnier than most of the sitcoms on television and is often a source for some of the wildest, most absurd humor out there. That’s tops in my book.

Note: Family Guy was a rerun this week, but it wanted to reiterate that, without question, bird is still the word.

The Simpsons 20.6 “Homer And Lisa Exchange”

“Buy a cup or I’ll punch my sister!” – Bart

When Bart and Lisa’s lemonade stand is shut down by the Springfield Department of Commerce, Lisa goes in for a permit, only to emerge from the building as a crossword puzzle aficionado. Becoming an expert in no time at all, she decides to compete in the citywide crossword tournament (“Fun for nerds”), while Homer bets on her. During the final round, however, he bets against her and wins – her competitor tricks her into delay her start – and when she finds out about this betrayal, she decides to change her name to Lisa Bouvier (Marge’s maiden name). Homer, realizing his disloyalty, contacts New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz to put a hidden message into one of his puzzles, apologizing to Lisa.

“Will and Shorts. Two things I’m no longer allowed to change myself.” – Grandpa

Homer’s B-story involves him starting a business in being hired to break couples up, which he is very adept at doing. (Even returning guest star Scott Thompson hires him to break him up with his lover.) Soon, however, Homer begins having nightmares about all the couples he broke up, as well as all the babies that will never be born because of his business.

The episode was plenty funny, but I definitely prefer full stories told with heart. I honestly take story over laughs anytime – a strange position, I know – so Homer’s mid-episode shift from businessman to gambler seemed very out-of-place.

Still, I got one very big laugh this week when Lisa told Homer that the crossword tournament was “no holds barred.”

“Surely holds are barred!” – Homer

King Of The Hill 13.6 “A Bill Full of Dollars”

“Usually the only people to talk to me in stores are older gay men who have dropped their standards.” – Bill

Our failing economy was the focus of this week’s episode, making me very curious in how the show’s producers choose to run their episodes in terms of its order. The script was written and the voices done several months ago, but the episode couldn’t have been more relevant (even more than the “No Child Left Behind” episode last week) to today’s current state. Since the only real serialized throughline so far this season has been Luanne’s pregnancy, her non-appearance in this episode meant it could have been slated for anytime, and that the producers may have just chosen to shift this one earlier in the schedule to remain topical. Or not. The show is that good about what it does.

Peggy wants a big flat-screen TV, but doesn’t have the scratch. Taking a page out of Minh’s book, Peggy watches a Jim Cramer-type show and follows his advice to invest money in products the average American would be interested in. So she stalks the most average person she knows – Bill – and figures out all the things he likes, good or bad. (This would include such things as chocolate-covered potato chips and a shitty Italian restaurant chain whose specialty is the “spaghetti sandwich.”) Soon she is raking in the big bucks, but Hank guilt trips her, Minh and Dale into telling Bill that they’re using him to make money. He is pleased that anybody is interested in him, but since he is now aware that he is being followed and studied, he can no longer make proper consumer choices.

Bill, having lost his friends’ attention just as quickly as he got it in the first place, decides to watch the Jim Cramer-type show and invests all of his savings into one “sure thing,” only to see it fall apart right before his eyes. His friends decide to pool all their resources, including selling Peggy’s new flatscreen (no worries, because Bobby was terrified by it) and, essentially, give Bill a bailout. He doesn’t need it, though, because he has just declared bankruptcy and is going to be okay.

Save this motherfucking show!

Save this motherfucking show!

See what I mean? Dead the fuck on topical. And, as pointed out by this article series’ one commenter, the show did not make a final judgment on how to deal with extreme economic failure. KOTH is all about avoiding the clear-cut answers, a show that deals in both liberal and conservative politics and social issues, and its timeliness is something to be celebrated. Please pick it up when Fox is done with it, ABC. I don’t remember television comedy that well before KOTH.

