Terry Morrow: 'Family Guy' climbs to 200 episode by challenging its audience

Stewie and his pet turtle have a bonding moment on "Family Guy," which airs its 200th episode Sunday.

© 2012 FOX BROADCASTING

Stewie and his pet turtle have a bonding moment on "Family Guy," which airs its 200th episode Sunday.

For a couple of hundred episodes, "Family Guy" is the closest this latest generation will get to its own "All In The Family."

Crude while challenging and beguiling because of its animated style, "Family Guy" — reaching its hallmark episode (9 p.m. Sunday, WTNZ, Channel 43) — is an example of a prime-time muckraker that can make a sincere statement about issues underneath its crudeness.

There are few sacred cows — from religion to politics to the physically challenged. "Family Guy" isn't afraid to mock, deconstruct or examine.

Granted, conservative voices and the South remain easy targets to the point of relying on pathetic stereotypes. This is where "Family Guy" fails the most: an unwillingness to have any kind of balance.

The 200th episode is not outstanding: Baby Stewie and Brian the Dog have another space/ time continuum issue to resolve. It's fun and sweet but nothing more (Score: 3 stars, out of five).

On a higher level of humor, "Family Guy" works exceedingly well in busting other stereotypes, such as with handicaps. One of the regular cast is Officer Joe Swanson, who is in a wheelchair and often the butt of neighbor/ best friend Peter Griffin's jokes.

(Peter: Joe, I just, umm... just recently found out that I'm umm... I'm mentally retarded... h-how do you deal with it?

Joe: Peter, I'm handicapped, not retarded.

Peter: OK. Now we're splittin' hairs.)

Regardless of his limitations, Joe is part of Peter's equal opportunity targets.

Through Peter, we're exposed to our own fears and ignorance. No one would ask Peter for advice, just as a generation ago no one would approach Archie Bunker for wisdom.

"Family Guy" isn't the new version of "All In The Family," but it is a grand torchbearer.

Terry Morrow may be reached at 865-342-6445 or morrowt@knoxville.com.

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