And Then There Were Fewer
|"And Then There Were Fewer"|
|Family Guy episode|
|Episode no.||Season 9
|Directed by||Dominic Polcino|
|Written by||Cherry Chevapravatdumrong|
|Original air date||September 26, 2010|
"And Then There Were Fewer" is the first episode of the ninth season of the animated comedy series Family Guy. This and most of the other season 9 episodes were produced for the eighth production season. It originally aired on Fox in the United States on September 26, 2010. The episode follows the citizens of Quahog after they are invited by actor James Woods to his stately mansion on a remote island. While there, a series of murders occurs, and the group struggles to determine who committed the mysterious acts, before ultimately attempting to escape from the island, and avoid being murdered themselves. The name of the episode is a parody of Agatha Christie's murder mystery, And Then There Were None.
The episode was written by Cherry Chevapravatdumrong and directed by Dominic Polcino. It received high acclaim from critics, who praised its storyline and cultural references. According to Nielsen ratings, it was viewed in 9.41 million homes in its original airing. The episode features guest performances by Drew Barrymore, H. Jon Benjamin, Max Burkholder, Colin Ford, Patrick Stewart, Ashley Tisdale and James Woods, along with several recurring guest voice actors for the series. It was the first Family Guy episode to air in 720p high definition. The episode was nominated for Outstanding Music Composition for a Series at the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards. "And Then There Were Fewer" was released on DVD along with two other episodes from the season on December 13, 2011. The show confirmed afterwards that it was part of the show's "real" canon and those characters that died (i.e. Diane Simmons, Muriel Goldman etc.) would not be brought back in the future. However, James Woods is seen in the thirteenth episode of season 10, "Tom Tucker: The Man and His Dream", in which he tells Peter and Tom that paramedics brought him to a secret science lab made for celebrities and revived him. In the same episode, he hires Peter as his agent after he fired Tucker, but later also fires Peter.
The residents of Quahog are all invited to a mansion dinner party by James Woods, who states he has become a born-again Christian thanks to his new girlfriend Priscilla, and wishes to repent for all his wrongdoings. Early into the night, as Woods and Priscilla go to the kitchen, Quagmire's new companion, Stephanie, is mysteriously shot when she sits in Woods's seat, leading the guests to believe Woods intends to murder them all. They try to leave, but lightning strikes a tree, causing it to break the bridge. Meanwhile, the main road is flooded due to the storm. Returning amidst accusations, Woods pleads ignorance before he too is murdered in front of the guests by an unseen killer with a knife during a power outage, causing Priscilla to faint. Trapped on the estate with no way of contacting anyone due to a thunderstorm, the guests realize that the killer is among them. They also discover that Stephanie's body has disappeared.
While the guests search for clues in discovering the killer's identity, they realise that many of them had motives for wanting revenge on James Woods. Tom did not take the part of Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street due to James advising him not to, Brian had the pilot of his series messed up by James, and Quagmire lost Cheryl Tiegs due to him, while Consuela the Mexican Maid says he molested her nephew, causing him to 'shoot himself in the face'. After reading a notebook of his they find in a secret room, Mort Goldman's wife, Muriel, disappears after it is discovered that she was being blackmailed by Woods, causing everyone to suspect her as the culprit. Peter accidentally got Joe knocked out, so organizes the groups, however several of them are separated from each other due to the secret passages. However, Muriel turns up dead soon after by being stabbed in the back with the same knife that killed James, placing suspicion on Priscilla, who also disappeared during the commotion. Jillian's husband, Derek, leaves to get higher up so he can find a cell phone signal so he can contact the police, but is soon murdered by the unseen killer with one of Woods's Golden Globe Awards. The guests search everyone's rooms until they locate the bloodstained award and Priscilla's dead body in Tom Tucker's guest room. Tom is thus implicated as the killer and is chased and caught by Peter, Joe, Carl, Dr. Hartman, Quagmire, Seamus, and Mayor Adam West.
