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Friday, January 06, 2012

The Curious Case Of Brian Griffin

I’ve done quite a few entries on prime-time sitcoms over the history of the TGIF theme day.  Many of these sitcoms have aired on Fridays, and many have not.  Some have only had a cast of two people.  Others, dozens. 

Some of the sitcoms I've featured have been from animated programs that have aired in prime-time.  I know that I've done quite a few entries about The Simpsons.  I talked about The Simpsons in my very first blog posting here, and have brought The Simpsons up in a lot during the history of this blog.

And, why wouldn't I?  The Simpsons have been on for almost 25 years!

But, you know, one of my New Years goals was to bring up new topics and look back on some shows that I had not done at all, or merely glanced over in reference to another topic that I wanted to do my blog on,  And, the more I looked back, the more I realized that I have more or less ignored another successful animated cartoon series.  A cartoon series that some may say surpasses The Simpsons in humour and quality.  Of course, there's some people who say that this show is an abomination to society and should be pulled from the air immediately.  But, you know, I don't believe in censorship.  It certainly isn't appropriate for all audiences, true enough, but it's really up to parents to set those limits themselves, not the networks.

But when it seems today, that all you see, is violence in movies and sex on TV.  So where are all of those good old-fashioned values on which we used to rely?

Lucky there's a Family Guy!  Lucky there's a man who positively can do all the things that make us laugh and cry!  He's.  A.  Family.  Guy!!!

Okay, okay, I couldn't resist THAT one. 

Family Guy (created by Seth MacFarlane), is a show that has aired on FOX since 1999, but not consecutively.  Would you believe that the show was actually cancelled TWICE in its 13-year-history?  It was cancelled once in 2000, and once more in 2002. 

Why was this the case? 

Well, part of it had to do with scheduling.  During its earliest seasons, the show aired against some heavyweights.  Originally, the show debuted on Sundays (the first episode aired January 31, 1999 following the Super Bowl), but when the show was renewed for a second season, the show was moved to a Thursday time slot.  This proved to be a challenge as it was up against both Frasier and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, both of which were wildly popular.  Later on in the year, the show changed time slots from 9pm to 8pm Thursdays, putting it up against Survivor and Friends.  The low ratings caused the show to bounce around all over the place during the 2001/02 season, and it was officially cancelled in May 2002.

Of course, some people also believe that the show's raucous and sometimes offensive and biting humour and jokes may have lead to the show initially meeting its demise on network television.  It was widely believed that the 2001/02 season would end up being the final one, and no new episodes were made during 2003 and 2004 as a result.

But then something funny happened. 

When the Cartoon Network purchased all the rights to Family Guy, it began to air the show during its 'Adult Swim' block, beginning on April 20, 2003.  That move proved to be a huge success for the channel, with the channel seeing increased viewership upwards of 239% during the time slot that Family Guy aired in.  Around this time, the decision was made to release the first two seasons of Family Guy in DVD boxsets, which proved to be another major success.  During its first month on the market, the Family Guy DVD's sold an impressive 400,000 copies, and by the end of 2003, reached sales of over two million copies.  After the release of season three of the series, FOX had an immediate change of heart regarding the series, and by 2004, work began on thirty-five brand new episodes of the series.  After a three year hiatus, Family Guy returned to FOX in May 2005, where it has remained ever since.

This was the first instance of how DVD sales helped revive a cancelled series.  And since Family Guy was brought back to the airwaves, Seth MacFarlane has been a busy beaver with Family Guy, American Dad, and The Cleveland Show (all three airing on FOX alongside The Simpsons).

Now that you know a little bit about the show, let's just select a member of the Griffin family at random to do a case study on.

Well, okay, maybe not QUITE at random...

Today's subject is the family dog of the Griffin family, and there's one main reason why I chose him.

Because other than Meg Griffin (who I can identify with somewhat), Brian is almost like a carbon copy of the person who I ended up becoming.

Well, minus the tail, and all the fur.  Although I am kinda fuzzy...and well, I think that's a bit of information that you needed to know.

But here's something else that you should know.  Brian is voiced by Seth MacFarlane, who also does the voices of Peter Griffin, Stewie Griffin, and Glenn Quagmire (which explains the error in the picture above).  But when you hear Brian talking, you're actually hearing the real honest voice of MacFarlane.  There's your voice actor trivia of the day.

Now Brian is a bit of an enigma of a character, and there's a lot to say about him.  For one, he seems to be the most level-headed and intelligent out of all of the Griffin family, and the family doesn't seem to be the least bit fazed over the fact that they happen to carry on long-term conversations with a dog.

But as well put together and polished Brian appears to be, he has his demons that live inside of him.  He has a hankering for the odd martini, and while he knows his limit most of the time, whenever he does go off the wagon, his behaviour can get highly unpredicatable.  If memory serves me, I think Brian drunkenly cut off Stewie's ear in one episode.  Or, was it the other way around?

Oh, yeah...that's right...he cut off his OWN ear.  My bad.  I could have sworn that Brian was linked to an ear injury sustained by Stewie though...

Oh, that's right...Brian drunkenly tried to pierce Stewie's ear.

