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The Simpsons Meeting Family Guy Isn't the Worst Crossover Ever

Bob Chipman | 29 Sep 2014 12:00
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Still, Peter vs. Homer as avatars of their respective series is the setpiece, and at least by the standards of present-day Family Guy (which, for the record, I regard as enjoyable but nowhere near the series' quality "peak" in the first few seasons after it returned from cancellation). Yes, the accusatory "ripped-off beer" courtroom monologue running over a montage of Springfieldian fixtures seated next to their suspiciously-similar Quahog counterparts is an obvious gag. Still, the payoff is cute, partially because it involves an out-of-left-field cameo by a character from a third series (nah, I won't spoil it -- or the surprising "celebrity guest-voice joke") that I'd been hoping would turn up in more-or-less this context.

The sense that more could've been done with this premise does start to add up, though. The Chicken Fight probably needed to be done, and at that length, but was it really necessary to devote a big chunk of the first half to an extended carwash joke driving home the punchline that, yes, Peter and Homer are both fat guys? Surely, that could've been trimmed for more of Bart and Stewie (they also don't do anything with the question of whether adults can "understand" Stewie versus Maggie not speaking at all), or giving Marge something to do, or even giving Quahog walk-ons like Cleveland and Quagmire more than one gag apiece?

So, too, does a sense that seemingly holding-back from how dark Family Guy can go when messing around with iconic characters might not have been the correct decision. The amount of blood and gore that comes spilling out of Homer during the final fight -- typical for this series but unheard of on The Simpsons is unsettling and perverse but also attention-grabbing in a way much of the piece isn't. You almost want to sigh: "C'mon, Family Guy! Enough fans already think that you simply being *in* Springfield is an obscenity all by itself -- you might as well break a few more windows and scrawl a few more dirty words on the walls before you're done."

Simpsons fans, myself included, would probably have been incensed if the story had culminated in the Griffins fleeing Springfield in disgust/boredom and affirming that Quahog/Family Guy doesn't have anything to prove to "Some town that probably stopped being interesting twenty years ago!," or if Quagmire had been implied to do something unspeakable with one of the female supporting cast, or even if Bart and Stewie's story had mainly been about Stewie proving how "old news" Bart is compared to him (in the vein of South Park's preachy, overrated "Cartoon Wars" smugfest from a few years back). But rage (or shock) are at least more palpable, affecting emotions than mere amusement.

Still, laugh at it I did, and the sheer spectacle of the Griffins in Springfield forgives quite a bit -- though it's nowhere near as satisfying as Jay Sherman's visit years ago (and hey, Marge got to do something in that one).

Bottom Line: Crossovers like this are rarely the greatest moments for either of the assembled teams: "Superman vs. Spider-Man: Battle of the Century" is not precisely a narrative game-changer for either hero -- it exists for its cover and its splash pages. "The Simpsons Guy" doesn't, on its own, measure up to the best of either series (though it would be much lower on a ranked list of Simpsons episodes than it will be as a Family Guy episode) but as a television "stunt" crossover it'll do alright.

Recommendation: It's exactly what it says on the can: However you feel about the idea of a Simpsons/Family Guy crossover is likely how you're going to feel about the end result.

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