James Helsby

Family Guy Christmas Special – The Road to the North Pole

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Once a year it seems, Family Guy puts out one episode that is stellar in a sea of drab. The “Road to ….” episodes always seem to fill this niche for me.

Created as an homage to the “Road to” films of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby (to name just a few); the Family Guy Road to the North Pole left me completely satisfied, and for the most part I feel it redeemed the franchise… For this year.

I’ve been a fan of the Family Guy since it’s original airings back in the late 90’s. I was one of those advocates that screamed loudly for Fox to bring the show back, after it brief initial season. I still line up diligently to purchase the season collection box sets, and I am brimming with excitement for the new “It’s a Trap!Return of the Jedi retelling.

The “Road to Rhode Island” was the first Family Guy road movie. It followed Stewie and Brian, as they try to make it back to Rhode Island, after having missed their flight, returning from visiting Stewie’s grandparents. The episodes features a few song and dance numbers, as is par-for-the-course for these episodes.

The second, “Road to Europe,” follows Brian and Stewie as they jump from plane to boat to balloon, pursuing Stewie’s dreams of meeting up with a British television shows fantasy world. When he finds out that the actors are nothing but trash, Stewie is left heart broken.

The third, “Road to Rupert,” follows Stewie and Brian as they chase after Stewie’s much loved stuff bear “Rupert,” after Brian accidentally sells Rupert during a Yard Sale to a family moving to Aspen Colorado.

Fourth in the set, “Road to Germany,” features Stewie and Brian traveling through time, and a valiant effort to save Mort from the Nazi regime, after Mort accidentally went to leave a deuce in Stewie’s Time Machine.

Fifth, was “Road to the Multiverse,” where Stewie and Brian travel along parallel dimensions, trying to find a suitable habitat that meets both their requirements, after Stewie creates a multi-dimensional transportation device in order to bread and win a Pig  pedigree competition.

Which leaves us with number 6, “Road to the North Pole.

Anyone who has been a long time fan of Family Guy will recall that Stewie has a tumultuous relationship with Santa Claus.One that is based on mutual respect. But when Stewie goes to visit Santa at the mall (and is forced to wait in line all day long) that respect is broken, when the mall Santa snubs Stewie right as he get’s his turn. Stewie vows vengeance, and immediately departs on his adventure; destination North Pole.

Brian, who made a vain effort to stop Stewie, must flee in pursuit. A few car crashes, and some Canadian hospitality later, Stewie and Brian find themselves at the gates to Santa’s secret workshop. But things are nothing like they had imagined. (Even for Brian, who had thought Santa himself was just a fantasy.)

The Elves have mutated into idiotic machines, who’s sole purpose is to build toys, and are unable to think for themselves; unable even to feel. And the reindeer. Who have developed a taste for Elven flesh.

Stewie and Brian must do something to help, and that something is nothing short of the job itself. Well, you can guess where the rest is going to go.

The episode was excellent, and I say that not just because I am a fan. I fan there to be a significant increase in the ‘laughs-per-minute’ quota for this episode. It’s is almost as if they were saving all their best ideas for this one episode. The best of which, being ‘reality turning itself on Gary Busey.’ I love a good Gary Busey joke.

But what I realized about this show, is that it really is running out a steam. I mean for the most part this season has been pretty mediocre. But there have been a few rays of hope along the way. Road to the North Pole and It’s a Trap! represent two final pushes for the year. We are going into the mid-season break for the show, with no more new episodes in 2010 and a long break till around May when new episodes start to air again finishing up the season.

Having a good episode to fall back on gives me hope, that the show won’t end in a whimper. But I do realize that Family Guy needs an exit strategy. I don’t think I know a single person who thinks The Simpson’s is still “as good as it used to be.” And it being on it’s 22nd season, vs Family Guy‘s 9th, I would rather see family guy end on a high note, than on a fourth cancellation.

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