'Family Guy' Season 11, Episode 2 - 'Ratings Guy' Recap

'Family Guy'  Season 11, Episode 2 - 'Ratings Guy' Recap What a difference ten seasons make. Remember back when Peter refused to kill the cast of "Dawson's Creek?" Well, now it seems he has no problem messing with television.

We start with a trip to the fire station that doesn't tie in to the rest of the episode at all, but that's not uncommon with "Family Guy." Highlights include a firefighter fighting a fire with his bare hands, and Lois' apt reaction: "What the f*ck was that?!"

The main story begins with what happens next: the Griffins are selected to be a Nielsen family. That means they'll have a Nielsen box connected at their house, which will observe and report their viewing habits to ensure that crappy shows stay on the air and great shows like "Community" get cancelled.

Of course, Peter quickly finds a way to abuse this power: Tom Tucker stops by to ask what he could do to make sure that Peter watches, and Peter suggests getting rid of the mustache, wearing a festive hat, and ending each show by trying to start a chainsaw. Tom obliges, and Peter becomes hungry for more power, stealing all of the Nielsen boxes out of the van when the rep comes back to collect.

With all 100 of the boxes hooked up to his TV, Peter now accounts for a sizable chunk of the viewing audience. This allows him to hold shows hostage until they meet his demands. Here are some of the changes that Peter effects:

  • "Mad Men" now includes lightsaber fights and Kiss playing the "Star Wars" theme.
  • David Letterman reads bedtime stories to Peter.
  • "Breaking Bad" is now on roller skates.
  • "Cops" follows police officers with banana guns.
  • "Dateline" tells us the murderer at the top of the show.
  • "Creeping Up On the Kardashians," featuring a guy with a ponytail who scares the girls.
  • Adding another tree to "One Tree Hill."
  • Putting an actual cougar on "Cougar Town," which Courtney Cox kills with her claws.

Understandably, after all that, everyone hates Peter. Joe and Quagmire shun him, and he's not even allowed at the Clam. So, Peter decides to make things right by going to the Television Producer's Guild and getting everyone back on track: J.J. Abrams makes a confusing sci-fi show, people are assigned to workplace comedies in mockumentary style, etc. There's a terrific joke here where Homer Simpson shows up doing the same thing as Peter, and Peter laughs about finally doing a story they hadn't done yet.

As much of a surprise as it is that "The Simpsons" hadn't done this yet, it's almost more surprising that "Family Guy" didn't. The show has been cancelled and revived in the past, and Seth MacFarlane is notoriously wary of the Nielsen system because of that. Then again, so is pretty much everyone who isn't on CBS.

Cut-Aways of the Week:

-- NBA players on the road who just cuddle: B, pretty solid satire but would've been more timely a few years ago (Kobe).

-- Cary Elwes' career: A-, seriously, is he famous or not? He was also in "Liar Liar," mind you.

-- Never get picked for anything (sniper): D, in pretty poor taste.

-- Taking criticism for his boots: C, decent payoff at the end.

-- Hungry Hungry Alec Baldwins: B+, if only for how odd it was.

-- Clark Kent and Lois Lane finally get together: B+, it's always fun when Superman is an asshole.

-- Right in the gap of Sarah Bernhardt's teeth: C-, talk about dated and weird.

-- Peter's public radio show: B+ for commitment to the bit.

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