Sundays with Seth: A horse is a horse, uness it's The Rock
by Jason Hughes, posted Jan 4th 2010 1:03PM
Between The Rock's bizarre guest appearance on Family Guy, and Stan's dirty deed on American Dad, it was a strange week in the twisted mind of Seth MacFarlane. But in a twist M. Night Shyamalan would be proud of, it was Family Guy's Meg Griffin who had the most memorable stand-out moment of the night. Uncomfortable, but memorable.
We also got the first episode of American Dad in the 16:9 widescreen ratio for the first time, and they didn't take advantage of the change to make any modification to the intro sequence at all, or spotlight it in any self-aware way. I still wish last week's epic could have been in widescreen, but with Family Guy now the only holdout on Animation Domination, the whole thing feels a little weird. Shouldn't the marquee show for Seth MacFarlane be in widescreen before its offspring?
American Dad was back in ridiculous mode, utilizing the mind-switching technology that led to Klaus being a goldfish to turn Stan into a prize-winning horse. This was only made necessary because Roger was in absolutely fantastic, selfish and horrifying mode tonight. Having Stan ... service the horse, just as a joke was priceless (and incredibly uncomfortable).
Just funny, though, were all the times he ratted Stan out to Francine, each time followed up with him throwing away the wasteful food concoction he'd just made. My favorite Roger bit came when he and Stan went to see the horse whisperer and Roger hoped that it wasn't him and then was thankful to discover that he was only the real horse whisperer's secretary. The alien is so fully off his rocker, nothing would surprise me anymore.
Francine had a great moment, too. She spent most of the episode as the voice of reason, but that bimbo in her came out when Stan announced that she would get a new lawn chair to watch him drive around the neighborhood in his SUV. "I won?" she proclaimed excitedly. It's a great aspect of her character, made even better because it isn't her dominating trait -- it's too easy to just paint "dumb blonde."
But the best, and worst, moment of the night came from Meg on Family Guy. I know, I wouldn't have expected it either, but I think her joke probably silenced everyone in America who was tuned into FOX. Talk about an uncomfortable moment, but so brilliantly presented by that particular character. After Peter, suffering from amnesia, talked about how he looked forward to having sex with the rest of his family; he'd already taken Lois (more on that in a moment); I thought Chris' excited yell would be the worst that moment could get.
But then Lois explained to Peter that he can't have sex with his children and Meg lamented that she wished someone had told him that before the amnesia--
See, the concept makes you uncomfortable even seeing it here, and yet it worked in the context of the episode, and the family's subsequent reaction to Meg's attempts at humor. If this is how the under-appreciated and under-utilized Meg can be used, I say give us more of her. Not too much, but keep this kind of stuff coming.
I also wouldn't mind more bizarre cutaways like the sudden announcement that FOX wouldn't allow the airing of Peter and Lois making love, so instead we got Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson re-enacting it with Peter and Lois action figures. It was so bizarre and odd, and he looked so uncomfortable doing it, I about lost it. Live-action cutaways take the model to a whole new level.
This week, Cleveland had to learn the lesson that I wish more parents would learn: your kid may not be good at, or even interested in, what you enjoyed, and that's okay. Instead of forcing Cleveland, Jr. to be a ball player, Cleveland has to learn to embrace him for what he is ... which apparently is a math nerd.
I like that Cleveland remains a bit immature and misguided. Most sitcom dads of the '80s and '90s seemed to be just about perfect, but it's moments like the "I'm proud of you/I love you" exchange between him and Junior that make Cleveland seem more real. "Let's leave love for the ladies," he tells his son. After all, you can't let slip your masculinity even for a second. A terrible lesson, but one that makes animated Cleveland more authentic than many of his flesh-and-blood counterparts.
The sight of the hole in Cleveland's old coach, due to excessive tobacco chewing, brought back horrifying memories of an assembly when I was younger about the dangers of tobacco featuring a guy who lost most of his jaw to it. MacFarlane used it for comic affect, but I think the more serious point of the dangers can still be seen.
[You can find these episodes, plus clips and more of Family Guy, The Cleveland Show and American Dad on SlashControl.]