Family Guy 6.6 “Tales of a Third Grade Nothing”

“I would love to hear from a lawyer who represents a gazelle.” – Stewie

An odd, confusingly off episode that basically furthers the point I made in the Simpsons review – gags without a good plot are desperate and problematic. FG has been getting better about this, but this week seemed to take a step backwards, equaling some of the worse post-revival episodes.

Peter, upon finding out that his company’s “executive bathroom” is actually a helicopter flight to a Jurassic Park-like island where you can pee in peace, vows to become an executive at the brewery. Succeeding in his quest, he is about to be promoted, only to be told that he actually never finished third grade and must return, Billy Madison-style, to the grade that gave him so much trouble. There, he basically acts like Peter, mocking those around him and failing miserably at doing any kind of actual work, but is finally given the chance to prove himself – he knows bigger words than any of his peers, and if he wins the regional spelling bee, the teacher will let him pass. Peter is indeed a good speller – for a third grader – and does especially well if the word in question is used in either a dirty sentence or a libelous sentence. (Technically, they should have said “slanderous” sentence, but I guess nobody felt like checking the meanings of those two words.)

Meanwhile, Brian and Frank Sinatra Jr. are noticing that the Quahog Cabana Club, where they perform together, has very little business going through it, so Stewie decides to take matters into his own hands and turn the club into “pLace,” a hip new club with hip young people. Everything is going swimmingly…until Andy Dick shows up and destroys the club’s reputation.

I don’t really know what went wrong in the writers’ room, but somewhere along the line they thought it would be better to reference a two-year-old YouTube clip – the Stewie-falling-while-stomping-grapes gag – than to put any real effort into either story, and that’s pretty bothersome.

I did, however, get a kick out of the scene where Quagmire shows up to the elementary school, only to discover that he has three illegitimate children (perhaps more) who look exactly like him.

American Dad 4.6 “Pulling Double Booty”

“No wiener! No wedge! Just feathers!” – Roger

All right! A Hayley episode as promised! We haven’t seen here much so far this season, and now she finally gets her own…awkwardly creepy and unfunny episode. American Dad is very good at finding the extreme humor in base-level tastelessness, but something really found the uncomfortable chord and struck it again and again and again. Maybe it’s AD’s sudden insistence that dying or dead animals is extremely funny (it isn’t) or maybe I just couldn’t get behind all the implied incest, but it just all felt very wrong. Not bad wrong, just…awkward wrong.

When Jeff finally dumps Hayley (so far, it has always been her), she goes on a rampage, as she is wont to do when bitter, destroying a great deal of the Langley Falls Mall. Stan decides to get her another boyfriend, one that would be perfect for her as well as permissible by him, so who better than…his C.I.A. body double. Pleased as punch that his daughter would be so enamored with such a perfect specimen as a version of himself (albeit with a Southern accent), Stan feels like he’s the best dad ever. That is, until Bill, the body double, begins to make the moves on Francine. (Which is easy, because she can’t tell the two apart.) Stan tosses Bill out on his ass, but they don’t want Hayley to go on another rampage, so Stan decides to pose as Bill and try to be a big jerk to Hayley so she will dump him instead of wanting his man meat.

You see? Not really funny so much as awkward and uncomfortable. Seeing a man turn down the viciously sexual advances of his daughter is really not something that elicits too many guffaws, and AD has forgotten that audience groans are not the same things as laughs.

In the B-story, Steve discovers that he has a great ability to tell the difference between male and female chicks (as in little chickens, not bimbos), so he and Roger begin working at a chicken hatchery. When Steve discovers what becomes of the male chicks, though, he decides to smuggle out as many of the little roosters as he can so they can live and be free. Unfortunately, Roger intervenes and begins a cockfighting rooster death match (not funny) and has a major blowout with Steve.

