The Hand That Rocks the Wheelchair
|"The Hand That Rocks the Wheelchair"|
|Family Guy episode|
|Episode no.||Season 9
|Directed by||Brian Iles|
|Written by||Tom Devanney|
|Original air date||March 6, 2011|
"The Hand That Rocks the Wheelchair" is the 12th episode of the ninth season of the animated comedy series Family Guy. It originally aired on Fox in the United States on March 6, 2011. The episode follows high school student Meg as she attempts to look after her handicapped neighbor, Joe, after his wife, Bonnie, has to leave town temporarily to visit her ailing father. Meg soon becomes infatuated with Joe, however, causing him to become nervous, and approach Meg's parents. Meanwhile, baby Stewie inadvertently clones a truly evil version of himself who rampages through Quahog before ultimately attempting to kill Stewie and his anthropomorphic dog Brian.
The episode was written by Tom Devanney and directed by Brian Iles. It received mostly positive reviews from critics for its storyline and many cultural references. According to Nielsen ratings, it was viewed in 6.32 million homes in its original airing. The episode featured guest performances by Dee Bradley Baker, Colin Ford, Patrick Stewart and Jennifer Tilly, along with several recurring guest voice actors for the series. It was first announced at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International.
While in her home, Lois is approached by Bonnie, who asks her to look after her husband, Joe, and daughter, Susie, while she is out of town. Lois agrees to do so, but then asks her teenage daughter, Meg to look after them for her. The next day, Meg visits Joe and Susie, and tells them that she will be helping them out while Bonnie is gone. As Joe and Meg bond on the way to school, the two become close, causing Meg to believe that Joe is her boyfriend. The following morning, Meg decides to make breakfast for Joe, wanting him to like her. Joe takes no interest in Meg, who continually tries to approach Joe throughout the rest of the day. That night, after receiving a call from Bonnie that she will be returning home, Meg travels to the airport where Bonnie is departing (Bangor International Airport), in an attempt to plant a weapon in her luggage. Bonnie is then arrested by airport security (revealing that she was also smuggling cocaine), giving Meg extra time to be with Joe. Unaware that Meg has sabotaged Bonnie's travel plans, the two go to dinner, where Meg suggests that they have a baby. Joe tells Lois and Peter of Meg's crush, expressing his concerns about Meg's behavior. Lois questions Meg about her infatuation with Joe, telling her that the two have nothing in common. Meg awaits Joe to return home, when she jumps in front of his police car, attempting to cripple herself in order to have a common interest. Joe takes Meg to the hospital, where it becomes clear that she will recover and not lose the use of her legs. Meg apologizes to Joe for her strange behavior, Joe tells her he is lucky to have her as a neighbor, and the two decide to become friends.
Meanwhile, Brian tells Stewie that Stewie has become soft, and has lost his evil nature. In an attempt to refute this, Stewie builds a machine to increase his evil, but it creates a truly evil clone of himself instead. (The clone is indicated by wearing clothes in reverse color of that as regular Stewie.) Later that day, the evil clone suddenly attacks Brian, shoving batteries in his nostrils and trying to strangle him with his collar, and disappears, with Stewie questioning what happened to him. The clone then approaches Stewie, causing him to believe he is a genius. Wanting to run tests, the evil clone immediately attacks Stewie by punching him then knocking him out. The clone then approaches Brian with a flick knife and cuts off his tail, which the clone then forces down Stewie's throat. Leaving both Brian and Stewie in agony, the clone takes off into Quahog, stealing a car after graphically severing the occupant in half with a machete. The clone uses a bat and says "oh no" three times and then the Kool-Aid man comes bursting through a wall and yells "OH YEAH!" The clone kills the Kool-Aid man, which pours the juice, he drops the bat and sips the juice like a horse. Attempting to capture the clone, Stewie ties Brian to a light post, leaving him there as bait. As the clone prepares to kill Brian, Stewie jumps from behind and the two begin fighting. While fighting, they rip off each other's clothes, and Brian cannot tell them apart (because of the clothing difference). Able to escape from the light post, Brian grabs the clone's laser gun, and fires at the Stewie that does not laugh at his feet, a weakness of regular Stewie. Stewie thanks Brian for shooting the correct clone, and the two begin to walk home. As the episode ends, Stewie turns back to the camera with a malicious grin and bright yellow cat eyes, to the sound of Vincent Price's diabolical laughter.
Production and development
First announced at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International by recurring cast member Patrick Warburton, the episode was written by series regular Tom Devanney and directed by series regular Brian Iles during the course of the ninth production season. Series veterans Peter Shin and James Purdum, both of whom having previously served as animation directors, served as supervising directors for the episode, with Andrew Goldberg, Alex Carter, Elaine Ko, Spencer Porter and Aaron Blitzstein serving as staff writers for the episode. Composer Ron Jones, who has worked on the series since its inception, returned to compose the music for "The Hand That Rocks the Wheelchair".
