PTV (Family Guy)
|Family Guy episode|
|Episode no.||Season 4
|Directed by||Dan Povenmire|
|Written by||Alec Sulkin
|Original air date||November 6, 2005|
"PTV" is the fourteenth episode of the fourth season of the American animated television series Family Guy. It originally aired on Fox in the United States on November 6, 2005. The episode sees the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) censor the shows on television after a controversial wardrobe malfunction at the Emmy Awards. Peter starts to create his own TV network which he calls PTV, broadcasting classic shows unedited and uncut, as well as original programming. PTV is a big success and Stewie and Brian join him creating shows for the network. Lois calls the FCC to close PTV as she is concerned over the issue of how children will be influenced by Peter's programming. Not only do the FCC close down the network, but they also start censoring the citizens of Quahog, so the Griffin family travels to Washington, D.C. and convince the Congress to have the FCC's rules reversed.
The episode was written by Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild and was directed by Dan Povenmire. The episode is a response to the FCC's measures to the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show controversy. Show creator Seth MacFarlane commented that the episode's plot was inspired by the rage of the Family Guy crew towards the strict rules that the FCC made after the controversy. The episode contains a sequence of various scenes from different previous episodes. Many of the scenes were cut from the episodes they were originally made for owing to Fox's internal censors. "PTV" gained a Nielsen rating of 4.4, making it the week's 19th most-watched program. The episode gained mostly positive responses from critics, and received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Animated Program (for Programming Less Than One Hour) as well as an Annie Award nomination for directing.
In a lengthy sequence completely unconnected to the main plot of the episode, after preventing Osama bin Laden from sending a hostile message to the United States, Stewie, parodying the opening scene for The Naked Gun, rides off on his tricycle, cycling through scenes from various movies and video games. He eventually arrives at his house and bikes into the garage where he runs over Homer Simpson, then Peter comes through the door, greets Stewie, looks down on the floor and wonders, "Who the hell is that?"
Peter wakes up Lois by noisily installing a red carpet in his bedroom, anticipating watching the Emmy Awards, but Lois forces him to go to Meg's school play. Her school play is supposed to be a reference to musical Godspell. The next day, Peter learns about David Hyde Pierce's wardrobe malfunction at the Emmys and gets angry at Lois for missing the Emmy Awards and not being able to see it. Having received a small number of phone calls from citizens concerning the incident, The FCC decides to censor any content from television even the slightest that could be feared harmful to viewers under the orders of their straightforward chairman, Cobra Commander. Peter is enraged at the FCC's actions, and on the advice from Channel 5 News reporter Tom Tucker, he decides to start his own TV network, which he calls PTV, on which he broadcasts classic shows unedited and uncut, and later introduces original programming such as Glenn Quagmire's Playboy After Dark-esque Midnight Q, Dogs Humping, and The Peter Griffin Sideboob Hour.
PTV becomes a huge success, and Brian and Stewie, impressed by the hits, join in to help Peter expand his television programming, as well as performing their own show Cheeky Bastard sitcom on PTV. Lois is furious about everyone's lust for perverted TV, as she is concerned over the issue of how children will be influenced by his programming (in the episode's DVD release, Peter and Cleveland, in a parody of Jackass, defecate on top of Lois's car). Brian then tells Lois that parents and legal guardians are the ones who should take full responsibility for what kids watch on TV and also points out that there are much worse influences besides TV. Regardless of that, Lois calls the FCC to have PTV shut down. This prompts Peter, Brian, and Stewie to perform an elaborate musical number about how insane the FCC's regulations are. Despite being impressed with the song, the arriving FCC representatives shut down PTV. When Peter tells the FCC representatives that while they can censor television they can't stop people from being who they are or how they live their lives, they decide to take on the challenge.
As such, the FCC representatives start to censor any foul language and inappropriate behavior in Quahog, ruining their times of privacy; for instance, a black "censor's bar" is pulled over Peter's genitals by FCC employees as he leaves the shower, all expletives are overdubbed with an air horn, and audible farts are banned in public (replaced with a dubbing of Steven Wright punchlines). Everyone in Quahog is angered by this, except for Lois, who approves of the FCC's actions, believing that everyone in Quahog needs a lesson in decency. However, she realizes that the FCC's presence puts her and Peter's sex life to a stop after they prevent her and Peter from having any real sex, even if no one's watching (specifically banning thrusting, tongue-kissing, moaning and any movement whatsoever). Peter angrily blames her, thus causing her to become guilty for letting this happen. They lobby Congress to have the FCC's rulings reversed. At first they disagree due to their strong support of the FCC, but they relent when Peter angrily retorts by making them realize the resemblance of many Washington buildings to various private parts and any other body parts associating with it, such as the Capitol Building to a breast. The oppression of the FCC is finally gone, Lois congratulates Peter for beating the FCC on its tracks, and the family settles down to watch an uncensored episode of The Brady Bunch that features bathroom jokes.
The episode was co-written by Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild. Patrick Meighan, John Viener, Cherry Chevapravatdumrong, Tom Devanney and Kirker Butler acted as staff writers in the episode. The episode was shown in the William S. Paley TV Fest. The plot of "PTV" is a parody of the FCC's measures after Janet Jackson's incident in the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show controversy. In an interview MacFarlane was asked where the inspiration to the episode’s plot came from, in his response he commented that "In the case of 'PTV' it came out of rage. Rage over all the crap we have to deal with since Janet Jackson showed her 67 year old boob."
