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Super-Sized Sundays with Seth: And a variety show makes ... five?

by Jason Hughes, posted Nov 9th 2009 8:29PM
Seth & Alex's Almost Live Comedy ShowFOX pushed the boundaries of their Seth MacFarlane-filled Sundays about as far as they could. It wasn't enough to have three animated series already in the lineup, but they had to give him his own "variety show" as well. They bumped The Simpsons to make room for a two-hour block of Seth madness!

But that's not all! If you watch new episodes of American Dad, Family Guy, The Cleveland Show AND the all-new Seth & Alex's Almost Live Comedy Show, we'll throw in a bonus episode of Family Guy absolutely free! The real question is... was America really ready for that much Seth?

I thought I was.

The variety show had been a mixed bag from the beginning. Seth MacFarlane is funny as a showrunner, creator and voice actor on all of his shows, but is he funny as a host? Alex Borstein -- we remember her from FOX's MadTV.

Then the variety show got some buzz when Microsoft backed out at the last minute as the program's exclusive sponsor, citing concerns about the content.

That didn't bother me because Family Guy and its brethren have always been criticized for their content. They're about as racy as you can get on a broadcast network. But, it got me thinking that maybe the variety show would really push the envelope and be something special.

Family Guy Presents: Seth & Alex's Almost Live Variety Show

I was hoping I'd like this. I'm probably a little off myself, but I love variety shows. Unfortunately, we haven't had a really good one in a long time. It takes an engaging host, or co-hosts, along with funny bits, good music and great guests. The show delivered on a fun, surprise guest. However, she actually made me even more uncomfortable.

I'm not sure if I should be ashamed that I was laughing at Borstein's interpretation of deaf actress Marlee Matlin singing Lady Gaga's "Poker Face," but I was. Family Guy has spoofed the way Matlin talks a couple of times now, and I guess the actress decided to come out and defend herself, which she did by laying some fat jokes on Borstein.

Unfortunately, rather than being funny, the whole sequence was just awkward. Credit goes to Matlin for being very convincing in portraying herself as pissed off about all of this, to the point of ripping a tablecloth off of a table while storming out. Maybe they just needed more guests.

Why couldn't they have brought out Adam West, or James Woods. There are plenty of characters on the show, and tons of celebrity spoofing going on all the time. I needed a break from MacFarlane's smarmy delivery and the flat jokes.

Really, it was about the least funny or entertaining variety show I've ever seen. Going into this, I was going to suggest that maybe FOX should have skipped the second Family Guy and give them an hour for this thing, but now I'm going to say they should have skipped the variety show altogether.

Family Guy

Sandwiching that disaster were two new episodes of Family Guy, which also makes no sense. If one of the goals of the variety show was to help FOX promote The Cleveland Show, as MacFarlane indicated, then why didn't Cleveland follow it? They could have dumped their second FG after Cleveland as further incentive for viewers to stick around. Instead, they went with the safe route.

The first episode was eerily similar to the latest installment of The Office, where Brian hooked up with a girl's mother, only to be later horrified at just how old she was and try and break it off with her. There were some funny bits in that, but most of it was pretty tired jokes about old people.

Far funnier was the Patrick Swayze tribute with Peter going into full roundhouse kick mode as a result of watching Roadhouse. They even managed a quick nod to Ghost as well. I got an extra laugh when he kicked Lois in bed, and rather than be horrified that he would do such a thing, she told him to aim for her boob.

The follow-up was a thorough examination of both Miley Cyrus and the evil monkey in Chris' closet. On the former, I always suspected she was a robot. Things got ridiculous, and the King Kong plane sequence at the end when on way too long, but I was amused when Billy Ray Cyrus decided he could make moves on Hannah Montana so long as he left his daughter Miley alone.

As for the monkey, I was disappointed, I don't think I ever wanted this character fully explored or seen by anyone else in the house. It was kind of like when they revealed Snuffleupagus to the denizens of Sesame Street. The character lost some of its mystique and charm, and the same happened with the evil monkey. I might have liked it if he'd started talking more with Chris, but proving to be a decent, if misunderstood, monkey who turned out to be a better father-figure to Chris than Peter just wasn't working for me.

At least by the end of the episode he was back to his old tricks, albeit in a new closet.

American Dad

The Smith family, on the other hand, found plenty of laughs in Stan trying to recapture his lost childhood. I love how oblivious he is to almost everything, like his shock that at 42 he would be up for a harsher punishment for vandalism than the boys. Once Steve had to take over the responsibilities of the household, it was pretty good how quickly they started aging him.

Yes, it was ridiculous that he was able to revert back to his childhood self with one slide down the slip-n-slide once Stan was released, but this is animation, so I'll forgive them. Plus, they were making a point. Speaking of Stan coming home, I about died laughing when Stan punched Roger out after walking in the door. It was funny because Roger genuinely thought that denying Stan's parole two months prior was doing him a favor. Nothing like the unexpected K.O.

The Cleveland Show

Still settling into its groove, we got a pretty entertaining episode that discussed a pretty serious double-standard that exists in our society. While Cleveland was fighting so hard for his stepdaughter Roberta to secure her virginity, and even pledge it to him in a purity ceremony, he was horrified at the thought of Cleveland Jr. wanting to stay a virgin.

It was a great mixed message, especially with him breaking up Federline making out with Roberta, and then in turn asking Federline to help Junior get his groove on. The ribbing of his friends and neighbors was also typical of this double-standard in our society, and in the end Cleveland learned that all virginity has value and should be cherished until the right moment. I felt like we should have had "A Very Special Episode" tagged before it.

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Nathaniel

I'm a week behind on this, so sorry for the late comment.

A few things: one, I'm surprised they didn't get Miley to voice herself. I'm no expert, but don't teenagers love Family Guy? And they weren't that harsh on her, just a little ridiculous.

Two, the world NEEDS a live-action Cal Johnson show starring Patrick Warburton and run by Seth MacFarlane. It would be amazing. I'm thinking Comedy Central would be the best place for it, not a network.

November 16 2009 at 1:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hugeliver

Gregory Peck in Transformers was HILARIOUS!!

November 10 2009 at 7:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
alk02g

I was completely thrown by the showing of American Dad at 7:30. missed it.

Also, I agree that it should have gone FG-Live-Cleveland-FG. there was no reason to lose that whole audience.

November 09 2009 at 11:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bubbameister33

The first Family Guy episode sucked.

November 09 2009 at 9:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Phish

P P P POKERFACE P P POKERFACE.
HAHAHAHAHA TOO GOOD

November 09 2009 at 9:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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