Throughout these reviews, I’ve often noted (probably excessively) that for a while now, the best part of Family Guy has been the relationship between Stewie and Brian. This is probably not a very controversial opinion, much as a lot of things about the show have attempted to stir the pot in the past few weeks and years. Tonight, Family Guy leans hard on the Brian-Stewie relationship and silly, unnecessarily “shocking” sources of comedy as Brian gives Stewie herpes, something that manages to be a totally run-of-the-mill, boring installment of the show.
At the very least, the emotional moment here, when Stewie breaks down because he can’t trust Brian anymore, isn’t so bad. But otherwise, the plot proceeds very neatly along a Family Guy color-by-numbers, as Stewie first wants to be blood brothers with Brian, then learns he’s acquired herpes from the dog, then gangs up on him with Chris’ help to torment him. The main joke here is that animations of herpes are gross (as well as a brief glimpse of real, live herpes), and indeed they are (culminating in a glimpse of Adult Stewie from Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story covered in herpes sores), though that loses humor value quickly, especially when the episodes winks to acknowledge that it knows that at least that sort of herpes isn’t that big of a deal.
Meanwhile, Peter gets really excited about a new toy—in this case a whip that really belongs to Quagmire. Almost this exact same joke has been done a hundred times before, even in the past few episodes (remember the fork lift?), so it’s tough to get excited about it, even with a fun little use of Devo’s “Whip It” and a brief appearance from Cleveland (because slavery). But after whipping a few things, Peter, Joe, and Quagmire get kicked out of their booth at The Clam by some rough types, and after everyone in Quahog hears about how the guys got bullied out of their booth, they become pariahs and pushovers. Like in the main story, there’s basically one joke here (the guys being emasculated) that’s pushed to nearly its breaking point, without anything else actually happening. Family Guy doesn’t, of course, need long-term serialized plots or anything, but it helps for episodes to contain more than one or two beats so that the rest of the running time isn’t padding.
This plot culminates in a good old-fashioned Family Guy fight at The Clam as the guys decide to try to reclaim their manhood, combined with a good old-fashioned Family Guy drawn-out pain gag, as Peter attempts to eat a can of spinach while cutting his finger—it wouldn’t have been out of the question for Ernie to show up because hey, why not. Then, it turns out that the guys in the booth are soldiers heading out to Afghanistan the next day, a resolution that is pretty lazy even for the show at this date. This episode has some redeeming qualities, but they’re mostly to be found in the strength of the premises of the two stories, promising ideas for Family Guy plots that get pretty much nothing from the writers’ room.
- Unofficial cutaway counter: nine.
- I quite liked the Cowardly/Rational Lion joke. Flying monkeys are scary!
- I also really like the tossed-off suggestion that Joe is in a production of Fiddler On The Roof, and no one cares.
- And, of course, I would totally watch Bryan Cranston Sneezes.