Animated Manhattan: Family Guy
Part 6 in an ongoing series looking at New York City in animation.
It took the Simpsons nine seasons to get to New York (as chronicled in a previous edition of Animated Manhattan), but the Griffins of Family Guy managed to make it during their second season. In that season’s 11th episode, titled “A Picture is Worth 1,000 Dollars,” Peter, Lois, Meg, Chris, Brian, and Stewie Griffin take Manhattan.
For Peter’s birthday, his son Chris gives him a painting. It’s not an especially good painting (it’s supposed to depict a “moo cow”), so Peter sticks it in the back of his car to replace a broken window. That’s where a gallery owner from SoHo in New York City spots it, and insists he can make Chris into an art star. So the Griffins pack their bags and head to New York.
They stay at the renowned Plaza Hotel in midtown. While Chris is in the able hands of his art dealer — a rather controlling fellow named Antonio Monatti — and on the road to fame and fortune, the rest of the family goes sight-seeing on to road to, uh, downtown by way of the east side.
As you can imagine, hilarity ensues.
In this establishing shot of the United Nations (left), I’m not sure why the animators chose to eliminate one of the UN building’s most recognizable features — the line of flags of member nations — but the omission is forgivable as they still captured the overall look and feel of the UN, one of the Griffin’s stops on their New York City tour. I’m guessing all those flags would just be too tough to animate.
Of course the Griffin family makes a stop at one of the city’s most famous sites, the observation deck at the Empire State Building, where Peter chooses not to go agsinst his wife’s advice and drops a penny from the top. Come on, you know you’d love to do it and see what happens. Well, whatever happens in real life is surely different than what happens in the show, which is just odd enough that if I told you I’d probably be accused of making it up. So rent the DVD or wait for the rerun in syndication to find out.
Two thirds of the way through the episode, Peter and Meg have a talk about talent. Sure, Chris is the art star, but surely there must be something Meg can do (eventually they realize that Meg’s hidden talent is her ability to do convincing bird calls). Peter sings a Broadway-worthy song to Meg about how mediocre she is, set to a montage of the two of them in a variety of New York City settings. So in honor of that song, here’s a mini-montage of other New York images from the episode:
And what about little baby Stewie this whole time? Well, Stewie is discovered by Calvin Klein as a great model for his new line of CK diapers. So his butt get plastered all over Times Square, just like so many other models before him.
I enjoyed this episode, and its use of New York City culture as a plot device. It was fun, funny, and makes a good addition to the Animated Manhattan archive.
(My rating is for the episode’s depiction of NYC only)