I never ventured beyond the mythical curtain in my local video store growing up, but I do remember the thrill of watching the Family Guy episode that Fox initially banned, which is basically the same thing. “When You Wish Upon a Weinstein” was intended to be the season three finale, with an initial airdate of February 21, 2002, and the series finale. But Fox executives, worried that the episode would come across as anti-Semitic (it’s about Peter befriending an accountant after wishing for a Jew), pulled “Weinstein” from the schedule, leaving “Family Guy Viewer Mail #1” as the unintentional finale.
Of course, Family Guy came back three years later (it’s still on to this day, with 344 episodes and counting), and “When You Wish Upon a Weinstein” eventually aired on Adult Swim on November 9, 2003, two months after coming out on DVD (that was the peak-behind-the-curtain thrill I spoke of earlier), and on Fox on December 10, 2004. There is, however, a banned episode that has never aired on American television.
Here’s a sample line of dialogue:
PETER: “It’s a woman’s responsibility to carry it to term.”
BRIAN: “Well, what if the woman is raped?”
PETER: “Maybe she should have thought of that before she asked me for directions.”
I think you can see the issue. Directed by Joseph Lee and written by Danny Smith, “Partial Terms of Endearment” was meant to be the season finale of Family Guy season eight in May 2010, but, like with “When You Wish Upon a Weinstein,” Fox pulled the episode. Unlike “When You Wish Upon a Weinstein,” it still hasn’t made it to broadcast. It wasn’t Meg taking off her shirt and showing her third nipple to the Count from Sesame Street that the network opposed to — it was the frank discussion about abortion. In the episode, an old friend from college asks Lois to carry her and her husband’s baby as they’re unable to conceive. She agrees, but when the couple dies in a car crash, she decides to have an abortion, against Peter’s wishes. Spoiler: Lois gets the abortion, though not before Peter is asked what if he looks “at the ultrasound and see that the baby is gonna be born with no arms and no legs,” and he replies, “You name it Matt.”
“Times really have changed,” creator Seth MacFarlane told the New York Times about Fox’s decision at the time. “The network is making a decision that is, unfortunately, probably based on people’s current ability to handle and dissect controversial narratives… There’s nothing about [a woman’s right to choose] that should be any different than doing an episode about gay marriage or an episode about the oil spill.”
When Mr. MacFarlane presented the concept to Fox, it warned him that the subject matter raised a red flag, but allowed him to produce the episode anyway… But the Fox network decided not to show [the episode]. The network said in a statement that it fully supported “the producers’ right to make the episode and distribute it in whatever way they want,” and declined to elaborate on its decision. A spokeswoman for Adult Swim also said in an e-mail that there were “no plans to air that episode of Family Guy.”
“Partial Terms of Endearment” still hasn’t aired on Fox or Adult Swim, despite the latter’s emphasis on off-beat programming. It did make its TV debut on BBC Three in the United Kingdom on June 20, 2010, though, and was released as a stand-alone DVD with the Family Guy Presents: Seth & Alex’s Almost Live Comedy Show special. There was also a live table read in 2009, where the line “I’m here to save the unborn – after they come out of the vagina, they can go f*ck themselves” drew a “smattering of applause,” according to the Daily Beast. It’s not part of the Family Guy Volume 8 or 9 boxsets, and isn’t on Hulu, either. But “Partial Terms of Endearment” is available on Amazon Prime video for $10, along with other “special” episodes like the Star Wars parodies, or you could always make like Seamus Levine and become a pirate, as suggested here.
Is “Partial Terms of Endearment” worth the controversy? Honestly, having seen the episode, it’s no more “offensive” than any other episode of Family Guy; there’s a “special animal Olympics” joke that’s as [loosens shirt collar] as any of the abortion talk. It’s fine! “Partial” has a 7.3 rating among IMDb users, which is par for the course among season eight episodes. With one exception: “Road to the Multiverse” (9.1), which is my favorite episode of the entire series so far. If you’re going to watch any season eight episode, make it that one. What it lacks in “banned from TV” controversy it makes up for in quality.
Although the Looney Tunes spoof in “Partial Terms of Endearment” is pretty funny.
(Via New York Times)