But, that's what I mean about Brian's unpredictability when it comes to being under the influence of drugs and alcohol.  One of the reasons why I don't do the drug thing at all, or drink much alcohol is because I fear that I too might exhibit some of that same unpredictability.  Mind you, I doubt I would pierce the ear of a toddler, but you can't say for sure, right?

Another aspect of Brian's personality that seems to resonate with me is the fact that we've both had to deal with someone who could be considered a frenemy.  You know that kid who would suck up to you at recess just so they could share your Decadent Chocolate Chip Cookies (a really yummy Canadian brand cookie), and then once recess was over told you to get bent?  Yeah, I knew quite a few 'friends' like that in my life and times.  Needless to say, those people are no longer friends.

In Brian's case, his biggest frenemy is Stewie.  Anyone who has ever watched an episode of Family Guy knows that Brian and Stewie have gotten in some rather intense battles.  Battles such as this one.

Yeah, watching that clip, it makes me wonder how Brian managed to survive!  And, happily, I can report that none of my frenemies ever caused me that much bodily harm.

But there are also times in which the relationship between Brian and Stewie can be somewhat on the sweet side as well.

Ah, maybe they both just like inflicting pain on each other.

But now we come to the two main comparisons that seem to fit both Brian Griffin and myself.  One that really makes us cut from the same cloth.  And with the other one, until recently, I probably would have completely denied that this was the case.

Let's get the first one out of the way.  Brian and I are both writers looking to make a break in the world through our words.  And, well, neither one of us have had much success.  I do enjoy writing this blog and several other projects that I've worked on over the years.  I certainly have had the ambition to be a successful writer since I was in high school.  But as far as getting anything officially published, I've only managed a few articles in a college newspaper.

Brian HAS had work published.  In one episode, he even wrote a book entitled 'Faster Than The Speed Of Love'.  Unfortunately, it was so trashed by critics that nobody bought the book once it hit the shelves.  I imagine that for Brian, the sting of rejection would be incredibly painful, especially when the thing being rejected comes from your heart.  Believe me, I've known the sting of rejection many times before.  It isn't a fun experience to carry with you.

Even more destructive to a person's self-esteem and self-respect is getting rejected by someone you love.  And, yep...Brian and I share that in common.

In fact, I'll just come right out and say it.  Brian and I have serious relationship issues.  And while I hate admitting this, in both our cases, it is our own fault.

I know that I'd love to be able to get involved in a relationship one day.  But in order for me to fully commit myself to one, I have to bring everything I can into it.  With years of self-loathing, I don't know if I'm quite at that stage yet...and I really don't want to think of all of the opportunities that I might have missed out on as a result of this.  But, you know, I'm trying my best not to blame myself that much.  They do say that everything does happen for a reason.  We might not be able to understand what that reason is right away.  We may not even know what the reason was twenty years after it happened.  But, I always say that if it is meant to be, it can and will happen.  I just haven't had that lucky kiss from fate yet.  Or, rather, I don't know how to make my own fate happen.  I'll keep you posted, how's that?

Besides, Brian's definitely got it much worse than I do, because Brian is what you call a stubborn perfectionist.  Whenever he gets involved in a relationship, he pretty much expects the partner to be his equal.  In everything.  Which could explain why his relationship with the stereotypical dumb blonde Jillian (voiced by Drew Barrymore) didn't last. 

But to be fair, I highly doubt that I could see myself being very happy with a Jillian type character either.  Drew Barrymore, yes.  Jillian, no.

In fact, Brian's had bad luck with women in general.  He even got one woman pregnant (and for the life of me don't ask me to explain how a dog could sleep with a woman and have the woman give birth to a human baby, because I failed biology in high school, and even then I think it's an impossibility), and the woman transformed from beauty queen to trailer park trash in the course of a decade and a half!  He's also gone on 'The Bachelorette' to find love, developed a serious friendship with an elderly jingle singer which ended when she got hit by a bus, and even dated reality television star Lauren Conrad.  And, yet, all of these relationships ended the same way...with a broken heart on Brian's end.


Well, in the case of the jingle singer, it was a freak accident.  For everyone else, I think it was because Brian was incredibly insecure in himself.  The reason he scared all the women off was because he couldn't see that he was a decent enough guy just being the way he was.  He either tried too hard, or tried too little to keep the relationships going.  In fact, in a couple of instances, I do believe that he ended up sabotaging the relationships by picking the women apart, finding one bad quality that they had and magnifying it to epic proportions, just so Brian could have an excuse to run away from what could have been a great union.

I guess in some ways, I can understand why Brian did this, because I think I may have done the same.  And, I think it probably takes a lot of courage for me to admit to that.

Wow...who knew that this would become a FRIDAY confessional.  Just proof positive that you never know what might come up during a blog topic, huh?

At the same time, I'm glad I did get it out there, if only to share the life lesson that BEING YOURSELF is best.  And while it is understandable for people to feel a little insecure about themselves, they really shouldn't let it take over their whole lives, because if they do, they could be missing out on some really great opportunities.

It's a life lesson that I myself still continue to learn.  And maybe one day, I'll finally get it.  Of course, it might make for a rather dull blog in the future...but what the hell.  I'll take that chance, and take it happily.

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