Friday, September 21, 2007
The Family Guy is terrible, and laziness is ruining comedy
I've said it before (and so has South Park, and so has probably The Simpsons, and I'm guessing other people who write about stuff they hate), but let's summarize:
1. In a comedy show, the majority of jokes ought to have at least some tangential relation to what is going on in the story. An occasional non-sequitur aside here and there can add an absurdist dimension to an already strong piece, but Family Guy writers just let their gag idea notepads shit into each and every script in order to bloat episodes to their full, required 23-minute lengths. It's boring and amateurish.
2. When something goes on too long, it goes on too long. Extending an out-of-nowhere awkward pause does not automatically equal humor. Family Guy didn't write the book on this sort of device in animation, but they highlighted every page of the book and consult it multiple times per tired, hackneyed episode.
3. Ditto unnecessary repetition to highlight/belabor a dumb gag.
4. Inserting a celebrity or stereotype (or reference to such) into a scene for no reason, then letting them do or say something for an extended period of time, not to propel the action along but rather derail it to highlight how silly said celebrity/stereotype is (or how silly the reference is)? Hack City USA. There's enough ADD going off with all the "that reminds me of the time when..." bullshit (see #1), but sometimes even when Family Guy manages to avoid cutting away from a scene, it still can't focus to save its goddamn life.
5. Somewhere around the fifteenth year of Saturday Night Live, television show parodies (either fabricated shows or spoofs of existing programing) became essentially the most creatively bankrupt, butt-lazy form of cheap-laugh comedy premise, especially when they are segued into via "some people are sitting on a couch watching television."
None of these points in particular are unpardonable offenses; when used sparingly and creatively as part of shows or movies or whatever that are grounded in things like strong writing, originality and a cohesive plot (yeah, remember those?), that's no problem. When you use them as the basic formula for a highly popular and long-running television series, when you run them into the ground until a nation of dim college students and uncreative stoners are programed to mistake an endless parade of disjointed pop culture references for legitimate humor, when you've done all you can to ruin modern comedy through your lazy hackery and Marmadukian formula-abuse (that's right, I went there)...
When you're a show that was fresh and original for precisely one season, devolved into self-parody after two, was canceled after three, then saw its DVD sales and rerun-fueled contract renewal as a mandate to make your empty, half-assed bullshit the gold standard and make an entire generation of misguided attention span-deprived MTV casualties nullify the value of content and rape Dada's corpse (I am looking at you, Adult Swim, and with some notable exceptions your programming is on extraordinarily thin ice)...
When you've made a boilerplate formula out of left-field randomness...
Jesus, I'm too defeated to even finish that thought.
(I will say that I find Lois kind of attractive... I find it's best not to think about it.)