Warning: Spoilers for Family Guy season fifteen episode one abound.
The best Family Guy episodes, such as the Road To... episodes, "Brian's Play" and "Brian and Stewie", focus on that unique love-hate relationship between the talking baby and the talking dog. This is largely down to the fact that they are the only two characters with an actually complicated relationship. For the first episode of the Season 15, Family Guy have revisited this dynamic to create a fairly strong opening, if not on the level of its best premieres.
The episode starts in the standard Family Guy way; with Brian and Stewie watching something on TV. In this instance, they see a children's show featuring a bunch of kazoo's, leading Stewie to remark that songs for children never really reflect the concerns about children themselves.
The reason for this: they are written by adults. What if Stewie wrote songs about what its really like to be a baby? This leads them to;
Form A Band
The aptly titled duo Red Shirt Blue Shirt — reflecting their sartorial choices — debut to immediate success. Stewie's infantile songs build upon the initial brilliance we once saw in Season 7's hilarious "Music and Lyrics", using a baby's perspective of the world to generate dark and oddball humour. This is where Family Guy thrives best, by developing a conceit and committing to it. A sample of the themes on offer: what parents get up to in bed; mother's drinking while pregnant; what babies are really saying when they're crying; and how to find the gun in the house. The only problem with the songs are the success, leading to:
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The Return Of Olivia
It seems to not only be South Park which is embracing nostalgia this year, with Family Guy bringing back Stewie's old flame Olivia. We last saw her in season five, episode seven, getting burned alive in a cardboard house after Stewie catches her with another baby. Check out Stewie and Olivia back when they worked together:
It's surprising to see her alive (something the show alludes to) and even more strange that she wants to be one of the band's groupies — the description of which shows Stewie still has a lot to learn about sex. Yet there is method in her madness, as she uses her sweet presence as a way to drive a wedge between him and Brian, before eventually usurping Stewie and singing his songs. Brian naturally realises his mistake and makes back up with Stewie.
Whilst Family Guy is a little too prone to paint women as the bad guys a lot, this storytelling mostly succeeds, using an old character to explore yet another nuance in the everlasting friendship between Brian and Stewie. These two are the beating heart of the show.
Meanwhile, in the subplot;
Chris Gets A Job
Chris wants a shamrock tattoo — as a White Irish-American, he thinks "it's time" — so Lois tells him to get a job. Who better to ask than Quagmire, who having a full-time sex life, employs Chris as a receptionist in order to schedule his appointments. This leads Quagmire's house to resemble something of a doctor's office, with Chris telling one woman that he can only schedule her in at the absurdly precise 3pm next Wednesday.
In getting to know the particular perversities that constitute Quagmire's life, my opinion of him has slowly gone from someone to envy to a figure of immense pity. It must be hard being that obsessed. This raises unheard concerns from Lois, who eventually stops Chris' working for Quagmire by offering him $1100. Like most episodes of Family Guy, nothing is learned, but at least there are some funny moments here and there, such as;
The Best Cutaway Gag
In the funniest, silliest cutaway of the episode, we see Chris previously employed as a guy in the movies who runs to the airport to stop the woman he loves from leaving. What Family Guy does so well with its extended cutaway gags is prolong them for so long that the joy in watching comes from the seemingly endless anticipation that the cliché in question will be subverted in either a really clever or really stupid way.
This conceit, which only gets funnier by embracing every archetype, from the overzealous taxi driver to the security guard who just understands to the fact that the plane is going to a stuffy New England college, sadly has an underwhelming finish with Chris instead wanting the grandmother. I think it would be funnier if he suddenly got shot by security guards.
Best Visual Gag
Best visual gag goes to Peter, who upon telling a dirty joke, has this neat way of capping it off:
Sadly for Mort (who is dressed as a gimp horse), his joke doesn't quite land like Peter's: