Family Guy is at its best when it dials down the misanthropy and turns up the emotional sweetness.
The later seasons have featured a misanthropic streak that just brings the whole show down when it's overdone. The dark humor works best when there's something to offset it. Thankfully, "Total Recall" proved that the emotional core of the series is still alive and well.
Peter and Lois acting like human beings to each other was a very pleasant development.
There's often the dark turn that the stories involving them take, of a relationship that has its demise bubbling under the surface. To see an episode that's based on the follies of them trying to make each other happy, well, it was refreshing. It wasn't the funniest storyline, but it was rather pleasant in comparison to everything else we've often seen.
Plus, everyone knew that the two of them wouldn't actually split, so trying to put in secret amounts of drama between the pair feels like a waste of time. I'd rather them not be completely horrible.
Normally, a Brian and Stewie arc would be the star of a half hour, and while I was ready to be disappointed that it was the B-plot here, it still provided some solid moments. Granted, the story's pretty much a retread of when Brian and Stewie had to save Rupert before, but at least it had a couple of funny-if-expected jokes.
First, there was Brian trying to hit the "Off" button on the conveyor belt with a foam dart that didn't work. Then there was Stewie choking to death on Rupert's eye which popped off, exactly as he was recalled for. Chris' "Mom, Stewie's dead!" line was a great capper.
This won't go down as an all-time great in the show's canon, the Modern Family intro parody felt weak and there was still a lot of lazy humor, but it'll be a solid way to pass time when the episode airs in syndication and I invariably see it a million times on Adult Swim.
Check out our Family Guy quotes page for the best lines from this and other episodes.