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September 3, 2015

Sundays with Seth: Knight of Payne

by Jason Hughes, posted Mar 29th 2010 4:26AM
'Family Guy' - 'Brian Griffin's House of Payne'Bringing in fresh voices from time to time on a veteran series can really energize things. That's what happened this week, as Seth MacFarlane's former writing assistant, Spencer Porter, stepped up to the big leagues and scripted one of the most unique episodes of 'Family Guy' in a very long time. In fact, in thinking about it now, I'm not even sure if there were any of the show's trademark cutaways.

Instead, we got tons and tons of surreal adventure right there in the main script. Stewie found Brian's script in order to set up Brian's adventure, and then spent the rest of the episode with a massive head wound. Considering Stewie's popularity, it was a brave move to remove him from the episode for so long.

Even more impressively, Chris and Meg stepped up together with strong and funny performances (as if they're real actors, listen to me!) trying to trick the family into thinking Stewie is okay. Both storylines were funny to their respective ends, including Lois' panicked attempts to cover up Stewie's injury, meaning every member of the family is more concerned about their own asses than his welfare.

James Woods, 'Family Guy'I have to give the edge to James Woods, though. Like Adam West mocking himself on 'Family Guy,' you can tell that Woods just relishes how over the top and ridiculous he's allowed to be. In classic 'FG'-Woods fashion, he absolutely destroyed Brian's dramatic vision by turning it into a sitcom that I wouldn't be all that surprised to see on television, though I would have pegged it more for FOX than CBS, if I'm being completely honest.

There was a lot of physical humor in the episode. Stewie's gaping head wound was used over and over again, but we also had Brian slowly poking Lois in the nose with his manuscript and the slow head turns from everyone upon seeing the intro to Brian's show. Even the brilliantly surreal computer-animated intro sequence with Stewie and Rupert attacking Peter's head was just a chance to jam a toy plane into Peter's ear.

One of the funnier things 'Family Guy' manages to do is have Stewie and Brian reluctantly fall into their respective baby and dog roles, despite their advanced intellect. This week, we got two funny instances of this, with Peter tricking Stewie into thinking Rupert was wanting to go play in the basement, and Brian losing all sense of himself at the thought of going on a car ride.

While 'Family Guy' was making fun of CBS, 'The Cleveland Show' took shots at both FOX and NBC. Actually, it could be seen as more of an homage to FOX's '24,' but there's no way to look at their take on 'Last Call with Carson Daly' as anything other than a dig. How many hats for the show have been sold? Two.

This was all part of Cleveland Jr.'s investigation into finding the man who robbed Cleveland and Donna at an ATM; a scene that was misinterpreted by the Stoolbend community, which apparently includes Dan Rather among their citizens, to mean that Cleveland was a hero.

Cleveland as a cowardly idiot is kind of how we've come to know him, so it was expected and funny both times, though when Donna rescued him at the perp's house, he was even more whiny than usual, begging for candy. Donna, learning that being the good wife isn't just about being submissive, helped him be the hero he wished he could be, while maintaining herself as the strong woman she's already become.

'The Cleveland Show' - 'The Brown KnightRoberta, on the other hand, learned that taking advantage of those weaker than you can backfire in a huge way. Rallo's reaction to the tampons in the trashcan was a little disturbing, but actually less disturbing than Stewie's exposed and rotting brain. MacFarlane definitely doesn't steer away from the gross. He even got in a classic vomit scene when Donna explained to Rallo exactly what happens to women each month.

Tila Tequila played herself in the episode, continuing the tradition of celebrities making fun of their personas on MacFarlane shows. I wonder why Rather wasn't interested in voicing his animated caricature. It wasn't nearly as disrespectful to him as Tequila's was to her.

[Check out clips and full episodes of 'The Cleveland Show,' and 'Family Guy' with our friends at SlashControl.]

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Tony DIMeo

there was only one cutaways and they even referenced it in a later scene. As someone whose seen almost every episode of FG this was one of the all-time best episodes of the show. it was brilliant how CBS ruined Brian's show like they usually do it reminded me of Extras when the BBC messed up Andy's show. and it was hilarious when Charlie Sheen randomly showed up

March 29 2010 at 4:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Tony DIMeo's comment

Exactly what I thought. I would have enjoyed it a bit more if it wasn't a direct copy of the entire premise of BBC's (and HBO's) Extras.

March 29 2010 at 11:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The only cut away I can think of was to Hitler's bookdeal

March 29 2010 at 12:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I've been a fan from the beginning, but I thought this episode of Family Guy was pretty unfunny. Recent episodes have felt like the show has lost its mojo and is trying anything and everything in desperation.

I find Cleveland unwatchable, American Dad may still have some life left in it--just waiting for Sons of Tucson to finish crashing and burning so AD can return.

March 29 2010 at 12:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to thepassenger's comment

I think Family Guy took the South Park criticisms too seriously, and have dropped the cutaways, which was always the best part of Family Guy - integrating funny things from the past seamlessly into a comedy show. It's more of a sketch show than sitcom.

When the show was primarily a setup for interludes, then we didn't care as much that the characters aren't consistent from week to week, just that they are funny.

Now, the characters still are not consistent and the jokes aren't very good, which doesn't give Family Guy a lot to stand on.

Community, with the Cookie Wizzard (and reference to not getting the joke since it's now a Cookie Crook) is carrying the silly ads/references banner now, and doing a very good job of it.

Plus serious artist Bryan sucks.

March 29 2010 at 12:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jenny Derfler

I agree: When Sons of Tucson gonna stop?! I want American Dad to come back!!!

March 29 2010 at 1:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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