Monday, September 29, 2014

A Review of The Simpsons/Family Guy Crossover

Hey everyone, Dana here. Last week, I did a review of my top 10 favorite/influential albums. This one is gonna be a TV review! Yeah, I know, it's been a while since I did one; forgive me. I was originally going to do just a plain review of the Simpsons and how different they are from earlier seasons in light of the Every Simpsons Ever marathon of FXX. But since the marathon ended weeks ago, I figured I'd do this instead. Without further ado, here's my review of the Simpsons/Family Guy crossover that aired last night.

So, the episode begins with Peter publishing a cartoon in the newspaper that was considered misogynist, so every woman in Quahog is protesting outside the house with picket signs and throwing bricks through the living room window. Finding themselves in danger, the Griffins decide to get out of Quahog for a while; at least until the riot dies down. As Peter falls asleep behind the wheel and miraculously manages to stay on the road, they find themselves lost. After they stop for gas, their car gets stolen. So after a short while, they find themselves in Springfield, the home of The Simpsons! From that moment on, they have officially crossed over into the Simpsons universe. The theme song plays, the clouds clear and show a panoramic view of Springfield, just as if we were watching the beginning of a Simpsons episode. Very clever, I must say.

Since their car got stolen, they go to Springfield to report their stolen car. On the way there, they stop at the Kwik-E-Mart to get some food and subsequently meet Homer Simpson, who buys them a dozen donuts. Homer offers to help Peter file a report on their stolen car. Since Chief Wiggum and the rest of the Springfield Police Force essentially suck at their jobs, their search for their stolen car is on hold. Homer offers to let the Griffins stay at their house, and the families officially meet. Homer and Peter become friends, Marge and Lois become friends, Stewie idolizes Bart, Lisa tries to help Meg find something she's good at, and Chris and Brian take Santa's Little Helper for a walk. Alright, so far so good. A fun introduction to both families, they seem to hit it off. Not bad, Seth. Very good sense of exposition.

Bart introduces Stewie to prank phone calls. They call up Moe's Tavern and he pulls the "innuendo name" prank that he's been pulling for the past 25 years. Stewie offers to give it a try. He calls Moe and says "Hey Moe, your sister is being raped." This scene caused A LOT of controversy throughout social media. Alright, I'm gonna stop here. Now, I understand Family Guy is known for their lewd and "inappropriate" context in their episodes. That's not shocking, nor should it be since Family Guy is an ADULT animated sitcom. There's an "explicit content" warning with a "viewer discretion is advised" prompt before every episode, so there's no excuse for parents to get their panties up in a bunch if their kid watched that scene.  They've pulled plenty of controversial jokes in episodes prior to last night, so this is literally old news to me. Stewie's remark is supposed to show that rape jokes are not funny and should never be used as a prank phone call. But, let's look at this at a different angle. What if the viewer, who happens to be a Family Guy fan, was raped? Is that a good reason to get upset and offended? Yes, that person should be. Rape should never be taken as a joke or should be used in a comical fashion. It's disgusting, vile, and probably the most heinous crime a person could commit. I honestly wasn't too thrilled about that scene either. But Seth MacFarlane did not intend to make it a joke. He wanted to show that it isn't funny through Stewie's remark. It was just a misunderstanding, and was obviously not offensive enough for that scene to be cut. Let's carry on, shall we?

Stewie watches Bart get bullied by Nelson, so Stewie gets revenge by tying Nelson up and torturing him; trying to impress Bart. Meanwhile, Lisa shows Meg the saxophone, and discovers that Meg plays the saxophone better than her. Out of jealousy, she downplays her talent and no longer likes her, yet Meg looks up to Lisa and finally feels like someone understands her. However, Lisa is horrified to find that Meg cut Lisa's name into her arm. Afterwards, Lois did not enjoy her movie date with Marge, Bart gets freaked out by Stewie's insane behavior after finding Nelson tied up in the garage, while Chris and Brian try to find Santa's Little Helper after accidentally setting him free. Peter gets hit by the stolen car, and discover that it was stolen by Hans Moleman. (Haha, I love that guy!) To celebrate, Homer and Peter go to Moe's Tavern, only to argue whether Duff is the better beer or not. They discover that Pawtucket Patriot beer is actually Duff, but plagiarized. Duff's lawyer happened to be there when the discovery was unraveled, and sues Peter since he is the only one who represents the Pawtucket Patriot brewery. Now, if this lawsuit were to really happen, the actual representatives of Pawtucket Patriot would have flown or driven to Springfield to settle this case. But then again, it's a cartoon, the logic doesn't actually apply here. I feel that they could have handled this case in a better way, but I guess the writers couldn't come up with anything else, or they didn't have enough budget to have more characters appear in this episode. It's not terrible, though. I still like it so far.

