Assessing the Contenders: Comedy Series Catchup (Family Guy, FotC, Office)

[As noted yesterday, I’m a bit behind on my pieces on the various episode submissions for the series prizes at the Emmy Awards. With the nominations an exciting week away, I want to try to get through these before the weekend so that my predictions can start on Sunday. So, some catchup is in order (Although I want to write a bit more about three of the remaining shows, all for different reasons).]

Family Guy (FOX)

Episode Submission: “Padre de Famile”

Synopsis: Peter discovers that he isn’t an American citizen, and after embracing his Mexican roots discovers the struggles of the illegal immigrant in modern America. And there’s fart jokes.

My Thoughts: I’ll admit right now that I am not a Family Guy fan – the show does nothing for me, and while I might watch it on occasion I never feel particularly content with what I watch.This episode is exactly the same for me. It has too much vomit, for one thing, and there are times when its jokes just go one step further than they need to.

But the thing is that Family Guy is also extremely funny, and there’s some great gags here. I particularly enjoyed the 25,000 Pyramid sidebar, and there was some great one-liners all over the place. The episode feels grounded in sitcom traditions with a dash of absurdity, and some of the pop culture stuff was more clever than I probably want to give it credit for.

Panel Potential: This is a bit of a wild card, but apparently it went over quite well in the panels. How well is an interesting question, as the episode features a lot of stuff that older viewers won’t get but also some things they will. It’s also a very “laugh-out-loud” kind of episode, taking a pointed social issue and just having a little bit of fun with it. It was more grounded than most Family Guy episodes, which should help it. Still, the animation issue could hold it back with some more traditional voters.

Flight of the Conchords (HBO)

Episode Submission: “Sally Returns”

Synopsis: After former flame Sally re-enters Jermaine and Bret’s life, tensions flare, apartments are rented, and glass butterflies are blown.

My Thoughts: I’m through a bit over half of this show’s first season, and I’m really enjoying it. However, I can tell already that I don’t really like this submission. While it does feature “Business Time,” the show’s most successful song on YouTube, the rest of the episode is just kind of tired compared to some of the more fun episodes that the show has seen. The story with Jermaine and the apartment is charming enough, but the show’s quaint charm just isn’t as on display as it could be.

Panel Potential: They might enjoy the song, as most people do, but to be honest I don’t see the panels embracing this show. While this episode isn’t particularly weird, it is still a very unique style of humour that doesn’t translate into other comic conventions. The odd thing about this series is that even the pilot doesn’t spend much time building character, the show is just this way from moment one. I’d hope voters would enjoy that, but something tells me that mild confusion was the likely reaction – combined with a low popular vote, it has no chance.

The Office (NBC)

Episode Submission: “Local Ad”

My Thoughts: I wasn’t able to review this episode for the blog, although I don’t really know why I didn’t. At this point in the season, I was tired of the awful one hour episodes, and it was great to finally have a nice, small and contained half hour that allowed these characters to shine. While “Goodbye, Toby” would have perhaps been a better choice for a few reasons (Especially for Amy Ryan’s performance), I find Local Ad to be a better episode of the series as a whole. It has some great moments for the supporting cast, ends in a heartwarming turn for Michael, and just feels like what the series is supposed to be: a charming situational comedy that plays with its own unique style. Plus, let’s be honest: Andy’s Kit-Kat struggles was one of the season’s greatest gags.

Panel Potential: And that should play well with the panels, very well even. It’s a good introduction to these characters, relying mostly on the situation versus any sort of long-term storylines (Which would be the problem with the finale). It’s an episode that, for the most part, doesn’t divide itself into A and B plots in the traditional sense, which also makes it feel a bit more like an event for all characters involved. This should perform well on the panels, and ensure that with the popular vote in play the series will return to the category for the third year in a row.

Next up: Pushing Daisies and 30 Rock, plus a detailed review of Two and a Half Men to answer the old adage “How bad is Two and a Half Men?”


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