Justin Bieber may have killed Brian and other ‘Family Guy’ Comic-Con highlights

“Family Guy” hit Ballroom 20 on Saturday (July 26) for its annual Comic-Con panel, an event with kinda tends to ebb and flow in hype based on whether or not Seth MacFarlane is there to mock question-askers. 

This was a second consecutive Seth MacFarlane-free year. Last year he was working on “A Million Ways To Die In The West.” This year, his absence was unexplained [on the “Family Guy” panel, but it came up at “American Dad” subsequently] and raises the possibility that Seth MacFarlane has just become too big for making fun of questioners at Comic-Con.

Fortunately, in lieu of Seth MacFarlane, the “Family Guy” team arrived with a longer clip reel for the season's hour-long “The Simpsons Guy” crossover event, which will air on September 28.

At TCA press tour last week we got a very brief sizzle reel that included jokes about the Springfield location (“I can't imagine we're allowed to say”) and the yellowness of Springfield residents (“Don't drink the water. Everyone around here looks like they have hepatitis”) and the tip of the Homer-Peter Giant Chicken-style brawl iceberg. 

The Comic-Con reel featured moments of amusing bonding between Bart and Stewie (let's just say that Stewie doesn't understand prank calls), Peter trying to coach Homer into successfully setting up cut-away gags, a “Bob's Burgers” cameo, the revelation that Pawtucket Patriot is just relabeled Duff and even more from that Homer-Peter fight, which will include a nuclear accident and a Kang & Kodos appearance.

I'm actually kinda looking forward to “The Simpsons Guy” and I stopped watching “Family Guy” last year at some point. 

The panel continued after those clips, though.

Here are a few highlights…

1) The “Simpsons” crossover episode isn't the season's only episode. A Christmas episode will feature Jesus returning and Peter and the gang discovering that he's a virgin and trying to get Jesus laid. “We're going to hell,” Mike Henry said. Other episodes feature Liam Neeson as Liam Neeson and Stewie and Brian traveling through time “Bill & Ted”-style.

2) Seth MacFarlane is eying a different movie franchise for extended episodes. Steve Callaghan said that MacFarlane has talked about doing extended homages to the different “Star Trek” movies in the style “Family Guy” tackled the “Star Wars” movies. Of course, with MacFarlane absent, we don't have a clue what the timetable might be for those hypothetical “Trek” episodes. So they may never happen.

3) If you're curious, Seth is in Boston working in pre-production on “Ted 2.” MacFarlane's father was on the “American Dad” panel. “He doesn't return my texts,” MacFarlane's dad said of communicating with his famous son. 

4) Now we know who hit Brian with their car, very briefly killing him. “It was Justin Bieber. That kid's out of control. They should take his license away. Only chauffeurs for that kid,” Seth Green said. Nobody on the panel offered a counter-answer. So that's what I'm running with. [In case Justin Bieber is feeling litigious, I suspect Seth Green was joking. But that's a Justin Bieber/Seth Green issue, not a Justin Bieber/Dan issue.]

5) People remember “Dads.” Well, I remember “Dads.” It was awful and justifiably cancelled after one season. John Viener, who wrote for the live-action comedy, preceded audience queries with, “Are there any 'Dads' questions?” and later referred to the pleasures of shooting with the audience on “Dads.” A questioner later told Seth Green that he loved “Dads.” That guy's name was Dominic. He should be chided.

6) A “Family Guy” movie remains possible. Peter Shin said that MacFarlane had begun early pre-work on a movie idea, but that was before he started making a movie every summer. “Someday we will make that happen,” Callaghan promised. Writer-producer Rich Appel promised that “The Simpsons Guy” will have to do for now. “It plays like a movie. If you watch it in the dark and have a bucket of popcorn, it'll feel like a movie,” Appel said.

7) “The Simpsons Guy” briefly ran afoul of the TV Academy. In the Peter-Homer fight, Homer finds a closet of “Simpsons” Emmys and begins to pummel Peter with them. Appel says that they got a note from an Emmy person saying, “We can't have an Emmy statue be used as a weapon in a replicatable act.” Appel explained that it's not a hugely replicatable act, since most people don't have Emmys. Eventually, they relented.

8) Even a smart crowd doesn't necessarily recognize Matt Groening. The “Simpsons” creator took the mic mid-panel and asked for advice on how a young, struggling animator can get into the business. He received a fair amount of applause. He closed with, “What is Matt Groening really like? Can you kiss my ass a little more?” At that point, the crowd roared and the guy sitting next to me in the crowd observed, “Oh. That was Matt Groening!” Sigh.

9) Seth Green likes to record Chris' dialogue in the dark. Or at least nearly in the dark. “It's awkward and embarrassing to make that sound come out of your mouth,” Green said. I don't know if that's more or less true than the Justin Bieber thing.