Have you given up on The Simpsons or Family Guy yet? I long ago checked out on both. The Simpsons Movie was an anomaly, a surprisingly successful 90-minute return to form, but the series ... well, d'oh!

Ever the believer, I've sporadically checked in with The Simpsons over the years, anxious to fall in love again. Usually at the start of a new season or when I've fallen for gimmicks like the Lego episode.

But whenever I watch these new episodes my heart breaks and I mostly just stare at the screen in dumb horror, wondering what happened and how it could have possibly come to this.

How it came to this, I think, is a combination of the ravages of time - The Simpsons has, after all, been running non-stop for something like 183 years - and the ravages of success; Family Guy was the little show that could and then once it had, couldn't stop itself from becoming a total and utter asshat.

Advertisement

The cutting smarts, biting satire and family warmth of long ago morphed into The Kerr-razy Homer Variety Half-Hour as it clumsily tried to keep up with the Ritalin-popping pace of today's televisual environs.

Whereas Family Guy, once the frenzied, manic bastion of boundary pushing and no-holds-barred celebratory pop-cynicism, became smug and fat and entirely too impressed with itself. To watch it now is to endure 30 awful minutes of mean-spirited barbs and puffed-up misogyny, interrupted only by tired cutaways and relentless gag recycling.

Oh, how the mightily funny have fluffed it. Here we have two shows at the peak of their decline. Two shows that are shadows of the shadows of their former selves.

Two shows that, to put it bluntly, stink.


Shadows of their former selves, The Simpsons and Family Guy are now two shows at the peak of their decline.

So what the heck, why not do a crossover? Maths, perhaps? Stink + stink = stinky.

But wilfully ignoring maths and logic, episode 1 of season 13 of Family Guy is titled The Simpsons Guy. That right there got my alarm bells ringing.

The discovery was that the crossover was to be a Family Guy episode rather than a Simpsons episode. A minor distinction for most, but by far the most important thing to note when thinking about how the episode is going to play out.

Essentially it means every minute of this hour-long special is propelled by the nasty, egotistical Family Guy engine and is being driven by people whose idea of a hilarious punchline is, "your sister's being raped". Yes.

Even at its lowest, The Simpsons never stooped to juvenile vileness, which sadly is Family Guy's stock and trade these days.

A line like that has no place in Springfield and the outrage surrounding its appearance in the episode is, I reckon, quite justified.

"A crossover always brings out the best in each show. It certainly doesn't smack of desperation. The priorities are always creative and not driven by marketing!"

That's Family Guy's slovenly son Chris Griffin opening the episode, which has screened in the US, getting the digs in first and taking all sport out of any potshots, burns, criticism and zings this deservedly hyped episode faces.

So, for better or worse, we have the Griffin and Simpsons clans together on screen for the first time. But given the current form of both shows, which way do you think it'll go?

Regardless, when the episode screens here I'll be watching, ready to laugh, sitting there with a heavy heart desperately hoping that this time the pain won't be too bad but secretly knowing it will.

* Are you still a fan of Family Guy and The Simpsons? Or have both shows done their dash? Will you watch the crossover episode? Leave your comments below.