Sundays with Seth: Revenge, Redemption and Roger's "Precious"
by Jason Hughes, posted Feb 22nd 2010 2:00AM
This week managed to be both boring and wonderful at the same time. In fact, 'American Dad' and 'The Cleveland Show' paralleled one another in this sense. Both had very strong lead stories featuring their respective fathers and sons, and both had rather dull back-up installments featuring the daughters.
What is it with Seth MacFarlane and female daughters? The fact that he can't find anything to do with Meg has become a running joke on 'Family Guy,' but he has the same problems with Hayley and Roberta.
Did you notice anything different about Roberta this week? Did she sound a little more like Sarah Chalke than Lecy Goranson (that's a 'Roseanne' joke for those paying attention)? That's because Nia Long, who's been the voice of Roberta thus far was replaced this episode by Reagan Gomez-Preston. I know, it's almost as shocking as when Darrin went from one Dick to another on 'Bewitched.'
Unfortunately, the voice change was about the most interesting thing that happened to Roberta this week. Try as they might, they just couldn't make the storyline of her needing to "one-up" a social rival interesting. This, even though I'm a huge proponent of making someone snooty and snobby, as Ashley Tisdale's character definitely was, eat their smugness. Even Rallo's big save at the end where he convinced the hoi-polloi that he was indeed her adopted African baby wasn't enough to salvage it.
Luckily, Cleveland Jr.'s revenge scheme against his father was more than enough to make up for it. In fact, almost every bit of the main plot was entertaining. Jr.'s job search which saw him mistaken for a cow at a slaughterhouse, and witnessing first-hand the demise of newspapers (with Ed Asner as the now-unemployed editor asking Jr. if he was hiring) was funny from beginning to end.
Unfortunately for Cleveland, his son's OCD about things being neat and orderly led to him getting a job at the bar, which was great at first. But then Jr. figured out the tab the boys had been running up and ultimately deciding they needed to leave, as the bar had become too upscale for them. At that point you can understand Cleveland wanting to get his son fired.
But it was Jr.'s revenge that served as the highlight of the episode. The whole plot was so dastardly and brilliantly executed, it paints Jr. in a whole new light. This is a diabolical kid capable of impressive things. The slow shaving of Cleveland's beloved mustache was but the icing on the cake of revenge he laid out.
The revelation of what Cleveland looks, and sounds like without his mustache was a horrifying revelation. But it was nowhere near as funny as the fight the boys got into back at The Stool, restored to its original chaotic glory. After Jr. switched their regular beer with non-alcoholic brew they discovered that they don't really like one another when they're sober. I'll bet that's true of a lot of drinking buddies.
Drinking wasn't the problem on 'American Dad.' It was steroids. Particularly the ones Roger did back when he was a part of the 1980 US Olympic hockey team that won gold. Yes, that's right. Roger was on that team, and the episode had the photos to prove it. Seeing Roger drawn into actual photos from that time was funny, but not nearly as riotous as him raging out on steroids in the locker room.
The series then tied all of that together with Steve's love of 'The Lord of the Rings' film trilogy by comparing Steve's hero, Legolas, with Stan's heroes of 1980. By the end of the episode, events had transpired to turn Stan's attempts to give Roger's gold medal back to the Olympic committee into a parody of Tolkien's masterpiece, complete with Roger as Gollum/Smeagol.
The sheer thought and creativity that went into marrying all of these concepts into one cohesive story is impressive enough, but 'Dad' managed to sprinkle in plenty of hilarious moments along the way, including Roger's fall into the fires of a fake, plastic Olympic torch and his surprise biting of Stan's finger at the end, even after he'd gotten his "precious" back.
That's probably why there wasn't enough creative juices left to make Hayley's story with Reginald the koala much more than "Eh." Part of the problem for me is that I'm just not that impressed with Reginald as a character. It was nice enough, I guess, that he wanted to befriend Hayley, and it made perfect sense that she would misinterpret his chivalry as interest in her, but it just wasn't funny. Harmless enough, I guess, but when sitting side-by-side with the main storyline, it was a real snoozer.
'Family Guy' was in repeats, airing the excellent installment where Stewie and Brian travel to parallel universes meeting doppelgangers of themselves in various animated styles. Combined with a good episode of 'The Simpsons' and these two episodes, it created one of the strongest nights of "Animation Domination" we've had in a while.
[You can find clips and more of 'Family Guy,' 'The Cleveland Show' and 'American Dad' on SlashControl.]