We’ve got another break from the usual comic book review today, this time we’re going to be looking at the episode of Family Guy that was ‘banned from TV.’ Of course this means that I’m talking about the abortion episode. I actually didn’t know this existed until some time last month, so I wasn’t even sure what it was about. I did some reading up on it and found out that it was banned because the plot revolved around Lois becoming a surrogate to a couple who end up dying and Lois is faced with the decision of raising a child that isn’t hers, having to somehow pay metical bills for the next nine months and then put the baby up for adoption or have an abortion. From all the news articles I had read I thought it was going to be horrid, they were making it out to be like this episode was a Snuff Film or something; some of the articles are kind of funny because of how they react to the plot. Now I’m not going to talk about the actual abortion debate because Geek Culture isn’t the place to pull out random soapboxes on any one belief (I really don’t know where I stand on the issue though) so I won’t start with something as big as this.
Watching the episode was kind of blah it didn’t really feel like it was anything special so it does give off the impression that it was supposed to be an actual episode. Now for the life of me I can’t really figure out why it was pulled. Over the years Family Guy has gotten away with a whole hell of a lot and some of it far worse than ‘abortion:’ just recently they’ve made fun of mentally disabled people, the usual crippled jokes that come along with Joe, Brian trying to commit suicide, Stewie getting drunk, Brian cleaning Stewie’s diaper with his mouth, then cleaning his backside and finally eating Stewie’s vomit. Meg has lost her virginity like 8 times, Brian dates and has sex with women which implies beastiality, etc. If you look at all that then this episode is even less offensive than the past 3 seasons. I do see why the network might have problems with Peter trying to shoot a pregnant Lois in the stomach with a boxing glove arrow, or when he tried to trick her into drinking bleach. I do think that baiting Lois into a trap with a laid out series of free Grey’s Anatomy dvds funny as an idea, but not so much as a sight gag. Also it would have been nice if they had showed more of Brian, Stewie, Meg and Chris roaming around town grifting, but what are you going to do?
Now about the actual dvd- what are you getting here? Anywhere you go it’s going to be above 10 bucks (I rented it off Netflix so I don’t own this) but it appears to be an average of $15 plus tax. This is a problem when you look at it. It’s just Partial Terms of Endearment, you get a few special features – an uncensored table read, animatics for the episode, original songs that have been used on Family Guy and finally you get The Seth and Alex Almost Live Comedy Show (which by the way I hated it when it first aired on tv, there’s no point in reviewing that, nothing other than removing it’s existence from the universe will ever give it anything other than an F rating.) So really this is 15+tax for some lackluster features, throwing in that special – which I assume they did just because they couldn’t fit it in anywhere else – and the actual 22ish minute episode.
This is a real problem. There’s not just enough content. If you go to the store now you can get quite a few popular tv shows that have been released on dvd, you can get full seasons of them for 20 bucks! You can get the Family Guy movie (the one where Stewie travels to the future) for 15 bucks and that’s an hour and a half plus special features, you can get any of Family Guy’s Star Wars spoofs for 20 bucks and they’re an hour plus special features. It really isn’t worth the money at all. Maybe if they had expanded on the episode (which they could have done by doing more of the Griffin kids grifting) or thrown in flashbacks to Lois’ time in college with her friend; or even gone all out and done some type of cross over with American Dad and used Stan and his daughter as different sides of the abortion protesters. Or something… it just needed more.
I haven’t been happy with Family Guy recently; The Cleveland Show is much better and American Dad which has always been treated as the red-headed bastard step child of the Seth MacFarlane universe at this point in time is far more superior than the other two shows. It baffles me how Family Guy can do amazing with hour long shows (their recent season premiere) and the Star Wars spoofs yet the half hour shows falter. I’m starting to think that the best thing to do would be for Family Guy to bow out as a show and do a series of straight to dvd movies, and movie spoofs.