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Family Guy: “Peter Problems”

Illustration for article titled Family Guy: “Peter Problems”
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As a heads-up, the air time on this episode was weird and my DVR cut off the last couple of minutes. I suppose “Peter Problems” could have totally stuck the landing and been a Family Guy for the ages, but that seems pretty unlikely. After those few weeks of Brian-related excitement, the first episode of the new year (happy new year!) is plain old boring, run-of-the-mill Family Guy. There’s not much going on in this episode, either plot- or joke-wise—mostly, “Peter Problems” makes a strong case that the show should keep doing publicity stunts like killing Brian, because at least those would be interesting.

Peter gets promoted at work to forklift operator (is that a promotion? Sometimes I forget what his job actually is) and of course is ecstatic at the prospect of taking a forklift around everywhere, treating it like some sort of monster truck. In a different episode, Peter’s childlike delight at what is for the most part a pretty mundane vehicle would have been endearing, but instead it’s flat because all of the jokes are pretty much exactly what you’d expect. Peter and Quagmire use the forklift to let Joe pretend to be able to walk (though he loses his pants), he reenacts the beginning of The Lion King, and tries (and fails) to save a beached whale, spearing it repeatedly with the lift. The whale gag goes on long enough and is gross enough (there are some relatively graphic whale guts) that I could see it becoming funny again if that’s the sort of thing you’re into, but eh.


When Peter tries to chug an entire vat of beer using the forklift, he gets fired and has to look for work to keep the family afloat. After a few unsuccessful job search attempts, Lois decides to get a job herself at the local Stop & Shop to help out the family. There are a few directions the episode could have gone from here, including a working, aggressive Lois (a well the show has dipped into in the past, with decent success), but instead we get a bit of Peter Griffin, house-husband. Okay. Pretty much nothing happens you wouldn’t expect, which is too bad. With a setup this stock, pretty much the only weapon Family Guy has left in its arsenal is randomness (which is why the only joke in the episode I found funny was the washing-machine party in the basement) or grossness (hence the whale thing), and “Peter Problems” doesn’t deploy any of that.

Eventually, Peter discovers that, for some reason, he can’t get it up in bed for Lois after she pressures him into post-work sex (“I need the release!”). After he sees Dr. Hartman’s sexist dress and “slut” tattoo (who doesn’t love a good Dr. Hartman bit?), Peter is condemned to a life of shame for not being a sexually potent man. Chris tells Peter he’s a failure as a man and a father, and it’s hard not to hear that being the show’s attitude toward erectile dysfunction. Oh well. This is about where my DVR cut out (with Peter trying not to be emasculated at the office supply store), but it’s not hard to tell where the episode is going. Without consistent characters to lean on, Family Guy lives and dies based on the jokes in its individual episodes, and this one didn’t have any good ones. Weirdly, the plot might have even been a bit overstuffed—there are a few places “Peter Problems” could have lingered and gotten some joke fodder, but instead had to do so much work to set up Peter’s erectile dysfunction that there was no room for anything to actually be funny. This is pretty much a total nothing of a Family Guy, but oh well. There’s always next week.

Stray Observations:

  • Unofficial (especially this week) cutaway counter: 9.
  • Sorry about the DVR issues again. Everything will be back to normal next week.
  • Fire away with jokes about how the episode couldn’t get it up.

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