Who has musical numbers, a tribute to three great works of American literature, guest stars ranging from Kyle Chandler to David Tennant to Flea, and an episode involving a sperm bank? THIS Guy. Before Family Guy begins its 15th season of animated mayhem on Sept. 25 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Fox, executive producer Rich Appel teases the laughs that lurk ahead.
The season premiere isn’t kidding around by packing more tunes into this ‘toon.
If you’ve been jonesing for a new musical act since the dissolution of Griffin and Quagmire, this episode might hit the right note. Titled “The Boys in the Band,” the debut episode seeks giggles by mocking the Wiggles — and assorted childrens’ music duos of that ilk. “Stewie is listening to a group called the Turtlenecks, which are like some other kid singing troupes made up of adults who sing inane songs, and Stewie is offended that these aren’t really baby issues, written by babies, who know of what they speak,” explains Appel. “He and Brian set out to become this kind of folk duo. They’re singing songs about real issues. Brian and Stewie do four different songs about Mommy and Daddy doing it, about ‘Don’t play with the big kid in the baby swing.’ There’s this long ballad about, ‘At the top of the stairs in the back of the closet, there’s a box and inside the box that’s where the gun is.”” The duo’s success leads to the return of someone old — Stewie’s opportunistic former flame, Olivia — and someone new: the tough teamster crew leader voiced by Amy Schumer (who will also be heard in the season premieres of The Simpsons and Bob’s Burgers). “Stewie is trying to get the confidence to pursue his dreams like Travolta in Staying Alive, going to the big city to pursue a career in the arts,” says Appel, “and she has a take on that.”
Meet Peter the pimp.
“You can’t believe we’ve never had Peter as Quagmire’s pimp, so we’re finally doing that story,” says Appel. “Once you have the title, ‘American Gigg-olo,’ how do you not write that episode?” Speaking of Quagmire/sex/gross things, Peter will discover Tinder in an episode featuring a big musical number. “Halfway through the show he becomes this kind of shut-in Gollum-like presence who’s swiping everything in his kitchen, any screen he can see he’s swiping, his fingers are literally worn to the bone,” says Appel. “Peter and Cleveland and Joe have to figure out a way to save him from Tinder, and so they sing a song that’s called ‘Tinder Makes You Gross.'”
Actually, meet lots of Peters.
You can (sperm) bank on this spring episode being extremely weird. “Lois discovers that long ago Peter had gone to a sperm bank, and at the end of the first act, about 30 different versions of Peter — African-American Peter, little person Peter, German accordionist Peter — show up on the front lawn, because Peter went back under Lois’ behest to finally see the one child he thought he had, and instead there are 30,” says Appel. “Among them is a younger version of Peter, who Lois realizes is just like the Peter she fell in love with, and it’s ‘Will Lois have an affair with this younger version of Peter, who has become the typical middle-aged husband you take for granted?’ Seth [MacFarlane, the show’s creator who also voices Peter] must do a dozen different versions of Peter… They all sound a little different, but a little the same, so it’s a fun episode.”
Someone famous for taking shots is lending his voice to the show.
And that someone is Golden State Warriors guard/NBA MVP Steph Curry. “Peter sits on his lap in a post-game news conference,” says Appel. “And is not as charming or adorable as Steph Curry’s daughter has been in their post-game interviews.”
Someone famous will help the show take shots at people who don’t take shots.
As we reported earlier, Sean Penn will pop up as Sean Penn in an episode that takes on the anti-vax movement. The story line centers on Peter and Lois opting not to vaccinate Stewie (cue: Brian’s horror), and when a pandemic permeates Quahog, Penn tries to persuade the Griffins to tune out the proproganda and embrace the needle. “Brian is incredulous that Peter and Lois would fall for, as Peter says, Dr. Jenny McCarthy,” says Appel. “But Brian alone is unable to persuade them. And then, when things go from bad to worse and Stewie is in true jeopardy, Sean Penn saves Stewie, and in doing so, delivers the moral of the episode. He literally parachutes to the rescue.”
Picture Peter not on Family Guy.
A meta episode titled “Inside Family Guy” will whisk you behind the scenes of the series with a faux documentary that’s hosted by James Woods and shows you a typical week of production. And during this particular week, “Peter’s star ego proves too much, and he’s replaced,” says Appel. “We see how the family adjusts to life without Peter, and how he works his way back into the lot. His scheme involves Fox Television Group Chairmen Dana Walden and Gary Newman — playing themselves.” What light will be shed on Family Guy in this episode? “We show a scene from the ‘original pilot’ of the series,” says Appel, “which was called Chris Griffin: Teen Doctor.”
