Armed with a massive machine gun, an inexplicably British accent and more evil in his heart than Voldemort, the 1-year-old’s maniacally laughing face glows brightly as flashes of white light illuminate not one, not two, but over a dozen bullets sent flying through his unsuspecting mother’s chest. The dramatic voices of a choir singing in who-knows-what language heighten the shock and suspense as her body arches backward in slow motion, slipping over the ship’s railing and sinking down into the ocean, never to be found again.
Oh, add to that the sound of a viewer’s uncontrollable laughter throughout the entire, horrific scene and you have the climactic moment in the 100th episode of the only show that could somehow make matricide funny — “Family Guy.”
FOX celebrated the 100th episode of the eight year-old animated sitcom last Sunday night with plenty of hype, a half-hour long pre-show recap of “Family Guy’s” most memorable moments and Seth McFarlane (creator of the show and voice actor for five of its different characters) interviewing “real people” between commercial breaks. The “interviews” were full of the awkward and often bewildering was-that-supposed-to-be-funny moments that characterize the weaker gags in every episode. Compounded by the fact that Seth McFarlane is actually much better-looking as the martini-sipping intellectual canine Brian, they come across as wholly unnecessary — and somewhat painful.
But besides indecent exposure in the form of his face on national television, the newest episode of McFarlane’s creation offered a host of other hilarities. The plot begins at a birthday dinner for Lois, where Brian presents her with a gift of two cruise ship tickets, fully expecting to be selected as her companion on the trip. When Lois chooses Peter, however, Brian is not the only one brimming with indignation: Stewie is so insulted he decides — once again — to begin plotting what has so far been the ultimate goal of his short life — Lois’s murder.
But this time, things are different. Spurred by Brian’s accusations of being all talk and no action — or, as Brian himself so eloquently puts it: “As soon as Lois walks back in here, you’re going to cry, beg for your apple juice, poop, go to sleep and forget all about it!” — Stewie takes his plot to the extreme. Armed with a motorboat, a black beanie and plans for murder on the high seas, Stewie is finally granted his revenge for a year of the “matriarchal indignities” that Lois has evidently subjected him to.
What follows is a series of classical “Family Guy” misadventures, involving pop culture references (God was apparently inebriated during the Creation of Rosie O’Donnell), short musical numbers and a healthy dose of the physical humor that makes the show so memorable. Peter finds himself accused of Lois’ murder, Brian accuses Stewie and all are left gaping open-mouthed at a sudden turn of events in a courtroom, while viewers are left checking their common room clocks in disbelief when the screen goes dark and announces that the episode is “To Be Continued…”
But this week’s episode was no different from the first 99 in that it could not help but indulge in a few of the cutaway gags that — although often riotous — sometimes leave the viewer wondering how the Kool-Aid Guy bursting into a murder trial and abruptly shouting “Ohhh Yeah!” is at all laughter-inducing. It’s not — it’s just sort of stupid.
Strengths and weaknesses aside, the show’s survival up to its 100th episode is an accomplishment in itself. Cancelled after only the first nine episodes in 2000, and again in 2002, it wasn’t until 2005 that consistent, uninterrupted production began after high DVD sales and the popularity of CartoonNetwork reruns convinced FOX network officials that the show was worth airing after all. And when has FOX ever led us astray? Wait, don’t answer that. Just watch “Family Guy.” It’s a half hour of unabashed, guilty-pleasure, politically-incorrect cartoon humor — how else would the show have made it this far?