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Commentary: Animation premieres win with return of Homer, Peter, Stan

'Family Guy,' 'The Simpsons' and 'American Dad!' premiered Sunday night on Fox.   Credit: Kayla Byler / Managing editor of design Photos courtesy of MCT

‘Family Guy,’ ‘The Simpsons’ and ‘American Dad!’ premiered Sunday night on Fox.
Credit: Kayla Byler / Managing editor of design Photos courtesy of MCT

Sundays are back on track for hours of immense shenanigans and side-splitting humor. If you were busy watching the “Breaking Bad” finale Sunday, then you probably missed the at least two season premieres from Fox’s famous trio: “The Simpsons,” “Family Guy” and “American Dad.” All three are looking good upon first impressions, with some having slight hiccups in their old age. The following will be a brief recap, as well as a prediction for the seasons, with the scale based entirely on the ability to contain my attention with laughter.

“The Simpsons” 

Homer and the gang turned 25 this season, and with more than 500 episodes aired, it is hard to remember a time when they were not on television. But with its age, comes a struggle: The writers have to find something they haven’t done before.

In the recent past, the show has pulled at straws, trying to find a fresh angle in such a grounded and familiar universe. We all know what the Simpsons family is like by now, and we expect them to behave in certain ways: Homer is the dumb one, Lisa is the smart one, and so on.

Luckily, creator Matt Groening knows this and started the season premiere off with a satire on the Showtime hit show “Homeland,” vicariously named “Homerland.” In it, Homer loses his memory and becomes a sort of sleeper cell . To his family’s amazement, he refuses pork and beer at dinner, and they immediately sense something is wrong. The episode pokes fun at how the characters are supposed to behave, but admittedly shows its age in the process — the laughs were few and stretched thin throughout the episode.

In recent years, it seems like “The Simpsons” staff has changed its humor to adapt to the upcoming “Family Guy” audience. Its attention to small details and cutaways were prominent throughout the episode, but instead of helping the humor, it dulled it. Hopefully the staff can change a few gears in the machine before it wears out. It was not a bad episode, but it did feel aged and in a rush to keep up with the modern audience.

“Family Guy”

Seth MacFarlane has been extremely busy recently with directing, producing and voice acting on multiple shows and movies, but that hasn’t stopped him from producing a hilariously fresh new “Family Guy.” Merely 10 seconds into the episode, titled “Finder’s Keepers,” I was clutching my sides in laughter. “Family Guy’s” hilarity is back for Season 12 and shows no signs of slowing down.

The episode followed the typical “Family Guy” formula, complete with adult humor and situations, some of which tiptoed the line of what shouldn’t be allowed on television. MacFarlane and the other voice actors are still superb, and the cutaways are still way over-the-top and drawn out.

The episode involved a treasure hunt, mimicking movies like “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” (1963) or even “Rat Race” (2001), but rather than start with a legitimate clue, it began with Stewie coloring on a restaurant’s child placemat (would anyone think otherwise when it comes to “Family Guy?”).

The episode was without a doubt hilarious, but nothing really stood out as groundbreaking. The jokes were strong, and if MacFarlane can keep them coming, “Family Guy” fans are in for a rewarding season.

“American Dad!” 

It has always been the red-headed step-child of the bunch after its 2005 premiere, but that doesn’t stop “American Dad!” from pulling an audience. As the last show of the bunch to broadcast Sunday nights, it was refreshing to see a program free of cutaways and other distracting quirks. That didn’t stop it from being off-the-wall weird, however, especially in an episode titled “Steve and Snot’s Test-Tubular Adventure.”

MacFarlane tackles the topic of prom and takes his own spin on it. Revolving around the nerdy son Steve and his acne-filled friend Snot, the two set out to clone dates for the upcoming prom with the sole goal of losing their virginity. There are boundless mishaps along the way, with a surprise (including an alien babysitter) around every corner.

The writing was superb, but the awkward topic angle proved difficult to burst out laughing over. I’m positive MacFarlane has more up his sleeves for his newer sitcom, and I am looking forward to where he takes Stan and his family.

One comment

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