Sunday, April 5, 2015

CARTOON REVIEW: Family Guy, "Meet the Quagmires"

A cartoon so far over the hill that it's in lunar orbit... around Mimas!

I remember ages ago when I uploaded that anti-Family Guy video during an era where it still had Sacred Cow status. Oh the fanboys that came crying; all insulting me for every reason you can fathom: political reasons, religious reasons, reasons involving taste, etc. I've heard it all. Back in those days, anyone who criticized this zombie was seen as a heretic who needed a ticket to the guillotine; I remember all the videos that FG-lovers brought below four stars back in the day. They just loved their "Cool Whip/Hwip" jokes! It was basically the Twilight of Western animation in terms of the fanbase. Every single one of them was a borderline NuttyMadam3575 or Eric Douglace.

Fortunately, its grip on the minds of college kids finally started to weaken sometime between 2009 and 2011. Chris "RowdyC" Moore and TheMysteriousMrEnter have both laid smackdowns on this show in the past and have met little of the flak (at least to my knowledge) that those who came before them suffered. For old time's sake, I'm going to take a look at an FG episode of my choosing and dice it as I had done with that have-more-than-two-kids and you destroy the world episode of Captain Planet. If that one remnant of the FG shows up... well... EAT LEAD!

Anyone who's familiar with this show knows that creator/star Seth MacFarlane always throws in references to the 1980's. Granted, I reference Mobile Suit Gundam a lot -- but the rule is that it's always done in conjunction with a reference to Sonic the Hedgehog. I don't rely on it all the time, if you notice. On Family Guy, however, it's something you expect. I'd say it's like the "FREE" space on a Bingo card, but that role is reserved for cutaway gags! But here's the most notorious example of this habit: the Season 5 finale, Meet the Quagmires.

Consider this a valedictorian spanking.


So Peter Griffin and his buddies are at their favorite hang-out, the Drunken Clam. The butt-chinned guy in the gang, Glen Quagmire, is going on about his latest exploits as a womanizing sex-fiend. Peter is upset because he can't do that kind of stuff anymore because he has a family to support. After a pointless cutaway, the TV messes up. The bartender tries to fix it, but falls off a ladder and Death shows up. When the barkeep's discovered to have just been knocked out, another cutaway joke is made about Death not wanting to be away from Mike Wallace.

Get it? Because he's OLD! Hahahaha! Eh...

Peter begs Death take him to back to when he was eighteen. Ol' Grimmy refuses, but when ESPN is just about to show a womens' pro sports thing, he changes his mind. I don't get it.

Oh, and Brian is brought along as well. Why? I guess the writers were treating him as a Siamese twin.

The trio winds up in 1984 and here, the fun begins. Everyone sees the nasally blob as an eighteen-year-old towel boy who works at a country club. He makes plans with a much younger Cleveland Brown, who in a few decades would get a terrible spin-off of his own before it was killed by the FOX curse. Peter references Hellraiser, a movie that wouldn't come out for three more years; I guess it was done as a joke, but given the historical context I'm left scratching my head.

'84 Lois shows up and asks Peter if they're still on for Zapped!... a movie that was already two years old at that point. I'm beginning to think that these references were being tossed in for the sake of establishing that they're in the Eighties. Predictably, Peter turns her down. Brian's reaction to all this: "I would eat your poo." Now, in some other versions, America's least favorite dog tells '84 Lois "Can I Wham my Oingo Boingo into your Velvet Underground?" because, well, we didn't want you to think it was the Forties!

Of course Peter's so stupid to remember who the American President was during that period for the sole purpose of a Back to the Future reference. They go to a bar where Peter plays a PMS edition of Ms. Pac-Man and Brian hits on a lady by asking her if she saw Ghostbusters and her boyfriend with an upturned collar shows up (Which decade are they visiting again? I forgot.). Brian challenges the guy to a fight at the World Trade Center on 9/11, to which he accepts.

That little bit makes me want to bring up that MacFarlane had booked a flight on one of the planes Al Qaeda hijacked that morning and missed it because he got drunk the night before. He promised never to do a joke about that subject and proceeded to break it several times. Classy.

Peter makes out with Molly Ringwald. Brian just so happens to bring up that she's the biggest star in the world right now and asks what she's doing at the bar. If you don't why know by now, you're an idiot.

Death decides that they made enough 80's references for the time being and takes Peter and Brian back to 2006. We get a joke about fat women and Peter goes to bed. The next morning, we learn that he's married to Molly Ringwald and Judd Nelson stays with them sometimes. It turns out that by not going out with Lois, Fatso altered the timeline and we get a joke about Tom Cruise running from "gay thoughts".

Am I the only one who finds it funny that a pro-gay activist
like MacFarlane likes to think in terms of stereotypes?

Only eight friggin' minutes in... need something to revive... will to live... AHA! HERE WE GO!

Whew... thank you, Vegeta. You have restored my mirth. Let's go on.

We go into a Back to the Future, Part II  (1989!) reference explaining that Peter changed the flow of history by going back in time. As a result he's married to Molly Ringwald, Quagmire ended up with Lois, Chevy Chase hosts The Tonight Show...

Butt Chins! (Woo-hoo!)

...and Peter's kids are belong to Quagmire (geez, I feel dirty saying that).

Because this is a cartoon on FOX, of course we need to have embittered left-wing propaganda about how Al Gore would have killed Osama bin Laden (hiding out in the audience of MADtv) with his bare hands had he been elected in 2000. Nah, from what I understand, he'd be running around trying to warn the world about that danger with universal scientific consensus: ManBearPig!

He is cereal business!

