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"Lucky See Monkey Do"/"Stan Time"

Grammys schmammys: There's plenty of hot, musical action happening over at the Fox Sunday Night Animation Domination Pre-Syndication Sensation! And by that I mean, two great episodes of cartoony TV and a welcome respite from Grammy-related mishaps/Twitter messages. We still don't have a new Family Guy, nor was there a new Simpsons tonignt—the only time this year that Sunday shows aired new episodes, and the Simpsons wasn't one of them.

Things kicked off with a King Of The Hill that, for the first time in a while, wasn't a Hank-centric episode. And that was a very good thing; his whole "the world keeps changing, but I like things how they are" schtick was feeling tired before the holiday break. Instead, we get a healthy dose of LuAnn and Peggy, two wholly underutilized characters so far this season. LuAnn is getting ready to deliver her baby, so she turns to Peggy for parenting advice—a task Peggy is, of course, more than excited about. But Lucky's sister Myrna wants to be involved too, and her views on newborns are a bit too… new age. At first, she sells LuAnn on her ways, convincing the mom-to-be that things like Nazi colors and not-booze are good things to have around babies. At first, Peggy is upset that the parenting world has changed so much, and worse that LuAnn is depriving her of the second-hand baby joy she's been waiting for. But LuAnn finally sees the wisdom in Peggy's old ways—the way things were with Bobby, and the way they should be for Gracie.

Okay, so maybe this episode wasn't that different than one where Hank's stubbornness wins out, but at least it was Peggy for a change who gets to have her Lasagna and eat it, too. Plus, this King Of The Hill, while singularly focused like many others, gave plenty of screen time to other characters, letting them contribute to the story and, ultimately the jokes. Lucky finds a strange monkey religion ("What would a monkey do?") Bobby's reactions to Myrna's weird ways are as honest as anyone could expect ("This'll ruin bath time for me forever"); Dale chokes on a button. The only missing person, really, was Bill, who goes off on a mission to track down the jailbait behind the sultry drive-thru voice he orders hot lemon pie from—I coulda done without that all-too-short sideplot, but Bill's jealousy towards the other drive-thru customers, when they get called "honey" too, was priceless.

American Dad kept up the positive momentum with an episode that starred every major character except Hayley. (She hasn't really made much of an appearance since that faux-incest episode a few weeks back. Please, writers of AD: Do something else with her to wipe that from my mind.) Stan is running himself ragged, what with work, family, and the lack of beating any levels on that turnip-or-whatever-it-is video game. But then he gets a hot tip from his boss: Take a secret government pill, and he'll feel as if he slept eight hours, thus leaving his evenings completely open for as much "Stan time" as he can muster. And boy, he can muster a lot.

Problem is, Francine finds out about his stash, and wants in. At first, Stan is vehemently against the idea, insisting that it would majorly infringe on his alone time. He eventually caves, with the understanding that Francine will never bother him at night, nor during his solitary corn dog eating. Instead, she goes off and watches Ken Burns' Jazz, partakes in some "remembering," and studies oceanography, later discovering the location of a giant squid—and as an aspiring amateur Internet oceanographer–slash–oceanography-related message board enthusiast, I can tell you that it takes only one night of message board buzz to get an invite aboard a French vessel, as is accurately the case tonight. Stan finds himself missing Francine, and realizes that productivity is nothing without a loved one to share the fruits of his labor. (Plus, I dunno, sleeping kinda rocks.)

The rest of the episode focuses on Steve and Roger's attempt to develop a porn script that involves pizza delivery guys, pool boys, and a dick-load of robots—all while remaining oblivious to the plot unfolding before their very eyes between a hot waitress and her equally hot friend. It could have been pretty cliché and boring, but American Dad knows how to avoid any "Let's go write a porno" plot tropes (oh, they exist); I could probably watch Steve get inexplicably angry about the continuity of his sci-fi story pitch, oh, all day.

King Of The Hill "Lucky See Monkey Do": A-
American Dad "Stan Time": A-