You’ve got a dirty mouth.
Earlier this year, Rick and Morty Season Three episode “Pickle Rick” won an Emmy for “Outstanding Animated Program” and for good reason. Granted, the ratings for Emmys continue to dwindle every year and their importance will probably me meaningless over the course of the next decade, BUT, for now, let’s pretend it matters. For all intents and purposes, “Pickle Rick” was an excellent episode. It was well-written and should be a standard bearer for the course of the next several years in terms of animated excellence joining the likes of BoJack Horseman’s “Fish Out Of Water” and numerous episodes of The Simpsons i.e. “Mr. Plow”, “Homer at the Bat”, and countless others.
Likewise, Family Guy definitely has some classics on its walls. “The Laugh It Up, Fuzzball” Star Wars parody has been getting constant requests for follow-ups, “Brian & Stewie” episodes could almost pass as an excellent season of television, with “And Then There Were Fewer” being the last time James Woods was even remotely relevant. However, ever since Seth MacFarlane has made Family Guy a part-time job with his flourishing career achievements in music, film, and television, you’d be hard-pressed to get decent Family Guy in any one season. Not to say the show’s current writers don’t knock in a few runs from time to time, it’s just that we haven’t had as many home runs in the last say five or so seasons.
It’s 2018, and Family Guy has just kicked off its 17th season. Four episodes in and Family Guy cracks a home run a week before the World Series. The episode entitled “Big Trouble in Little Quahog”, sees Brian and Stewie shrink down to the size of microscopic organisms trying to survive their new harsh environment. The episode kicks off with Stewie’s always reliable machine shrinking the best buddies in what turns into a love letter to Honey, I Shrunk the Kids that showcase the attributes that other classic episodes of Family Guy exhibit. Sci-fi, hilarious hijinks, and fewer cutaway gags allowed the writers to flex muscles that might be more tuned to THEIR strengths rather than try to work within the confines of what used to be Seth MacFarlane’s strengths. The scale that is presented for Stewie and Brian’s shrunken down world will go down as some of the best work this show has ever done, and the character designs of the wildlife (complete with a Kyrie Irving guest spot) were just as good as anyone’s in the business. The plot was as juicy as any Burger King Whopper you’re gonna eat this week and twice as healthy.
For Family Guy to regain the prominence it once had, the series has to evolve. The Simpsons continue to do just this and as such are still the talk of the town. I think we need to see fewer Family Guy episodes focusing entirely on the principle cast and instead would like to see ancillary characters get more screentime i.e. the entire cast of The Cleveland Show is at the writers’ disposal, but you’d never know it. South Park has already shown an episode this season set with Mr. Mackey as the lead and The Simpsons can just as easily grab Mr. Burns, Moe, and even the Comic Book Guy and do a whole episode revolving those characters. Family Guy needs more of that, mixed with a lot of this familiarity to give us a more balanced season instead of the same old same old.
In closing, let’s revisit the point I was looking to make. “Big Trouble in Little Quahog” is not only a sliver of Family Guy’s glory days, but it’s one of the strongest episodes of an animated TV show this year. With 2018 near death, I’m making the case for “Big Trouble in Little Quahog” to being both must-see TV and an Emmy contender.
Family Guy returns with new episodes this Sunday Night @ 9 pm ET/PT, check your local listings.