Family Guy: “Call Girl” 
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Family Guy: “Call Girl” 

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Family Guy

“Call Girl” 

Season 11, Episode 14

For about six minutes, “Call Girl” goes in a great direction. Chris brings home a birdhouse modeled after the Governor’s house from Benson—at times Family Guy tries incessantly to toss out the most oblique reference possible, but anything involving Robert Guillaume works for me—but the family of songbirds aren’t peaceful for long. Some predatory bird—“or maybe an average bird who bought a Bowflex.”—swoops in and kills the songbirds, prompting Peter to get a falcon and become a falconer. Not as a means of protection for Chris’ birdhouse, but for selfish reasons, to take what he wants and be served by a fearsome animal-servant.

Xerxes the falcon brings Peter fancy dinners, provides Lois with a new purse (a whole live sheep), and perches on the soft spot of Stewie’s skull. He’s a hilarious addition to the family, providing just as much chaos as selfish benefit to Peter. But the funniest sequence in the entire episode is Peter’s fantasy of a television show with Xerxes. That '80s-style extended opening credits sequence, ending with Peter, Xerxes, a T-Rex, and Santa Claus walking toward the camera in spacesuits—and I thought Space Cowboys in that moment—establishes the comedic potential of “Call Girl.”

But even in that promising opening, there are some awful asides. The cutaway of Peter talking to Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu is particularly egregious, turning the Nobel laureate physicist into a karate-chopping caricature with a stereotypical accent. And Chris’ extended conversation with Peter about tits—the bird family also known as chickadees, because good lord—falls into lazily sophomoric humor.

And once Peter loses Xerxes in a lawsuit—that could have formed the backbone of the entire episode—Lois loses her shit, belittles her children, and bemoans having to get a job because that lawsuit also takes all the family’s money. In her initial attempts to find a job, a tacky looking guy named Randy says he likes her voice and offers her a gig, which she assumes will be voiceover work, immediately changing her tune on finding a job. But it turns out to be a phone sex operation, where Lois fields awkward calls from Joe, Mort, and Quagmire while pretending to be “Classy” and raking in a couple grand per week.

The job exhausts Lois and makes her rebuff Peter in bed when she gets home, and when he turns to his friends for advice, Quagmire offers the phone sex number that leads to Lois, though nobody seems to be able to recognize voices. Peter keeps calling Lois at work because he senses a connection between them, something about her voice… that he doesn’t connect back to his wife, because otherwise there wouldn’t be an episode. There’s not much comedy here, just mix-ups, arguments between Joe and Quagmire at the Clam, and Peter deciding to meet “Classy” while lying to Lois, who’s lying to the whole family.

So there’s the dilemma: choosing whether Peter’s sort-of-cheating is worse than Lois’ deception, but really, they both come out of that situation looking terrible. The sappy, romantic ending absolves Peter for the act of cheating, and Lois lied to protect her pride. That Peter and Lois find newfound chemistry in bed doesn’t fit, since that wasn’t the problem to begin with. Lois yelled at Peter about having to get a job, and he lost all the family’s money over an ambiguous lawsuit over a falcon helping him steal a sidecar motorcycle.

“Call Girl” is all the more disappointing because every wrong step with the phone sex plot underscores that there’s a potentially great episode somewhere in there, but it requires changing most of the main plot and the unearned thematic resolution. I would’ve watched “Peter And The Sidecar Falcon” more than once, but as presently constituted, I can’t wait to forget the last 15 minutes of this episode.

Stray observations:

  • Unofficial Cutaway Counter: 13, but that’s counting things like the Persian birdhouse (ugh…) and only counting the live-action cutaway of an old man swearing once.
  • Best cutaway: The fake “Peter And The Sidecar Falcon” opening sequence deserves to be mentioned at least once more. It is hilarious, and I would watch an entire episode of that fantasy sequence.
  • Worst cutaway: Peter going to a gynecologist in order to look at vaginas is pretty terrible, framing that whole area of medicine as a way to gawk at women’s genitals. Though Peter as anime and the Steven Chu cutaway also fell completely flat.
  • Just in case you needed another excuse to find episodes of Benson, here’s a clip of a young Jerry Seinfeld in his guest role as a courier.

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