Tonight's Family Guy episode, "Leggo My Meg-O" was literally just the movie Taken. I'm not kidding, that's pretty much the exact distillation of the episode.
After getting ganged up on in gym class, Meh decides to go with her friend Ruth (wait, Meg has friends?) to go study abroad to Paris. They meet a strange French man who takes them to their apartment, and then she gets kidnapped. So it's up to Brian and Stewie to rescue her because they have a particular set of skills that would let them rescue her.
The story seriously follows the same arc as the movie, just in 20 minutes. They find the Eastern Europeans who sold her to slavers, go on a car chase to rescue her and enter into a shootout on a boat to rescue her. Of course, there are jokes thrown in, and some humorous deconstructions of action movies and of the movie it parodies. For example, the "car chase GPS" scene.
But the whole episode just felt kind of lazy.
It followed the major arc of Taken exactly. And, yes Family Guy, French people stink, Eastern Europeans like Drakkar Noir cologne, random Arabs die in movies; these are new humorous observations! Way to avoid stereotypes and not just go for the low-hanging fruit. Even the subversion of the original story at the end felt telegraphed because the rest of the episode was tipping its pitches the whole time.
By this point, the episode's written itself into a hole: if they follow the movie plot exactly, it's probably not going to be all that funny. I mean, watching a guy who's not that bad get shot at the end because Stewie thinks he's the one that bought Meg as a sex slave emits a chuckle, but the best humor comes from the unexpected.
The American Dad episode that aired right afterward showed how it could be done: by concluding on a dark note that the viewer knows the show is going to throw away, but is still funny because it defies the expected trope of "everything is going to work out in the end." Family Guy had a chance to do the same, and I think it whiffed.
Sure, the episode had some occasional funny Family Guy quotes, and Brian and Stewie are still the show's best duo with the way that they play off of each other. Still, this was definitely not Family Guy at the top of its game, and it's far from the best movie parody they've done. But hey, at least it wasn't a Meg episode like the episode seemed to be from the beginning, huh?
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