In its latter seasons, Family Guy has either shown a noticeable decline in strengthening their core characters or confirmed our suspicions that it never had that interest to begin with.
Peter's an entirely different animal depending on the needs of the plot every week and Meg and Chris haven't really developed past their respective roles as family punching bag and dimwit.
That's relatively OK for a show that's heavily influenced by The Simpsons, in which the characters haven't grown in 20 years.
The only exception within the Griffin household is the Brian and Stewie relationship, which has come a long way. I suspect even the haters of Family Guy (and yes, there are quite a few out there) would have a higher opinion of a show solely about Stewie and Brian. I'm not in the camp that the show has no merit outside of Brian and Stewie, but these two are on another plain entirely. With that being said, it's a pretty easy sell for me whenever we have these two characters and a time machine, to boot.
Family Guy Season 13 Episode 7 throws Chris into the mix, which is an interesting contrast. The Stewie/Chris history isn't particularly extensive, but there have been traces of warmth between the two. More importantly, a Chris-centric plot has more potential if he's thrown into a storyline with Brian and Stewie.
Family Guy is less of a three-arc structure than a zig-zag laced with misdirection. With commercials, the superfluous plots and the cutaways, there isn't much meat left for the plot in that half-hour time span.
The second act consists of a rapid-fire time travel sequence which is clearly an excuse to package up and deliver some leftover cutaway jokes set in the days of yore.
They travel from Jefferson's White House as he announces the Louisiana Purchase, to Jane Austen's parlor so they can unload some farts, to Washington crossing the Delaware so they can learn that he's terrified of water; no sequence lasts longer than the time required to set up a punch line. It rushes by pretty fast (and is Hell on a reviewer trying to write a coherent recap).
Brian: Excuse me Mr. Hemingway. Can I have a beer with you?
Ernest Hemingway: Sure, I love life and all the people in it.
Brian: Thanks and, as a fellow writer, I'd love to talk to you about your craft God if only we can get rid of these damn arms and attach the pen directly to the heart.....
[Hemingway shoots himself]
I'd argue that the second act would have been better served if they lessened the number of jumps. At the same time, I can't deny the laughs were there.
Come on guys. We're getting Oklahoma, Wyoming, Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota and Louisiana. What are the chances all those states suck?Thomas Jefferson
In the third act, the show turns into a Titanic farce which is a real treat for me as I recently went through a Titanic learning binge. For instance, when Stewie said that only the rich survived the Titanic, I remembered offhand that more third-class passengers survived the Titanic than second-class passengers and I knew the best chance for Stewie, Brian and Chris to survive in this hypothetical situation would have been to board the one of first two lifeboats. Few people took the threat seriously at the time and those two boats were far below capacity. Aren't you lucky I got assigned Family Guy tonight?
I'm sure most people know the Titanic didn't hit the iceberg on the first night. It's not really about historical accuracy, but having some fun with the historic setting and because of time constraints, there's not enough time to do too much with it except having the gang fight over lifeboat space. It's worth noting the Family Guy crew must have taken their cues directly from the James Cameron film as the zoom shoot of the deck is pretty homage-like.
On the whole, the episode felt kind of rushed, even by Family Guy standards. Still, the episode wasn't really about any one of the time jumps or the Titanic. It was a Chris/Stewie episode and that "awwww" moment at the end more or less worked. There was a nice twist (to save Chris from flunking), plenty of laughs and Brian/Stewie/time machine plots are pretty much always a win.
What do you think of the Brian/Stewie pairing verse the rest of the characters on the show? Do these two make the show for you as well and do you think the show has to develop the other characters in the Griffin clan to keep pace? What was your favorite historic joke?
Don't forget you can watch Family Guy online right here at TV Fanatic.
Family Guy Season 13 Episode 8 will be titled "Our Idiot Brian" and air on January 11.