Suddenly, 'Family Guy'

For ten years, the late-night TV battle has raged between Jay Leno and David Letterman, but at the moment, both of them are getting whipped by a toy-factory worker from Rhode Island named Peter Griffin. (You didn't think we meant Jimmy Kimmel, did you?) Griffin is the star of "The Family Guy," an animated series that lasted just 49 episodes on Fox but has been reborn as a cult hit on Cartoon Network. The show--a bitingly funny send up of family sitcoms featuring a moronic patriarch, a talking dog and a diabolical, British-accented infant boy--is drawing 1 million viewers per episode--topping Leno and Letterman among 18- to 34-year-old men. "I'm not surprised," says Cartoon Network senior vice president Mike Lazzo. "This was one of the few programming no-brainers I've ever had."

It wasn't so clear cut for Fox, which kept switching "The Family Guy's" time slot before finally canceling it last year. By then, the show had amassed a small army of loyalists who'd come to adore creator Seth MacFarlane's taste for obscure pop-culture references, like the Crest Cavity Creeps and the Kool-Aid Man. (You remember--the giant glass pitcher that jumps through walls and yells, "Oh, yeah!" Ah, good times.) The show is now the linchpin of the Cartoon Network's daily "Adult Swim" TV block, and fans have rewarded the move by making it the highest-rated show in the channel's history.

Here's more good news for "Family Guy" fans. During the show's tenure on Fox, MacFarlane's team actually made 50 episodes--one never aired because it was deemed "too controversial" for advertisers. Cartoon Network hopes to air it during the next rerun cycle, which begins on Monday. The taboo subject: religion. Chances are, it's the last new episode we'll get. Lazzo is still trying to relaunch the show, but creator MacFarlane is currently tied up producing a new series. Somewhere the Kool-Aid Man is weeping.

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Suddenly, 'Family Guy' | News