Was Family Guy Meant to be a Kids’ Show?


♪ [“The Review Must Go On”] ♪ Hello, I’m the Nostalgia Critic! I remember it so YOU don’t have to! We’re all familiar with the show Family Guy. Either fondly… Peter Griffin: Okay, that is the LAST time you are gonna pull that crap! [whack]
Lucy: AAAHH! NC: Not so fondly… Peter: Sssssssssss….. Aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh. Sssssss– NC: Or… seasons-one-through-six fondly enough. But here’s something you may not have known: Before the long-running series… well… briefly short-running series, THEN long-running series… I know nothing about that! Cartoon Network ran a short in 1997 you MAY find a little familiar. Familiar-sounding dog: Uh, Larry, it says here your license is suspended. Familiar-sounding Larry: Aw, no, they-they-they just put it away temporarily. NC: Yep! That’s Seth MacFarlane doing an eerily similar Brian the Dog as well as an eerily similar Peter Griffin, only here, they’re not called Brian and Peter, they’re called Larry and Steve. And yes, this was played on Cartoon Network during the day, NOT during Adult Swim! This was meant for kids! It was part of Cartoon Network experimenting with cartoon pilots on a section they called What A Cartoon!, which resulted in several popular shows being made. So… was the original idea for Family Guy supposed to be a kids’ show? It certainly seems that way. The seven-minute short begins with Steve talking to a camera explaining his situation: that being stuck with Larry. Steve: Hi, there. My name’s Steve. I’m a dog, in-in case you were, um… …well, stupid. NC: Apparently, he was at the pound, and out of all the humans, Larry was the only one who can understand him. This is hilariously never explained, as everyone else just hears him bark. It’s… just kind of how this world works. Steve: You will be indirectly responsible for the resulting euthanasia. Larry (hearing it as “youth in Asia”): Oh, boy, they got enough kids over there as it is. NC: Steve, of course, is an intelligent cynic, and Larry is a brainless doofus, and somehow, they have to survive mundane adventures like getting a new lamp. With Larry, however, that proves difficult as he’s constantly getting them into trouble. [whapping] Larry: How do you feel, Steve? Steve: Like Agamemnon after the fury of Clytemnestra. NC: Think kind of Inspector Gadget and Brain going to the grocery store; he’s always gotta save him. The humor isn’t hilarious, but it’s not bad, either, It has a lot of slapstick cartoony jokes, as well as a good line here and there. Larry: I-I think I know what I’m talking about, alright? Alright? I- [stammers] I didn’t spend twelve years in kindergarten ‘cuz I’m stupid! NC: It even has bits of surreal humor similar to what Family Guy would eventually incorporate. Saleslady: Just ask our spokesman, Mickey the Xenophobic Scotsman! [zip] [Mickey exclaims in shock] ♪ [demented bagpipe music] ♪ [glass smashes] NC: What especially funny is all the foreshadowing to the Family Guy show that ends up here. For example, the names of one of the stores they’re looking for is Stewie’s, which would eventually be Peter’s son in the show. Larry: Uh, Stewie’s has usually got good stuff. NC: This guy looks pretty close to Peter’s dad. Either that, or… Ehhh, let’s just hope it’s not HIM! Steve’s design, you can certainly see elements of Brian in, and Larry, though seemingly different in layout, actually is very similar! Just trim down the nose, change the hair, it’s surprisingly really close! Overall, it’s a cute little short, and honestly might’ve been a decent kids’ show. Maybe along the lines of Johnny Bravo, Dexter’s Lab, and so on. However, while those shows were picked up, Seth’s wasn’t. The network passed on this show, but liked Seth’s style so much, that they brought him on to be a writer on some of the shows that DID get picked up. He would try again on another show, though, called Zoo Mates! Another pilot, but this time for Nickelodeon
(for Oh Yeah! Cartoons). And this time with the help of Butch Hartman, who would go on to develop hits like Fairly Oddparents and Danny Phantom. It was…. odd… but, for different reasons his other shows are odd. It was just animals trying to live together in an apartment, but messing things up. Standard enough, but, there was a laugh track over the entire show! Polar bear: I’m gonna bust your head when I’m finished! [laugh track] [laugh track]
Polar bear: Who-o-oa, I’m dizzy! NC: To this day, I have no idea if this was done ironically, or in the same spirit as The Flintstones, where we’re supposed to believe somehow an audience is laughing at this! [laugh track] NC: No surprise, this one was not picked up. However, executives from Fox saw Larry & Steve, and were interested in Seth creating a show based on the concept, except with an adult edge. This is naturally where Family Guy came from. So, there it is! Family Guy was originally mean for kids, right? Well, there’s another part of the story. You see, while at the Rhode Island School for Design, Seth had to put together a thesis film in 1995. It starred himself introducing his animated characters living in an everyday suburban home, embarking on surreal adventures with cutaways. The name of that thesis? The Life of Larry. Which once again, stars a doofus named Larry, and his talking cynical dog named Steve. Larry: Yeah, oh-I-oh-I think what happens is he, uh, eats his food, and then whatever Spot can’t finish. Steve: Wh-wh-where did you– where did you hear that? Larry: Episode 65.