Just…no. I’m sorry. I don’t consider myself prudish to any degree, but I’d like to think I know what is funny and what is just being tasteless simply for the sake of being tasteless. I think this is the type of show AD’s detractors see in their heads when asked if they like the show. Stick to something better, like the two-part “Stan of Arabia” or the Log Cabin Republican episode. Those are incredible and funnier than any of the current episodes of the other three shows Sunday night on Fox.

The Husband:

The Simpsons 20.5 “Dangerous Curves”

“Why do married women always have husbands?” – Alberto

Puritanical fans of The Simpsons tend to get a bit snippy when the writers try to retool Homer and Marge’s past, as evidenced by the online hoopla generated as a result of last season’s 1990s grunge-centered episode and many others throughout the show’s second decade of existence. For some reason, the fans like to hold onto the show’s early inferences of their relationship, the specific decade/era in which they met and wooed each other, and are shut off from any variation. The thing is, The Simpsons has always played with time, and just like the James Bond series, everyone is perpetually the same age and act as though whatever year the episode is airing in, that is the show’s present era. The backgrounds and themes change, but the characters never do. So when we are presented with another one of Homer & Marge’s flashbacks stating that they were still dating only twenty years ago, it doesn’t bother me that technically in the “real world,” the Simpsons were already a broadcasted family on The Tracey Ullman Show.

In other words, get over yourself, because the show has always fucked with timelines. That’s the entire joke.

In three parallel stories, we see H&M (whoa…so it’s Homer & Marge that started that store!) in various stages of their relationship; 20 years earlier during their let’s-never-get-married-so-we-don’t-destroy-our-own-love when they first meet the Flanderses, five years earlier when they nearly destroy their marriage due to near-sex with other people they meet at a party, and the present where they return to the scene of both of these memories – a cabin motel – while on a family trip and discover the secrets and lies they kept from each other five years earlier.

While this episode couldn’t really seem to muster up much energy and ingenuity upon jumping through time – in other words, it was more clunky than seamless – nearly as well as something like How I Met Your Mother (see such episodes as The Platinum Rule, Game Night or First Time In New York), it still did a very good job tugging at the heartstrings, letting us know that, just like in politics and American history, marriage has to be based on at least a few lies.

King Of The Hill 13.5 “No Bobby Left Behind”

“I got that disease where you wake up strange places drunk.” – School Principal

This week, Tom Landry High Middle School focused on a very important social issue, one that we all know about, one that is very controversial and one that we all seem to have an opinion on – the “No Child Left Behind Act.” When the high school finally learns what this act actually means – no, teacher, it has nothing to do literally forgetting where children are – they worry about their impending test score, so they bring in a child education specialist who decides to put all the troublemaking/lazy students in a “special class,” which would make them exempt from taking said government test. Treated like kindergartners and enjoying it, the students forget what school is really about, and only with Hank’s intervention – no son of his should ever be called “special”! – do they get reinstated as normal students. Even with their music montage of learning and studying, though, the students score lower than ever before – leaving the principal out of a job (hence the above post-fired quote) – but that is just the way of the world sometimes. Good test scores need to be earned.

As with any good King Of The Hill episode, the social implications are put front-and-center, allowing you to ponder the pros and cons of any truly American issue. The “No Child Left Behind Act,” in theory, is meant to be a force of good, but like many of Bush’s policies over the last eight years, good intentions don’t get you everywhere. It’s so easy to get around the act through loopholes and deceit that the short-sightedness of the act is always on full display. You’re worried that your school will test low and thus get less funding/attention? Drop the lowest-ranking students. Problem solved, and now there’s an even bigger problem in its place.

Education is a tough topic with no easy solutions, but when all is said and done, the best thing for a student to do is to care about his schoolwork, his homework and his growing brain, and that’s a good of a start to fixing the problem as any.

Family Guy 6.5 “The Man With Two Brians”

Abraham Lincoln comments on his neighbor’s overgrown front lawn.

Neighbor: Yeah, I used to have a guy for that. Dick.”

