Fox Animation Week 22 Reviews (Family Guy, Bob’s Burgers, Bless the Harts)

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Family Guy – “Meg Goes to College” Review

Episode summary (spoilers): After hearing Jerome talk about how his daughter made it big going to college, Peter and Lois decide to create a college scandal to get Meg into Brown University. Meg gets accepted but Peter decides to embrace the college life by following her everywhere. When Meg lashes out at him for bothering her while studying for an exam, Peter then reveals out loud that he got her in through the scandal, getting her expelled.

Meanwhile, Brian is lacking exercise so Stewie decides to be his trainer. Another baby, Doug then becomes Brian’s new trainer after Brian thinks Stewie is pushing him too hard.

My thoughts: Family Guy‘s nineteenth season has been mostly miss and is proof the show might never bounce back. While it may never get to season 12 lows, I think this season might be the second or third worst in the series. It’s just not funny, the cutaway jokes are terrible, and the plots are incoherent and unfocused. And no, don’t tell me Family Guy doesn’t need a plot, because the earlier seasons provided a good balance of plot and jokes. If you go back to the first four or five seasons, you can see there was still a clear, coherent storyline in each episode, and the writers still managed to make room for funny cutaways and jokes.

“Meg Goes to College” manages to be amusing at some points, such as Stewie pulling a Roger Smith with his quick disguise change, and the Blues Clues reference was sort of funny too. The Game of Thrones reference was okay because of the final season being regarded as “awful” by many die-hard fans. But the episode lacks a punch and the story goes in a very predictable yet unfitting direction with Peter being shoehorned in the plot for the second act “twist”, where he ruins Meg’s chances at going to college. The episode could have been better if he didn’t appear in the plot at all after the scandal, leaving Meg for a new life. The time wasted on the episode by the twist and the unnecessary cutaway gags, such as the business man in a hard hat or the long 911 phone call, leaves no room for a sound resolution. After Meg falls into the water as she’s unable to compete her last task of surfing on a waterfall, she’s left drowning for help.

The subplot was better but only because it didn’t overstay its welcome. Sure it feels like a waste of space at first, but I enjoy it when Brian and Stewie spend time together and it was nice to see Brian do the right thing by having Stewie be his trainer by the end of the episode again.

The episode felt like a rehash of “Better off Meg”, as when Meg gets something good, it’s immediately taken away from her by her family. Thankfully, this one doesn’t get to those levels of bad, as in that one, Meg is simply left to die all so Chris can remain popular! The Meg abuse should stop completely. Sure they toned it down a bit, but it stopped being funny after the first few times anyways. It’s just mean and sad. While I was left with a sour face with this one by the end, at least I wasn’t actively pissed off!

Overall score: 4.5/10

Bob’s Burgers – “Bridge Over Troubled Rudy” Review

Episode summary (spoilers): Tina’s got a new babysitting job, but this time she’s babysitting Rudy’s dad’s plant bonsai tree. Louise and Gene are with her, and they see a cool bridge toy that Rudy has that blows up. However, Rudy has to go to his mom’s for 2 weeks and is unable to take his bridge toy that explodes in a YouTube video that Rudy shows to the Belcher kids. So Louise comes up with a plan so when the next time Tina goes to Rudy’s dad’s house to care for the plant, she will carry the toy bridge to his mom’s house so he could feel better. Unfortunately, she’s tasked with carrying the bridge slowly and carefully on bicycles across town!

Meanwhile, Bob, Teddy, and Linda get meditating lessons from Mort. Bob becomes immersed with it immediately and starts to feel more relaxed and calm while at work. Jimmy Pesto comes in and throws some insults at him, but Bob doesn’t fight back. Instead, he remains calm. Jimmy then challenges Bob to a one-on-one competition to see who can stay calm longer.

My thoughts: After a lackluster episode before the Oscars, Bob’s Burgers returns with a solid episode that focuses on Louise’s relationship with her friend Rudy and Bob finding himself being more relaxed at work. The setup is good here. I liked the buildup of using Tina as a plot device to babysit a plant only for the episode to then turn focus to Louise’s schemes. She’s not really doing it to be her “evil” self, as she wants Rudy to feel better. And to also apologize for calling Rudy a “weenie”. That could be questioned though because she also does want to see it explode. Her indirectness kind of reminds me of the Bless the Harts episode, “Invasion of the Potty Snatcher”, because both her and Jenny are indirect with what they want, Louise to apologize and Jenny to get a raise, yet in the end they learn it’s okay to be direct sometimes.

It’s nice to see Rudy outside of school. We don’t know a lot about his outside life so it was pretty cool to see that here. However, the “scheme” of getting the bridge there is a little bit boring. It kind of drags on until Gene lets go of the bike and the bikes and bridge fall and get stopped by a bush. This is where Rudy comes out and helps them bring the bridge to safety where they “explode” it. While realistic for a toy, the explosion was really disappointing. I’d want it to be a little bigger. In a world where kids can play with “build your own rockets” and launch them with loud noises, I’d at least like the explosion to seem somewhat exciting. Here, it’s just really boring and doesn’t represent the commercial in any way. Speaking of which, wouldn’t that be false advertising on the commercial’s part?

