Dial Meg for Murder
|"Dial Meg for Murder"|
|Family Guy episode|
|Episode no.||Season 8
|Directed by||Cyndi Tang-Loveland|
|Written by||Alex Carter
|Original air date||January 31, 2010|
"Dial Meg for Murder" is the 11th episode of season eight of the animated comedy series Family Guy. It originally aired on Fox in the United States on January 31, 2010. The episode follows teenager Meg as she dates and falls in love with an inmate at the local prison. She eventually ends up hiding the fugitive in the Griffin family home, however, and is convicted and sent to jail. After returning home, she becomes a hardened criminal, who continually tortures her family. While starting a life away from home, Meg sees the magazine article family dog Brian wrote about her. Touched by what he wrote, Meg returns home and thanks Brian in return. Meanwhile, her father Peter attempts to win a local championship rodeo competition, albeit by cheating, which gets the best of him after getting raped by the bull he rode on.
The episode was written by Alex Carter and Andrew Goldberg, and directed by Cyndi Tang-Loveland. It received mostly positive reviews for its storyline, and cultural references, in addition to receiving criticism from the Parents Television Council. According to Nielsen ratings, it was viewed in 6.21 million homes in its original airing. The episode featured guest performances by Dave Boat, Peter Chen, Chace Crawford, Camille Guaty, Victor J. Ho, Allison Janney, Rachael MacFarlane, and Lisa Wilhoit along with several recurring guest voice actors for the series. It was first announced at the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con International. "Dial Meg for Murder" was released on DVD along with ten other episodes from the season on December 13, 2011.
When the news announces a local rodeo competition in Quahog, Peter decides to enter the competition. He trains using Chris and Meg in various ways, such as using Chris as a bronco, or Peter roping Meg and branding her, although he finds out that Mayor West already did it, who takes her away. However, during the competition he quickly falls off his anthropomorphic bull, and ends up being raped, off-screen, by the bull.
While that occurs, Brian meets the editor of Teen People (Allison Janney), who gives him a job writing an article about the average American girl. When he starts following and spying on Meg with Stewie for research, they discover that she has fallen in love with a man in jail named Luke (Chace Crawford), whom she met through a school pen-pal project.
After Brian reveals Meg's secret to Peter and Lois, who don't want her seeing Luke again, he soon breaks out of jail during a prison riot and tries to hide in the Griffins' house. When Brian comes to Meg's room to apologize for what he did to her, he finds him just as Peter enters, who only knows what is happening when reading TV Guide, which details the plot of the episode, and is the same reason he entered the rodeo. As Luke escapes out the window, Peter alerts Joe, who apprehends Luke. Joe also arrests Meg for harboring a fugitive, and she is sent to prison. Luke is never heard from again in the episode.
Three months later, Meg returns home with the mind and attitude of a hardened criminal, complete with a new thuggish and rebellious look. She immediately begins abusing her family, retaliating to the many years of abuse she had endured under them, such as curb-stomping Peter, raping him in the shower with a loofah, and using her mother's shirts as toilet paper (while also keeping a "poop bucket" next to her bed and refusing to empty it until it gets full). In addition, she continues habits she picked up in prison, and beats up the kids who make fun of her at school (specifically Connie D'Amico and her friends with a bag of full soda cans which she hits them with, cracking 3 of the popular kids' skulls open and tongue-kisses Connie afterwards) for which she is suspended. Wanting to start a new life away from home, Meg ambushes Brian in his car and threatens him with a gun to drive to Mort's Pharmacy so she can rob him. Brian, however, shows her the article he wrote, in which he describes her "far sweeter and kinder" than the typical American girl. Touched by the fact that Brian actually cares for her just as she was, Meg changes her mind and returns home with Brian. Back at home, she makes a bad joke involving Wesley Snipes, and Peter, presumably not amused at this, ends the episode by saying "Always end on a strong joke".