In addition to the regular cast, voice actor Dee Bradley Baker, actor Colin Ford, actor Patrick Stewart, and actress Jennifer Tilly guest starred in the episode. Recurring guest voice actors Alex Breckenridge, actor Ralph Garman and writer Danny Smith also made minor appearances.
Along with the episode's title, the Meg and Joe plot line heavily borrows from the storyline, as well as several scenes, of The Hand That Rocks the Cradle. The scene where Evil Stewie appears in the empty machine is a direct homage to the Star Trek episode "The Enemy Within," down to the lighting and piano fill, which has a similar premise involving an evil duplicate of Captain Kirk. While driving Meg to school, Joe asks what a Lady Gaga is. Stewie shown with yellow eyes and Vincent Price's laughter is a direct reference to Michael Jackson's "Thriller" music video. The evil Stewie acts like "Chucky" the main villain from the Child's Play series by David Kirschner and Don Mancini, including the way he attacked Brian, and killing people with weapons.
"The Hand That Rocks the Wheelchair" was broadcast on March 6, 2011, as a part of an animated television night on Fox, and was preceded by The Simpsons and Bob's Burgers, and followed by Family Guy creator and executive producer Seth MacFarlane's spin-off, The Cleveland Show. It was watched by 6.23 million viewers, according to Nielsen ratings, despite airing simultaneously with Desperate Housewives on ABC, Undercover Boss on CBS and the season premiere of The Celebrity Apprentice on NBC. The episode also acquired a 3.1 rating in the 18–49 demographic, beating The Simpsons, Bob's Burgers and The Cleveland Show in addition to significantly edging out all three shows in total viewership. The episode's ratings decreased somewhat from the previous week's episode.
Television critics gave mostly mixed reviews toward the episode, calling the storyline "a decent return to wacky adventures of Quahog." In a simultaneous review of the episodes of The Simpsons and Bob's Burgers that preceded the show, and the episode of The Cleveland Show that followed it, The A.V. Club 's Rowan Kaiser wrote, "It was still weird and a bit experimental: An awkward conversation between Meg and Joe was done almost naturalistically, while an evil Stewie clone engaged in hyper-violence beyond the usual implied cartoon violence. It wasn't as funny as it should be, but it did have its moments." Kaiser went on to criticize Meg's role in the episode, commenting, "The problem with Meg isn't just that she's treated as a punching bag by the show; it's that as either a normal character or as the butt of all the jokes, she's almost never funny or interesting." He concluded his review by stating, "I'm not sure I liked it, but I did engage with it, which is an improvement over the last few weeks of the show," and ultimately gave the episode a C+ rating, placing it third out of four, being beaten by The Simpsons episode "The Scorpion's Tale" and the Bob's Burgers episode "Sheesh! Cab, Bob?", and beating The Cleveland Show episode "The Blue, The Gray and The Brown". In a slightly more positive review of the episode, Jason Hughes of TV Squad praised the episode for its Meg-centric storyline, writing, "Meg is great as the incredibly needy, creepy, crazy, stalker type." Hughes also praised actress Mila Kunis for her portrayal of Meg, noting, "almost expected her to turn into Annie Wilkes from Misery and strap Joe to a bed." Hughes also stated his concern about the developments in the Stewie storyline writing, "I wonder if this was an acknowledgement that Stewie has changed with an intention to try and bring some of his edge back, or more like a swan song farewell to that level of callousness."
- Devanney, Tom; Iles, Brian; MacFarlane, Seth (2010-03-06). "The Hand That Rocks the Wheelchair". Family Guy. Season 09. Episode 12. Fox.
- Hughes, Jason (2011-03-07). "Sundays With Seth: 'Family Guy' and 'Cleveland Show' Recaps". TV Squad. Retrieved 2011-03-08.
- Seidman, Robert (2010-03-07). "TV Ratings Sunday: 'Secret Millionaire' Money for ABC; Restaurant Not So Great, 'Celebrity Apprentice' Down; 'Housewives Up'". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved 2010-03-08.
- Seidman, Robert (February 21, 2011). "TV Ratings Sunday: Blame NBA All-Stars? 'Amazing Race' Off to Slow Start; 'Desperate Housewives,' 'Brothers & Sisters' & Fox Animations Rise, But...". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved February 21, 2011.
- Kaiser, Rowan (2011-03-07). ""The Scorpion's Tale"/"Sheesh! Cab, Bob?"/"The Hand That Rocks The Wheelchair"/"The Blue And Gray And Brown"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2011-03-08.
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