‘The Simpsons,’ ‘Family Guy’ return to Fox

By Alex Avakian

‘The Simpsons’ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘The Simpsons’ first aired on April 19, 1987 as a series of shorts on… ‘The Simpsons’ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘The Simpsons’ first aired on April 19, 1987 as a series of shorts on ‘The Tracey Ullman Show.’ Two years later, the Fox network picked up the show, and it became the first program to propel Fox into the top 30 ratings. Since then, the show has garnered a menagerie of awards, including a whopping 24 Emmys, and was voted by Time Magazine as the best TV show of the 20th century. ‘ ‘ ‘ Chronicling the life of a middle class family living in the imaginary town of Springfield, ‘The Simpsons’ is one adventure or misadventure after another for the residents of the community. Furthermore, the show boasts a colorful cast of unique characters and has extended guest roles to countless American figures from every walk of life, such as Peter Frampton, Sting, Cypress Hill, Ringo Star, Paul McCartney, Ken Griffey Jr., Mark McGwire, Magic Johnson, Danny DeVito, Meryl Streep, Willie Nelson and Stan Lee to name a mere fraction of the lot. ‘ ‘ ‘ This Sunday, ‘The Simpsons’ airs its 20th season and 421st episode, extending its record as the longest-running American sitcom in history. The season premiere features Homer and Ned Flanders teaming up as bounty hunters after a Protestant vs. Catholic brawl on St. Patrick’s Day lands Homer in jail. Marge also finds herself a job as an erotic baker. Ooh la la. ‘King of the Hill’ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Airing second after ‘The Simpsons,’ ‘King of the Hill’ is America’s second longest-running animated series. The show revolves around Hank Hill and his family ‘mdash; wife Peggy, son Bobby and Peggy’s niece Luanne, who was taken in by the Hills after Luanne’s mother stabbed Luanne’s father with a fork and was sent to prison. Hank is a proud Texan who sells propane and propane accessories, and despite his perceived narrow-minded, conservative nature, he is portrayed as a good man who will always help out his friends, regardless of how idiotic they might be. ‘ ‘ ‘ Many other animated shows rely on over-the-top, out-of-this-world humor, but ‘King of the Hill’ is kept on a realistic playing field throughout the series, finding wit in more somber, possibly even mundane scenarios. With two Emmy awards under its belt and seven more nominations, ‘King of the Hill’ premieres its 12th season this Sunday. In the episode, Hank’s obese friend Dale develops diabetes and is confined to a wheelchair. He wallows in depression until he meets Thunder, a macho, handicapped athlete who plays wheelchair rugby, or ‘murder ball,’ and shows Dale a new way to live. ‘Family Guy” ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘Family Guy’ first premiered in 1999 to mixed reactions. Its hold-nothing-back approach to humor was often cited as crude and offensive. There was nothing that ‘Family Guy’ would not make fun of, and that is why it was canceled in 2000. But when DVD sales of ‘Family Guy’ sold 2.2 million copies in a year, network executives’ interests were piqued. The show returned briefly, but again, characters such as Joe Swanson, a handicapped police officer who was a constant reminder of the show’s insensitivity, caused it to be canceled yet again in 2002. However, a strong fan base, spectacular DVD sales and good rerun ratings caused ‘Family Guy’ to return to production again in 2004. Since that time, it has become one of the most popular and successful animated TV series ever. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘Family Guy’ finds its unique brand of humor in extreme, over-the-top situations and cut-away gags that often have no relevance to the plot at hand. ‘Family Guy’ also has a certain fantasy element to it, with two of the family members being Brian, the alcoholic talking family dog, and Stewie, the flamboyant and possibly homosexual talking baby.’ For the premiere of the seventh season, Brian meets a nice girl named Caroline with whom Stewie suggests he take it slow. Unfortunately, she takes this as a sign that Brian just wants to be friends and she winds up eloping with another man. ‘American Dad’ ‘ ‘ ‘ The final show in Fox’s Animation Domination canon is ‘American Dad,’ which chronicles the trials and tribulations of patriotic CIA agent Stan Smith as he juggles national security and his quirky family. Another show detailing an American nuclear family, Stan’s family includes his trophy housewife Francine, dorky, unathletic son Steve, ultra-liberal hippie daughter Hayley, Klaus, a German Olympic ski-jumper whose mind was placed into a goldfish by the CIA so he couldn’t win a gold medal, and Roger, an effeminate chain-smoking drunken alien who saved Stan’s life in Area 51. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘American Dad’ and ‘Family Guy’ were both created by Seth McFarlane, and the similarities between the two are not hard to spot. The animation styles are synonymous, and many of the characters have similar traits. Brian and Stewie from ‘Family Guy’ could be interchanged with Klaus and Roger as humorous protagonists whose irrational existence in a normal family make for some interesting plot twists. In the premiere of the third season, Steve hits puberty to the great woe of his mother, who injects CIA chemicals into him to try and keep him a baby forever. ‘ ‘ ‘ So put aside your homework for a few hours this Sunday to be dominated by Fox. And don’t worry ‘mdash; the lineup doesn’t interfere with ‘Entourage.’