‘Family Guy’: origin of a dirty joke

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It’s that time of year again when all your favorite network shows wrap up their seasons. Soon they’ll be gone, and everyone will have to spend their summer hours outside or, more likely, watching shows on cable (oh, shouldn’t “True Blood” be starting soon?).

Next week, “The Cleveland Show” is new and “Family Guy” will be showing its “Empire Strikes Back” parody, “Something, Something Darkside.” Most “Family Guy” fans with a DVD player or a working knowledge of bit torrent have already seen “Something, Something Darkside,” so that leaves the season 1 finale of “The Cleveland Show” to battle it out against the 2 1/2-hour series finale of “Lost.” Good luck with that. I’ll be seeing you about 2 a.m. on my DVR.


This week delivered the season finales of “Family Guy” and “American Dad,” and fitting finales they were. Animated shows aren’t really known for their season finales. Can you name off the top of your head one episode you know was a season finale of “Family Guy”? You can’t, or at least, you shouldn’t be able to.

But we start off with the second-to-last “Cleveland Show” of the first season, and Cleveland has the gambling bug. Like the flu, the only treatment is a small dose of the disease. Add that to the first mention of Roberta’s college fund and it doesn’t take two stoners from the University of Delaware to see where this is going. Cleveland and his plum-colored suit are scammed out of Roberta’s money, so he puts together a trio of … let’s say curvy femme fatales to take the casino down.

“Cleveland’s Angels” consist of Donna with her bosom tattoos of her children’s faces; Arianna the Bear, who doesn’t know rum is alcohol; and Kendra, who was apparently much thinner in the ‘60s but still rode on her little scooter. They scam the scammers, then make a dramatic and impressively animated escape. The “Price is Right” ending took a little air out of the episode, but my highlights included the Spike TV Most Jarring Sounds, Isaac’s shooting fingers and the two guys in the dorm room. A third visit to them would have made a much better ending in my book.

“Family Guy” finished off its regular season with a story that could have sustained a “Family Guy” movie. Chris gets suspended for telling a dirty joke he heard from Quagmire. Apparently the joke is too dirty to say on broadcast television, but it is so funny, Peter poops his pants any time he hears it. Even if it is delivered by Freddy Krueger inside a dream.

Peter and his buddies decide to track down the source of the dirty joke -- a quest for the source of all dirty jokes that takes them through nearly a dozen minor characters, including Bender from “Futurama” and REO Speedwagon. The journey leads them to Virginia and none other than Cleveland. With his help they end up on a mysterious island where the world’s smartest people (mostly men) think up dirty jokes. They barely make it out with their lives, but they do take with them the greatest joke ever. I was pretty sure the “Guess What?” joke was the greatest one ever. I’m glad I now have back-up to support that.

A nice epic ending to a season of “Family Guy.” I was so entertained that I didn’t realize until after watching that there was no sign of Stewie and Brian the entire half-hour. Normally I’d complain about missing out on those two, but this time, I didn’t mind.

And finally, “American Dad” finishes off its fifth season with Roger’s 1601st birthday. Roger wants to be roasted like all the greats or who’s popular at the moment with Comedy Central. The entire Smith family participates except for Klaus. He’s stuck in the audience due to the fact that Roger hates him. Klaus truly is the Meg of “American Dad.”

What isn’t bleeped out of the roast is pretty funny and quite revealing of Roger’s horrible tendencies around stacks of paper. Of course, Roger takes all the good-natured barbs personally. Roger says he’s going to fix all his flaws the family poked fun of, which doesn’t sound very Rogerish. In reality, he tries to have them all killed, which does sound very Rogerish.

Stan and the family hide from Roger, fleeing all the way to the plot of “Alien.” He stalks them all the way to the CIA/Chia Pet space station and, under the creepy soundtrack of Ace of Base, captures them. Only then does Roger realize that all the jokes were possible because he’s a member of the Smith family. Aw. How sweet.

It’s hard to point out all the genius moments of “American Dad” while just recapping the plot, so here’s a quick rundown: Roger’s costume for his roast, the entire breakdown of his checkbook, Roger’s AA speech from “The Wire,” the Chevy Tumbler, butt scorpions, the Thailand prison with its harpoon guard, the Indianapolis airport voice-mail, Stan’s Sigourney Weaver space wear. It was all so good it makes me sad there won’t be a new “American Dad” next week.

Through lines – The obvious big through line Sunday night was Cleveland’s return to “Family Guy.” To be honest, I’m glad the actual cross-appearances between “Family Guy” and “The Cleveland Show” have been few and far between. It makes the visits all the more special. Though I did love Peter telling Donna that their wedding present was the new show.

Obscurest reference -- There was a joke in “Family Guy” that I’m sure is a reference I just don’t remember. It’s when Cleveland’s running down the street to hop in the car and join Peter, Quagmire and Joe on their adventure. The whole scene and the song playing seemed so familiar. Leave a comment if you know what they were referencing.

But the award has to go to the simple fact that Sunday’s “Family Guy” was based on a story by Richard Matheson (If you don’t know who Richard Matheson is, you really should look him up). It really made the episode feel like a fable. I hope we get more like that next season.

Most possibly offensive joke – Wow. “Family Guy” all the way this time. The only question is what joke to choose. Any reference to women the whole episode probably got some feathers ruffled. Then there was the slowly escalating sexist/racist/homophobic game of would you rather (which might have been my favorite joke in the show). Though the winner would have to be the Vietnam War Memorial. That one was just rough.

-- Andrew Hanson


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