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FOX’s Animation Domination returned tonight. I’ve given up on The Cleveland Show (which I don’t think debuts until November anyways) and I’ve never been a fan of American Dad so I’ll only be covering three of the shows.

The Simpsons: 24.01 – “Moonshine River”

The Simpsons is back for it’s landmark 24th season. I’ve been a huge defender of this show for a while. Last season was especially strong and produced three of the strongest episodes of the show since it’s glory days. “Holidays of Future Passed” will stand the test of the time. Unfortunately the premiere wasn’t one of their best episodes. The plot for the episode is very shaky. Bart is feeling insecure about his romantic life (he’s only 10) and he wants to reconnect with one of the girls that he felt the strongest feelings for, Cletus’ daughter Mary (voiced by Zooey Deschanel). She’s living in New York City now (never really explained) so Bart convinces the whole family to take a trip there to find her. They reconnect, but Cletus sends her away again but Bart gains back some confidence. There’s also a small subplot where Marge and Lisa try to experience culture in NYC on a limited budget. They go see a free Shakespeare in the Park show and ended up having to fill-in as performers.

The episode was average. The show has been pretty decent lately but this episode didn’t demonstrate that. The plot didn’t really make sense and the return to NYC (one of their classic episodes is Season 9’s “The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson”) felt like the writers returning to a well that was already empty. The Marge & Lisa subplot provided the most laughs and was the most interesting. The biggest laugh from me came from a weird cutaway moment. Homer remembers his last trip to NYC which actually turns out to be a scene from Sweet Smell of Success*. It was a really random moment but gave me the biggest laugh of the episode.

Bob’s Burgers: 3.01 – “Ear-sy Rider”

Bob’s Burgers has become the shining star of the Animation Domination line-up, being the strongest of all the entries and actually getting a deserved Emmy nomination this year. The episode begins with a biker gang, One-Eyed Snakes, holding an after-Funeral party at Bob’s restaurant. The bikers appreciate Bob opening up his restaurant to their gang and gives them their seal of approval: a card with their logo on it, to hang in their window. Louise, one of Bob’s daughter, gets involved with a bully named Logan and gets her signature pink bunny ears hat stolen from her. Louise goes crazy and stalks Logan to try to get it back. She’s not her usual self and pretty much turns psychotic. Louise uses her family’s new relationship with the biker gang to get the ears back. The bikers threaten to cut off Logan’s ears until he gives the ears back. He gives them back, but Logan’s parents complain to Bob and his family about what happened. There is about to be a brawl between the parents and the biker gang in Bob’s restaurant when one of the biker ladies, Mudflap, goes into labor. Logan’s father is a doctor and helps deliver the baby. Both groups realize what really matters and settles their differences. Happy ending.

This episode was a good premiere episode. Not one of the strongest episodes of the entire series, but it was a good introduction episode for new viewers. Each of the characters got a moment to shine and it had a lot of nice moments to hook new people. This was Kristen Schaal’s episode and she owned it. The whole second with Louise going off the deep end was great to watch. The kids are one of the most important elements of the show and the episodes revolving around them are always the better ones. The last act was a little schmaltzy at the end but it came to a satisfying and understandable confusion. I’m glad to have the show back.

Family Guy: 11.01 – “Into Fat Air”

Family Guy is entering its 11th season and it’s quality varies most of the time. I still find it enjoyable, but there have been a few episodes of the years that have been extremely grating and tested my patience. Thankfully this was one of their strongest outings in the past few seasons. Plot is usually unnecessary to this show, but it’s stronger when it has one and this one actually had one that played out like a normal series. The Griffins go to dinner at their friend’s house, The Fishmans. They are the “perfect family” and rub it in the Griffins’ faces. The Fishmans are going to climb Mt. Everest and Lois decides that her family should too, to prove they are as good as the Fishmans. The Griffins fly to Nepal and climb the mountain. The Fishmans have already beaten them to the up. The Griffins decide to walk back down and encounter a terrible storm. They finally make it down, but the end up eating the Fishman’s son Ben (you heard that right) who froze to death and the Griffins had no other choice when they ran out of food.

Even though the plot of the episode was completely ridiculous, it had a plot and followed through with it in a logical way in the show’s universe. The Griffin family was all together and they got to play off each other, which is better to watch than the episodes that tend to just focus on one of them. There were also a lot of great jokes and one cutaway that almost made me pee myself. The best cutaway was when they first arrive at the Mt. Everest base camp. Peter tells Lois, “Now’s probably not the best time, but I think I left the weed whacker on.” Cut to: the weed whacker plugged in a socket in the living room and wrecking havoc on all of their belongings. Completely ridiculous but a great visual gag. There was also a funny moment where Peter is picking out a donkey to buy in Nepal. All of them looking the same except for one that is wearing green sunglasses. Peter picks that one and says, “I don’t know what it is. But you have got…IT!” One of the better episodes of the show.