While in the Springfield Court room, we see various Simpsons and Family Guy characters with their respect counter parts next to each other. Kent Brockman and Tom Tucker, Carl and Cleveland, Krusty and Mort Goldman, and Mayor Quimby next to Adam West. Instead of Judge Roy Snyder (due to Harry Shearer's absence from this episode), the judge who is looking over this case is Fred Flintstone. He rules in favor of Duff, and Peter subsequently loses his job. I thought the idea of having Fred Flintstone as the judge of this case was pretty stupid, but because Harry Shearer had scheduling conflicts, his characters did not have any speaking roles, or they didn't appear at all. They had no choice but to use an outside character to play the role. The only other judge Springfield could have used was Judge Constance Harm, played by Jane Kaczmarek, but she probably had scheduling conflicts too. But I keep forgetting that this is a Family Guy episode with The Simpsons guest starring, and Family Guy has outside characters making appearances in almost every episode.

The Griffins prepare to leave in dismay as Homer feels remorse for costing Peter his job. He attempts to make amends, but Peter fights with Homer in a chicken-fight fashion and nearly destroys Springfield. So, like every chicken-fight, it goes on for roughly ten minutes. They destroy buildings, crash cars, yada yada yada. They end up airborne across the Springfield Gorge, paying homage to the Simpsons eighth episode of the second season, "Bart The Daredevil" with Peter and Homer falling painfully to the bottom.They finally stop fighting, and realize that despite their differences, they admire and respect each other; and agree to keep their shows "a half hour apart with a pile of garbage between." From afar, Comic Book Guy comments that it was the "worst cross-over ever." Nah, I've seen worse. I smiled throughout a good portion of the episode.

Upon the return to Quahog, the Griffins settle in as Stewie pretends that he's over Bart's friend rejection. But he mimics the chalkboard gag in the beginning of every Simpsons episode to cope with his failed friendship and weeps as the camera zooms out.

Despite not really liking Family Guy since the first cancellation in 2003, this crossover was very well done and I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. From beginning to end, this episode was very well written. I was very impressed that even though the controversial Stewie prank phone call pissed off a lot of people, he wrote the reaction into the beginning of the episode with Peter's comic. There was an equal amount of references to both shows, and even paying homage to other TV shows really made it creative and clever. People tend to compare The Simpsons and Family Guy with each other, and always wondered if the two shows would ever collide. Well, it happened and seemed to have critical acclaim despite the controversy. If I truly had to choose between the two shows, I'm a Simpsons girl. Family Guy has it's moments for me, but I'd choose The Simpsons over Family Guy any day. But at the same time, I feel the humor of The Simpsons has declined since maybe Season 14 or 15, so I kind of stopped watching the newer seasons. But The Simpsons will forever have a place in my heart, and I wouldn't hesitate to watch mini marathons of earlier episodes on FXX.

Thank you so much for reading this review, and I will be posting again soon. Enjoy the rest of your week!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Dana's Top 10 Albums

Ladies and gentleman, my blog has officially awakened from its coma. Please forgive me for not posting since the beginning of the summer. I cannot apologize enough for the lack of blogging and weekly updates. I really hope you can forgive me. I'm back again, and my blog is no longer comatose. At the beginning of the summer, I did a movie review on that really awful Bevanfield Films version of Aladdin and I pretty much ripped it to shreds. Tonight's blog is a music review, however I'm not reviewing just one album...but my TOP TEN favorite albums! I never really discussed more than one full length album before, but this should be something fun to write about. I hope you all like it and are happy to see a blogpost from yours truly. Here we go, my Top 10 albums!


Hybrid Theory was the first full length album I ever bought with my own money when I was twelve years old. I discovered Linkin Park through Dragonball Z music videos and fell in love with them. The heartfelt, powerful lyrics in every song from beginning to end made me feel like someone understood how I felt when things got rough. Back then, I never really knew about any other bands out there until I discovered Linkin Park. (Remember, I was TWELVE.) They were alternative metal but had hip-hop thrown in there as well. I never heard anything like that before. To this day, I can listen to this album from beginning to end and smile. I don't really like Linkin Park anymore, but this album will forever have a soft spot in my heart.

Anti-Flag's fifth album, For Blood and Empire, had an effect on me when I discovered them at age 16. I'm not really into politics; I rarely ever discuss them unless someone asks my opinion about a particular issue. However, Anti-Flag's songs have socio-political messages that are mostly anti-corporate, working class struggle, anti-imperialism, etc. According to the U.S Government, I'm a registered Democrat. Obviously, so is Anti-Flag. Pretty much everything that Anti-Flag says on this album essentially explains my views on the government and how I feel about how this country is being controlled. If you're one of those people who are seriously into politics, take a listen and discuss amongst your political friends.

