Last week's big Zonk! occurred in the soap opera 'As The World Turns' when a quartet of "teenagers" imagined life in Oakdale as a series of sitcoms: 'I Dream Of Jeannie', 'Happy Days', 'The Beverly Hillbillies', 'I Love Lucy', and 'The Munsters'.
This week we slide over to the Tooniverse, where 'South Park' went in for a little 'Guy'-bashing; 'Family Guy', that is. And the FOX show proved to be a mighty big target, as 'South Park' promised part two for next week on Comedy Central.
(But you never know. Claiming this to be a two-parter and then only presenting the first half might have been just a ploy on the part of Trey and Matt, as they have pulled similar stunts - like the live-action Mr. Hankey game commercial during their first Christmas episode.)
It's never been a secret that Stone and Parker loathe 'Family Guy'. It could be jealousy on their part because 'Family Guy' is on a big broadcast network while they toil in the hinterlands of cable.
Here's an entry from Wikipedia on the topic:
"'South Park' creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have expressed their discontent at being put at the same comedic level as 'Family Guy'.
When questioned about the meanest thing anyone ever said to them, Stone replied "When people say to me, 'God, you guys have one of the best shows on television. You and "Family Guy".' That fucking hurts so bad", to which Parker agreed: "Very well said. It's such a kick in the balls."
(The entry is listed as "Criticism Of Family Guy".)
'South Park' and 'Family Guy' should exist in the same cartoon TV dimension, the Tooniverse. It doesn't matter if there is no similarity intheir animation styles because all animation is just the stylized renderings of real life.
Or what passes for real life in the TV Universe.
But this episode ("Cartoon Wars") contained so many specific references to Peter Griffin and his family as being TV characters, that it's impossible to thunk up a splainin to get around the discrepancy.
Normally, I might have made the claim that 'Family Guy' is such a generic title that it could have been a totally different series, even if it did also air on FOX. Despite Cartman's constant harping on the complaint that it's "poorly-written, and accusing it of using interchangeable jokes, rather than jokes that actually have something to do with the plot", there might have been a way around the whole Zonk!in' matter.
But almost as if they anticipated me (Schyeah, right!), Parker and Stone actually showed several "clip" from 'Family Guy' (which they created specifically for the episode, of course).
The animation was crude, but leagues better than the usual 'South Park' cut-outs come to life. And the voices were mostly on the money, except for Lois. The one major difference was that Brian had black ears, which I think was a subtle riff on the claim that Seth MacFarlane steals everything for 'Family Guy'. (Brian is supposedly based on Snoopy from 'Peanuts' - even his collar is red!)
There's even a blog out there in cyberspace now that goes into detail about specific ideas and characters that MacFarlane has stolen from other sources. But TVSquad.com had a nice rejoinder to that complaint:
"Many people will tell you that any creative endeavor is just a matter of filtering and arranging ideas which already exist, and this is especially true for comedy writers. If you find something funny, it's likely someone else found it funny as well and has done it before. It's not about who did what first, it's about how you frame the joke and give it your own personal signature. In that regard, I think both 'Family Guy' and 'South Park' do just fine."
For my own part, I like both shows; I just don't go out of my way to watch either of them unless I know in advance that something major will take place - like this episode of "Cartoon Wars", for example, or the episode two weeks back where Chef got offed.
Remember the "answer songs" of the early sixties; where groups would put out songs in response to songs by other groups?
I'm hoping 'Family Guy' will now come up with a "reply" to this 'South Park' attack; that they take aim at Cartman & Co. with both barrels blazing.
But then, I hope both of them finally come to terms and accept each other for what they are; make peace in the toon hood.
And then they can team up and go after that bizarro bit o' bleep on Adult Swim called '12 Oz. Mouse'.