Let’s laugh at something bloated, slovenly, full of itself, and pretends to care about things that matter. “Simpsons Guy,” Family Guy’s season premier, managers to walk a thin tightrope of accommodating The Simpsons and Family Guy. Fans of both will share favorite moments in GIF form for days and days. It’s all about moments; neither show are known for excellent plotting.
The Simpsons, once America’s bad seed of TV, is a mellowed hippie winking at middle America. Just check out the episode “Clown in the Dumps” for tame jokes about Judaism and family honor. Family Guy is the undergrad prankster-rebel who’d reward middle America with crotch chops and constant cries of “Suck It1” I’m not a Seth McFarlane aficionado; Family Guy, from what I’ve seen, has some hilarity and some awfulness.
The crossover episode opens with a reminder, the Griffins watch the Bunkers meet the Modern Family cast, that we are watching a crossover. Afterwards, the mini-plot where Peter Griffin has his brief infamy as a misogynist cartoonist felt like a rejected plot for another episode. That actual reason the Griffins come to Springfield is becasue their car is stolen at the Springfield city limits.
“Simpsons Guy” allows moments for many from the Springfield cast of characters though some of them look a bit off. There’s a genuine effort to get us to see that the Griffins are fish out of water. Some of the jokes are really clunky or forced, like Lisa becoming jealous of Meg’s impressive sax playing.
Yes, Meg is always irredeemable, but Lisa goes from mentor to potential rival too quickly. That eventually goes nowhere. Also, would Homer and Peter really guzzle gasoline like it was the last Duff/Pawtucket Ale on earth? (Maybe, but it seems too ridiculous even for Homer.)
That said, having Stewie bond with Bart was pretty cool. Stewie really wanted to impress his new friend by taking Nelson hostage. So, so touching. Having Bart spare his foes, including Nelson, Kearney, and Skinner, is a Simpsonian act of conscience.
Oh, the meta-commentary. So much meta-commentary. There were so much self-deprecation, I though Seth McFarlane and Matt Groening were going to appear as hoboes lamenting their “failures.”
Many jokes come at Family Guy’s expense, I think. The reason for “I think” is because Family Guy is the drool-stained jewel of Fox Sunday nights. It’s mildly amusing to the see a courtroom with Springfield’s ligitious ace pointing out similiarities between the shows’ competitors. However, the popular, long-running Family Guy can’t really be taken down a peg.
Family Guy pushes the cutaway gag and other bawdy bits to the extreme. We didn’t need an episode of Family Guy to know this; South Park already pointed out, “Simpsons Did It!” Also, there were actual comedic stakes when Jay Sherman from The Critic judged the Springfield Film Festival in “A Star is Burns.” The Critic was created by ex-Simpsons writers who had something to prove. Although history will say that The Critic is the lesser show, “Star” is too funny not to yell “Boo-urns.”
Another example: when Simpsons took aim at Hanna-Barbera for ripping off classic live-action shows (The Flintstones & The Honeymooners, for instance), it’s funny because Hanna-Barbera, prolific cartoon factory they were, had low standards in animation.
The climactic Peter vs. Homer fight was an epic comic-book-style superfight made to please all of us. I laughed at much of it, but I wondered about the half-hearted attempt at the start of the fight comparing the consequences of violence of both show.
“Simpsons Guy” memorably tries to mix oil and water. I don’t know if it’ll lead to greater understanding between the fanbases, but as a Simpsons fan, I’m glad that the Simpsons and Griffins will remain a half-hour apart.
Final rating: 3 out of 5.