When the first Super Bowl was held in 1967, the boy wonder who created, developed and executive produced the Fox animated comedy series that’s blessed with this year’s coveted post-Super Bowl timeslot wasn’t due to be born for 6-1/2 more years. He’s Seth MacFarlane, he’s 25 — his age is being hyped by Fox as proof of … well … something, and his show “Family Guy” (for which he also co-writes and supplies several voices) is both undeniably clever and utterly bizarre — not always for the better.
MacFarlane, a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, is being hailed as nothing less than the second coming of “South Park” creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker (but younger). To see the wildly eccentric, occasionally uproarious premiere, the kid appears to be getting away with everything the “South Park” guys have without the prerequisite of being on cable.
Premise feels like “The Simpsons” meets “Married … With Children.” Peter Griffin is the roly-poly patriarch of an oddball crew living in the New England ‘burbs whose chin is shaped like Marilyn Monroe’s derriere. He and his generally disapproving wife, Lois, are parents to three highly toxic kids: teen princess Meg, slacker fatty Chris (following his dad’s couch potato example at 13) and a diabolical infant named Stewie.
Stewie’s raison d’etre seems to be to try to kill his mother any way possible. He also speaks with the sophistication, and British tones, of a whiny Rex Harrison. That’s when he isn’t trying to use a raygun for mind control. Oh yeah, there’s also the family dog Brian. He talks. In fact, he’s the smart one in this family (not necessarily a huge feat). The pooch basically keeps everyone in line.
With a homicidal baby and a dog who could score 1,200 on the SAT, it will shock few that little time is wasted here on realistic plot development, hampering the show’s prospects for scoring points with the “Simpsons” crowd.
With primetime adult animation exploding this year to become a leading series genre (Fox alone now has four such shows, with another on the way in “Simpsons” creator Matt Groening’s highly anticipated “Futurama”), “Family Guy” pushes the creative envelope in loopy directions once thought unimaginable.
But too often in the “sneak preview,” the show bleeds punchlines and gags without bothering to set them up, resulting in a frenzy of outlandishness almost too absurd for its own good. What will happen by March, when this show settles into an as-yet-unannounced timeslot, is any 25-year-old’s guess.