All images used in this review are from FOXFLASH, Fox’s press release site. Family Guy ©2019 by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. They are used with their permission, as they are publicity images.
Episode summary (spoilers): Peter becomes a nurse at the Quahog hospital when he learns that he has a really strong immune system. While working long shifts, he finds that his worst enemy, the Giant Chicken is dying. At first, Peter is really happy to see him go, but at home at the dinner table, Lois convinces him that he needs a rival in his life. Peter reminisces their fights together and decides to save him from dying by giving him CPR to avoid sole responsibility for the financial damages. One night, he opens his lights to see that the Giant Chicken is alive and well.
Meanwhile, Brian learns that he is part cat and starts acting like one. When Brian tells Quagmire he’s part cat, Quagmire tells Brian to prove it by jumping off his roof. If he lands safely, he will believe Brian. Brian obviously fails and apologizes to Stewie for his change in behavior.
My thoughts: Considering that we got to see a few sneak peeks, and basically the entire subplot, from the Comic-Con reel in late-July, I was not happy at all going into the episode. I was even more unimpressed that Fox decided not to air an episode of Bless the Harts, which is long overdue for a new episode. That table read episode has been delayed twice now, and considering that BTH has more episodes in its current production cycle than Family Guy, you’d expect they want to take advantage of the NFL booster and air BTH. But no. Sometimes, they baffle me. And yes, that table read episode is available as an animatic with the cast reading it on YouTube and it was FAR better than this.
However, “Fecal Matter” did end up a little better than I expected. There were a few moments where I actually laughed. I know right? Peter driving through the store in his car was hysterical. The B:OB joke (8:08) gave me a laugh. And seeing Meg freeze time to abuse her family gave me a smile. I like it when she gets revenge.
However, the story is wafer thin for the most part. Lois telling Peter he needs an enemy in life to advance the plot felt lazy. In fact, the entire continuity break ruined most of the story for me as well. Going back to Peter’s plot, it ends lazily with the Giant Chicken still living and going back to being his enemy. And that’s mostly the flaw of “Fecal Matter”, because it does nothing to break two overarching dynamics. It proves that Family Guy is unwilling to accept change and continuity. And when they do accept it like in “Wild Wild West”, it makes the episode so much better. Sitcoms are evolving as a whole, and there’s no excuse for “bringing everything back to normal” because it is easier. We’ve had shows like Bojack Horseman that have thrived on huge continuity changes.
The subplot with Brian learning he’s part cat was just bland and unfunny to watch. None of the jokes land, and it’s one of those episodes where the writers just want to abuse him. Brian is the second Meg, to be honest. He’s a huge punching bag for jokes like these. I knew he was gonna fall, but that’s not funny.
Additionally, in Brian and Quagmire’s last interaction “Cat Fight”, Quagmire seemed to liken Brian a bit more, but here, it just goes back to the dynamic none of us wanted. Quagmire used to be a consistently hilarious character and his first downgrade as a character, in my honest opinion, was when he started hating Brian for no reason. Instead of being the funny guy who makes smart sex jokes, he became an angry asshole who hates everyone around him. It’s a huge downgrade that no one wanted.
“Fecal Matter” is a typical recent Family Guy episode that barely makes a pass. It’s certainly one of the better ones this season. But that’s not a feat to accomplish considering that most of the jokes failed to land and the story is very incoherent, inconsistent, and too safe. It did manage a few laughs but mostly it did flop. That continuity breaker really hurt it honestly.
Overall rating: 4.5/10