Tom is arrested by the police and the guests prepare to leave. Lois goes to comfort Tom's co-anchor, Diane Simmons, only to intuitively realize she is the true murderer when she shows a dress for her solo debut on the news, even though she couldn't have known Tom would be leaving. Diane reveals that she had dated Woods until he dumped her upon her fortieth birthday, around which Tom arranged her to be replaced on the Channel 5 News. Seeking revenge, Diane bribed Priscilla to make James become a born-again Christian and throw the dinner party so she could murder Woods and frame Tom for the crime, but was forced to kill the other guests after her plan went awry upon Stephanie's accidental death. Priscilla woke up when she was removing the knife due to Joe pointing out her fingerprints were on it, so had her throat slit. When she was hiding the body in Tom's room, Muriel saw her so was stabbed. She did not have time to conceal the knife, but was able to wipe her fingerprints clean. She killed Derek to stop the Police getting involved. Diane then attempts to silence Lois by taking her outside and shooting her next to a cliff, only to be shot down from the cliff with a suppressed sniper rifle by Stewie, who proclaims if anyone were to kill Lois, he would be the one to do it.
Production and development
The episode was first announced at the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con International in San Diego, California, on July 25, 2009, by series creator and executive producer Seth MacFarlane. It was directed by series regular Dominic Polcino and written by series regular Cherry Chevapravatdumrong shortly after the conclusion of the eighth production season, which completed its airing on television on June 20, 2010. The episode takes its title from the Agatha Christie novel And Then There Were None, and was largely based on the 1985 comedy film Clue. Series regulars Peter Shin and James Purdum served as supervising director, with Andrew Goldberg, Alex Carter, Elaine Ko and Spencer Porter serving as staff writers for the episode. Composer Walter Murphy, who has worked on the series since its inception, returned to compose the music for "And Then There Were Fewer". "And Then There Were Fewer" was the first episode of Family Guy to be broadcast in high-definition, with series showrunners Mark Hentemann and Steve Callaghan overseeing the transition.
The episode was dedicated to series creator and executive producer Seth MacFarlane's mother, Ann Perry MacFarlane, following her death from cancer on July 16, 2010. The original idea of the episode was sent to series showrunner and executive producer Hentemann in a text from Seth MacFarlane simply stating "murder mystery."
"And Then There Were Fewer", along with the two other episodes from Family Guy's ninth 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 Drew Barrymore reprised her role as Jillian Russell, the former girlfriend of Brian; actor James Woods, in his fifth appearance in the series, reprised his role as the overly exaggerated version of himself; actress Ashley Tisdale (who is known for playing Candace Flynn on Disney Channel's Phineas and Ferb, the show created by Family Guy alumnus Dan Povenmire) made her first official appearance on Family Guy as James Woods's girlfriend, Priscilla; and voice actor H. Jon Benjamin reprised his role as Quahog Market owner Carl. Additionally, actors Max Burkholder, Colin Ford and Patrick Stewart also guest starred in the episode in minor roles. Recurring guest voice actors Lori Alan, John G. Brennan, Nicole Sullivan, Jennifer Tilly, and John Viener reprised their roles as news reporter Diane Simmons, Quahog pharmacist Mort Goldman, Muriel Goldman, Griffin family neighbor Bonnie Swanson, and Jillian's husband, Derek Wilcox, respectively. A minor appearance was also made by Family Guy writer and regular voice artist Danny Smith.
The episode borrows heavily from the 1985 comedy film Clue, the 1976 comedy film Murder by Death, and is largely based upon the 1939 Agatha Christie novel And Then There Were None. The opening scene of the episode is similar to that of Stanley Kubrik's The Shining. Once the Griffin family arrives at the mansion, Lois remarks on the estate's beauty, wondering if television host Jeff Probst has a similar home. As they walk into the mansion, Sir John Everett Millais's Ophelia is seen. As dinner commences, Carl begins conversing with Tom Tucker, and discusses the plot of the 1986 fantasy film Labyrinth, directed by Jim Henson.
