Freakin' Sweet!

Fox Broadcasting Company

Peter Griffin on the run in "North by North Quahog," the return of Fox's Family Guy.

Salt Lake City Weekly | April 21, 2005
Peter: “Everybody, I’ve got bad news: We’ve been canceled”

Lois: “Oh no—Peter, how could they do that?”

Peter: “Well, unfortunately, Lois, there’s just no more room on the schedule. We’ve just got to accept the fact that Fox has to make room for terrific shows like Dark Angel, Titus, Undeclared, Action, That ‘80s Show, Wonderfalls, Fastlane, Andy Richter Controls the Universe, Skin, Girls Club, Cracking Up, The Pitts, Firefly, Get Real, Freakylinks, Wanda at Large, Costello, The Lone Gunmen, A Minute With Stan Hooper, Normal Ohio, Pasadena, Harsh Realm, Keen Eddie, The $treet, American Embassy, Cedric the Entertainer, The Tick, Louie and Greg the Bunny.”

Lois: “Is there no hope?”

Peter: “Well, I suppose if all those shows go down the tubes, we might have a shot.”

Welcome to the opening sequence of the three-years-in-the-making return of Family Guy (Fox; Sunday, May 1); series creator—and voice of Peter—Seth MacFarlane gleefully pissing all over the network that canceled his 1999-2002 cartoon, but then forced to bring it back due to unprecedented fanboy DVD sales and stratospheric cable rerun ratings. You’ve read about it before; you will yet again and again in the future.

Since MacFarlane’s jabbing list of failed/canceled Fox series also includes shows that came before (Costello) and after (Wonderfalls, Andy Richter) Family Guy’s run, he could have also thrown in Bachelorettes in Alaska, Boot Camp, Brimstone, The Chamber, Forever Eden, Futurama, Grounded for Life, Joe Millionaire, John Doe, The Jury, Method & Red, Mr. Personality, My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance, Night Visions, Oliver Beene, The Ortegas, Playing It Straight, The Rebel Billionaire, Temptation Island, Tru Calling and Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire … but that would have bordered on gloating.

Enough about the past: How does the May 1 re-premiere episode of Family Guy—a show fans have championed for years while snooty TV critics bemoaned its politically-incorrect cheap shots, obsessive reliance on pop-culture references and ADD-addled plotting—stand up? Will “North by North Quahog” satisfy the millions of rabid FG fans who’ve been waiting oh-so-long, poring over the 50 original episodes on DVD like they were religious artifacts from a forgotten era, watching every rerun that late-night cable recycles with the same rapt fervor of the first time, counting down the days to this Second Coming of Peter Griffin?

Yes … oh, yes. Just a partial pop-culture-reference hit list: The Passion of the Christ, Bed Bath & Beyond, The Honeymooners, Michael Moore, Archie Comics, Two & a Half Men, George Lopez, Caddyshack, Garfield, Pinocchio, G.I. Joe, Dennis Kucinich, Jesus Christ, Snoopy, The Blues Brothers, the Invasion of Iraq and (as hinted in the episode’s title) Hitchcock’s North by Northwest.

The story (such as it is—this is Family Guy, after all) centers around Peter and Lois (still voiced by Alex Borstein) going on a second honeymoon and conning their way into Mel Gibson’s suite in a posh New York hotel. Peter accidentally discovers a print of Gibson’s next movie, The Passion of the Christ 2: Crucify This, starring Jim Caviezel and Chris Tucker as gun-happy cop buddies (“Let he who is without sin … kick the first ass!”), and steals it. Meanwhile, talking family dog Brian and evil baby Stewie (both MacFarlane) have been left in charge of teens Chris (Seth Green) and Meg (Mila Kunis), which, naturally, doesn’t go well.

Chris: “I don’t have to listen to you! You’re a dog! You don’t have a soul!” Brian: “Ow.”

“North by North Quahog” is hysterical (I invited a couple of diehard Family Guy devotees to my screening—both were in tears; one promised sexual favors to borrow the Fox advance … shoulda collected on that first), but it won’t go down as a classic alongside “The Road to Rhode Island” or “The Thin White Line/Brian Goes to Hollywood” (my opinion; hold the e-mail). Regular characters Quagmire, Cleveland and Joe are conspicuously absent, and this whole Family Guy-as-comeback-juggernaut vibe, instead of the struggling cult underdog we’ve all come to know and freakin’ love, is just … weird.

But thank God it’s back. We could have been stuck with just American Dad.

Bill Frost can be reached at

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