Tonight, Family Guy came back on the air after a long and painful hiatus. With a very strong opening scene in grand Fox self-deprecating style, adequate innuendo and a "Wow, I can't believe they went there moment" involving Pinnochio, I'd say the episode held up against the inflated expectations of an eager and critical fan base.
And how did they do this? How, after years of mounting tension and strained hope did the show manage to maintain the magic it's always had, against all odds? Simple. They've outsourced the crappiness to American Dad.
Seth MacFarlane's second attempt at gold is striking a big fat brass with most of his fans-- the politically charged show is teetering precariously between being an extension of Family Guy and being it's own show-- while the animation style is identical, and the magical Six-figure family formula is followed, (Father, Mother, Boy, Girl, two X factors, which in Family Guy are represented by the wildly successful choice of a talking alcoholic dog and an eloquent and evil infant, replaced in American Dad by a somewhat promising sexually ambiguous alien and the TOTAL, total failure of a once-German-Olympian-turned-womanizing-Goldfish, ugh.) the show has veered away towards the format of anything-can-and-will happen plots, digression and non-sequiturs that have brought Family Guy that extra mile.
Is this a good choice or a bad choice?
My feeling is that this is the creator's attempt to keep the show seperate and hold some things sacred. Again, it must be difficult for them to walk this line, and while a demanding public may not yet appreciate American Dad for what it is, one must realize that if it had been any more closely related to the original show, we all would have simultaneously called them on it.
The bottom line? I think it'll tank, in the end. But, BUT! I think we owe it to Seth and everyone else involved to give them the benefit of the doubt and tune in until that time. Soulless rip-off though it may well be, it may also find it's own way. And if not, well, hell, what else is there to watch? The Simpsons?
I'm afraid Fox's self-deprecating humor has stretched itself a litte too thin for that.
On with it.