Is the crossover the lowest form of marketing? The writers of Family Guy might agree with that if they clearly weren’t having so much fun by getting to play with the Simpsons toy box.
Family Guy’s 13th season began tonight with the much hyped, the quite worrisome, yet still surprisingly anticipated crossover with The Simpsons. What famous gags would be revisited? What strange bedfellows would be sewn? And was all this the last grasp of two once venerable franchises trying to parlay their separate, though distinctive styles and fanbases, in order to standout amongst an even more cluttered TV landscape? Family Guy might have taken the time to answer that last question, but it was just too damn busy pointing out the oddity of the Griffins meeting the Simpsons.
Make no mistake, this is a Family Guy episode that just so happens to feature the Simpsons characters, cast, and takes place predominately in Springfield. What’s interesting is that Family Guy seems more than happy to offer reverence and respect to its older Animation Domination cousin by hinging the episode on a legal case of copyright infringement on the part of Peter’s beloved Pawtucket Pat, which apparently for years has been merely relabelled Duff, Homer’s beer of choice. Get it? Family Guy is to The Simpsons as Pawtucket Pat is to Duff.
Homer bemoans the similarities between the two, while Peter notes that Duff is something he might have enjoyed when he was young, but hasn’t had anything to do with in like 13 years. To drive the point home, the case comes before Judge Fred Flintstone.
Of course, you can’t put it above Family Guy to revel in the meta-ness of this seminal crossover; self-awareness is, in many ways, Family Guy’s bread and butter. When the Griffins arrive in Springfield, Lois, bewitched with the immediate charm of the Simpsons’ hometown, says they should regularly visit, but Brian notes this is likely a one time thing. At the end of the episode, Lois notes that Duff is unlikely to pursue the issue of copyright against Pawtucket Pat, because she doubts anyone from Springfield would come to Quahog to enforce it.
Yeah, we get it. This is a once in a blue moon occurrence. Thank you, Captain Obvious. Typically, when TV shows crossover you try to play down the cheesiness, but Family Guy kept pointing to it while yelling to an annoying degree.