The episode was directed by Dan Povenmire, while Peter Shin contributed as supervising director. Various scenes in "PTV" were taken out of the episode due to Fox's international censors. As the writers worked on the episode the producers ended up, as the Chicago Tribune describes it, "horse trading" with Fox, removing a body-part reference in exchange for a dirty word. While the writing staff of the show was disappointed with the number of scenes that were removed from the episode, they were happy with the final result. The opening sequence, of which Family Guy's creator Seth MacFarlane was particularly proud, was added into the episode after the producers discovered the episode ran three minutes short. The episode contained a montage which showcased the most bawdy moments of the previous seasons; Povenmire recalled the sequence; about it he stated that "I just found those off the DVD and digitized them and edited them in. Basically because I didn't want to draw all those things! I found the most disgusting images from the first three seasons. And we actually got network notes on two of them saying, 'You're gonna have to cut that!' And I went, 'This has been on the air! And I'm only showing 8 frames of it!' And it turns out we cut them now when they're on the air. So apropos for the FCC episode."
"PTV" and the thirteen other episodes from Family Guy's fourth season were released on a three-disc DVD set in the United States, in Europe, and in Australia on November 16, 2006, April 24, 2006 and May 29, 2006 respectively. The DVDs included brief audio commentaries by Seth MacFarlane, various crew and cast members from several episodes, a collection of deleted scenes, and a special mini-feature that shows director Peter Shin drawing Stewie. The episode was shown in the William S. Paley TV Fest, with which various writers, directors and voice actors of the show assisted.
All the main Family Guy cast members lent their voices to the episode, along with semi-regulars Lori Alan, Patrick Warburton, Adam West, John G. Brennan, Ralph Garman, Gary Cole and Phil LaMarr. Staff writers Chris Sheridan and John Viener also had minor speaking roles. Guest appearances included voice actors Keith Ferguson, Fred Tatasciore, Maurice LaMarche, Hunter Gomez, Wally Wingert, and actress Stacey Scowley. Like most episodes, the music in the episode was composed by Walter Murphy, including the song titled "The Freaking FCC". The music was edited by Ron Jones.
"PTV" contained various cultural references. "PTV" has been described as a satire on the "government's ever-increasing reach into our living rooms" by Television Watch executive director Jim Dyke. The opening sequence in which Stewie beats up Middle-Eastern leaders and then rides his tricycle through various movie and game scenes is a reference to the opening sequence of "Bobby's World" and The Naked Gun series of films. The movies from which animated scenes are shown are The Wizard of Oz, Ben-Hur, The Shining, The Empire Strikes Back, and The Sound of Music. Actual footage of the game Doom was also used.
The FCC censors various television shows, such as Ralph Kramden's threats of physical violence in The Honeymooners, two-thirds of Dick Van Dyke's name in The Dick Van Dyke Show ("dick" and "dyke" being slang terms for penis and lesbian, respectively), Archie Bunker and wife Edith dressed as Ku Klux Klan members from All in the Family, The Waltons and Chrissy Snow's bikini in a Three's Company commercial. Former Frasier cast member David Hyde Pierce was briefly mentioned in the episode. The extreme reaction of the FCC to Pierce's incident is a parody of the FCC's reaction to Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" during Super Bowl XXXVIII. Bob Hope, Wile E. Coyote, Ozzy Osbourne, Cobra Commander, Apache Chief, George W. Bush and Homer Simpson made appearances in cutaway gags. Terrorist Osama bin Laden was depicted prominently in the opening sequence. Stewie and bin Laden's sword fight has the same choreography as Yoda and Count Dooku's fight in the film Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones
The episode was positively received by critics. Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune called "PTV" "Family Guy's most rebellious outing yet". TV Squad critic Ryan Budke considered "PTV" his favorite episode ever. Jacqueline Cutler of The Star-Ledger called "PTV" "[...] the funniest, most sardonic half-hour on TV in a while." While exclusively airing the sixth season of Family Guy for British audiences, BBC Three aired this episode as part of the Family Guy 100th Anniversary special, declaring it to be "The Best Episode...So Far". The Hartford Courant, however, gave it a largely negative review, stating it was "not even funny for a second". MacFarlane revealed in an interview that the crew received a letter of inquiry from the U.S. regulatory board regarding the episode, much to his surprise "they actually thought it was funny". The 59th Primetime Emmy Awards opened with Stewie and Brian singing about the upcoming TV season using the tune from "The FCC Song", originating from this episode. The altered version of the song contained references to shows such as Scrubs, Two and a Half Men, The Sopranos and Cavemen.
"PTV" received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination in the Outstanding Animated Program (for Programming Less Than One Hour) category. Povenmire was nominated for an Annie Award for Directing in an Animated Television Production, but lost the award to Peter Shin, who directed the Family Guy episode "North by North Quahog". On June 1, 2007, the FCC song was voted second on The Paley Center for Media special "TV's Funniest Moments", behind The Chris Rock Show segment "Black Progress". The song was also voted sixth on IGN's list of Family Guy's "Top 10 Musical Moments", IGN stated "if there's a song that perfectly resonates what Family Guy is all about, then this is it".
The episode was voted #4 on BBC Three's list of Top Ten Family Guy episodes.
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Brian Goes Back to College