“This calls for a sexy party!”

Wednesday, August 8, 2007 by

Nine months after it was going out at midnight, this week’s Broadcast reports that Family Guy is now the second most popular programme on BBC3.

Alright, so that only means it’s getting 650,000 viewers, compared to the 1.2 million people watching Katie and Peter on ITV2, but that still gets it into the digital TV top 10 and, apart from the adventures of Andre and Jordan, it’s the only show in that chart which isn’t a repeat or preview of an analogue show. I’d suggest the figures were pretty good for 11pm in the middle of summer on any channel.

It’s now seven years almost to the day that the series first made its debut on British TV, when Channel 4 screened it at the now unimaginable time of 6pm – the Simpsons slot, of course, and one it could still fill now as the amount of editing they’d need to do on Family Guy could see both shows fit in the same half-hour. Famously it was reprieved from the axe in the USA thanks to huge DVD sales, so it looks like on both sides of the Atlantic it’s a rare case of a series enjoying success purely through word of mouth.

As for the series itself, it’s certainly a rum affair, and one that in any five minute period can be both the best and the worst programme on television. Everyone mentions that most of an episode is generally endless variations on the same joke – “This is worse than the time I did X with Y” – but it has to be said that plenty of those bits are very funny (“Hi, I’m Fran Drescher!”).

The quality of the gags vary wildly, much of it is completely unintelligible to a British audience and parts of it (like last night’s “wrong-voiced Muppets”) are just disgusting. And yet, there are always loads of silly bits in it – Stewie dancing with Gene Kelly last week was a real high point – and it’s hugely refreshing to see a series that is only interested in sticking as many jokes into 22 minutes as possible. And Stewie and Brian are the best double-act on telly.

It seems that a growing number of people are finding that, if they want to give their brain a bit of time off, the best way to do that is to watch Family Guy.


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