Spoilers to Behold
A few journals back, I spoke about a video showing clips from the then-upcoming Family Guy/Simpsons crossover, "The Simpsons Guy". Despite my current dislike of Seth MacFarlane's works, the setup appealed to my love of crossovers, as well as making what I wanted to see back when I was a fan of both shows official. Most of the clips, particularly those demonstrating the Peter Griffin/Homer Simpson dynamic were actually pretty damn hilarious. But naturally, I was worried that FG's current demeanor would ruin the crossover concept. And considering the general way that they treat things anymore, I was right to be worried. So, I sat back and watched this crossover event in a cautious but hopeful mood. And...it turned out to be meh.
It starts with stealing five minutes of our life on Peter outraging women due to his misogynistic comic strip-and I'm already annoyed. Having to escape Quahog for a while, the Griffins have their car stolen, which leads them directly into Springfield. During this time, several of the parallel family members bond with one another. Homer and Peter set out to find the car for themselves, which leads to the usual shenanigans before they find it and celebrate, leading to another conflict when Pawtucket Patriot beer turns out to be a ripoff of Duff. Lisa tries to find what Meg's good at, and discovers that Meg's a superior saxophone player. Stewie tries to emulate Bart, and later takes revenge on Nelson for his bullying. And Chris and Brian lose Santa's Little Helper following Brian's poorly thought-out attempt at ensuring the dog experiences life before he suddenly turns up again. Ultimately, Duff wins its suit against Pawtucket Pat, and the Griffins are worried about their future with Peter being out of a job. With all this anger and tension, Homer and Peter duke it out in a Springfield edition of the Peter vs. Ernie the Giant Chicken battles before settling their differences. The Griffins return to Quahog, and the entire plot of losing his job is rendered completely pointless when they lampshade how that decision's not going to be enforced.
Sadly, the crossover isn't as great as I hoped, yet I also suspected it wouldn't fare as well. The biggest issue is that they just don't really work the interactions very well. Marge and Lois really don't bond over their situations-the closest interaction they really have is watching Surf's Up 2 in the afternoon. The Meg/Lisa subplot just serves as yet another Meg-bashing session, reinforcing Meg's self-destructive habits for laughs (carving Lisa's name in her arm, for God's sakes) and having any potential heartwarming moment destroyed by Peter just having to butt in and be an ass-which renders the whole damn subplot pointless. (Not to mention how we never get to really see Meg's ability even remotely flourish, like seeing her manage to entertain others, although that would also just be used as an excuse to bash her.) Stewie's idolization of Bart is annoying at first, and then descends into the usual Family Guy depravity, although thankfully not as far as it could have gone, when Stewie abducts Nelson and everyone else who's antagonized Bart. (Although I will admit that Stewie making Nelson eat his shorts is a bit of a clever subversion from the usual torture porn that Family Guy caters to and was hinting at.) I did get a few laughs out of Brian and Chris' desperate attempts to cover up Santa's Little Helper's disappearance, such as Chris getting a little too carried away with the impressions, but it too was ultimately pointless when Santa's Little Helper just came back, especially after making that dramatic exit with the other dogs. Even the Homer/Peter dynamic isn't free of painful and unfunny bits, such as when they tried to "think like a car" by drinking, and then anally pumping gasoline, or the "car wash" bit that paid way too much attention to their grotesque girths. Not to mention that when they do find the car-or rather when it finds them-, the scene is just played out as an excuse to graphically maul Peter. (I was a bit disappointed that they didn't do anything with the giant magnet gag they were setting up, although, knowing FG, it could have ended really badly.)
As for the other gags, they varied. I still loved the cutaway gag of Homer and Peter as WWII pilots with its shot at The Cleveland Show, as well as seeing the classic "Bart prank calls Moe" gag once again, as was shown in the preview clips. There was also a funny bit where Chris stole Maggie's pacifier, and then started crying like a baby when she took it back. But the joke that the episode ran on for its remainder about how Family Guy is a "pale imitation" of The Simpsons is extremely hit and miss. Among the jokes I did like were the melodramatic revelation of Pawtucket Pat being Duff with a different label, having Fred Flintstone as the judge in a fitting reference, and some of the parallels established between Springfield and Quahog denizens-my favorites being when Cleveland and Carl assume they're paired because they're "the funniest guys in town", and seeing the two James Woods side-by-side. But for the most part, the joke was very "meh" in execution. In the end, the biggest gag they have here is that "Family Guy is more messed up than The Simpsons", which I already knew going in. Really, the characters don't fully play off each other as much as I'd like, save for Peter and Homer, and even they had plenty of sick problems to them. And then, of course, there's the incredibly cheap attempt at conflict where they threaten to the destroy the status quo of one show so they can get Peter and Homer to fight, but ultimately, Pawtucket Brewery isn't going to close down because no one's going to enforce that ruling. Thus, the status quo is preserved, and that entire plot is rendered completely pointless. I suppose it could work if it was meant to be a shot at how these shows will never truly change, but when it tried to create a sense of gravitas from it and showed how detrimental it was to Peter and Homer's friendship, it just fell flat.
So, let's turn to the highlight of the episode: the Homer vs. Peter fight. As seen in the preview clips, it is spectacular. You see them beat the crap out of each other in all the Springfield touches-brawling on Otto's school bus, crashing into the Nuclear Power Plant, and even a clever bit where Homer uses a closetful of Emmys as throwing knives, with Peter lamenting that he doesn't have any. Really, as I figured, the Peter vs. Homer brawl ended up being the best part of the crossover, with the two just utterly duking it out, becoming radioactive, and crashing through Springfield. (Another favorite part has Peter plummeting into Krusty's Studio, just to get stuck in and fired out of the clown's giant cannon.) They also parody Homer's graphic fall down Springfield Gorge when they and the UFO don't make to the other side. But even then, towards the end, it starts getting a little too much when the two of them start getting particularly brutal in their final moments. At this point, the gag became tiresome, and they just kinda resolve it anyway when it's decided that they'll just stay the hell away from each other from now on. Also, unneeded Comic Book Guy "Worst X Ever" insert.
In the end, the crossover wasn't as horrendous as I feared it would be, but it ultimately wasn't what I hoped it would be. There were funny gags, and, as I noted, it was awesomely hilarious to watch Homer and Peter brawl. But in the end, the crossover's many plots are ultimately rendered pointless, many of the characters don't work well with one another, it can't resist throwing in more idiotic "gags" (even if this is a Family Guy episode), and there's really nothing of note aside from the aforementioned fight. All in all, "The Simpsons Guy" just wasn't worth it in the end, the crossover fan in me is sad to say.
Overall Grade: C-