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 in the fourth season of the American animated television series Family Guy. It originally aired on the Fox network 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 Many of the scenes were cut from the episodes they were originally made for owing to Fox's internal censors. With a Nielsen rating of 4.4, "PTV" was the nineteenth most-watched episode of the week in which it was broadcast. 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 sequence unconnected to the remainder of the episode, Stewie prevents Osama bin Laden from sending a hostile message to the United States by attacking him and killing several of his henchmen, and (in a parody of the opening scene from The Naked Gun) rides off on his Big Wheel, cycling through scenes from various films and video games. He eventually arrives at his house and runs over Homer Simpson. Upon seeing Homer on the ground, Peter asks "Who the hell is that?"
Peter awakens Lois by noisily installing a red carpet in their bedroom, anticipating watching the Emmy Awards, but Lois forces him to go to Meg's school play (which resembles the musical Godspell) instead. After David Hyde Pierce's wardrobe malfunction during the ceremony, the FCC, led by Cobra Commander, receives an insignificant volume of phone calls concerning the incident, and decides to censor any content from television that could be even slightly harmful to viewers. The censorship is applied to such content as Chrissy Snow's cleavage from Three's Company, Ralph Kramden’s threats of spousal abuse on The Honeymooners and even Dick Van Dyke's name. Peter is outraged, and on advice from Tom Tucker, starts his own TV network, PTV, on which he broadcasts classic shows unedited. He also includes original programming, such as Brian and Stewie's sitcom Cheeky Bastard, Quagmire's Playboy After Dark-esque Midnight Q, Dogs Humping, and The Peter Griffin Sideboob Hour.
PTV is successful, but Lois is furious about everyone's interest in perverted TV, as she is concerned over how children will be influenced by Peter's programming (in the DVD release, Peter and Cleveland, in a parody of Jackass, defecate on top of Lois' car). Brian argues that parents and legal guardians should take responsibility for what their children watch, and notes that there are worse influences besides TV. Regardless, Lois calls the FCC to have PTV shut down, prompting Peter, Brian, and Stewie to perform an elaborate musical number lampooning the FCC's regulations. Although impressed with the song, the arriving FCC representatives shut down PTV. When Peter tells them that they cannot prevent people from being who they are even after they censor television, they decide to take on the challenge.
The representatives start to censor any foul language and inappropriate behavior in Quahog, ruining moments of privacy: a "censor's bar" is pulled over Peter's genitals by FCC employees as he leaves the shower, all expletives are drowned out with an air horn, audible farts are overdubbed with Steven Wright punchlines, and Mayor Adam West is cautioned for shaking his penis more than once after using a urinal. Everyone in Quahog is angered except for Lois, who believes that the citizens need a lesson in decency. However, she discovers that the FCC's guidelines prevent her and Peter from having sex. Realizing the consequences of her overzealous actions, Lois apologizes to Peter and admits he was right (prompting him to unveil a banner reading "Peter's Right!" which he had set up 15 years earlier in preparation for such an event). 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 retorts by making them realize the resemblance of many Washington buildings to various private parts, including the Washington Monument to a penis, the Capitol Building to a breast and The Pentagon to a anus. With the oppression of the FCC finally over, Lois congratulates Peter, and the family watches an episode of The Brady Bunch that prominently features toilet humor.
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 plot of "PTV" is a parody of the FCC's measures after Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction during the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show. 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 internal 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 Television Festival, 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, Adam West, 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, 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 members of Al-Qaeda 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 end of the episode is a parody to the ending of The Brady Bunch.
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, but 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. Tom Eames of entertainment website Digital Spy placed the episode at number eight on his listing of the best Family Guy episodes in order of "yukyukyuks" and noted the episode was show writer's "way of aiming all their anger at the agencies who get in the way." He added that episode was "one of those episodes where all the jokes worked" and featured "the show's first over-the-top song numbers". IGN ranked PTV sixth in its "Top 15 Family Guy Episodes," compiled in 2014 for the 15th anniversary of the series.
"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."
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|Family Guy (season 4)||Succeeded by|
Brian Goes Back to College