What drives a person to climb Mount Everest? Is it the thrill of conquering what few have conquered? To go as high as one man can go? To stick it in the face of some hoity-toity rich family?
If you're the Griffins, it's that last reason, and the premise of "Into Fat Air," the season 11 premiere of Family Guy.
I found myself disappointed by the scenario that unfolded, really. There was very little tension throughout the episode, especially on the ascent, which was never really frightening; while Peter fell seemingly to his doom at one point, he was definitely safe, and a joke opportunity about not dying due to a cushion of dead bodies was taken. Well-played, show.
The Fishmans having beat the Griffins after all was somewhat deceptive due to the shots showing the Griffins alone on the mountains, so it seemed more like narrative convenience than anything, especially as at one point they were ahead.
Having the descent be the perilous part was something of an interesting choice, but the eventual cannibalism scene was almost a formality. It's the card that pretty much every comedy show with a survival situation seems to go to; let's eat an inconsequential character to live! Heck, American Dad did it, though there was the comic irony of it being ultimately unnecessary; here, it was just part of the episode, though Stewie did make reference to the fact that they didn't eat the dog first.
Of course, no one's going to eat Brian.
What I really appreciated was that the Griffins came across as likable here; maybe what they did was very silly due to the fact that they climbed Mount Everest to prove a point, but them going back to rescue their rival family was a nice touch. Peter's still a real jerk, but that's to be expected.
There were a lot of funny little lines, some cutaways that largely fell flat, and just was generally the level of humor that later seasons of the show are known for. As this was actually a production season 9 episode that aired as the season premiere, there's really not that kind of tonal shift that happens between production cycles yet, but I'm interested to see what happens soon; the show does seem to shift ever so slightly as writers turn over, so in the coming weeks the style of humor and storyline could definitely change.
This was a serviceable episode: it at least took the main characters out of their suburban lifestyle, gave them goals to accomplish, and followed through on it. It wasn't great, but I've sure seen worse from this series.
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