The Super Bowl — before being
overshadowed by “wardrobe malfunctions” — served
as the launch pad for special episodes or series premiers. Back in
’99, I was more anxious than ever for the debuting show,
especially considering the lackluster Broncos-Falcons game that
preceded it. This new animated series, paired with a special
episode of “The Simpsons,” was going to be the perfect
companion piece. “Family Guy” not only met my
expectations, but its raucous, pop-culture-laden segués
offered a completely unrelenting approach to comedy.

The series followed the exploits of the Griffen family, their
dog Brian and the residents of Quahog, R.I.

Three uproariously humorous seasons later — after complete
mismanagement by the network — “Family Guy”
vanished from the schedule. FOX had the opportunity to create a
night filled with remarkable animated classics with “King of
the Hill,” “Futurama” and “The
Simpsons,” but inexplicably removed “Family Guy,”
hindering its chances for success.

With the boom of TV on DVD, all I could do was hope that the
show would be released. Last year, the error of the network’s
ways finally came to light with a successful run of the episodes on
Cartoon Network and on DVD.

Few shows dared to cover the topics that “Family
Guy” would. Creator Seth MacFarlane pulled no punches, best
shown by the unaired episode “When You Wish Upon a
Weinsten” first seen on the DVD, in which Peter decides to
have his son Chris convert to Judaism to become smarter.

Strong DVD sales and incredible cable ratings have resuscitated
my fondly remembered cartoon. No longer relegated to rerun limbo,
Peter, Stewie and the gang will return in January 2005, in a
completely unprecedented move.

But will it be the same show that shocked viewers with unabashed
jokes about race, religion and sex? I hate to think that MacFarlane
would agree to release a watered-down version of his brainchild,
but who knows? The networks have been browbeaten by advertisers
into changing content, shying away from things deemed obscene.

FOX, while often unabashed in its disturbing and disgusting
reality programming — look at the upcoming “The
Swan,” for example — may fear backlash for an animated
show as it appears to be innocent.

FOX may be too afraid to let “Family Guy” be as free
as it once was. The show constantly plays off of things that
shouldn’t be funny. Stewie often attempts to murder his
mother, neighbor Quagmire constantly tries to sexually assault
women and Peter treats people like stereotypes. If a return of the
series means that the show has to change, then don’t bring it
back. I have the DVDs, and I can watch it on cable, but I
don’t want a FCC-friendly “Family Guy.”

“South Park,” a similarly foul-mouthed and R-rated
cartoon, doesn’t have to deal with the constraints of network
TV. Cable is a different beast than the networks, which is why more
risqué series can get around censors. If “Family
Guy” comes back to FOX, as opposed to Cartoon Network,
it’s not as fortunate as “South Park.”

Even with the fear of a post-“nipplegate” TV
landscape, I still have high hopes for the Griffens. FOX missed the
boat the first time and now sees the potential profits in its
return. Additionally, the precedent is now set that passionate fans
who rally around prematurely cancelled favorites (just look at what
is going on with the fan campaigns for the WB’s
“Angel”) actually can have an effect. But why worry
about the potential pitfalls? Welcome back, “Family
Guy.” I’ll be watching.

 

— Adam is personally leading a campaign to get
“Angel” back on the air. Mock him relentlessly for that
and other things at
“mailto:arotten@umich.edu”>arotten@umich.edu

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.