But the highlight of the episode isn’t the main, it’s the subplot! Bob meditating was quite the fun plot, even if it’s confined to one setting. His inner thoughts were really funny and so was the reference to The Neverending Story with Bob riding the Mort luck dragon. I never saw the original movie, but I just found that scene really funny. It gets even better when Jimmy challenges Bob to a contest, and Mort is brought in to host. What really made me crack up was Mort giving random points to everyone, especially negative 20 to Jimmy. Also Teddy getting angry at Mort for “taking a point away” was great.

I don’t think this episode is one of the best of this season, but it’s enjoyable enough, which is needed after a few lackluster episodes during 2021. I’m looking at you “Tina Tambien” and “Fender Benderful”. I’d like to see a revisit of the meditation skills Bob acquired sometime in the future too! I’d think they’d really come in handy!

Overall score: 7/10

Bless the Harts – “The Drincan Temple” Review

Episode summary (spoilers): Wayne’s childhood friend Travis comes to visit. But Travis lures him in to one of his poor decision, opening a bar! Sounds like fun right? Not so fast! Travis then abandons his plan when he meets a girl and proposes marriage to her after only 14 hours of them meeting. Wayne’s now left to pick up the slack Travis left behind.

Meanwhile, the Hart women are on a sentimental adventure of their own, fixing their broken, old car. They’re insistent on fixing it and not letting it go because of the memories. But nothing lasts forever, and things eventually need to be replaced, as the car ends up catching fire after Jenny attempts to “fix it”.

My thoughts: Unfortunately, Bless the Harts is coming to a close with its second and final season, as the Fox network has opted not to order anymore episodes of the show due to underperforming in the ratings against the other shows on Fox Sunday nights. However, there are still five more episodes left, plus this one, that need to be burned off, for a total of thirty-four episodes. Bless the Harts is survived by veterans The Simpsons, Family Guy, and Bob’s Burgers, all of which have been renewed up to the 2023 season, and newcomers Duncanville, The Great North, and Housebroken. Joining them next season in late-spring 2022, likely summer, is an upcoming show from Rick and Morty co-creator Dan Harmon.

That being said, despite season 2 99.9% likely being the show’s last, it’s good to see another episode focused on Wayne! He barely has gotten the main spotlight. “The Drincan Temple” is not anything great or must-see, but it is a decent return to form after a disappointingly lackluster episode last time with “Hoot ‘N Haw”, another Wayne-focused episode that doesn’t make good use of characters or comedy either. But this was an improvement over that at least.

The main plot is rather predictable and kind of boring at points. Travis is a player with the women, kind of like Glenn Quagmire from Family Guy; so it’s obvious he will bail on his plans when he meets a new girl. It’s not really interesting or funny. It doesn’t get much better after the bar fight because the resolution of them making up at Wayne’s work is rather rushed and forced. Also given the title’s name, why didn’t it focus on the bar?

However, the subplot was rather simple, yet entertaining. It focuses on nostalgia, but does so in a funny way. My favorite part of the subplot was the three stories the Hart women tell about their future with the fixed car. Jenny tells a story of how she uses the car to take Violet to college, and then decides to go back to college and room with her! Violet then approves and they hug. Where’s Betty? She’s dead. Of course, Violet doesn’t like the story because it’s embarrassing, so her story is about the car parts being put in an art museum. Sounds boring, but wait, she dedicates it to Betty Hart, who died the night before the car parts were unveiled. Having Betty dead in both felt random yet got a good laugh out of me. But the best has yet to come, Betty tells her story of how she’s dating a new man and right before they’re about to make out on top of the car hood, she then tells the camera that Violet and Jenny are dead! Great payback!

I did like how the two plots somewhat connect back when Travis decides to make a move on an old friend, who has become a saleswoman at the dealer where the Harts are getting a new car. It was nice to have the Harts get a new car at a lower deal thanks to Travis. Another one of my favorite scenes was when Jenny and Wayne were yelling horny things at each other despite both being mad at the other. Violet then opens the window and tells them to stop, giving me a good laugh!

Despite a lackluster main, the subplot saves it massively from ranking lower on the list. Travis still has an opportunity to prove that he’s a worthy recurring character, even if the show only has FIVE more episodes left. I believe he’s appearing in every episode until the series finale, so I hope the writers find ways to work him in memorably. One of the upcoming episodes will have Travis be a spiritual healer to Wayne and Betty. That kind of reminds me of Mort teaching Bob, Linda, and Teddy to meditate this week on Bob’s Burgers, but we’ll see.

Overall score: 6.5/10