Upon trying to save Peter from a Jackass-inspired stunt – he’s not the only one, as my friends and I had our own shitty Jackass wannabe do-stupid-shit-and-film-it group by the name of TOFU, a.k.a. Total Operation Fuck-Up – Brian strains his back and almost drowns, making everybody realize that he is getting old. Eight years old, in fact, which is 56 in dog years. So the Griffins decide to get another dog, New Brian, who much like Robot 1-X in the Futurama episode “Obsoletely Fabulous” is a perfect companion, but Brian takes a page out of Bender’s book and is nothing but jealous for the seemingly perfect dog.

Yes, but how perfect is New Brian? Let’s list the ways:

  • He wakes Peter and Lois up by gently playing a flute
  • He plays guitar and makes up songs about farts solely for Peter’s amusement
  • He tells Meg that she is beautiful, and then presents her with her first deodorant stick
  • He loves Meg and Chris’ hats. A lot.

Brian tries to get the family back on his side by showing footage of him as a puppy – not sure if this is a continuity error, since Peter first found Brian, homeless, when he was grown up, and I doubt that Brian had footage of himself from his pre-Griffin days – but the Griffins have their attention completely on New Brian. So Brian moves out, first to stay with Cleveland, then Quagmire.

Stewie, meanwhile, begins to really miss Brian (Stewie to Brian: “You were my douche”) and then discovers a horrible truth – New Brian has been humping his Rupert doll. So…yeah…Stewie viciously murders New Brian, throws him in a trash can and writes a fake suicide note.

(I think the last time Stewie was this violent was pre-cancellation. Welcome back, evil one.)

Another good, old-fashioned episode that didn’t go too over-the-top with pop culture references – and when they did it was something funny like Peter stupidly singing the theme song to Greatest American Hero – and no lame extended joke in sight.

Oh, there was a very lame pun in the cutaway about the awkwardness of a crocodile at an alligator convention, but my wife seemed to think it was the funniest thing in the goddamn world, so I’ll give it to the writers for spreading their humor around a little bit.

American Dad 4.5 “Escape From Pearl Bailey”

“It smells like Depeche Mode.” — Steve

I’ve mentioned before that I really love the Steve-centered stories, and this week was no exception. With the rest of the family taking a break for a week — one of the many perks of doing a sitcom via animation instead of live action — Steve helps his girlfriend Debbie (did not realize that she was voiced by Lizzy Caplan until this week) as campaign manager for her bid as class president. Unfortunately, the cheerleaders, whose top girl is the incumbent, prey on Debbie’s very large size and her other non-normal deficiencies and cost her the election.

Patriotism hurts!

Patriotism hurts!

Steve, vowing revenge, takes cues from both Kill Bill and Pulp Fiction — mostly the former — and humiliates each of the guilty cheerleaders one-by-one. The first cheerleader, he gets a buffalo to fill cover her and her convertible with poop. The second, he injects her thigh with liposuction fat. The third, he gives her herpes via lending her teddy bear to a prostitute. (Sorry, AD, I hate to call out shows on joke-stealing, but South Park did something very similar about seven years ago.) Debbie, upon learning of Steve’s horrible vengeance, decides to break up with him, as she never asked him to do any of these things.

Ah, but that “slam site,” the webpage that cost Debbie the election, was actually created by Steve’s friends who were pissed that he was ignoring them.

“They’re making puberty!” — Barry

Just as Steve makes up with his friends, word gets out that Steve was behind all the attacks, so the school turns on him and the rest of the episode turns into a miniature, high school version of the totally awesome movie The Warriors, with gangs replaced on this show by geeks, stoners and goths. (Seriously, check that movie out. Brilliant 80s dystopian badassery.) The principal even gets in on the action, being the second TV character last week to be a version of The Warriors‘ Lynne Thigpen character, guiding the predators to the prey via the PA system. (The first was Whoopi Goldberg on being a funky DJ on Life On Mars.) The school finally catches up with Steve and the gang, leading to a final Butch Cassidy freeze frame that lets us know, in no uncertain terms, how Cassidy and the Sundance Kid really fared against the Bolivian cavalry. (That is to say, not so well.)