The Offspring's fifth album, Americana, is another childhood favorite of mine. What I love about this album in particular is that it significantly influenced the 90's punk scene along with Rancid, Nirvana (yes, they were a punk band before they were labeled as grunge), Green Day, NoFX, etc. Although earlier albums such as Smash and Ixnay on the Hombre launched The Offspring into mainstream, Americana gave them a bit more of a push and gained even more popularity. Another thing: every song sounds different. There's nothing more irritating than listening to an album that sounds like the same song was recorded five times in a row.

The Ramones' third album, Rocket To Russia had a lot of hits, but didn't chart as well as their debut album. That didn't matter to me, though. There's a wide variety of sounds that are different from the first and second Ramones album. They experimented with new sounds that are different than typical 1970's punk albums like Nevermind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols that was also released in 1977. Rocket To Russia was released during the band's most popular and well-known line up, and in my opinion, the best line up. All four of them are now deceased, but they're all alive in my heart. 

Social Distortion's self-titled album is my favorite out of every album they released. The first album I ever heard by them was Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll, but it didn't affect me as much as their self-titled album. I'm no fan of country music, but  Social Distortion decided to throw in some cow-punk and rockabilly riffs in their songs. Somehow or other, I really enjoyed it. I love when a band experiments with new sounds and new ideas instead of just releasing a carbon copy of an older album. One more thing: their incredible cover of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire." I like it better than the original version. Social Distortion closes their concerts with that cover. Bravo.

Issues was the first Korn album I ever listened to. To be honest, I didn't even know much about Korn except for a few hits such as "Ya'll Wanna Single," "Freak On A Leash," and "Coming Undone." But then my dear friend Brendan told me to listen to Issues. I did, and I can't believe I missed out on Korn for all of these years. The haunting lyrics, memorable melodies and the removal of their hip hop elements from the previous album, Follow the Leader, gave them a new alternative metal sound; including a commercial success. My thoughts about the spine chilling closing track "Dirty?" Let's just say I can't listen to it at night because the 4 minutes of static kept me lying awake in bed after listening to it.

American Psycho was the first Misfits album I ever heard, and was the first studio album with Michale Graves on lead vocals. Because of that, I never knew about Danzig until after discovering American Psycho. Although some of their songs sound a bit similar to the other, I can't help but sing along whenever one of the songs on this album pops up on my iPod. Each song is fun, catchy, and memorable. I've seen the Misfits before and even had the wonderful privilege to meet both Jerry Only and Michale Graves at two different events, and they're both wonderful. Also, I'm very glad that Danzig dropped the lawsuit. I don't like him. Clearly, I'm a Jerry Only and Michale Graves kind of girl.

Joan Jett's most recent album, Unvarnished, completely blew me out of the water when I first listened to this last year when it was released. From beginning to end, Joan left me in awe. Her songs ranged from her experiences during Hurricane Sandy to the death of her mother. For the first time, she wrote an entire album that was autobiographical and didn't include ONE cover. If you look at Unvarnished and her debut album Bad Reputation, you can clearly see how much Joan Jett grew as a musician. Bad Reputation had little to no originals with mostly covers, while Unvarnished had no covers at all. I could go on and on about this album, but I've already talked about that if you haven't seen it  here.

Green Day's third studio album, Dookie, will forever be their best album. Raw punk rock can easily describe the sound Green Day had in the 1990's. There is not one bad song on this album. I'd listen to Insomniac or their first album 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours and skipped a bunch of tracks because they either sounded too similar to the other, or they just didn't have the right composition. Dookie, on the other hand, is a classic hands-down. Almost every song is catchy enough to play in your head over and over, and the majority of the songs on that album became radio hits. To this day, Dookie is Green Day's best-selling album with millions upon millions of copies sold all over the world.

And my number one album is...

Meet The Beatles! Their second studio album is by far my favorite and the best album ever released. This is the album that pretty much made Beatlemania happen in the United States. Please Please Me charted decently well in England, but didn't quite chart in the United States. I noticed that the majority of the songs on Please Please Me were covers so I can see why they didn't gain popularity until their next album. They were still experimenting. Out of the twelve tracks on Meet The Beatles, only one of them was a cover (Til There Was You.) Every song on this album was pretty much a hit. The majority of the songs they performed on the Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964 were the songs on this album. Last February, I listened to this album from beginning to end to commemorate the 50th anniversary of The Beatles arriving in New York, and I was smiling the whole time. The Beatles was the first band I ever heard, and they will forever be the number one band in my life. No band will ever compare to them. Fifty years later, and they're still the most well-known band in rock and roll history.

That's all, folks. Thank you so much for reading, and I'll be writing again very soon. Once again, I sincerely apologize for not writing for all of these months. Enjoy the rest of your week.