Chris Griffin is not that smart. But he’s not a complete idiot, as the plot proved in "Space Cadet", an otherwise pedestrian episode of Family Guy.
While the half hour followed the trajectory of “person isn't as big of a failure as they or others think they are," very few of those stories wound up going to space. If any. Such a plot of the Griffins going to space would be silly, I suppose, if Peter hadn’t gone to space for a cutaway joke one time. Also, I would not describe this as a series that is grounded in reality, if we're being fair here.
Amidst the jokes was one that fell on deaf ears for me. So the show decided to make a quick little crack at the animation of Bob’s Burgers. Yeah, sitcoms on Fox’s animation block make fun of each other from time to time, including between the Seth MacFarlane family of programs.
But come on. If Family Guy was a bastion of high-quality animation, this would be a fair criticism. However, both shows are about on par with their animation style; making a reference to its art style felt hypocritical more than anything. Make fun of things like how so many of the female voices are men, or how H. Jon Benjamin just sounds like the same character in everything he does. This one just seemed mean.
The rest of the jokes in the episode were well-played, including a few intra-episode callbacks, like Peter’s reference to Breaking Bad and The Wire after being hypnotized by the TV to evangelize it to everyone.
Also, when Consuela stole the Griffins' house because she presumed they were dead in space, and when they went home, it was in a seedy urban neighborhood instead. Sadly, Meg getting airlocked by Stewie didn’t mean that she was gone for the rest of the episode; there was a silent-yet-hilarious horror that came over Brian and Stewie when that happened and it would have been great if she was just... gone for the rest of the episode.
Oh, and the writers really don’t like Florida or its institutions of higher learning, apparently. Oh, and the reference to the Konami code by Peter made this long-time gamer smile.
Still, despite the surprisingly intelligent funny moments, this one just felt kind of off-kilter at times. It was occasionally amusing, but rarely ever made me laugh out loud, and the moral of Chris not being so stupid after all could be seen coming from a mile away. Also, Brian Williams was tragically underused in his cameo. You get a man with that kind of comedic timing, you gotta use him to his full abilities! Sadly, much like this episode, the execution just really wasn’t there.
Check out our Family Guy quotes page for the best of this episode and more.