In one of the most famous episodes of the show, Peter first demonstrates to the audience the absurd lengths he’ll go to in order to carry out his crazy ideas. Peter disables the town’s access to television after colliding with Quahog’s primary cable television transmitter. Without any television, Peter experiences withdrawal and decides to construct a rudimentary cardboard device that serves as a constant television frame in front of him in order to make the world seem like his television.
This results in some memorable scenes when Peter compares commonplace items to television networks and programs, including a memorable not-so-subtle reference to the long-gone UPN network. The humor is just as cringe-worthy as it is in the most recent episodes, but it is presented far more smartly and is done in a way that flows naturally with the plot. Not a single joke, not even the seemingly random ones, fully pulls you out of the story. The cheaper “manatee” gags are far less prevalent, which keeps the emphasis on the absurd plot.
Peter transitions between extremes in the traditional manner. He decides to enjoy life to the fullest and take his family on an exhausting frenzy of non-stop outdoor activities after coming to the conclusion that television is bad. Peter thinks he doesn’t need to watch television even after it resumes, and instead opts to accompany William Shatner to the Bavarian folk festival.
William Shatner’s outrageous portrayal is really amusing. It’s impossible not to giggle at the amusing dramatic gestures and the interesting mid-sentence pauses. There are some apparent Star Trek allusions, but William Shatner visiting the Griffin home and spending the afternoon with Peter is the greatest.
In this episode, Stewie is at his most evil when he decides to wage war on broccoli by developing a weather control mechanism that would kill crops when it gets too chilly. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: the unrelenting evil genius version of Stewie is much more amusing than the watered-down version we see in recent episodes. The side plot with Stewie’s wicked scheme is handled extremely nicely and even has a connection to the main plot. It’s astonishing to see how much more effective a show can be with greater focus on telling a well-crafted narrative. The majority of the current episodes’ shoddy storytelling stands in stark contrast to how masterfully structured the classic episodes were.
First appearance of Chris’ awkward oddity, while Meg’s voice was still provided by Lacey Chabert. She not only interpreted the character considerably differently from Mila Kunis, but the character was also much more subdued than usual. We do got to witness the start of what would eventually become a recurring joke about how mistreated she is. Peter decides to watch television rather than teach her how to drive, which contributes to the town’s cable being turned off.
This episode is one of the best in the series thanks to its expertly crafted and entertaining plot, constant onslaught of unexpected gags, and some truly original imagery. The standard for animated comedy is unquestionably raised by Family Guy at his best in this episode.