I know Family Guy, like many Fox animated comedies, is meant to be something silly that can be watched at random, perfect for casual viewers and syndication purposes.
But "Joe's Revenge" proved there’s no reason why it can’t still be intelligently-written and aware of the sitcom’s established backstory.
First, astute viewers will recall that Joe’s original story for being handicapped was that he fell off the roof while fighting the Grinch. And while this episode was definitely a retcon of that story, at least it was acknowledged in the plot.
I hate when long-running shows decide to just toss out any semblance of their history to assemble new jokes around the same situation, but considering that the series actually did hang a lampshade over it, I actually felt somewhat satisfied. Moreover, seeing Joe’s son and Susie returning (with her thoughts in Patrick Stewart’s voice) was enough of a continuity nod that I actually felt like the whole package worked. Some of the characters will always act inconsistently, but at least there’s a knowledge of the established history.
This was a much better job at being an action-packed episode than the Taken parody last season, "Leggo My Meg-O." Perhaps because it wasn’t trying to follow pre-determined beats and it got to satirize action movie elements like rooftop chases; doing its own version of the “guy disappears behind moving vehicle” technique, it was just a lot easier to watch.
In reality, this whole episode seemed very self-aware. From Quagmire’s comment through clenched teeth to Peter to not volunteer him for things like this... to getting to El Paso a couple days ahead of Bobby Briggs... to the aformentioned continuity nods, this was written with a relative intelligence for the series.
The subplot of the Griffins taking care of Quagmire’s cat was barely there, only really taking up a couple of short scenes, but they were at least funny ones, even if they were predictable. Brian wasn’t going to land on his feet like the cat. He was also going to get caught trying to claw at Lois’s breasts like the cat was trying to do. I saw it coming, but both scenes took it further: Chris tried to get Stewie with the “babies can’t land on their feet like cats can” line, and Brian smashed a lamp over Lois’s head to knock her out in order to escape. They were just well-constructed scenes.
That’s really how I would describe this episode: it felt a bit predictable, but it was assembled in a way that felt very satisfying at the end. That'll do.
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