I Never Met the Dead Man
|"I Never Met the Dead Man"|
|Family Guy episode|
Peter with his home-made "TV"
|Episode no.||Season 1
|Directed by||Michael Dante DiMartino|
|Written by||Chris Sheridan|
|Original air date||April 11, 1999|
"I Never Met the Dead Man" is the second episode of the first season of the animated comedy series Family Guy. It originally aired on Fox in the United States on April 11, 1999. The episode follows Peter Griffin as he teaches his daughter Meg how to drive. Due to his horrible advice they crash into a satellite dish, knocking out the city's cable. Peter begins to suffer from television withdrawal but finds new life in outdoor activities, driving his family to exhaustion. Meanwhile, Stewie plots to destroy the world's supply of broccoli with a weather control device so Lois cannot force him to eat the vegetable.
"I Never Met the Dead Man" was written by Chris Sheridan and directed by Michael Dante DiMartino, both firsts in the Family Guy series. Much of the episode's humor, in standard Family Guy fashion, is structured around cutaway sequences that parody popular culture, including those centered on Star Trek, Wizard of Oz, ALF, Gilligan's Island, Bewitched, and Beverly Hills, 90210. The title "I Never Met the Dead Man" was derived from 1930s and 1940s radio programs, particularly the radio thriller anthology Suspense, which featured several elements pertaining to death and murder. The episode featured guest performances by Erik Estrada, Butch Hartman, Aaron Lustig and Joey Slotnick, along with several recurring voice actors for the series. This episode was rated TV-14.
Critical responses to the episode were favorable; several television critics singled it out as among the "most memorable" episodes in the series and considered it to be an improvement over "Death Has a Shadow".
Annoyed that Peter spends more time watching television than with his own family, Lois suggests he teach Meg how to drive. Peter reluctantly agrees, and unwittingly gives Meg a series of bad driving tips, including instructing her to "rev" her engine twice at stop lights and challenge other drivers to a race, which causes her to ultimately fail her driving test. As Peter drives them home from the DMV he notices that a show he wanted to watch is on television in a nearby house. Distracted, he crashes the car into a main cable television transmitter, knocking out reception for the entire town of Quahog. Panicking, Peter convinces Meg to take the blame for the cable outage, bribing her with the promise of a new convertible whenever she gets her license. Once they arrive home with the transmitter still attached to the car, Lois becomes furious with Peter for placing the blame on his own daughter. Meg, of course, is blamed, and becomes an outcast at school. This shows an incredible lack of good judgment and morals by Peter. Meanwhile, Stewie steals the satellite dish in a plan to create a weather control device capable of destroying the world's supply of broccoli, since Lois had forced him to eat the vegetable earlier that day.
Suffering withdrawal syndrome from the lack of cable, Peter straps a television-sized cardboard cutout to himself, making it appear as though his whole world is actually a television program. When Meg can no longer deal with the public scorn, she reveals that her father is really responsible for Quahog's loss of television, causing the town to turn against him. In an attempt to save Peter from further scorn and verbal attacks, Lois gives a heartfelt speech to the community about how television has kept them all from enjoying one another. Inspired by the speech, Peter drags the family to one outdoor activity after another, which quickly exhausts them. Once the family can no longer keep up with him, Peter decides to go off with William Shatner, who has appeared on the Griffin family doorstep after experiencing a flat tire, to a nearby festival. Meanwhile, Stewie's weather machine creates a huge rainstorm. The storm's lightning strike destroys Stewie's weather machine and blows Stewie off the roof and on the ground. While Meg is practicing driving with Lois, the storm causes her to accidentally hit Shatner and Peter, killing Shatner and hospitalizing Peter. As her father recovers, in a full-body cast, he is forced to watch television, causing him to become addicted once again, much to his family's relief.
During the credits, Stewie tries (and fails) to make believe he is eating his broccoli by pouring it onto Brian's plate.
"I Never Met the Dead Man" was the first episode of Family Guy for both writer Chris Sheridan and director Michael Dante DiMartino. For the first months of production, the writers shared one office lent to them by the King of the Hill production crew. As with the remaining first four episodes of the season, the title of the episode was derived from 1930s and 1940s radio programs, particularly the radio thriller anthology "Suspense", which featured several elements pertaining to death and murder. This convention was later dropped following the fourth episode of the season. In addition to the regular cast, actor Erik Estrada, writer and animator Butch Hartman, actor Aaron Lustig, actor Joey Slotnick and voice actor Frank Welker guest starred in the episode. Recurring guest voice actress Lori Alan also made minor appearances. The episode originally aired on April 11, 1999, nearly three months after the series premiere.
