Thursday, November 11, 2010

TBG TV: FOX Animation Domination – 11/07/2010

First, some lightly-read blog housekeeping before we begin the new season of this feature:

A few readers pointed out that I never posted recaps (or the 2009-10 final scores) from the two or three "Animation Domination" blocks at the end of last season. Looking back, The Simpsons clinched the championship around Easter. They've enjoyed a decent – albeit unspectacular – renaissance since The Simpsons Movie was released in 2007. Meanwhile, The Cleveland Show was maddeningly uneven in its first season, but good enough for runner-up.

The 2010 fall TV season started in September; so I'll half-assedly recap the scores for the Animation Domination episodes that already aired at the bottom of this post.

Sunday's Rankings (5, 3, 2, 1 scoring)

(1) The Cleveland Show -- "It's the Great Pancake, Cleveland Brown": FOX rolled out an entire evening of Halloween-themed episodes and this was the best of the four by virtue of being the least mediocre. I dig this show's occasional baseball nods (Cleveland dressed as a spot-on Willie Stargell for Halloween) and it's always fun to see bullies get their over-the-top animated comeuppance. But, enough with "Herbert" character, writing staff. I don't know where "the line" is for Seth MacFarlane, but he's coming awfully close to crossing it.

(2) American Dad -- "Best Little Horror House in Langley Falls": It's telling that when the writers used a "tennis grunt" gag in the opening dream sequence, my first thought was how much funnier it was used in an episode of Cougar Town last season. Credit to this show for marrying off the useless Hayley character and practically excising her from the "cast", but they won't be able to rely on a running
Street Fighter sight gag every week. Don't think I didn't appreciate it, though.

(3) Family Guy -- "Halloween on Spooner Street": How much goodwill has the Family Guy franchise bought from FOX? The network has "banned" a couple of controversial episodes, only to change course at a later date. Conversely, FOX green-lights the infamous "dirty diaper" scene from last season and the brother-sister make-out scene here? Creatively, it sure seems like FG is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. Tricking Quagmire into having sex with Joe? Ugh.

(4) The Simpsons -- "Treehouse of Horror XXI": After 20+ seasons, I can accept that the writers will gently massage and re-use certain plots that have already aired. But, the "War and Pieces" segment of the show's long-running Halloween episodes involved dozens of classic (and slightly name-changed for legal purposes) board games come to life. If you're going to ape your own episodes, don't lazily lift from one of your
best Halloween episodes ever. The "Dead Calm" spoof and vampire mini-sode fell flat, too.

Lines of the Night

"Pretty ironic: a cross being used to kill someone." – The Simpsons

"Donna's going as Michelle Obama [for Halloween]…with Oprah's arms." – The Cleveland Show

"Halloween is a bigger letdown than being a Mets fan." -- Family Guy

"And then, tonight, maybe I'll introduce her to THE THICKNESS!" -- American Dad!

Current Standings

The Cleveland Show -- 14
Family Guy -- 14
The Simpsons -- 9
American Dad! -- 6

September 26
Family Guy
The Cleveland Show
The Simpsons

October 3
Family Guy
The Simpsons
American Dad!
The Cleveland Show

October 10
The Cleveland Show
The Simpsons
Family Guy
American Dad!

1 comment:

SHough610 said...

I wasn't a huge fan of this Treehouse of Horror, but I thought the segments got stronger as they went (and I liked that Hugh Laurie had an understated cameo in the second vignette rather than the more typical recent celebrity "look-at-me!" cameos). The vampire one was my favorite.

I have higher expectations for the Cleveland Show (a special fondness because it's supposedly based on Richmond, though I see more of a NoVa vibe about it) because unlike Family Guy and American Dad the characters aren't so Flanderized and at the core the family is supposed to love each other. I know it's corny but the Simpsons was so great in part because underneath it all they really loved each other (that's part of the problem for me with later seasons where Homer's character decays).

As for Family Guy... Cam, you and I have talked ambitious about it and my criticisms stand but Fox is going to give them latitude as long as it's so highly rated. At the end of the day Murdoch is about making money and the controversy helps sell Family Guy. Plus it's an incentive for people to buy the DVDs.