Sunday’s Family Guy premiere saw the Griffin family scaling Mount Everest in an attempt to one-up some rich, snooty friends of Lois’, and much like Brian’s frostbitten tail, the whole excursion left me feeling almost nothing at all. The episode was so thoroughly average it’s a little difficult to say much about it.
More and more frequently I find myself sitting through Family Guy episodes with a blank expression, glancing over at the clock occasionally, whiling away the time until the end credits. “Into Fat Air” fared a little better than that. At no point was I bored and at no point did I feel like the episode should have ended ten minutes before it did. Some of the jokes were genuinely funny, like Peter trying to show off his “pecs” at the dinner table by oiling them up with salad dressing, and eventually the whole damn salad. I got a kick out of Quagmire coming over to bother everyone and the Griffins crowd into the corner of the living room so he can’t see them from the window. Even the worst jokes of the night didn’t make me groan in disgust.
Thankfully, “Into Fat Air” keeps the cutaway gags to a minimum and what there are aren’t painful at all. In fact, I laughed the hardest at one of the cutaways, where Peter, halfway up Mount Everest, worries that he’s left the weed whacker on. Cut to the Griffins’ living room and the weed whacker going crazy, chewing up everything in sight. It’s gags like that which remind me that there was a time MacFarlane & Pals used these things effectively. The other cutaways were pretty hit and miss, but they did tend to skew towards being at least mildly amusing and those that weren’t were mercifully short.
Another point in the episode’s favor is that the Griffins don’t win here. The rich family still beats them to the top. I think it speaks to just what a miserable cuss I really am, but I kind of like it when characters who are reaching for the stars, as it were, have their hands slapped away at the last second.
On the way down the mountain, a huge snowstorm starts and cold and hungry, the Griffins stumble upon the frozen corpse of the snooty couple’s son and they end up eating him to stave off exhaustion. I guess this sort of thing is what Fox and Seth MacFarlane would like to label “edgy” humor, but the thing is it failed to shock me and it wasn’t terribly funny. The only good thing to come of this little diversion is Stewie pointing out “We ate a person before we ate the dog,” and I have to wonder why on Earth Peter and Lois even brought a god damn baby in the first place.
When the Griffins get back to base camp, the snooty couple, distraught over their missing son, stumble back up the mountain into the storm. Feeling guilty, the Griffins come to the rescue and everything is fine, and I’ve wasted another half an hour in front of the television with very little to show for it.
The thing is, getting some begrudging chuckles out of me does not make you a good show. The fact that this entire review could be summed up with a shrug means you have failed to make any impression on me whatsoever. “Into Fat Air” is, well, average. It’s not good, but it’s not awful, and given the sad state of recent Family Guy, that’s a good day for this series.