WHAT do The Simpsons and Family Guy have in common? Well as fans of the shows will know, an awful lot. The premise, the family idea, a lot of the characters types, celebrity cameos, the list goes on and on. But one notable thing both popular shows have in common is both shows are to many past their prime. While The Simpsons lost quality way back in the 90’s, Family Guy’s decline has been much more recent. So can this unusual crossover help the shows at all, or is it just as the jokes make out, and is just a cash in?
Well let’s clear up a few things first. Firstly, the episode is not as good as prime Simpsons and prime Family Guy. Nothing made me wet myself like the first time I watched the Michael Moore fart-off. But from what I’ve seen of new Simpsons episodes, it was a vast improvement. Secondly, the episode is primarily aimed at a Family Guy audience. Indeed, the episode itself is essentially a Family Guy episode with characters from The Simpsons in it. A lot of the humour is very ‘Family Guy’ as well, especially the infamous Stewie-Moe-Prank-Call scene. If you had kids who liked watching The Simpsons, I wouldn’t show them this episode.
Now that’s cleared up, I can talk about the episode itself. The change from both programmes’ running times of 20 minutes to about 45 minutes (excluding adverts) was a great choice. Now, we get a nice set of storylines which include all the major characters from both families. Too often in Family Guy’s recent episodes the main focus has been on Peter, Brian, Stewie, Quagmire and Joe, and it was nice to get a good spread, with Meg and Chris actually getting decent plots. Not only that but secondary characters from both shows were given pleasant little cameos, even if it was a line or two. In fact, the only proper ‘celebrity’ cameo comes from James Woods, who plays himself in both Family Guy and Simpsons form in a very clever and funny scene.
In fact, some of the funniest scenes in the episode involve outside characters. In one of the few cutaway gags of the episode, Bob from Bob’s Burgers makes a slight appearance. During the extended ‘chicken fight’ scene, Rodger from American Dad! delivers (in my opinion) one of the best lines of the episode. There are times when seeing a Family Guy joke in a Simpsons setting is…. mildly disturbing. The scene I am referring to is of course the car wash scene. You have to watch it to get it. Although the only joke I would complain about is the overuse of the ‘Family Guy is a rip off of The Simpsons’ joke. It has obviously been thrown around for years and years, and the sly pointers throughout the show grow a little thin as it goes on.
Neither show was realistically going to return to its former glory, but the crossover episode was rather enjoyable, even if it wasn’t fantastic. It didn’t feel like a throwaway like how so many recent episodes of both shows have. However, the episode is likely to split viewers, and won’t be uniting fans anytime soon. Prepare for some serious flame wars.