Family Guy premiered on Fox on January 31, 1999, the same night The Simpsons aired “Sunday, Cruddy Sunday.” Both episodes received stellar ratings, boosted by cushy post-Super Bowl timeslots, and both episodes were about football. According to “The Simpsons Guy,” the two animated shows have been on equal footing ever since — they’re just as influential, just as beloved, and just as funny.
That’s the “best” joke in the entire episode. Except for the James Woods one. That was OK.
Let’s go through the worst and the best but mostly the worst “The Simpsons Guy” had to offer.
1. But before I say some mean things, let’s talk about what worked: most of the meta jokes and, um, I guess Brian’s scenes with Santa’s Stupid Name were fine? Oh, and:
Yup, the best thing about The Simpsons/Family Guy crossover were the characters from other shows.
2. In The Simpsons episode that preceded Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Family Guy last night, there was a crucial plot point involving someone saying “eh.” It’s almost as if the writers were begging Twitter to repeat their words back at them (and it did!). The same thing was true of “The Simpsons Guy,” which ended with the most meta joke of them all: Stewie’s uncontrollable sobbing. His impression of most Simpsons fans was better than Chris’ Matthew McConaughey.
3. *Sideshow Bob stepping on rakes noise*
4. “Animation is built on plagiarism! If it weren’t for someone plagiarizing The Honeymooners, we wouldn’t have The Flintstones. If someone hadn’t ripped off Sgt. Bilko, they’d be no Top Cat. Huckleberry Hound, Chief Wiggum, Yogi Bear? Hah! Andy Griffith, Edward G. Robinson, Art Carney.” Roger Myers made the same point this episode did 18 years ago. At least the Griffins didn’t go to Bumtown?
5. When I was 12 years old, Peter’s first fight with the chicken was the funniest thing I had ever seen (“Da Boom” still might be the show’s best episode). That was at least four chicken fights ago. Not only has the joke worn thin, but each battle has been that much longer than the one before it. Naturally, Homer vs. Peter felt like it lasted for seven hours. It was endlessly violent and cruel and other words I would never use to describe The Simpsons, “Treehouse of Horror” episodes notwithstanding. (Meg carving “Lisa” in her arm or Otto running over a group of children, presumably killing Sherri and Terri, was somehow more disturbing than the infamous “rape joke,” because at least that WAS a joke.) That’s the main problem with “The Simpsons Guy”: just because both shows are animated doesn’t mean they work well together — put another way, you can like chorizo tacos and cookie dough ice cream, but never want to eat a chorizo taco topped with cookie dough ice cream. The Simpsons and Family Guy are tonally different, and this episode was neither as well-plotted as the former at its best or as viciously sharp as the latter. It wasn’t the WORST. CROSSOVER. EVER., but it also wasn’t “A Star Is Burns.” It was:
R.I.P. Rabbi Hyman Krustofsky (feel free to talk about THAT, too.)