For some reason, I really enjoy Steve’s non-sequiturs more than is probably necessary, but I feel for the kid and his neverending quest for poonanny, and am always glad to see actor Curtis Armstrong in anything, even if he’s just a voice. (He voices Snot, a take-off on his portrayal as Booger in the Revenge of the Nerds movies.) And according to Wikipedia, he’s a widely respected expert on the music of Harry Nilsson, which is something none of us really need to know, but that’s still pretty damn cool.

I know that this Sunday we’re going to see a Hayley-centered plot — thanks, Wikipedia, again, for telling me that her character’s full name is Haley Dream Smasher Smith — so I’m very glad that this season has made an effort to give each character play of focus, even if that means other characters getting the shaft for a short period of time.

I still feel bad for Klaus, though, who has only really been focused upon in two episodes — the James Bond takeoff and the one where he inhabits the body of a black man.

The Husband:

Here it is, another installment of Fox’s Animation DOOMMMMINAAAAAAATION!

The Simpsons 20.4 “Treehouse of Horror XIX”

The Treehouse of Horror episodes always tend to be my least favorite of the season save for a few good early ones – Homer’s one inspired by The Raven as well as the aliens taking over human bodies and running for president – so I never really go into them with any real expectations. The jokes are far too telegraphed and the stories never really seem to go anywhere, but I’ll admit that this week I found a few very shiny gems amidst all the bullshit.

In the first story, “UNTITLED ROBOT PARODY,” Bart buys Lisa a Malibu Stacey car for Christmas, much to her surprise – last year he gave her a box of his burps – but soon it is discovered that the toy car is actually a Transformer who turns all of her toys and all the Simpson appliances into Transformers as well, intent on doing battle with their enemies on our soil. Marge convinces the robots not to fight each other, so instead they band up and enslave all of humanity. *yawn*

The best line of the night, though, was in this third.

“Merry Christmas, dad. We bought you three more minutes of oxygen.” – Homer to Grandpa

The second story, “HOW TO GET AHEAD IN DEAD-VERTISING,” opened with a great Mad Men title sequence parody, which while very impressive will probably go over the heads of many Simpsons viewers. The story itself concerns Homer, who during a scuffle accidentally kills Krusty the Klown, piquing the interest of a group of ad men who prey on the image rights of dead celebrities (a different clause than living celebrities). They hire Homer to kill of celebrities one-by-one (George Clooney, Prince and Neil Armstrong) and give him a cut of the advertising profits. Up in Celebrity Heaven (which is different from Regular Heaven), all the dead are pissed and decide to stage a revolution back on Earth. John Lennon’s battle cry?

“All we are saying is let’s eat some brains.”

On Earth, the ghosts/zombies attack, but just before they perish the humans want to know what the one true religion is, to which Krusty replies, “It’s a mix of voodoo and Methodism.” It’s good to know where cartoons stand on that question, as South Park has more than once proclaimed that the one true religion is Mormonism, and Heaven involves spending a lot of time making shit out of empty egg cartons.

You eat the unborn???????

You eat the unborn???????

In the third story, The Simpsons take It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and turn it into “IT’S THE GRAND PUMPKIN, MILHOUSE,” replacing Linus with Milhouse. As with the original tale, all of the children are celebrating Christmas except for Milhouse, who is in the pumpkin patch waiting for the Grand Pumpkin to rise, which gets him a lot of guff.

“Your god is wrong.” – Ralph

When Milhouse’s tears mix with the soil, the Grand Pumpkin rises from the Earth, but when he finds out that we humans carve pumpkins and “roast the unborn” (i.e. pumpkin seeds), it goes on a destructive spree, eating humans and trying to kill the children. Lisa manages to get Milhouse to resurrect another mythical being, a giant turkey, who kills the Grand Pumpkin, only to turn on the children when it finds out what exactly we eat on Thanksgiving.

