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Turn Me On!: 'Family Guy' breaks television, repeats plots again - The Red and Black : Television

Turn Me On!: 'Family Guy' breaks television, repeats plots again

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Posted: Monday, October 8, 2012 1:30 pm | Updated: 7:42 pm, Fri Oct 12, 2012.

The 11th season of "Family Guy," and the Griffins have a certain slump in their shoulders. 

Even the "JAG" and "M*A*S*H" writers must have gotten tired eventually.

"Family Guy," Seth MacFarlane's long-running cartoon comedy, has captivated college-aged viewersf and sparked two spin-off shows. But MacFarlane seems to have poured most of his creative energy into "American Dad" during the last few years — a theory which the first two lackluster and laughless episodes of the season supports.

In "Ratings Guy," the newest episode, the Griffin family is invited to participate in the Nielsen ratings. This invitation after a five minute and never mentioned again intro in which the family takes a tour of the local fire department. 

The episode's pacing seems a desperate message from the characters: the Griffins don't know what they're doing on TV either.

For a show which has expressed interest in viewership responsibility and quality American television, the Nielsen ratings seems given subject matter. The Nielsen ratings are studies on American viewership conducted by the Nielsen Media Research. The company conducts research by asking a small percentage of American households to self-report their viewing habits so that the company can determine ratings.

During the latest episode of "Family Guy," the Griffins were asked to hook a small box up to their TV which would monitor their viewing habits.

Peter, of course, was told his receiver wouldn't allow him to control national television. So he steals 100 boxes and ruins "good" TV. By ruin, I mean he bullys producers into adding lightsabers to "Mad Men" and asking David Letterman to read him a bed-time story.

Peter's shenanigans are a given, but the Griffin patriarch has alienated Quahog over television three times now: "I Never Met the Dead Man" and "PTV" being the other two.

What's more, this rather boring episode didn't impart any kind of lesson. Peter ruins TV. Peter puts TV back the way it was. That's it.

It could have been cool subject matter without being too repetitive, and all the right hooks were brushed on. The Nielsen ratings are arguably flawed because participants know they're participating, which can skew their viewing habits. What's more, the Nielsen Company reported in 2009 that only 25,000 people participated — about 2 percent of American audiences.

The rating system is also increasingly outdated, as there's no set way to measure online demographics and the study doesn't account for subscription or Internet viewings.

But even though the characters briefly referenced these problems, they didn't really cling to them. The focus was on Peter returning TV to a land of five similar sitcoms, two mediocre dramas and another Law and Order spin-off. 

Maybe that was the point — that people who make decisions about TV shows are idiots and most shows that air are crap anyways.

But if that was the point, then "Family Guy" certainly didn't excuse itself from the lamentably disappointing throng.

"Family Guy" airs on Sundays at 9 p.m.

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