After Tucker is accused of murdering James Woods, he reveals that Woods talked him out of auditioning for the lead role in the 1984 hit horror film A Nightmare on Elm Street. The finger is then pointed at Mayor West, who tells the group of his hardships on the social networking service Twitter, after Woods stole his originally intended username. Diane Simmons also goes on to state that Woods had promised to introduce her to former CBS news anchor Dan Rather, but ultimately ended up introducing her to actor and comedian Danny Bonaduce instead.
While searching for Muriel Goldman throughout the mansion, Brian and Stewie begin humming and singing the theme song to several television shows, including the CBS science fiction series Lost in Space, the CBS sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show, and the ABC soap opera Dynasty. After discovering the Golden Globe Award underneath Tom Tucker's bed, Tucker begins to profess his innocence, with Peter then instructing him to "tell it to Mike Judge."
In the scene where Diane tells Lois her conspiracy, Picasso's painting Le Rêve can be seen on the wall behind Diane. At the end of the episode, Seamus asks, "When we all see each other at school on Monday, are we still gonna be friends?" in a reference to The Breakfast Club.
"And Then There Were Fewer" was broadcast on September 26, 2010, as a part of an animated television night on Fox, and was preceded by the season premiere of The Simpsons, and Family Guy creator and executive producer Seth MacFarlane's spin-off, The Cleveland Show. It was watched by 8.85 million viewers in its first half-hour, and concluded with a total 9.41 million viewers in its second half-hour, according to Nielsen ratings, despite airing simultaneously with the season premiere of Desperate Housewives on ABC, the season premiere of The Amazing Race on CBS and Sunday Night Football on NBC. The episode also acquired a 4.3 and 4.7 rating in the 18–49 demographic, beating The Simpsons and The Cleveland Show in addition to significantly edging out both shows in total viewership. The episode's ratings were Family Guy's highest since the airing of the season eight episode "Family Goy".
"And Then There Were Fewer" received widespread acclaim from critics and viewers, with one critic calling the storyline "solidly funny, well-plotted, and nearly perfectly executed." In a simultaneous review of the episodes of The Simpsons and The Cleveland Show that preceded the episode, The A.V. Club's Todd VanDerWerff commented that he enjoyed "the 'a bunch of people go to an isolated place and start getting killed' murder mystery subgenre", and that the episode "made fun of the conceits of the genre". In the conclusion of his review VanDerWerff called the episode "excellent and fun," and "full of surprisingly gorgeous animation and a nicely creepy feel that hung over all of the jokes" and rated it as a B+, the best rating between The Simpsons episode "Elementary School Musical" and The Cleveland Show episode "Harder, Better, Faster, Browner". Jason Hughes of TV Squad also praised the episode's writers for doing a "solid job of creating a genuine mystery throughout the hour, keeping us guessing as to who did it and what their motive may have been." Hughes went on to comment positively on the episode's numerous guest stars, and compared its portrayal of Diane Simmons to that of The Simpsons character Sideshow Bob. Natalie Zutter of Ology also praised the episode, calling it, "Surprisingly, the best of the evening." In the summary of her review, Zutter wrote that it was a "fun murder mystery that lets us see all our favorite Quahog folks," while continuing to wonder whether the characters who were killed off would remain dead.
Tom Eames of entertainment website Digital Spy placed the episode at number 14 on his listing of the best Family Guy episodes in order of "yukyukyuks" – compiled in 2017 to honor the 18th anniversary of the show – and praised the interaction of characters who do not normally interact, writing, "We never thought we'd see Jillian's boyfriend Derek hanging out with Seamus the sea captain." He expressed his shock at the death of characters such as Muriel Goldman and Diane Simmons and noted, "That's one way to cut some dead wood."
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