All in all, I’m just waiting for a regular Simpsons episode next week, and I’ll continue each year to basically ignore their Halloween episode. Does anybody still like these?

King Of The Hill 13.4 “Lost In My Space”

It’s Hank against the Internet. Noticing that a long-time propane customer is buying from a competing service, Hank discovers that it’s because the other service has been advertising and communicating with customers via MySpace. Hank, as usual an ignorant technophobe, does not see this change as posing a problem to Strickland Propane.

“Propane may be a gas, but it’s like a rock.” – Hank

Soon they are losing business, so Mr. Strickland promotes their lazy young female accountant, Donna, to a position as the assistant manager in charge of new media, as she is very knowledgeable about social networking site, viral videos and blogs. Soon, Strickland Propane’s website contains videos of its employees doing very peculiar things – humping propane containers, being drunk at parties, etc. – in order to gain a following and ultimately big business.

Hank is not a happy camper at this change of events – he’s the only assistant manager, dammit – but Peggy tries to inform him of the wonders of the Internet and the anonymity it provides.

“I’m Ted Danson online. People will tell Ted Danson anything. Kahn is manic-depressive.” – Peggy

At work, Hank refuses to blog about his personal issues, and only does so when forced to, simply writing “Donna is an idiot.” Donna’s thousands of MySpace friends gather at Strickland Propane ready to beat up Hank, but they accidentally beat up Mr. Strickland, who quickly fires Donna for all the trouble.

Ah, but Donna has changed the password to their MySpace profile and turns it into an anti-Strickland Propane site, posting angry videos of her screaming, “Death to Strickland Propane.” They can’t track her down, because when she was an employee she never bothered to update the roster, so Hank must read through all of her blogs (once a day for months) to discover her whereabouts. They finally hunt her down to a restaurant and demand that she makes the changes, so she relents and apologizes, weeping that at any job she needs supervision or she’s bound to be a bad employee. Hank educates her that telling everyone all of your thoughts is simply not the traditional way of doing things and that Strickland Propane is a family, and like a family you’re not supposed to share everything.

Once again, another very bizarre moral taught through a very relatable yet seemingly ridiculous premise. It’s a shame that Fox has decided to halt production forever on King Of The Hill – meaning that it will end some time in the 2009-2010 season – but apparently ABC has already shown interest in picking it up when that day comes around. It’d be a shame to lose this show, and I hope it can continue to at least 20 seasons. It deserves it, and I can’t imagine television without new episodes of King Of The Hill.

Family Guy 6.4 “Baby Not On Board”

In a fairly middling but nicely old-fashioned episode – old-fashioned meaning FG before it was canceled (and then returned) – Peter goes to visit Chris at work (welcome back, H. Jon Benjamin as Chris’ boss!) and, after a misunderstanding, threatens to sue the business. Instead, the H. Jon Benjamin character gives Peter a card that gives him one free year of gas, much to Peter’s delight. (One of his ideas? To fly a rocket out of orbit, complete with his goofy giggle that always seems to get me.)

The family decides to use the gas card for better ideas, so they decide to take a road trip to Grand Canyon, but they accidentally leave Stewie behind…but not realizing it until they make a side trip to New York to visit Ground Zero.

“Ground Zero. So this is where the first guy got AIDS.” – Peter

Stewie, home alone, decides to try things he never did before (i.e. that soda-induced sugar rush they showed in every single damned ad for this episode), but then realizes that he needs to work to survive, so he gets a job at McBurgertown. He is ultimately fired for stealing some of the fish sandwiches and vomiting all over the restaurant.

