According to Variety, Adult Swim has ordered 40 additional episodes of 'Robot Chicken,' providing the top-rated stop-action series with enough material to fill seasons 5 and 6. Prior seasons have aired 20 episodes at a time, already a strong display of network confidence in the product.
I'm ambivalent about this choice. On one hand, a lot of great comedy has come from animation that certainly is on par with the live-action television comedies. On the other hand, if a comedy series did compete against live sitcoms, I'd prefer it was The Simpsons or South Park which historically have been much better at intellectual humor than anything McFarlane has produced. It's also difficult to do a direct comparison since cartoon shows are more flexible storytelling vehicles than live sitcoms. It's like having an unlimited special effects budget.
I note that McFarlane and company have also jumped on the Obama campaign poster parody bandwagon. That's so six months ago.
Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed some parts of the episode. The "shut up Wil" line by Patrick Stewart had me in stitches, as well as the sudden death of Denise Crosby (obviously, the writers are ST:TNG fans). Hell, Patrick Stewart is a recurring guest on Seth McFarlane's other series American Dad.
It just seemed to me that after the brilliant Star Wars parody from last year, they would do something more with such a line-up of talent than simply "Stewie gets to hang out and go bowling with the cast." It was even relegated to the "B" plot, with the "A" plot being Meg's sudden faith in God as a result of watching Kirk Cameron on TV.
I was hoping for something more akin to an episode of The Next Generation done Family Guy-style. Or would that have been redundant of the Star Wars episode? What do you think? Was the episode decent or could it have used improvement?
No doubt the speculation regarding this decision will run wild throughout the Internet. My guess is that Fox wanted more episodes for a stronger Sunday night animation line-up. With the end of King of the Hill on Fox, there is now room, plus three of the four shows will be from Seth McFarlane (the non-Seth show being The Simpsons). No wonder he's so loaded.
Seth McFarlane shows his Massachusetts background in this episode (his parents are from there). I saw references to Boston Harbor (the John Hancock building was in the background) and Six Flags New England (which is very close to Connecticut, the state where he was raised).
The show continues to explore Brian's artistic tendencies as he wins a writing award (we later learn the piece he wrote was mostly plagiarized). It's debatable if this is better or worse than the time he was a porn director.
- Episode commentary by Seth McFarlane and a bunch of other members of the production team (absent are any of the character voices other than McFarlane himself).
- A twelve minute interview of George Lucas by Seth McFarlene on Star Wars, Family Guy, and a variety of other topics including dating.
- A nineteen minute documentary about how much the creators of Family Guy love Star Wars.
- The original animatics for the episode (includes jokes and animations that didn't make the final cut).
- A Family Guy Star Wars Clip Show (clips from Family Guy episodes which reference Star Wars).
- A generic Family Guy promo for Fox.
Family Guy has such potential to be an original and funny series and so much of it is wasted. I saw hints of really good ideas in the episode but those were superseded by some hack writing and poorly executed material. Another reason to loathe the WGA Strike.
Spoilers after the jump.
I never liked episodes which end up saying "the whole episode you just watched never happened", but the nice thing about Family Guy is its tendency to call itself out on its own crap before the viewer can. I believe Brian described it best when he called it giving the audience a giant middle finger.
(S06E04) During last Festivus I mentioned the secret constitution that the networks have to regulate their industry. This is the document that says the Regis Philbin robot must have a full check-out every six months and that one network or another must produce a musical-based drama every twenty years or so that will fail right off the bat. I'm hoping that, after watching this week's 100th episode of Family Guy, the networks add a new amendment to their constitution: clip shows will no longer air before special episodes or series finales.
Call it the Seinfeld Amendment for simplification. Before the series finale of Seinfeld NBC aired a one-hour retrospective featuring classic scenes from previous seasons. This got the viewing audience all hyped up to see an exciting and entertaining finale. Then, as we all know, that last episode was a huge suckfest that disappointed millions. If they had not aired the retrospective before the last show perhaps the anger surrounding the episode may have been lessened.
OK, I'll say it: it isn't so.
Seth McFarlane is currently under negotiations with FOX about his new contract. The current contract runs out in early 2007, and McFarlane still hasn't finalized a deal with the network even though the new season is supposed to start filming (um...drawing?) very soon. Variety reports that the production offices are currently closed.
But I say the network and McFarlane make a deal. The show has been a hit and an important show for FOX since coming back, and I don't see them letting it slide away (again). Though wouldn't it be interesting if FOX for some reason didn't renew the contract and NBC picked it up? I don't see that happening, but that would be a cool twist and an instant hit for the Peacock network.
When it comes to animated series, I am always interested in looking behind the curtain to see how it all comes about. Particularly the voice talent, as many of these people (Seth McFarlane, Dan Castellaneta, Billy West) do a variety of voices for just one episode. Now, thanks to YouTube, we get to see a little bit of that behind the scenes material at the Family Guy studios.
The video features Seth McFarlane (Peter Griffin and Stewie, among others), Mila Kunis (Meg) and other company members as they do their lines for an episode of the series. What's interesting to see is how many times these voice actors go through their dialogue to get it right. What is also interesting is the fact that many of these actors perform their lines solo; I always pictured a lot of back and forth between the actors. Despite how many times the lines are read, and whether or not the readings are in a group or solo, the end result is fairly smooth when you watch the final episode on TV.
To see the video, check after the jump.
[Thanks to Michael at betapundit]
I know how you feel. Really, I do. A TV show comes along that seems so obvious in its mediocrity you can't fathom why so many people enjoy it. You list myriad examples of how the show is sub-par, or a blatant rip-off of another show, or too reliant on "easy" jokes, but no one will listen to you. They just keep watching and touting the show as if it's some work of genius. It's enough to make you go insane and eat your own face.
Family Guy may be popular, but there's still a lot of people who don't like it. My feelings on this subject are paradoxical. I like Family Guy, but I still have to agree with people who say the writing isn't always up to snuff, and that the show relies too heavily on pop culture references as a substitute for humor. Brian has a line in one episode that always makes me cringe: describing New York City, he claims it's "like Prague, sans the whimsy." Maybe it's just me, but it sounds like some college freshman trying to sound smarter than he is.
Stan is so intent on beating his neighbor, Chuck White, to church - so he can park in a shady spot, that he runs over pigeons and elderly neighbors on his way there. When the deacon chokes to death on a communion wafer, the church needs a new one.
Chuck volunteers for deacon, so Stan, naturally, does too. On top of that, Chuck offers to host the potluck for the wake while Stan is in the bathroom. Poor Stan - Chuck has a bigger paycheck, a nicer house, a better wife and kids, how can Stan compete with him? It's on!
Back home, Rodger is in a reproductive cycle and is lactating.
At a neighborhood game night, Peter wins at Trivial Pursuit. He doesn't realize that Lois is reading him questions from the preschool edition, though and declares himself a genius. Brian, fed up with Peter's lording his Trivial Pursuit victory over everyone, tells Peter about a test for geniuses. Peter takes the test and finds that, not only is he not a genius, he's mentally retarded.
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