8 Signs It's a Seth MacFarlane Project
How much does MacFarlane love anthropomorphic critters? That's like asking how much Brian Griffin from Family Guy loves drinking, being pretentious, and ogling Lois. Or, to put it another way, how much a talking bear likes to s--- in the woods. Regardless, the answer is ''a lot.''
See also: The goldfish Klaus from American Dad, the bears Tim and Arianna from The Cleveland Show, and, of course, Ted from Ted.
Celebrity Guests and Gut Punches
MacFarlane regularly lards his projects with famous folks, who often play themselves. Adam West, for example, has long voiced the role of ''Mayor Adam West'' on Family Guy, while David Lynch played a very Lynch-esque barkeep on The Cleveland Show (and by ''Lynch-esque'' we mean he looked like the famed director, not that he was a backwards-speaking little person). MacFarlane and his writers also routinely skewer celebrities — witness Renee Zellweger's depiction as an anteater in the season 4 Family Guy episode ''Peterotica.'' Sometimes the celebrity appearance and the celebrity abuse come wrapped in the same package, as with James Woods' recurring Family Guy role as the dick-ish ''James Woods.'' Photo: The barman ''Gus'' in The Cleveland Show
It would be probably quicker to name the sections of society MacFarlane hasn't risked offending on Family Guy than the ones he has. But where would be the fun in that? Fox originally declined to air the third season episode ''When You Wish Upon a Weinstein,'' in which Peter Griffin sang a number called ''I Need a Jew''; in 2010, Sarah Palin condemned a show which featured a plotline about a girl with Down syndrome who said her mother was ''a former Governor of Alaska''; that same year, an episode which referenced Terry Schiavo also drew protests. Also? Let's not forget MacFarlane's hosting of the 2013 Oscars. (If you have forgotten, here are four words for you: ''We Saw Your Boobs.'')
''I do always feel like everything that I do should have some sort of musical component,'' MacFarlane recently told EW. ''If you can get a song in there, it's just a nice Hollywood tradition.'' That tradition was most rigorously upheld on the 2005 album Family Guy: Live in Vegas (whose track listing includes a ditty entitled ''All Cartoons Are F---in' Dicks'') and MacFarlane's love for the big song-and-dance number is also evident in the ''Mustache Song'' sequence in A Million Ways to Die in the West.
Seth MacFarlane displayed his fondness for cutaway gags in the very first few minutes of the Family Guy pilot. After Lois Griffin informs daughter Meg that ''most of the world's problems stem from poor self-image,'' the action cuts to a German gym where a skinny Adolf Hitler growls at a ripped Jewish man who is flanked by two comely ladies. Over the years the show's cutaway gags have become more baroque — and, frankly, much funnier — even if Family Guy haters still find them as irritating as listening to someone talk about how much more their house is worth now than when they bought it. [We cut to two men sitting at a bar. One of the men is endlessly jabbering on about the increasing worth of his house. Eventually, the other man silences him by saying, ''I had sex with your mother.'']
MacFarlane is both a huge science nerd (as evidenced by his executive producing of the Neil deGrasse Tyson-fronted show Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey) and a huge science fiction nerd. Essentially he's a Han Solo lunchbox-carrying 13-year-old sci-fi fanatic trapped inside the body of a man who probably dated Emilia Clarke (which, come to think about it, sounds an awful lot like a potential Chris Griffin plotline). This explains the three special episodes of Family Guy devoted to lovingly lampooning the films in the original Star Wars trilogy (2007's ''Blue Harvest,'' 2009's ''Something, Something, Something Dark Side,'' 2010's ''It's a Trap!''), the lengthy cameo by playing-himself Flash Gordon star Sam Jones in Ted, and MacFarlane's unbridled fondness for the next entry in our Encyclopedia MacFarlannica?
Throw a rock at anything to do with Seth MacFarlane and there's a good-ish chance you will hit Patrick Stewart — who would doubtless return the rock with his legendary good humor. The onetime Jean-Luc Picard narrated Ted, voices C.I.A. bigwig Avery Bullock on American Dad, and, together with the rest of the Star Trek: Next Generation cast, played himself in the Family Guy episode ''Not All Dogs Go To Heaven.'' Want another MacFarlane-Stewart collaboration? They have made it so: In April of 2014, it was announced that Starz had picked up a 20-episode of a new live-action comedy show called Blunt Talk which stars the actor and will be overseen by MacFarlane's Fuzzy Door Productions.
Death stalked MacFarlane-world long before he made A Million Ways To Die in the West. And we mean that literally. In a 2000 episode of Family Guy, onetime Saturday Night Live star Norm MacDonald voiced the Grim Reaper, whose skeletal appearance inspired another celebrity-tweaking joke (Peter Griffin: ''Who are you?'' Death: ''I'm Calista Flockhart. Who the hell do you think I am?'') Last year, Brian Griffin walked off this mortal coil (albeit only temporarily) when he was struck by an oncoming car.
See also: Peter Griffin's father Mickey McFinnigan, Lois Griffin's great-aunt Marguerite Pewterschmidt, and Cleveland Brown's ex-wife Loretta who passed away peacefully in the first season of The Cleveland Show. (Did we say ''peacefully''? We meant ''by falling from the second floor of her house after Peter Griffin accidentally caused a brontosaurus skeleton to fall through the roof of her house.'') We should also point out that The Cleveland Show itself was killed by Fox, which also recently terminated MaFarlane's live action sitcom Dads — and, back in the day, even Family Guy, only for the show to return, Brian Griffin-like, from the grave.