On the road trip, after a very unfunny extended sequence when the whole family sang most of the Bette Midler song “The Rose,” Peter accidentally crashes the car when he sees someone in another car watching television. At the train station, instead of buying tickets he buys some shower curtain rings, leading Lois to completely tell him off. His response, a take-off on John Candy’s big speech near the end of Planes, Trains & Automobiles, gets Chris, in his own response, the biggest laugh of the night.

“Hahaha…movie references.” – Chris

The family finally gets back home, and while the score to Home Alone plays in the background, Stewie realizes that despite all his issues with his family, he knows he can’t live without them.

American Dad 4.4 “Choosy Wives Choose Smith”

Stan is once again questioning Francine’s love for him when he discovers that she was once engaged to be married, but when her fiancé’s tiny plane crashed, she thought he was dead (which ultimately turned out not to be the case) and just continued on with his life, meeting and marrying Stan.

Stan tracks the man down and finds that he is a handsome Montana-based philanthropist cowboy who is just about perfect. He even births calves with John Cougar Mellancamp, who apparently also makes his guitar picks out of sun-dried cow placentas.

Not one to leave anything untested, Stan sets up a situation where he and Roger would take a small plane and fake a crash, wait on a secret CIA island and spy on her via all the cameras he left back at their home.

“I’d rather be acting crazy than feeling crazy.” – Stan

Not long after landing, however, a tsunami destroys the island and the plane, leaving Stan and Roger only a small desert island on which to go slowly insane over 90 long days. While Roger turns a bird into a hat, Stan tries to make a raft out of dead seagulls, then rocks, until he realizes that Roger is actually a great floatation device. They are finally picked up in the middle of the sea by an ocean liner.

When Stan returns home, he sees that Francine has apparently given up hope that Stan was alive and hooked back up with the philanthropist cowboy, but in actuality she was simply leading him on to show Stan that he should never question her love. (Her tipoff that Stan was actually alive? All the huge and very obvious cameras placed around the house.)

In the B-story, Steve decides to take up the cello in order to score with a fellow student.

“Lindsey Coolidge is what we call a cello slut.”

But he has worse things on his mind, as one day when he was playing with a kitten on the street, a car races by and accidentally crushes the cat. Steve tries to help but only gets his face scratched up in the process, so he decides to leave the feisty cat dying on the side of the road.

He soon begins having nightmares about the cat, so he tries again to get the kitty off the road and once again gets attacked for doing so. He can no longer take it.

“Screw you, jerk cat! Son of a whore!” – Steve

This is the point where I have to say that humor involving animal abuse is very much unfunny, unless you do it right. It’s definitely hard to watch a show poke fun at a dying cat when you’re watching television on a couch bookended by two cats of your own. In fact, we have our very own jerk cat, better known by the name of Marlowe Rasputin Douchecat Jerkmeat.

Iz on ur pilowz, prevntn ur sleepz.

Iz on ur pilowz, prevntn ur sleepz.

At his cello recital, Steve rocks his instrument and gets Lindsey’s attention, but then the kitty drags itself into the auditorium, squirming and groaning, and Steve understands, finally, that the cat wanted to be with Steve when it takes its last dying breath. Ah, but not really, for just as Steve embraces the cat, it attacks once again.

It is here that a fundamental concept of comedy comes through – that no matter how tasteless a joke or a concept, if you take it so over-the-top so as to be completely ridiculous it will become funny on its own. This is why I am surprised at how much I laughed when Steve, while fighting with the cat, decides to body slam it several times until it gives up. Like I said, not funny on its own, but AD is going at making the very tasteless remarkably funny despite the fact that you as a viewer know better than to laugh at something like that.

Back at home, Steve finds that his family has taken in the cat, where it can continue to tear out chunks of Steve’s flesh for years to come.

After last week’s dud, AD is hilarious again, and as I’m always a big fan of Steve-centered stories, I was quite pleased with his shenanigans despite the fact that it revolved around dying cats.

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