Saturday, November 30, 2013

Toaster's Ramblings - Brian Killed on Family Guy Edition

So at this point I am pretty much done with Family Guy. I don’t mean that in a spiteful way; I just have no interest in watching the show without Brian. You see, Brian the dog served a major role in that he was often the voice of reason and was usually a straight man for both Peter and Stewie. In fact, his interactions with Stewie were some of the funniest bits of the entire show. Vinnie, the dog adopted by the Griffins to replace Brian, may be a fine character. The problem is that I highly doubt he will provide the humor that Brian did. As long as Brian remains dead, all of that is over.

The Executive Producer was quoted as saying “It’s a fun way to shake things up.” That’s kind of a weird statement in of itself. (Killing dogs is fun?) If you want to shake things up, give Peter a magic green alien friend that only he can see! Killing off a beloved character is not an idea to take so lightly.

If I want to watch a show where my favorite characters are killed off, I’ll watch Game of Thrones thank you very much!  

I did watch the episode and in some ways regret it. Brian is shown, in disturbing detail, getting run over and I mean literally tires rolling over torso run over. Then in the wake of that, they throw in some joke as if I was all prepared to laugh this horrific sight off. I’m sorry, I was still a little too traumatized to laugh. In fact, I think I had one small laugh during the rest of the entire episode at some cut-away gag. This sort of thing makes me think that the writers of Family Guy just don’t get it. It isn’t just a cartoon dog. We have watched this show for eleven seasons (plus the cancelled years in syndication). It’s a funny and quotable escape from reality. It becomes something more than ink on paper after a while.

Consider shows that have lost characters due to an actor leaving or passing away. When Phil Hartman was killed between seasons 4 and 5 of NewsRadio, they were forced to replace him with Jon Lovitz. While Lovitz did a great job, the show was never the same and was cancelled at the end of season 5. The Adult Swim cartoon Sealab 2021 was forced to replace Captain Murphy when voice artist Harry Goz passed away. Even though the show employed his son Michael to voice a new Captain, the show didn’t last much longer. Some shows, like Cheers and Night Court, were able to survive losing major characters, but not every show is so lucky.

I haven’t heard or read any positive opinions about killing Brian. That right there should worry the makers of Family Guy and Fox. I don’t think they really understand what they did. Brian wasn’t just a cynical straight man. He was the everyman of the show. He was the one Griffin that was relatable to the average viewer. Peter is an idiot, Lois is a compulsive homemaker with a dark side, Chris is goofy and simple-minded, Meg is perpetual victim of cruelty and punchlines and Stewie is a sexually confused evil genius. However, Brian was an intellectual liberal who was searching for love. For all of his flaws, and he had a lot, he was still the most normal and ironically human of the entire Griffin clan. Killing a character like that doesn’t simply shake things up, it upends the entire format of the show.

I have a feeling that Family Guy’s ratings are going to drop from here on out. I mean, if I don’t want to watch anymore then how many other viewers feel the same way as me? I would gamble quite a few. Maybe this is some stunt to try to breathe life into the show, with a new dog in the short term and a return of Brian after a few episodes. It wouldn’t surprise me if Brian is brought back (be it by fan demand, Fox’s demands or their own plan all along) but I wonder if the damage will have already been done. If Brian comes back, I will watch again. If not, Family Guy had a good run and to be honest the quality of episodes has been slipping over the past few seasons. Oh well, there are always reruns.


  1. Late to reply back; but I'm guessing if you haven't seen "Christmas Guy" yet, they bring Brian back as Stewie was able to use the Time Platform after seeing his Past Self purchasing a Christmas Gift referenced during a cutaway from Brian's death episode and used it to shove Brian away from the oncoming car, with Seth McFarlane essentially claiming it was to make people appreciate those close to them.

  2. Yeah, I did see that. I was debating doing an update. I figured Brian would be brought back, but I didn't think it would be so soon. I'm less angry about the whole thing, but I think the "Life of Brian" episode had moments of very poor taste what with violently running over the character and then immediately trying to joke about it. In hindsight, I think the story arc might have been better served as a plot for a movie than trying to pull the wool over everyone's eyes

    At this point, I would actually like Vinnie to come back in some capacity (Cleveland's dog?). He was a fun character in small doses... though I would have hated him as a permanent "new" Brian.