The 200th episode of Family Guy brings new meaning to the term “born again.”
Airing Sunday, Nov. 11 on Fox and Global, the title of Family Guy’s 200th episode – Yug Ylimaf, which is Family Guy spelled backwards – is a good indication of what the story is about.
The bigger question for Seth MacFarlane’s long-running animated series, of course, is if the comedy on Family Guy still is moving forward.
Family Guy is the series on which MacFarlane has built his entertainment empire. Debuting in 1999, Family Guy unofficially teamed with South Park (which debuted in 1997) to take the irreverent humour of The Simpsons and push it to extremes.
I have been pleasantly surprised by the staying power of Family Guy and South Park through the years. I thought initially that the pressure of continually testing the limits of taste and acceptable content might prove to be a trap for both shows.
But comedy is simple in the sense that, you either laugh or you don’t. And I have to say, I laughed quite a few times while watching Family Guy’s 200th episode, while continuing to marvel at what they can get away with these days on network TV, especially when it’s masked in a cartoon.
In Yug Ylimaf, Brian wants to impress the women he has been picking up in bars, so he secretly starts to use Stewie’s time machine. While Stewie is sleeping late at night, Brian sneaks his dates into the machine to take them on fantastical trips.
Keep your ears open for a couple of eyebrow-raising lines – one about a segregated restaurant, one about a 16th birthday – that had me saying, “I can’t believe I just heard that.”
Brian panics when he realizes the time machine has a “years travelled” odometer, which would expose his chicanery to Stewie. But when Brian fiddles with the odometer, it’s time itself that starts to go backwards.
This allows references to some famous Family Guy scenes of the past, not to mention a heaping helping of the straight-forward gross humour for which the series is known (Stewie is a baby; think of what that might mean).
Can Brian and Stewie get time moving in its normal, forward direction before Stewie is “unborn?”
Speaking of being haunted by the past, it was in the summer of 2009 during a party at the Television Critics Association tour in Los Angeles that MacFarlane and I had a conversation about the future of Family Guy.
“I don’t want to go 20 years like The Simpsons,” MacFarlane insisted at the time. “Ideally we would go another couple of years and then wrap it up.”
Hmmm, well, clearly that hasn’t happened. To mark the 200th-episode milestone, a half-hour behind-the-scenes special titled The End of the World as We Know It will air immediately following the Yug Ylimaf episode, making for a one-hour extravaganza.
“Every show starts to suck after a certain point,” MacFarlane observed back in 2009. “And we could already be there for all I know, I don’t know.”
Nonetheless, 200 episodes is a lot of episodes, with or without an operational time machine.