It’s not everyday two titans of animation meet together in a crossover, I mean sure, The Flinstones have met The Jetsons, The Scooby Gang (the actual one, not the Buffy one) has met The Pussycats, but I can’t think of anything in recent memory as big as the idea of The Simpsons meeting Family Guy‘s Griffins. That’s exactly what happened on the season opener of Family Guy, though, as the Griffins found themselves neck deep in Springfield. The results? Well, much like Springfield’s burning pile of tires, were hot garbage.
How do the Griffins end up in Springfield? Well, Peter, upon noticing that newspaper comic strips are terrible, decides to start his own, but naturally offends a bunch of women when he makes a sexist strip (man says “my dishwasher is broken” and is standing in front of his dead wife. Really.) and he and his family skip town until the heat dies down. Because women being offended by sexism is a funny joke, right? I thought maybe they were making a comment about this episode’s god awful rape joke that caused waves when it was in a teaser for this episode, but this was episode was probably long in the can before that little controversy. Plus they never really use this side plot to say anything, except for maybe just trivialize sexism/misogyny as a whole and toss the whole thing aside to get the characters into Springfield.
Once they are in Springfield, things don’t fare much better. The Griffin’s car gets stolen, leaving them stranded, and of course Chief Wiggum isn’t much help. He puts The Griffins stolen car report in the “circular file”, which it turns out is a circular drawer in a filing cabinet that Wiggum “doesn’t check much”. Get it, because cicular file usually means the trash can! Ha ha, this is what is passing for jokes, here, people. Homer invites Peter and company back to the Simpson house, where the characters split up into their respective A, B, C, and maybe D plots. Homer and Peter work to try and find Peter’s car, at one point by having a car wash for stolen cars, in which they both don white tees and Daisy Dukes, resulting in a gross “sexy” car washing montage to Def Leopard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me”. It probably had the potential to be funny, but in Family Guy tradition, it went on too long. Maybe if the animation were a little better and it hit a line-crossing level of grossness it would of got a chuckle out of me (even an overly detailed Ren and Stimpy style still shot would have worked) but the joke just doesn’t hit, much like all the other ones in the episode.
We’ve got at least three other side plots going on here too over this painfully too long hour. Stewie idolizes Bart and wants to be just like him, but of course when Stewie takes it to his patented level of too far and crazy by kidnapping and torturing Nelson (which was cringe-worthy bad) and everyone else who have ever done Bart wrong (including Sideshow Bob in a non-speaking roll), Bart decides he can’t be friends with Stewie. That’s it for that one, that’s literally the best the writers had for an icon like Bart Simpson meeting an pop culture mainstay like Stewie Griffin.
Meg also met Lisa, in a kind-of-cute subplot where Lisa tries to help Meg find something she is good at. It’s a good idea and it’s cool to see someone actually be nice to Meg and treat her like a character instead of a punchline for once (although just barely as there are still about a million “Meg is terrible” jokes) but the resolution to this story is about as inspired as Bart and Stewie’s. It turns out Meg is better at the saxophone than Lisa (which you would think would spark a rivalry but doesn’t) and ends with Lisa giving Meg her saxophone as a gift, which is almost a sweet moment until Peter unceremoniously dumps it in the garbage, just to make sure the status quo is back, which is expected, but a least write something better than that. Lisa and Meg could have had a sax-off ending in a cool duet, or just anything would be better than a strained, unbelievable resolution going straight into a forced, quick and dirty write off of everything that just happened.
Even worse though is Chris and Brian’s C-plot (are we at C now?) with Santa’s Little Helper, where they accidentally lose him, but then back at the end when Brian is going to come clean to Marge about it, he just comes back. For no rhyme or reason, and no joke as to where he was or why he came back, Santa’s Little Helper just shows back up, effectively making this subplot an absolute waste of time with no punchline whatsoever. Lastly, Marge and Lois go see a movie (during the day, to Marge’s excitement) Surf’s Up 2, where Lois says Marge covered her eyes every time the penguins surfed because she was “nervous that they would get hurt” which is one of the few times I chuckled during the whole episode for some reason.
At some point Peter gets his car back (Hans Moleman was driving it the whole time, omg lol comedy) and then they get in an argument over Duff vs. Pawtucket Patriot brand beer, which the writers use in a purposely thinly veiled argument about Family Guy ripping off The Simpsons. It’s actually a pretty clever and funny moment, but it was also shown in its entirety in the trailer earlier in the year. This leads to Duff suing Pawtucket Patriot, there’s a court scene (with a special appearance by Fred Flintstone as the judge, which was sort of funny) and the subsequent pairing up of The Simpsons characters with their Family Guy
ripoffs counterparts (did you know both shows have a sea captain? lawl humor ha ha). You can see a Simpsons-ifed Matt Groening in the background so that’s pretty cool I guess.
So the Griffins get their car back and our about to leave, but guess what? Homer and Peter get in to one of those Family Guy “chicken fights” that lasts a good seven minutes or so. It’s not funny, either. Actually, the drawn out “chicken fight” hasn’t been funny since they did it the first time in, what, 2002 or something? So right there’s a whole 7 straight minutes you can write off of just Homer and Peter punching each other. I guess it has a comple of half-chuckle worth moments, once when due to a radioactive leak at the power plant they switch character designs, and another when American Dad‘s Roger (the alien) shows up alongside Kang and Kodos. Still though, these things have long since lost their luster and now are more annoying than anything. At the end, Comic Book Guy shows up and says “Worst Chicken Fight Ever” (because you know he was going to say that at some point) but the jokes on him– they are almost all terrible!
In the end, they decide to let bygones be bygones, the Griffins go home, and Peter cracks open a Pawtucket Patriot, because to shut down the brewery, the Simpsons would actually have to come to Quahog and they are never going to do that! Haw haw!
It was just the worst! I’m not going to lie, I’m not the biggest Family Guy fan out there, but I will still watch it if it’s on and by no means actively hate the show. The Simpsons though I’ve always loved, and while I will admit the show is in no way even close to what it used to be (but really NOTHING is even close to what The Simpsons used to be), I still have a great love for the world of Springfield and the loveable group of weirdos that inhabit it. They deserved better than this. You think when two pop culture icons of both the 90s and the early 2000s respectively meet up, they could of squeezed a little more comedy and some better storytelling than that out of it.
Then again, this is a Family Guy episode and not a Simpsons episode, so I guess their throw everything at the wall and see what sticks style of comedy shouldn’t come as a surprise, as well as their inability to have their writing have any sort of message or emotional pull like good episodes of The Simpsons do. The whole thing is par for the course Family Guy tastelessness without any of that Simpsons charm I was hoping would leak through. The whole thing just (and I try not to say this as a critic because it’s not very constructive nor thoughtfully critical) sucked. Don’t watch it. Don’t waste your time. Don’t watch The Simpsons be dragged through the mud by a Family Guy episode that is terrible even by their standards.
Call me when The Simpsons go to South Park or Brendan Small of Home Movies gets hired by Bob of Bob’s Burgers to make a commercial for his restaurant. As Jay Sherman would say (and he knows a thing or two about crossing over with the Simpsons and still being pretty funny), “It stinks!”.