Family Guy Presents Seth & Alex’s Almost Live Comedy Show was a pleasantly odd little half-hour sandwiched between episodes of Seth MacFarlane’s Family Guy.

Working with Alex Borstein, who voices Lois Griffin, MacFarlane performed in a nightclub set that included an orchestra and an audience.

MacFarlane has a good singing voice and is remarkably dexterous in the way he can switch in and out of character voices such as Peter and Stewie Griffin. This had the effect of softening some of his trademark outrageousness. He sang a bit of “Edelweiss” from The Sound of Music, and while Borstein acted as though she, being Jewish, was offended by the choice, I was just impressed at how well MacFarlane crooned.

A too-long gag in which Borstein made fun of Marlee Matlin’s speaking voice was also rendered considerably less than scandalous by the fact that Matlin was allowed to come onstage and rip into the hosts.

Another uneven segment featured “discarded screen tests,” such as Bea Arthur’s imagined audition for Showgirls and Kathy Griffin trying out for The Piano. Borstein essayed both of these impersonations weakly. MacFarlane, on the other hand, did a terrific Bert Lahr-Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz.

Hedging his bets against viewers who might not stick around for 30 minutes of live actors making bleeped or just plain corny jokes, MacFarlane included some Family Guy clips and character appearances, such as having Stewie introduce commercials for Sherlock Holmes and Ninja Assassin. (Warner Bros. Pictures stepped in as the sole advertiser after Microsoft weaselled out of its commitment.)

All in all, not a great half-hour, but certainly fitfully amusing and unusually good-natured.

Oh, and I want to see Sherlock Holmes on Christmas Day.

Did you watch Seth & Alex? How did it stack up in comparison to your favorite cartoon, Family Guy fans?

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