Saturday, 27 July 2013

Saturday Morning Cartoons - King Of The American Simpsons Guy Showarama

Probably one of the most surprising reveals from this year's San Diego Comic Con was the announcement that The Simpsons would be doing a crossover episode with Family Guy. And it wasn't so much the announcement itself that was surprising, but more the fact that people actually gave a shit enough to retweet and repost the news as much they did.

I can't stand Family Guy. And even though I'm one of the few people who still enjoys The Simpsons, even I wasn't gung-ho enough to talk about this topic until now. Whatever your opinion, you must admit it reeks of desperation - an obvious attempt to reign in each others' opposing audiences. And I say 'opposing' because there are very few people who are fans of both shows, if any. People prefer one or the other - and I doubt this crossover event will do anything to change that.

Here's the other thing - The Simpsons and Family Guy have been crossing over into each others' territory for years now - if maybe on a more unofficial and combative level. That's why I was compelled to write this! And to show you how this whole crossover thing isn't really news at all.

To start, here's Peter Griffin's quick cameo in Season 14's 'Treehouse of Horror XIII'. In that same episode, when show staffers are given scary nicknames (as is the 'Treehouse of Horror' tradition), one of the producers is credited as Al "Family Guy" Jean.

In Season 17's 'The Italian Bob', police records indicate that Peter Griffin is a wanted man, as is another one of Family Guy's cartoon cohorts.

Family Guy has ripped into The Simpsons too, much of the time including "cameos" by the Simpson family. 

In Season 4's admittedly hilarious 'PTV', Homer appears in a slightly darker version of The Simpsons' theme, as part of a parody within a parody of The Naked Gun.

In Season 10, 'Cool Hand Peter' feels he is unfairly sentenced due to a seemingly partial jury. 

And in Season 7's 'The Juice Is Loose', Mayor Adam West gives the wrong(?) Simpson the honest what-for.

All clips in that particular order appear below...

One truly awful and unfunny Simpsons appearance from Season 6 of Family Guy was eventually banned by Fox and can only be viewed on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, or as a deleted scene on DVD. In the commentary for that DVD, creator Seth McFarlane defends the scene, calling the cut "bullshit" and basically saying it was unfair because The Simpsons take more potshots at Family Guy with no repercussions. He says Fox deemed the scene "too personal", as a cover-up for their fear of Simpsons' co-creator James L. Brooks. While that may be true, I think it could also be fairly chastised for just being awful and unfunny. It'd be one thing if the scene was even remotely clever, but the fact they keep referring to it in the commentary as a "gag" makes me want to do a different type of gag of my own.

Sorry, if I too was a little "personal" there. Like I said, I really do hate Family Guy. But I'll let you watch the scene below to judge for yourself. 

Eventually, Homer finally made a more official (and wittier) cameo, featuring the guest voice of Dan Castellaneta, in Season 11's 'Ratings Guy'

Simpsons' voice Hank Azaria also did a guest spot on Family Guy last year, playing socialite Reginald Barrington in 'No Country Club For Old Men'.

Coincidentally, it aired the same night that Seth McFarlane did a guest spot on The Simpsons, playing Ben in 'Dangers On A Train'!

McFarlane also did a guest spot this year on Futurama, playing Seymour in 'Games Of Tones'.

Both The Simpsons and Family Guy have allowed other cartoon characters to crossover into their shows. And each program has also been helpful in lending promotion to other programs written and/or created by former writers and/or creators.

In 1995 for example, The Simpsons already showcased a crossover with a failed series created by Simpsons alumni Al Jean and Mike Reiss, called The Critic, which originally aired on ABC and was later picked up by Fox.

Interestingly (especially in the face of the recent Family Guy announcement), Matt Groening was furious about the crossover episode (Season 6's 'A Star Is Burns'), which was spearheaded by his boss, James L. Brooks . "The two reasons I am opposed to this crossover is that I don't want any credit or blame for The Critic, and I feel this violates the Simpsons' universe," Groening said. "The Critic has nothing to do with the Simpsons' world."

He even went so far as to request his name be removed from the episode's opening credits. (and if you watch the episode now, his name is still absent)  This resulted in much name-calling on the eve of the show's airing. "He (Matt) is a gifted, adorable cuddly ingrate", said James L. Brooks at the time. "But his behaviour right now is rotten. And it's not pretty when a rich man acts like this."

Even though I'm sure a lot of younger people who watch the episode now have no idea why this weird little off-model guy voiced by Jon Lovitz even appears, 'A Star Is Burns' is still classic Simpsons. Al Jean was right at the time: "What bothers me about all of this is that now people get the impression that this Simpsons episode is less than good. It stands on its own even if The Critic never existed."

The Simpsons have also featured other cartoon cameos of a more affectionate nature, including a guest appearance featuring the cast of another Fox-owned property...

And a few other non-Fox owned properties. (so far! knock on wood!)

It was also revealed at Comic Con, that The Simpsons will do a crossover episode with Futurama as well, where Bender is sent back in time to kill Bart Simpson before his actions ruin the future.

This has already been done in comic form several times.

Family Guy has featured countless cartoon cameos throughout its run, but most of them appear and act as Family Guy'd versions of their former selves. And many of them end up murdered.

Similar to The Simpsons and Futurama, Family Guy also crossed over into its other Seth McFarlane-owned properties numerous times. But none more so than in a 2011, 3-episode arc which aired one night as part of a programming special called "Night Of The Hurricane", commencing with 'The Hurricane!' on The Cleveland Show, 'Seahorse Seashell Party' on Family Guy, and 'Hurricane!' on American Dad

Earlier this year, another non-Seth McFarlane owned Fox entity also found its way into a Season 11 episode of Family Guy called 'Bigfat'

And while it was cool to hear Mike Judge's drawl again, I couldn't help but thinking what most Family Guy haters always think...The Simpsons did it first. 

Recognize, I tell you what!

Coming soon to "Saturday Morning Cartoons"...does anyone remember that show, Duckman?

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