TO­TAL RE­CALL

Our Rus­sell likes his SF Fam­ily Guy style.

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Contents -

Rus­sell Lewin, Pro­duc­tion Edi­tor

There aren’t many tele­vi­sion shows that I watch ev­ery episode of, but Fam­ily Guy is one. Now into its twelfth sea­son, Seth Mac­Far­lane’s an­i­mated com­edy se­ries is still main­tain­ing a supremely high stan­dard.

But it’s not science fic­tion, I hear you cry. Well, you have a point, sort of: Fam­ily Guy is not a show that gets cov­er­age in SFX – ex­cept when they do one of their Star Wars spoofs. Ob­vi­ously it’s not in­trin­si­cally sci- fi in the way of Doc­tor Who, Con­tin­uum and all the oth­ers, but it does have big science fic­tion el­e­ments. I ap­pre­ci­ate that th­ese are all part and par­cel of its fan­tas­ti­cal com­edy uni­verse, but I reckon it still de­serves some SFX at­ten­tion!

The big­gest sci- fi el­e­ment in Fam­ily Guy is Stewie’s time ma­chine; yes, the time ma­chine built by the baby of the house, the time ma­chine that sends him and close ca­nine pal Brian on amaz­ing ad­ven­tures. It was first used in sea­son one episode “Mind Over Mur­der”, when Stewie cre­ates it to avoid painful teething. Later he be­comes more am­bi­tious: in sea­son 10’ s “Fam­ily Guy Viewer Mail No 2” he uses it to travel back in time to 5 April 1994 to stop Kurt Cobain from killing him­self by con­vinc­ing him to eat lots of Haa­gen- Dazs ice cream. ( It works, but back in the present Kurt is now mor­bidly obese.)

In sea­son 12’ s “Chap Stewie” the tod­dler makes a new ver­sion of his time ma­chine to change his con­cep­tion, so he be­comes part of an up­per- class Bri­tish fam­ily ( he then tires of this and builds an­other one to get back to his nor­mal life). In 2015 episode “Stewie, Chris & Brian’s Ex­cel­lent Adventure” the trio do an ex­ten­sive his­tory tour and end up on board the doomed Ti­tanic. ( And in “Road To The Mul­ti­verse” Stewie cre­ates a re­mote con­trol that lets them visit var­i­ous par­al­lel uni­verses.)

What’s great about all this timey- wimey mad­ness is that it ex­em­pli­fies Fam­ily Guy’s free­wheel­ing cre­ativ­ity. I’m in awe at the quan­tity and qual­ity of the show’s gags and love that al­most noth­ing ’s off lim­its. What an en­gag­ing, lib­er­tar­ian, secular, demo­cratic, fun- lov­ing out­look this pro­gramme has, in my view, all the best qual­i­ties there are, and throw­ing into the mix that sci- fi sta­ple the time ma­chine is glo­ri­ous proof of this.

Bril­liantly, no one ever com­ments on the fact that Stewie has this in his room.

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