Family Guy “Pilling Them Softly” Review (Season 14 Premiere)

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Earlier on, I reviewed “The Simpsons” premiere, lamenting at how, at this point, there’s few plotlines the show hasn’t done at this point, and it’s only natural that the show, for better or worse, would end up repeating itself. Well, leave it to “Family Guy” to trade off its original premiere for another one that actually ended up being, in part, a retread of one of the plotlines on “The Simpsons” premiere! It’s like the show couldn’t help itself from ripping off “The Simpsons,” even when it couldn’t possibly have known that the switching out of episodes would yield that unfortunate result. Oh well.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. To be honest, the “Family Guy” premiere was probably no better or worse than “The Simpsons.” I suppose I’d give “The Simpsons” the slight advantage, given that it had the one-two-punch combo of offering up both the threat of a “Simpsons” break-up and a guest spot from all the “Girls” of the HBO show of the same name and some of their beaus, to boot, but all in all, I probably laughed about the same amount of times, when all was said and done.

On “Family Guy,” there were two main plots: one revolved around Stewie being put on ADD meds, with Brian following suit, in an effort to help him focus, which worked a little TOO well (this was the plotline that reflected the one on “The Simpsons,” where Homer got addicted to prescription meds as well); and the other on Peter and Quagmire getting their own cooking shows on TV.

In the first- which was somewhat ironically the better of the two, despite the been there-done that quality of it having followed a similar plotline on “The Simpsons”- much of the fun came from watching a google-eyed Stewie (see above pic) zone out on Adderall, while Brian became a manic mess, creating a sci-fi fantasy world reminiscent of a certain HBO show.

The latter plotline came to a head in an amusing fashion when Brian went to a Comic Con-type event to meet George R.R. Martin himself, who actually turned out to be an imposter, imitating Martin to take advantage of all the “nerd chach” (possible misspelling- I’m gonna assume it meant “chicks” or more likely, a certain part of a woman which I’m sure you can figure out what is).

Either way, the faux Martin told Brian his ideas were a derivative mess, which may or may not have been a jab at “Game of Thrones” itself. At the very least, the show was clearly making fun of Martin himself, albeit in a good-natured fashion.

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Meanwhile, when Quagmire’s inner circle discovered he was actually a top-notch cook, they encouraged him to try and get one of those cooking shows of his very own, a la “Top Chef” or what have you. It worked, but with a catch: the network suit wanted Quagmire to also feature Peter as his “funny sidekick,” much to his chagrin. Eventually, things came to a head, and the two went their separate ways, with Peter starting his own show: “Butter Sluts”!

The latter show is a huge hit, leading Quagmire to challenge Peter to a cook-off. This backfires when the secret ingredient proves to be…butter. Whoops! Needless to say, Peter rises to the occasion, but when he realizes he’s about to crush Quagmire’s dreams, he throws the competition by eating his own dishes- and nearly giving himself a heart attack, or a stroke, or a heart attack, or a combination of various heart-related issues from all the butter. Quagmire wins by default and all is right with the world again.

As per usual, the episode came down to funny lines, and there weren’t as many as you’d hope, but there were a few good ones here and there. Here are some of my favorites:

Stewie, as Lois comes in and announces her intentions: “ Why do you feel the need to narrate every little thing you do?” Very meta, and fairly amusing at that.

Quagmire, on the new dish at the bar, Korean tacos (!): “This tastes like Ani DiFranco after a bike ride.” Eew, and hilarious.

Best cutaway gag of the night, ironically about a cutaway of sorts: when Peter flashed back to his giving Javier Bardem (or really, his character in “No Country for Old Men”) a haircut and Bardem described what he wanted Peter to do as: “Long in the short places, and short in the long places. It should be from both the future and the past. Like something a child would do to a doll.” Nailed it!

Ickiest joke of the night, aside from that Ani DiFranco one: On Quagmire’s show, there was a bottom scroll of Peter’s helpful hints. One read: “Family out of town? The inside of a spaghetti squash feels like inside-the-mouth skin.” Eew. Thanks for THAT visual, Seth MacFarlane. (For that matter, who among you did indeed Google Jodi Arias bikini after the show?)

Best out-dated references, not already mentioned: Peter’s “Stomp!” joke, as he banged on pots and pans with a metal spoon: “Look at me! I’m huge in 2002! Nothing like a night at the theater that ends in a headache!” LOL. He also did the “cinnamon challenge,” which is a pretty outdated joke as well, though not 2002 outdated, at least.

Brian, on George R.R. Martin: “He must be the coolest fat guy in a train conductor’s cap in the world!”

The Martin imposter, unapologetic, after being found out: “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and wash all the nerd choch out of my beard.”

Cleveland, after Peter and Quagmire say the “N-word” live on the air, in order to get fired from their shows: “You know, you could have just quit the show.”

I also liked the gag where Joe, who couldn’t quite see over the cooking table and was feeling around for a certain ingredient, touched a cauliflower and recoiled: “Monster brains!” LOL. Childhood flashback!

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All in all, a so-so episode that had its moments, but not nearly enough of them. There was a time when “Family Guy” could be relied upon for rapid-fire, quick-paced, non-stop jokes, but clearly, that time has passed. In its place is a more leisurely-paced show that’s not as exhausting, admittedly, but also not as funny, either. You win some, you lose some I guess. I think, as horror fan, I would have preferred they went with the intended “Peternormal Activity,” a horror spoof, but I get why they postponed it, as it puts it that much closer to Halloween. As is stands, I’ve seen worse episodes of the show, but I’ve certainly seen better as well.

What did you think of the “Family Guy” premiere? Did you laugh more than I did? Or did you agree with my assessment? Were you also disappointed they switched up episodes at the last minute? Are you looking forward to the horror spoof? Do you wish the show moved at a quicker pace than it does now, like the old days, or do you prefer the slower pace? Sound off on this and more down below, and I’ll be back for an update later on in the season!