"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Saturday, August 25, 2007

MTTT: Bell's Brewery & Family Guy: Peter's Two Dads

The MTTT crew celebrated our 2nd Anniversary of the Thirsty Third Thursday after work drinking club at Bell's Brewery. MTTT all started in 2005 in August at Bell's Brewery and from that point forward we return each August.

Bell's Brewery in Kalamazoo is a micro-brewery. They offer a wide selection of tasty beers and tend to promote seasonal recipes, as do a lot of micro-breweries. My personal favorite is Oberon . It's rich in color and flavour. Bell's Brewery also has a beautiful beer garden attached to the aesthetically pleasing pub. It is home to many of Kalamazoo's college-age hippie-types, which adds to the whole exuberance of the Bell's experience.

All the MTTT'ers ordered different Bell beers and all of them were highly recommended. Lindsey was the bravest and had the 10.5% alcohol content beer (Expedition Stout) and one glass was all she could take. I just made myself thirsty for a Bell's Oberon, so I'm glad I keep a six pack in my refrigerator.

Family Guy:

Despite a couple of underdeveloped plotlines and an overabundance of offensive and uncomfortable jokes, this episode of Family Guy somehow manages to succeed with just enough truly hilarious moments and actual story elements.Conducting a detailed a plot analysis of any Family Guy episode is somewhat pointless, but there actually seems to be an attempt by the writers to put together a storyline that has a slight amount of cohesion.

Meg's birthday party serves as the backdrop for Francis' death, and gives Chris an excuse to provide his only meaningful contribution to the episode with a brief musical solo. The other threads in this episode focus on Stewie and Peter.

I got to witness the final moments of Peter's father Francis's life, as he's crushed by his weighty son who was riding a unicycle drunk while dressed up as a clown during Meg's birthday party. The ongoing joke and plot thread that starts off the episode concerns how little respect Meg gets in the family. Meg bursts into the room talking about what she'd like for her upcoming birthday and nobody really seems to pay too much attention to what she was saying. Neither of the Griffin parents knows how old their daughter is, and they don't seem to care too much either.

The other story attempt in this episode centers around Stewie discovering that he enjoys the pain of getting spanked, and as such, tries to push his mother into hitting him. This particular plotline falls a bit flat. It's not all that funny and it felt like it was thrown in as filler. Other than the shock value of watching Stewie fantasize about his mother beating him, there was very little to salvage these somewhat disturbingly offensive moments. One joke that does stand out, however, is Stewie asking Lois to "step on his cubes."

Of course, the main storyline in this episode revolves around Peter's discovery about his father. Upon Francis' death, Peter finds out that his real father's a "fat stinking drunk" from Ireland, and embarks on a quest to find him, but not before a brief Peter-as -Wonder Woman reference.This plot thread works really well, and is filled with a classic barrage of absurd jokes and numerous flashback moments, including a great Return of the Jedi reference, as well as a short scene poking fun at Ben Affleck.

Peter's father makes a grand entrance as the "town drunk" in a tavern called "Wifey Mcbeaty's Tavern." After engaging in and winning a drinking contest with his real father, the two burst into song for yet another musical interlude. These musical moments seem to happen very often on the show lately. They don't always work well, but in this case the song and accompanying visuals were appropriately entertaining.

Peter's dad could be a great addition if the writers choose to continue including him in future episodes (along with his pet sheep cleverly named O'Brian). There seemed to be fewer flashbacks and pop-culture references in this episode, which helped move the main story forward.

While Family Guy has never been about telling decent tales, the cohesiveness of the Peter's real father storyline helped define a sense of purpose to accompany the off-the-wall arbitrary jokes. Wacky random humor when combined with a sense of direction goes a long way in making these episodes feel more complete and satisfying, and in this respect, "Peter's Two Dads" succeeds remarkably well.

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