Last night, fans of both Family Guy and The Simpsons received a crossover that no one specifically asked for, and yet people were very “Hmmm … sure” about, at least if you go by the impressive overnight ratings. The gimmicky episode was a mixed bag: Certain bits seemed to honor both shows’ traditions, while others brought down the quality of both animated Fox franchises. Here’s our assessment of what worked and what didn’t.
1. The hippie-murderers joke
When Lois thanks Marge for letting her family crash at their house, Mrs. Simpson replies, “And thank you for not being a band of hippie murderers.” Homer chimes in with “And now this again. You bring home two bands of hippie murderers and suddenly it’s all you’re about.” It was one of the few jokes that felt like a complete mix of both shows’ sensibilities.
2. Stewie’s instant infatuation with Bart
This was a good pairing (True Detective season three?), especially with Stewie trying to prove to Bart that he’s cool the entire episode. This first moment in particular is really funny.
3. The first cutaway
You knew a cutaway was coming, as it has become Family Guy’s trademark, you know, of the things The Simpsons did first. It’s quick and meta, and Bob’s Burgers gets a shout-out (whether backhanded or not, it’s still a nice gesture).
4. The trial
In a great meta bit, while the lawyer accuses Pawtucket Patriot Ale of infringing on Duff’s copyright, the camera scrolls around the courtroom to show all of the Family Guy characters with clear Simpsons parallels sitting next to their Springfield counterparts — like Tom Tucker and Kent Brokman, and Long John Peter and the Sea Captain. The scene peaks with James Woods, who appeared on The Simpsons talking to James Woods, who appeared on Family Guy. The icing on the scene’s cake was Fred Flintstone as the judge. At no point does Family Guy pretend it didn’t copy The Simpsons, and that’s a charming nod.
5. The newspaper headlines joke
After the Griffins lose the trial and everyone’s headed back home, Homer stares longingly out the window while reading a newspaper. Scored by some supremely sad music, Homer reads the three following headlines:
PAWTUCKET BREWERY TO SHUT DOWN. THOUSANDS TO LOSE JOBS
FAMILIES NEED JOBS TO EAT AND LIVE
NEWSPAPER HEADLINES CAN STIR FEELINGS OF PITY
That is such a Simpsons joke. At its best, this episode showed how much deference Family Guy has for The Simpsons.
1. Car wash
In an attempt to find the Griffins’ stolen car, Peter and Homer stage a pop-up car wash for stolen cars. The resulting scene is violently immature. And, of course, someone needed to vomit.
2. Everything between Meg and Lisa, and Brian and Santa’s Little Helper
It might have made sense on paper to pair the daughters together and the dogs together. But, frankly, it can be argued that, apart from Homer and Peter, the characters from each family that have the most in common are Lisa and Brian, as they’re both outsiders within their own clans because of their intelligence. I think a nice “Lisa’s Substitute” homage should’ve happened between the two, with Lisa complimenting Brian’s “canine good looks.”
3. The prank phone call
It was getting heat before the episode even aired, and rightfully so. It is just a lame, not-at-all-edgy rape joke.
4. The policeman’s ball joke
It wasn’t all newspaper headlines — a few attempts made at Simpson-y jokes were real swings and misses. The one that resulted in the biggest groan from me: Homer and Peter go to the police department to report Peter’s stolen car. Chief Wiggum responds, “Did you contribute to the policeman’s ball?” When Peter says no, Wiggum responds, “Aww, that’s too bad, because he really needs one. He had an accident last week.” Cut to Lou: “I tried to jump over a parking meter.”
5. The fight
Why? Who wanted this? It felt like slash fiction, written by someone with a very specific type and very complicated issues. Especially considering how many times Family Guy has done one of these fights, this brought both shows down. At least at the end they have Comic Book Guy say, “Worst chicken fight ever.”