Last night saw the shocking death of a beloved television character whose exterior hid a genuine humanity—but enough about Boardwalk Empire. For those who regard Family Guy as a show capable of generating a semblance of continuity, Sunday’s [spoiler alert]-necessitating episode “Life Of Brian” threw fans for a loop by killing off Brian, the series’ longtime voice of reason and quasi-intellectual references, in a sequence that approached a rare poignancy for the show and actually seemed rather permanent, at least for the short term. Producer Steve Callaghan talked about it with E!, saying the staff had decided to kill off arguably its most likable character as “a fun way to shake things up”—and they certainly seem to have accomplished that, judging by the comments on the interview, which range from “You are KILLING THE SHOW!!!!!!!!” to “THE WRITERS IF [SIC] THIS SHOW ARE DEAD TO ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” to some that are really upset.
Of course, as much as Callaghan talked up the effect this would have on the “family dynamics,” the excitement of having The Sopranos’ Tony Sirico step in to play Vinny—the family’s replacement, tough-talking “pussy hound—and how the writers “always make choices that always work to the greatest benefit of the series,” there’s every reason to suspect this won’t be permanent. For one thing, Brian’s name appears in several future episode titles. For another, the relationship between Brian and Stewie remains the lynchpin of the show. For another, come on, it’s Family Guy, and as much as Seth MacFarlane seems intent on escaping his creation through slow self-destruction, they are clearly fucking with you. Hey, remember that time Family Guy killed off one of its most important characters, giving him a death scene that briefly made you emotionally invested in the show? Boy, was that bad.