TCA: “Family Guy” table reading

Family_guy1Seth MacFarlane and the gang have assembled at TCA to do a live table reading of the upcoming 100th episode “Stewie Kills Lois” for our lunchtime pleasure. The room is loving it. Alex Borstein and MacFarlane are fascinating to watch. MacFarlane does a mean imitation of Ringo Starr….It’s especially fun to watch MacFarlane doing Stewie, and then shifting into other characters.

Now the episode is really getting good, because we’re getting to the part that they never could’ve done on Fox — even by this show’s standards. Let’s just say the part we’re in right now involves Stewie, and fantasies and riding crops, and Lois. It’s just plain crazy, which is what this show’s always been known for…

Now we’re into Peter telling a story about a one-handed abortionist…I’m not kidding.

Oh no, Stewie’s just pulled out a gun and has shot Lois while the family is on a cruise ship.

Now James Woods and Rob Lowe have entered the scene, in night caps, Ernie and Bert style. MacFarlane does a mean James Woods!

Now it’s Harrison Ford running around grabbing random people and saying “I want my family back!”

Alex Borstein has managed to crack MacFarlane up with a bit about cancer of the vagina. Peter is now trying to date, now that it’s been a year since Lois’ death.

Now Stewie is admitting that he shot Lois despite having led everyone to believe thatFamilyguy_tread1_2  Lois’ death was accidental. “Good luck proving that,” Stewie says.

Meg wearing lingerie is opening a package of Jumbo Hot Dogs….when the room groans, MacFarlane breaks character and admonishes: “C’mon, it’s either this or Herman’s Head folks, you make the choice?”

Now Barbra Streisand is blowing $100 bills out of her nose. Don’t even ask!

Now the story is turning so that it looks dangerous that Peter took out a life insurance policy against Lois, just before they got on the cruise ship. But Brian knows the truth and is determined to bring Stewie to justice.

The cops are convinced that Peter did it, especially after finding damning evidence that actually comes from Stewie.

Now there’s a scene of Jesus and Lazarus trying to settle up for Lazarus bringing Jesus back to life. Don’t ask.

Now Peter’s on trial for the murder of Lois. Carter Pewterschmidt, Lois’ father, is testifying that Peter confessed to him. It comes with a video featuring an Asian hooker. Don’t ask!

Now Peter’s on the stand. “I certainly think I’d remember killing her,” he says. “I plead the fifth of Jack,” he quips when asked if he’s a drinker.

Peter’s just about to be convincted and .. the Kool-Aid guy bursts through the courtroom. Big oops, he leaves.

Now, the courtroom door flings open and there’s a silhouetted figure…it’s Lois! She turns and fingers Stewie as the real killer. Cut to black, a chyron slate reads….”To be continued.”

OK, table read’s over. Questions begin.

MacFarlane confirms that much of it was edited out from the episode that has already been produced and slated to air in the fall. The wild and wooly version we’ve just seen will run in all its glory on the DVD set, MacFarlane assures. He also confirms that James Woods and Rob Lowe have committed to film a live-action sequence of their little bit — and yes he’s serious. (Woods and Lowe have been on the show before.)

“It’s fun because it kind of mixes up the medium a little bit,” he says.

“I do know that certain members of the Brolin family were amused by the last gag we did,” MacFarlane responded when asked about the show’s incessant Barbra-bashing.

“Do you think your comedy works better when it offends people,” one questioner asks, earnestly. MacFarlane takes a moment to give it some thought.

“We try to walk a balance of both. I try to have the balance between the classic and the edgy. We do a lot of poop jokes but at the same time we use a 45-piece orchestra every week. We don’t try to shock for shock’s sake. If something’s not funny, we’ll cut it out.”

MacFarlane notes that the show’s ultimate taste barometer is the table reads that they have on each script, which are well populated by writers, actors, network and studio execs.

“No one is shy about gasping in horror if we’ve crossed the line,” MacFarlane says.

So what shocks and offends him? MacFarlane’s answer was no surprise to regular viewers of “Family Guy.”

“Oh, the Bush administration, I guess.” 

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