In the 12th Family Guy season premiere, Peter is suffering from truly atrocious breath. It turns out there’s a bit of shrimp stuck in his gums. After it’s removed, the Griffins go out for a meal at the Founding Father, a colonial-era theme restaurant. Peter is told by the waiter that the treasure map on Stewie’s placemat is actually the real deal, he becomes obsessed with uncovering the treasure for himself. Spending hours digging, he actually finds a treasure chest, but it’s only the first clue in a much longer quest for the treasure. The rest of town gets wind of it and the race is on to claim the buried booty.
“Finders Keepers” is a hell of a lot of fun, bringing the audience an intriguing Rat Race style scavenger hunt with everyone in Quahog looking to get rich. It’s a more focused, plot-driven episode than usual. Writers Mike Desilets & Anthony Blasucci make the story work very well with the Family Guy characters and brand of humor, keeping things from getting too far sidetracked, as is so common for this series. The clues in the scavenger hunt are interesting, and the plot moves a long at a good clip. Especially praiseworthy is the way that the humor and characterization is tied very strongly to plot. The rest of the Griffins get pretty fed up with Peter’s obsession with the treasure and leave him to his own devices. He actually has to go home and apologize to Lois because he knows damn well he needs her help if he’s going to solve any riddles. In “Finders Keepers,” the family as a whole interact with one another in a much more believable fashion than usual.
The payoff for all this, that the “treasure” hunt really only leads to an (expired) meal voucher is pretty hilarious. It’s classic comedy, pulling the rug out from under your characters so that after all their effort, they go home with nothing. Maybe I’m a cynic, but that shit be funny, foo. In fact, almost all of the jokes in this episode hit their marks and warrant a smile at the very least. Cutaway gags are kept to a minimum here in favor of gags actually occurring within the plot.
This episode also has some extremely funny moments of self-referential humor. Near the end of the scene, it looks like the final resting place of the treasure is somewhere within the Drunken Clam. But it’s closed, so Peter and Lois can’t get in. Or so the audience thinks, Peter asks Lois to believe and then drops this gem:
Hey, Lois, remember that time we were in the Clam right now?
And as if by magic, they there are inside the Drunken Clam. PETER GRIFFIN CAN USE THE POWER OF CUTAWAY GAGS TO WARP REALITY. Yes. I approve of this. I love this idea so very much. It’s always appreciated when a long-running series like this is aware of what the audience has come to expect, and then subverts those expectations in really clever ways. It might seem a little masturbatory and recursive, but as far as I’m concerned it’s a nice way of shaking things up and surprising you.
“Finders Keepers” is a funny, well-constructed story from beginning to end, and a promising start to Season 12. It looks like one of those weeks where Family Guy has blown its yellow-skinned forebear out of the water. Here’s hoping the remainder of the season can maintain this level of quality. Don’t let me down (again), MacFarlane.