Monday, December 6, 2010
TBG TV: FOX Animation Domination – 11/21 and 11/28/2010
Sunday's Rankings (5, 3, 2, 1 scoring)
(1) The Simpsons -- "How Munched is That Birdie in the Window?": Hard to believe that an episode centered around the family dog could not only win the week, but shine as one of the better efforts of the season...yet, here we are. Despite the obvious callbacks to previous "Santa's Little Helper" stories (the premise here is loosely tied to season two's Bart's Dog Gets an F, while the ending paralleled season three's Dog of Death) this was still a nice little spin on the "boy and his dog" yarn. A cameo by racecar cheesecake Danica Patrick -- who has quietly passed Anna Kournikova in the "what has she ever won?" conundrum -- is wasted, however. And, don't think I didn't notice that Lisa's description of pigeons was lifted verbatim from Bob Uecker in Major League II. Come ON, writers!
(2) The Cleveland Show -- "Another Bad Thanksgiving": In a mild upset, an episode that lifts its title from the music of my youth AND features a voiceover cameo from m'girl Niecy Nash falls short of the top spot. Donna's ostentatious showoff sister (Nash) gets some laughs, but the primary storyline involves one of the two-dimensional (oh, you know what I mean) background characters. Consequently, I stopped caring about eight minutes in.
(3) American Dad! -- "There Will Be Bad Blood": Credit where it's due -- this show does put in the effort to keep a modicum of continuity. Hayley's season-long "estranged, eloping daughter" storyline is paid off and there's an extensive follow-up to a past throwaway line involving Stan's half-brother. The half-brother bit has been done much, MUCH better by others, so let's not hold that against them. But, all the done-to-death Native American gags here? Let's agree to hold that against them.
Lines of the Night
"Lay off Detroit. Them people is living in 'Mad Max' times." – The Simpsons
"I bought it because Catherine Zeta Jones told me to. What a fool I was." – The Simpsons
"Marriage means something to Holt. He's not a late-night host or the Governor of South Carolina or the world's greatest golfer." -- The Cleveland Show
(1) Family Guy -- "Brian Writes a Bestseller": The Brian-and-Stewie episodes are usually watchable and this one was surprisingly strong. The running joke about Brian's laughably awful novel is revisited, but this time the upright dog pens a successful self-help book. Really glad the writers have moved away from the unfunny "ambiguously gay Stewie" and slid him back into the more realistic "baby who talks (but, is only understood by a few characters) and does grown-up things". And, I'm in the minority on this, but I liked the Bill Maher segment. Yes, it ran on too long, but it's FAR from the worst TV show to appear within another TV show or movie scene.
(2) The Simpsons -- "The Fool Monty": Every few seasons, Montgomery Burns loses everything and then gets it all back in around 22 minutes. I enjoyed the wink-nod "It's been done" line in the climactic scene, but the same could've been said for the entire episode. Mr. Burns runs over the townspeople? Check. Mr. Burns has a bunch of diseases? Check. Mr. Burns isn't of sound mind? Check.
(3) The Cleveland Show -- "Fat and Wet": I suppose there are two ways to receive this episode. It was either a lazy, uninspired succession of fat jokes or it was a means of getting ALL the fat jokes out of the way, so the writers could move on to less obvious and more intelligent comedy for the remainder of the season. You make the call. And, for what it's worth, the heavyset safe haven used here couldn't have been more inappropriate. Did you know that Milwaukee, Wisconsin placed 11th amongst the fittest cities in America? Hey, a magazine said so.
(4) American Dad! -- "White Rice": This show works best with family patriarch Stan playing the oblivious, boorish boob or the alien Roger spinning one of his over-the-top manipulative schemes. It doesn't work as well when the focus is on the Stan/Francine relationship. Both characters are unapologetically superficial, so it's hard to see their marriage as anything more than a repetitive punchline. It's revealed here that Stan's been using a hypnotist to repress Francine's memories for 20 years. Of course, she inevitably remembers everything, leaves Stan and tries her hand at stand-up comedy. Yup.
Lines of the Night
"FOX News: Not Racist, but Number One with Racists!" – The Simpsons
"Who says swimming pools need to be in the ground...or look nice?" – The Cleveland Show
"I should've done this before the plunger." -- The Cleveland Show
"Writing is the only thing that gives your alcoholism any credibility!" – Family Guy
"You have 'talent herpes'. I have 'regular herpes'. Thank YOU, Mindy Cohn." -- American Dad!
Family Guy -- 22
The Cleveland Show -- 21
The Simpsons -- 18
American Dad! -- 14