Ah, the perils of technology! Due to unforeseen circumstances involving winter weather, a sensitive satellite dish, and my blind reliance on TiVo, I missed tonight's new Simpsons episode and two-thirds of the new King Of The Hill. I'm gonna scrap together what I can based on the 10 or so minutes of KOTH that I saw and give a run-down of American Dad (which I caught at a friend's house), but I'm going to ask all of you to pick up my slack down there in the comments section. How was The Simpsons? Did Homer do something ridiculous? Did Marge forgive him? Were there clumsy pop-culture references? Or was it good this week? Do tell.
By the time I caught up to KOTH, Hank and Dale were deep in the throes of basket-weaving drama. Huh? Yes. Thankfully, I read this episode's synopsis before it aired, so I was sorta expecting it, but–really? Basket-weaving? The lead-up to it makes enough sense (something about Dale needing to find a new way to support his family and he and Hank heading out on a "vocation vacation"), but I don't understand why Hank would ever let himself get sucked into such a thing. Or where Dale's sudden passion for baskets came from. And what happened to that poor man's hand?? I take it this was all explained during the part I missed, but when isolated from the plot at large, it all seems quite strange. Again, help me out here commenters!
Meanwhile, the rest of the Rainy Street contingent was apparently making an Internet video for some reason. I wish I had seen how that began, as I can't imagine how anything involving Peggy and Kahn working together could not be hilarious; but again, I didn't really understand the context. Too bad, as most of what I saw tonight I liked, including a classic Dale freak-out (in which he pummeled Hank with wicker baskets and set imaginary beetles aflame) and some nice Peggy bravado ("Four hits! I think we're viral!"). It seemed that there was some classic KOTH-type humor going on, but within an unusual context.
But as far as odd contexts go, basket-weaving aint got nothing on heavenly court hearings and a threat on God's life, which is what we were treated to in American Dad tonight. I've said before that I prefer American Dad when it plays with more absurd situations, rather than falling back on its done-to-death aren't-conservatives-silly routine. As this episode shows, the Smith clan is capable of pushing just as many buttons–and more successfully–by twisting something as well-worn as a Christmas episode into a pile of crass ridiculousness.
While the elements knitting together this week's story were familiar–Stan's selfishness nearly ruins Christmas, but an angel trying to get its wings helps him redeem himself–it wasn't exactly a heart-warmer. After a Christmas-obsessed Stan dies trying to cut down a Christmas tree to replace the non-perfect one his family decorated, he's trapped in limbo, where he has to fight in court for a second chance at life–a futile endeavor, as heaven has video surveillance of Stan's lifetime of assholery. So he takes his wannabe-angel lawyer hostage and crashes Jesus Christ's birthday party so he can force God at gunpoint to return him to life. Sure, it's not exactly "That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown," but it had a hell of a lot more giggles than Linus reciting Bible passages.
The downside of the plot though, is that it required a lot more emphasis on Stan than on the rest of his family, and as usual, the wacky-patriarch routine didn't stretch quite far enough–I wanted more of Roger's Christmas Club Mix '07, but instead I got a battle sequence between Stan and the archangels. The courtroom scene was successful in that respect, because it allowed for some inter-family moments via the "evidence" against Stan's life, but the third act fell a little flat (though I did enjoy Stan accidentally walking in on the Holy Spirit in the bathroom). I'm beginning to think Stan works better as a foil to his family than as a central figure–which isn't exactly an ideal way for a show's central character to function.
King Of The Hill: No real grade, but the 10 minutes I saw was a solid B.
American Dad: B
-When Haylie made the comment about the Charlie Brown Christmas from the '80s "where he meets the kid with AIDS," I was bracing myself for a Family Guy-style cutaway gag. Then I remembered AD doesn't really do cutaways, and it got me to wondering which method is more successful: Would that gag have been funnier if we had seen a clip of said movie? Thoughts?
-Roger should always be drunk.
-How cute was the prosecutor in Stan's trial? "He's cuter than a puppy and a kitten trying to crawl into the same slipper!" Now that's cute.
-While unlimited ice-cream choices may not completely take the sting out of realizing you're dead, it would certainly help. I hope there's Moose Tracks waiting for me on the other side.
-"Remember when we used to watch TV on TV? This is so much cooler!" –Bobby Hill.