Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

"Back In Time"/"Four Great Women And A Manicure"/"Manger Baby Einstein"/"Three Kings"/"Daddy Queerest"

Illustration for article titled "Back In Time"/"Four Great Women And A Manicure"/"Manger Baby Einstein"/"Three Kings"/"Daddy Queerest"

Due to the most raucous of Mother's Day plans—I can't elaborate here, but suffice to say I'm no longer welcome in any Arby's or Home Depot, or Virginia—I wasn't able to get to this blog until just now, at the ripe time of 3am. But here are a few thoughts on some of tonight's episodes, with my sincerest animapologies. MacFarlane to come "tomorrow".

Sit Down, Shut Up: Too early for meta.
The top of this fourth SDSU outing found each of the characters discussing which '80s movie cliché role they take up (the do-gooder, etc). What followed was a retelling of a few tales from the show's very, very short past; yes it has been short, and yes the characters were willing to admit that. Problem was, they kept bringing it up throughout the remainder of the episode, which focused, not surprisingly, on Larry's inexplicable attempt to get with Miracle—this time at a party thrown at Huey Lewis's house, Miracle's ex. Aside from a few pokes at Mr. Lewis, and the invention of the term "scrovaries," this one was a flop all around. It wasn't just the repetition of the meta thing that drove me nuts, but also turning gags that should have been one-time mentions—like Stuart's "sister"—into major plot points. And to reiterate: What's the big deal with Miracle, everyone? Grade: D+

The Simpsons: Short wisely.
Ah, the shorts show: The Simpsons has done it well in the past, most notably for its annual "Treehouse Of Horror" series. But tonight's classically themed outing didn't fare very well, starting with the story of one of the Bouvier sisters as Queen Elizabeth—an episode segment that clocked in at just over four minutes, far too short a time to do anything lasting… or funny. The longest stretch came near the end, in the form of an extended riff on MacBeth involving Homer killing a ton of people. But aside from the occasional random line or two, it was pretty much a boring retelling of the tale, with Simpsons characters subbing in for Shakespearean ones. So I guess the question is: How much pleasure is there to milk from seeing familiar yellow people reenact parts of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead? Given the show's shaky streak lately, not nearly enough. Grade: C-

King Of The Hill: Second verse, same as the first.
It's not a shock to anyone to see King Of The Hill crib from old episodes, but what was most surprising about tonight is how fresh the crib felt. Recall a few weeks ago, when Nancy struck it big at a TV station in Dallas—toyed with fame, got kicked by the curb, realized it wasn't for her, and found herself back in boring ol' Arlen, this time by choice. Throw that on top of this episode, and you've got yourself a near-match, my friend. This time, Luanne is the one striking it big. See, while trying to entertain her own child with a puppet show entitled, "Manger Babies," she discovers a knack for keeping all babies quiet. With the help of John Redcorn (whose production company has the most sultry of opening graphics), she takes her show on the road, wooing crowds big and small. The well quickly runs dry on ideas, so she steals one from Dale: a puppet show about a talking gun and her bullet children; furious, Dale destroys Luanne's puppets, thus ending her career once and for all. But, you see, it's really about being a mother first—being there for her own child, not just the nameless masses. Thank you, Hank Hill, grating voice of obvious reason. Grade: C


Family Guy: Another anthology?
Like The Simpsons, FG decided to dabble in a show made up of short, spoofy scenes—as per the title, three stories by Stephen King. Stand By Me, Misery, and The Shawshank Redemption got the Quahog treatment, mostly by making jokes about Quagmire's sexual deviancy and Stewie's sexual orientation ambiguity. Oh, and Joe got his legs all busted up in each one, not unlike the running Groundskeeper Willie axe-to-the-back gag from one of my favorite "Treehouse Of Horrors" episodes of all time. Stand wasn't my favorite—the story is too earnest to turn into much of a comic romp—and many of the Shawshank gags were too expected (though I loved Peter saying only two words to Cleveland at the beginning). But Misery was a hoot: Anything where Brian is held in the palm of diabolical Stewie works wonders for me. Grade: B-

American Dad: No gesture too grand.
Stan has a problem: He longs to be invited to fancy parties, but always finds Francine embarrassing him (she just doesn't know how to make small talk, like at all). His neighbor has a problem too: He's happily partnered and raising a child, but his father, football legend Tank Bates, has no idea his son is gay. The solution, of course, is to convince Tank that Stan is gay, and that the neighbor is dating Francine, with a baby born out of wedlock. At first, Stan is upset that he has to live across the street, but later starts to see some good: His new companion, as it turns out, is a huge hit at fancy galas—now Stan is the one who's embarrassing himself. Drastic action must be taken, so Stan takes everyone to Tank's jersey retirement ceremony, and demands the father confront his gay son with 50,000 onlookers. Stan's logic was a bit convoluted, but he hit all the right character notes—going from desperation, to acceptance, back to desperation. Plus, this episode contained a rare appearance by Drunk Steve, thanks to Roger's side job buying alcohol for minors. Say it ain't so, Rog! Grade: B+

Stray observations:

  • "Puppets saved my life once."
  • "Holiday… Your last name is misleading, given your tragic circumstances."