When Meg asks her mother to help teach her how to drive, Lois suggests Peter take her driving instead. With Peter refusing in order to continue watching an episode of Star Trek, actor William Shatner, as portrayed by series creator Seth MacFarlane, then appears on the screen. Going on to suggest her father is not the best driver, Brian recalls a previous driving incident Peter had with Wile E. Coyote, in which he accidentally ran over the Road Runner in the middle of the desert. When Peter is concerned about the "Ostrich" he just hit Wiley tells him to keep going. Continuing to suffer a withdrawal from not being able to watch television, Peter has a Wizard of Oz-inspired nightmare featuring Alf from the 1986 NBC sitcom ALF, Gilligan from the 1964 CBS series Gilligan's Island, The Robot from "Lost in Space", and Jeannie from "I Dream of Jeannie," who promptly transforms into Samantha from the 1964 ABC series Bewitched. After creating a cardboard cutout in the shape of a television, Peter walks around town with the contraption strapped to his waist, perceiving the actions around him as television. Two women talking over lunch suggests that he is watching the television station Lifetime, two elderly people out walking reminds him of CBS, a group of African Americans playing basketball suggests UPN, and James Woods High School reminds him of Beverly Hills, 90210. After TV service is restored and most of the Griffin family is watching Star Trek, James T. Kirk tells his crew that there is a dangerous mission in that someone will surely be killed. He says the landing party will consist of himself, Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy, and "Ensign Ricky" (a redshirt), who, upon being called, cynically says "Oh crap!", due to the television trope of oft-related instances of redshirt ensigns being killed on the show. At the end of the episode, after Meg accidentally hits and kills Shatner with the Griffin family car, the group of people looking over includes the actor who played "Ensign Ricky" stating "Wow, I did not see that one coming."
Reviews for the episode were generally favorable. A 2008 review of the episode by Ahsan Haque of IGN was positive, calling the storyline involving Stewie "elaborate [and] creative." He gave the episode a perfect score of ten, calling it one of the most "memorable" episodes in the entire series. Haque went on to note that "the tightly woven and hilarious storyline, combined with a constant barrage of cleverly inserted random jokes, and some truly unique imagery help make this episode one of the finest in the series. This is Family Guy at its best, and definitely sets a very high bar for animated comedy." Robin Pierson of The TV Critic rated the episode a 70 out of 100, making it the highest-rated episode of Family Guy on the site. Pierson described the episode as "A really fun twenty two minutes of television. There are so many jokes to enjoy and they are more focussed [sic] than the pilot," in particular praising the Fast Animals, Slow Children sequence.
In 2008, Haque later listed Stewie's plan to freeze broccoli crops as number one on his list of "Stewie's Top 10 Most Diabolical Evil Plans" and placed Peter's idea to pretend the world is a television program by attaching a cardboard cutout of a television set around his waist in fifth place on his list of "Peter Griffin's Top 10 Craziest Ideas".
- "Family Guy — I Never Met the Dead Man Cast and Crew". Yahoo! TV. Yahoo! Inc. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
- Goldman, Eric (2006-03-16). "William S. Paley TV Fest: Family Guy". IGN. News Corporation. Retrieved 2009-10-03.
- "Family Guy — Death Has a Shadow". Yahoo! TV. Yahoo! Inc. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
- Haque, Ashan (2008-05-28). "Family Guy Flashback: "I Never Met the Dead Man" Review". IGN. News Corporation. Retrieved 2009-09-14.
- Pierson, Robin (2009-08-07). "Episode 2: I Never Met The Dead Man". The TV Critic. Retrieved 2010-08-15.
- Haque, Ahsan (2009-02-03). "Family Guy: Stewie's Top 10 Most Diabolical Evil Plans". IGN. News Corporation. Retrieved 2009-09-14.
- Haque, Ashan (2008-07-31). "Family Guy: Peter Griffin's Top 10 Craziest Ideas". IGN. News Corporation. Retrieved 2010-08-04.
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