Steve: Oh. NC: And wouldn’t you know it, he also has a patient wife named Lois… Prototype-Lois: Fine! Let’s have this conversation for the ten millionth time, Larry! NC: …an overweight son named Milt, instead of Chris, and a much more adult tone. In fact, many of these jokes would eventually make its way into the Family Guy pilot, which would eventually make its way into the Family Guy show. It’s actually kind of eerie how similar these jokes are in every incarnation. Larry: I got it! That’s the guy from Big! Pilot-Peter: Tom Hanks! That’s it! Aw, funny guy! Series-Peter: Everything he says is a stitch! Tom Hanks in Philadelphia: I have AIDS. Series-Peter: [laughing uproariously] Pilot-Peter: [laughing uproariously] Larry: [laughing uproariously] NC: So when Fox saw this was also part of the Larry & Steve portfolio, they said that matched their animation outline perfect. Although… maybe not perfect enough. It was decided they should fatten up their lead, give them a baby, add a geeky daughter, and focus more on the family dynamic, hence the title, Family Guy. Looking all too familiar to another animated Fox family. So… there’s kind of a lot to be discovered here, isn’t there? Was Family Guy originally meant to be a kids’ show? For a short amount of time. Originally, it was an adult comedy film thesis about a guy and his dog, which turned into a kids’ show pilot about a guy and his dog, which turned into an adult show pilot that was made to be more like The Simpsons, because it was on Fox. So not only was it at one point a kids’ show, it actually had little-to-no tie-in with The Simpsons at all! Which is a criticism the show has had to fight for years. Even in the Simpsons/Family Guy crossover, they referenced it, and the Simpsons took more than their fair share of punches at them. Homer Simpson: It’s just a lousy ripoff! Peter: It may have been INSPIRED by Duff, but I… I like to think it goes in a different direction. NC: While it’s pretty obvious where that later influence came from for Family Guy, You can see the original idea has no connection. So the evolution of an idea isn’t always as simple as you think. Actually, many times, it’s very complicated! From an adult show, to a kids’ show, to an all-too-familiar Fox formula, this idea has gone through SO many versions. But truth be told, all of them are interesting to check out. If you can find them, obviously, you can tell from the quality here they’re not the easiest to locate, they’re certainly worth viewing to witness the creative process. Whether you love Family Guy, hate it, used to love it, or used to hate it, there’s no denying the content-changing ways and ideas for it… is intriguing to watch. But seriously, that “hurt knee” joke has to stop. I’m the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so YOU don’t have to! WHOOOAA–
[thud] Sssssssssss….. Aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh. Sssssssssss….. Aooow, Goddammit! ♪ [“The Review Must Go On”] ♪ ♪ [Channel Awesome theme] ♪ Doug: Hello! Doug Walker here! And a special “hello” to all the YouTube comments wondering where the review is! Thank you for watching ’til the end! [chuckles] Uh, pretty much, uh, I’m out of town, uh, I’m at a Con, and I, um, uh, also on vacation! Taking a short vacation, but I didn’t want to leave you guys with nothing, so I did a fast little editorial here. Uh, but the reviews will go right back up next week. So it’ll be right back on track. A review, an editorial, review, editorial… so on, so forth. Uh, so, yeah! Either way, I hope you guys enjoyed watching, and I’ll see you next week for the review, and, uh, here’s me shot a week ago doing the Charity Shout-Out! Doug from last week: Hey! Doug Walker here, doing the Charity Shout-Out, and this week, we are doing the Marine Mammal Center. These people are guided and inspired by a shared vision of a healthy ocean for marine mammals and humans alike. Their mission is to advance global ocean conservation for marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation, as well as scientific research and education. Since 1975, they’ve rescued and treated nearly 20,000 marine animals. They rescue marine mammals for different reasons, including malnourishment, separation, entanglements, and diseases. They’ve recognized the fundamental relationship that binds humans, animals, and the ocean. They also partner with leading scientists and other professionals in order to learn from the patients in their care. Patients from healthy, endangered, and at-risk populations. To expand and advise scientific knowledge, enhancing understanding of the health of our oceans, and the implications for human health. They spread knowledge to members of the scientific community and general public of what they find out. If you look at their site and their YouTube page,
[youtube.com/user/MarineMammalCenter] you can see not only all the amazing discoveries they’ve come across, but also all the remarkable creatures they save. Look at these guys! How can you say no to them? You can show you care by looking at their site, and helping the oceans stay amazing for years to come. Take a click, and take a look.

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