Clear eyes, Kyle Chandler guest spot, can’t lose.
Lois and Peter try to find an outlet for Chris’ burgeoning aggression, only to realize that he’s a gifted pitcher. Enter the beloved Friday Night Lights vet best known as Coach Taylor. “We pushed him — he plays a baseball coach,” quips Appel, “Which knocked out of the park. It was completely different than Eric Taylor, but still a believable coach.“
Peter is grateful for Gronk. Until he’s not.
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski moves into Peter’s neighborhood with his party bus and family in tow. As you can imagine, Peter is thrilled at first, but “eventually we see that Gronk is able to out-Peter Peter in terms of ridiculous, over-the-top behavior, and Peter has to get rid of him,” says Appel. Important question: Did Gronk record his lines with his shirt off? “Gronk had his shirt on, but [the Gronkowskis] came to a table read before his episode,” reports Appel. “They were on the party bus and it was after the Super Bowl, and they just piled into our room. By the end of our encounter with them and giving them the tour, we were all ready to pile into the party bus… It’s as close as I’ll ever get to living Entourage.”
Flea, who will play himself, did some punch-up on a punchline.
At the end of an appearance by the Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist, “someone yells out to him, ‘Put on a shirt for God’s sake! You’re 50!,’” says Appel. “And then Flea adlibbed, ‘Actually, I’m 52,’ and then slammed the door. And we cracked up. And then he says and, ‘When it airs, I’ll be 53.’ So we added it and we, of course, didn’t give him credit for the line. Stole it, used it, and recorded him. It’s always fun when people are not just game to poke fun at themselves, but in fact double down and help you and add funny stuff.”
You can’t unring a bell, but you can re-ring a Bell.
Mark-Paul Gosselaar is game for one more Zack attack: He recreated a famous Saved By the Bell scene between Zack and a caffeine-pill addicted Jesse — but with Stewie subbing in for Elizabeth Berkley. “We pay homage to that scene pretty closely,” says Appel. “Although Stewie doesn’t have her legs, he is still able to pull it off.”
One episode will be lit. As in literature.
“In the tradition of Family Guy doing separate stories in each act, we have the Family Guy version of classic books, The Great Gatsby, The Adventures of Huck Finn, and Of Mice and Men,” says Appel. “It’s sort of amazing how Chris, in Of Mice and Men as Lennie, almost wrote itself. We debated who should play Gatsby between Stewie and Brian, and ended up going with Brian, but we really felt we could have written it either way, and that was a blast. Any high school sophomore can watch these episodes and forgo the books, and they’ll know everything they need to know.”
Five stars for Peter?
Quagmire isn’t the only one drawn into an app, as Peter becomes an Uber driver by accident (and not literally). “Peter borrows Brian’s Prius because Lois has the family car, and when he’s at a stoplight, a businessman just gets in and says, ‘Okay, I’m here. Go,'” says Appel. “And because he’s driving a Prius, Peter realizes he could make some money. So he goes to his interviewer and the guy basically says, ‘Do you have a license?’ And then says, ‘Congratulations, you’re an Uber driver.’ Peter has good ol’ time until the taxicab forces in Quahog decide to teach him a lesson.”
Bill Cosby will be mocked. Again.
“We’ve done a few things about Bill Cosby and we sometimes we worry — since our show has such a lead time with production — ‘Will this still be fresh?'” says Appel. “And it was decided in the [writers’] room that Bill Cosby may have joined the ranks of the evergreen, that Bill Cosby will be a subject of jokes on Family Guy or any other show for the next 20 years. So it seems like he’s sadly going to stand the test of time, in the wrong way. I’m not even sure we’ve hit the limit of ways we can drop Mr. Cosby into the series.” This season, the show will serve him up in a beloved fantasy adventure film. “Our Bill Cosby plays the Dread Pirate Roberts from The Princess Bride,” says Appel, “and Stewie finds himself having to choose between two goblets — one with the iocane powder, the other with something Mr. Cosby may or may not have used on roughly 60 prior occasions.”
David Tennant is a gas.
The Doctor Who vet will pop up in a cutaway gag that uses the time machine in a most inappropriate way. “He’s in an English telephone booth with their spaceship, and there’s a huge attack and his pretty friend comes racing over and wants to get in,” teases Appel. “But he just basically farted in the time machine, so he’s got to make small talk while he fans the door. It’s a respectful homage to the years and years of Doctor Who that has entertained audiences around the world.”
To check out a highlight reel from Family Guy’s upcoming season, click here.