Production and development
First touched upon by actress Mila Kunis at the 2009 Comic Con in San Diego, the episode was written by Alex Carter and Andrew Goldberg, and directed by former King of the Hill director Cyndi Tang-Loveland, before the conclusion of the eighth production season, in her second episode for this season. Series regulars Peter Shin and James Purdum served as supervising directors, with Andrew Goldberg and Alex Carter working as staff writers for the episode.
"Dial Meg for Murder", along with the eleven other episodes from Family Guy 's eighth season, was released on a three-disc DVD set in the United States on December 13, 2011. The sets include brief audio commentaries by various crew and cast members for several episodes, a collection of deleted scenes and animatics, a special mini-feature which discussed the process behind animating "And Then There Were Fewer", a mini-feature entitled "The Comical Adventures of Family Guy – Brian & Stewie: The Lost Phone Call", and footage of the Family Guy panel at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International.
In addition to the regular cast, actress Allison Janney voiced the editor for Teen People, actor Chace Crawford voiced Luke, voice actress Lisa Wilhoit voiced Connie D'Amico, and voice actors Dave Boat, Peter Chen, Camille Guaty, Victor J. Ho, and Rachael MacFarlane guest starred as various characters in the episode. Recurring guest voice actors Lori Alan, Johnny Brennan, writer Steve Callaghan, Chris Cox, writer Danny Smith, writer Alec Sulkin and writer John Viener also made minor appearances. Recurring guest cast members Patrick Warburton and Adam West made guest appearances as well.
The title is a reference to the 1954 Hitchcock thriller "Dial M for Murder". At the beginning of the episode, Stewie rhetorically asks whether or not he can call the television magazine TV Guide "The Guide". In the scene where Brian spies on Meg for the Teen Journal Article Stewie quickly gives Brian warning with "Not "All Dogs Go to Heaven"" with a quick scene with the Disney character Goofy from the Mickey Mouse shorts in hell with Satan claiming Goofy was part of the plotting of 9/11. Goofy justified his part in the attacks by pointing out the United States support for Israel. Goofy is then thrown to the pit of fire, using his famous laugh. In one scene Stewie refers to Meg as "one of those crazy chicks, who hooks up with an even crazier guy," with a photograph of Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey then being shown. The song "The Ballad of Billy the Kid" by singer and performer Billy Joel is used in depicting Peter's flashbacks about being a cowboy. Meg mentions meeting Wesley Snipes in the episode, and mentions his movie Passenger 57. The ending of the episode includes a reference to The Simpsons, in which Meg makes an unfunny joke, with Peter announcing he is not amused, responding by sarcastically stating "Always end on a strong joke." The start of the closing credits that follow the statement is styled to match those used in The Simpsons credits.
In a significant decrease from the previous episode, the episode was viewed in 6.21 million homes in its original airing, according to Nielsen ratings. The 52nd Grammy Awards and the Pro Bowl aired simultaneously as the Animation Domination block, resulting in lower than usual ratings. Despite this, the episode also acquired a 3.2 rating in the 18–49 demographic, surpassing The Simpsons, American Dad! and The Cleveland Show, in both rating and total viewership.
Reviews of the episode were mostly positive, with critics finding "a lot to like about this episode." Jason Hughes of TV Squad gave the episode a positive review, stating that "[the writers] finally found an angle for a Meg-centric episode that was fully engaging and entertaining." Ahsan Haque of IGN also praised the episode, saying that "the fact that the writers chose to focus on a coherent storyline that relied mostly on contextual humor always helps," calling the ending "somewhat touching." Todd VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club criticized the storyline much more harshly, however, saying that it "relied too heavily on the show's old fallbacks of politically incorrect humor, and ostensibly funny violence."
The conservative Parents Television Council, a frequent critic of Family Guy and other Seth MacFarlane-produced shows, named Dial Meg for Murder its "Worst TV Show of the Week" for the week ending February 5, 2010, due to excessive violence in scenes featuring Meg as both the victim and the instigator. Also cited was the sequence where Peter unsuccessfully fights off an angry bull, and later is shown in a fetal position while the bull stands over him, implying rape, calling it "sickening."
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