While it may undeniably be something of an acquired taste, Family Guy has remained an incredibly popular show since its inception 17 years ago and now spans 14 seasons and 269 episodes. The show has evolved from a slightly risqué Simpsons clone in to an unashamedly crude and un-pc behemoth in its own right. It can often be hard to remember specific episodes given the show’s penchant for random cutaway jokes and non-sequitur pop culture references, but there are undoubtedly some absolute gems that stick out from the crowd. As with certain other animated hit shows, the show took a few seasons to find its stride, and in Family Guy’s case it arguably took getting cancelled in order for it to really find its groove. Likewise its quality has arguably dipped slightly of late, but it retains a golden period of truly hilarious episodes that still hold up to repeat viewings. Here are just a small selection of Family Guy’s greatest ever episodes.
Road to Rhode Island S02E13
This is one of the show’s classic early episodes and the first of Brian and Stewie’s “Road to….” specials. In this outing, they are forced in to taking an elaborate road-trip home from California after a drunken Brian loses their plane tickets. The pairing of Brian and Stewie has always been one of the show’s funniest outlets and here their love/hate relationship is fleshed out for perhaps the first time. Family Guy isn’t well known for its tender emotional moments, but the subplot regarding Brian finding his mother has genuine warmth to it which fits in well amongst the silliness.
A controversial episode here, but one which is also incredibly funny. The premise revolves around Peter, fresh off winning a friendly game of Trivial Pursuit after overcoming such taxing questions as “what colour is a fire truck?”, taking a test and finding out is he technically mentally disabled. This revelation is treated with the sensitivity one would expect from the show and is mined for countless laughs as Peter discovers both the benefits and downsides of the diagnosis. On the one hand he can walk into a fast food restaurant and say “testicles” over the loud speaker, but on the other hand, he may lose his kids.
The real life FCC (Federal Communications Commission) is the body responsible for censoring TV shows to ensure they meet certain standards. Inevitably therefore, Family Guy has repeatedly crossed swords with them over the years. This hilarious outing sees Peter grow weary with his favourite shows being censored and so starts his own network featuring un-cut re-runs as well as the magnificent “Peter Griffin’s Side Boob Hour”. There’s also a wonderful opening parody of The Naked Gun movie intros starring Stewie, as well as one of the show’s best ever musical numbers entitled “The Freaking FCC”.
Meet the Quagmires S05E18
A fun time travel episode here in which Peter convinces Death to let him relive a day from his youth. In this case its 1984 and while Peter has a whale of a time, it results in him losing Lois once he returns to the future. Peter repeatedly fails to correct his mistake, with the worst case scenario seeing Lois instead marrying Quagmire, which produces a great sight gag with all three Griffin kids blended to incorporate Quagmire’s pronounced chin. There are also some wonderful nods to Back to the Future along the way including a distinctly fresh take on the Johnny B. Goode scene involving a certain Rick Astley cover.
Blue Harvest S06E01
The two sequels were also both enjoyable, but it’s the show’s first Star Wars parody which really stands out as a brilliant Family Guy episode. Clearly made by massive fans of George Lucas’ saga, it combines clever little nods to the movie itself with typical insane Family Guy cutaways and references. Little touches like the Star Destroyer “Bush/Cheney” bumper sticker and the Cantina band playing that same song over and over work really well. There are also plenty of great quips including my favourite which sees Peter describe the story as a tale of ” love and loss, father and son, and the foresight to retain international merchandising rights".
Road to the Multiverse S08E01
This “Road to…” episode sees Brian and Stewie visiting various different version of Quahog and while the plot is wafer thin, the premise is so good it works an absolute charm There are plenty of great gags mined from the multiverse theory, including an unsettling live-action universe, one where human and dog roles are reversed and a Flintstone style Quahog filled with bad rock puns. Perhaps the most memorable one however is the Disney-esque universe complete with beautiful animation, chirping birds, talking animals and rampant anti-semitism.
(photo credit : Family Guy Wiki)