Also, because George W. Bush was never elected we have flying cars that run on vegetable oil. Cue a Jetsons cutaway where George gets into a fight with Jane over her snatching his wallet. For some reason, they are not drawn in the Family Guy/American Dad/Cleveland Show "fart cloud" style.

The only was back to the past is through Death. However, after bashing people over the head with subtly advertizing universal healthcare and gun control, Brian says that averting the marriage with Lois is the best thing to ever happen to the world. Y'know, it's as if they're trying to tell us something.

Death! YES! Take them out! Get this show off the air! It died a year ago!

Death shows up when Jane Jetson randomly falls and plops right next to Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. Apparently, Death had his hands full that day because Dick Cheney killed Antonin Scalia, Tucker Carlson, and Karl Rove with one bullet. Upon hearing this, Brian (the moonbat that he is) begs Peter to stay in the new reality, however Peter's never heard of any of them and decides to try to set things right.

More Eighties crap! Yay.

When '84 Lois asks to go see Zapped!, Peter says no and suggests to see Krull... which was in 1983. Geez, I know it was the middle of the decade, but wasn't home video a thing yet?

He tries again and fails by cutting muffins.

He speaks to '84 Lois again and they make it a date. Then, '84 Cleveland shows up and talks Peter into having a night on the town with him. So they go out to night club and dance to "Axel F".

Are we sure this isn't his personal porn?

Gee, um, which decade is this? Er, the 1720's? No, too festive. The 1850's? That's not right.
This would be so much easier to pinpoint if they reminded us every three seconds instead of ten!

Of course, Death has declared that enough is enough and will not give Fatso another do-over and we get a cutaway gag involving Joe Piscapo and weights. I didn't get it.

'84 Lois doesn't want to date Peter anymore and has decided to go to the country club dance with '84 Quagmire. This gives Peter an idea... to go back to the night club in the previous picture. Same song, same patrons. The joke abruptly ends and they go to the dance.

They sneak in through the air ducts. "Now I know what a TV Dinner feels like," says Peter. Doesn't get the quote and is told that it comes from Die Hard, a movie that hasn't been made at that point. Peter jokes they could make it. Slightly amusing.

Peter's girth makes the duct give way and they land on the guitarist in the band hired for the party. Brian has to take over the guitar for "Earth Angel" and... 

Holy Gigawatts! I had an epiphany: this whole scene is a crappy homage to Back to the Future! It all makes sense! Taking over an out-of-commission guitarist's spot to play "Earth Angel", trying to get a couple back together, a photograph with vanishing relatives, a kiss that's prevented with a punch -- it's friggin' Back to the Future! I know most of its events took place in 1955, but the movie itself came out in... *groan* he did it again... 

What's next? Mr. Soapbox gets onstage and sings "Never Gonna Give You Up"?

Why am I not surprised?

Yes, this is another Back to the Future reference. They just replaced "Johnny B. Goode" with a song only remembered these days because of misleading links that go to its music video. What was by-and-large MacFarlane's fetish fic-turned-episode has become a borderline orgy with everything usable that the writers had left.

What's that? You kiddies don't remember what Y2K was?
Remember the 2012 Mayan Calendar hysteria? Pretty much in the same vein.

But back on track.

One more BttF reference with a guy called Marvin, now Rick Astley's cousin, calling about the new song they were looking for.

Almost finished... almost finished...

So Peter goes back to his non-aging relatives now that the timeline is restored... except that Roger the Alien from American Dad now lives with the Griffins:

Methinks this is because they didn't see Zapped!.

The only way they could make this episode cater more to MacFarlane's jollies is if they remixed the theme for the end cred -- they remixed it, didn't they?


Y'know, I brought up Back to the Future a couple of times because of this episode's homages to it. But here's the line of demarcation between that movie and Meet the Quagmires: while BttF was mostly in the 1950's, you weren't reminded every single moment which time period Marty went to. Sure, you heard "Earth Angel" and "Mr. Sandman" play, saw a theater showing a Ronald Reagan movie, and watched Marty's grandparents use their first TV to watch The Honeymooners, but it was spread out and didn't overtake the plot. You had Doc and Marty trying to figure out a way to get the DeLorean back to 1985, while trying to get Marty's parents back together. With Peter and Brian's odyssey into the past, on the other hand, you're assaulted with one reference after another and it never lets up!

Seriously, at one point '84 Cleveland plays an Eddie Murphy tape for no reason whatsoever!

Don't get me wrong, I don't hate the Eighties. I wasn't around long enough to remember any of it, but good things came of that era: it had some excellent movies, animation got better near the tail end of the decade, video games evolved quite rapidly, most of the music I wouldn't mind listening to on the way to the beach, but the clothes were ludicrous. 

Brian was just there. Apart from his usual role as a far-left bullhorn, he was basically a Mr. Explainy Pants who would eventually be the Marty to Fatso's George in the climax. Knowing the road he's been on in recent years, I'm surprised he didn't call the Kremlin and say "Yeah, Gorby, that Strategic Defense Initiative thing? DON'T FALL FOR IT!"

Fortunately, there was none of that fan-hated (and hater-hated) Meg abuse this time around.

Nothing much to say about the music in these types of cartoons, considering how they're pretty much just cues. The rest is all third-party material.

That's all I have to say about this episode. I expect, perhaps, one kamikaze fanboy will come in to defend this zombie's honor, but I don't care. I've done my part. I will leave further devastation of FG to others.

I'm DLAbaoaqu and here's a message to Seth MacFarlane, courtesy of the Satellite of Love:

Imagine them saying "Seth" instead of "Mike".

Family Guy (1999 - present), Fuzzy Door Productions
Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1988 - 1999), Best Brains