|Episode no. Season 10
Production code 9ACX05
|Directed by Brian Iles|
Original air date December 4, 2011
|Written by Artie Johann and Shawn Ries|
"Cool Hand Peter" is the eighth episode of the tenth season of the American animated sitcom Family Guy. It originally aired on Fox in the United States on December 4, 2011. In the episode, Peter Griffin and his friends Joe, Quagmire and Cleveland (who has returned to Quahog) decide to go on a road trip to New Orleans, Louisiana. Whilst driving they are stopped by a police officer, arrested and thrown in jail by the sheriff who abuses his power, and plants marijuana in their car. The group then attempt to escape the prison due to their stay being extended indefinitely, and return to Quahog.
The episode served as a follow-up to the exit of the main character Cleveland Brown, who left Family Guy in order to star in his own Fox spin-off, entitled The Cleveland Show. Main cast member and former series writer Mike Henry returned to the series to provide the voice of Cleveland. The episode also featured a crossover between Family Guy and The Cleveland Show, both of which were created by executive producer Seth MacFarlane, and included cameo appearances by two of The Cleveland Show's main characters.
First announced at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con International, the episode was written by Artie Johann and Shawn Ries, and directed by Brian Iles. The episode received mixed reviews, praising its structure and humor, but criticizing it for not living up to the 1967 drama film Cool Hand Luke, which the episode was named after. According to Nielsen ratings, it was watched by 7.14 million people in its original airing. The episode featured guest performances by Ralph Garman, Bob Gunton, Sanaa Lathan, Julius Sharpe, and Jennifer Tilly, along with several recurring guest voice actors from the series.
When Cleveland Brown returns to Quahog for a week, he visits his old friends Peter, Joe and Quagmire. When Peter gets tired of his wife, Lois, constantly demanding for him to do chores so the group decides to take a road trip to New Orleans, Louisiana. Whilst their husbands are away, Lois, Bonnie and Donna proceed to enjoy "girl time", resulting with them doing wine-induced childish antics which include forcibly dressing Brian in a humiliating bumblebee costume.
While driving through a rural area in Georgia, Peter and his group are pulled over by the local sheriff, and Peter makes every effort to talk as annoyingly and rudely to him as possible. But the Sheriff is more offended by Cleveland's attempt to calmingly explain themselves, punching out one of their headlights and then planting a bag of marijuana in their trunk. The group are then sent to a county work camp where they are forced to perform various tasks, including ditch digging and rock crushing. As their stay in the jail supposedly comes to an end, the warden then approaches them and tells them that their stay has been extended an additional thirty days. Learning from another prisoner that they might be locked up forever, the group decides to break out of the prison when the prison guards's eyes are diverted. Successful in their attempt, they soon come across a house where they discover a set of handcuff and shackle keys.
They then discover that they are in the sheriff's home, who returns soon after. Peter tries to pretend to be his wife while hiding in a closet, and he convinces the sheriff to let the fugitives go free. This exchange ends with the sheriff asking for a hug, which makes Peter jump out of the closet and reveal the group. The entire police force then comes after them, until they are able to jump on a train and arrive in Quahog, only to be met by the sheriff and his deputies. Joe, however, had called ahead and arranged for the Quahog police department to arrive and rescue them. Joe then smashes the sheriff's vehicle, shoots him in the leg, and demands he leave Quahog.
Production and development
The episode was directed by series regular Brian Iles and written by Artie Johann and Shawn Ries, in their first episode of the series. Series regulars Peter Shin and James Purdum served as supervising directors, with Andrew Goldberg, Alex Carter, Spencer Porter, Anthony Blasucci, Mike Desilets, and Deepak Sethi serving as staff writers for the episode. Composer Walter Murphy, who has worked on the series since its inception, returned to compose the music for the episode. The episode saw the re-appearance of former main cast member Mike Henry as the voice of Cleveland Brown. The actor had previously left the role on Family Guy, in order to star as the character in his own spinoff, entitled The Cleveland Show, which was co-created by Henry. Sanaa Lathan, who portrays Donna Tubbs on The Cleveland Show, also guest starred as her character in the episode. "Cool Hand Peter" was first announced at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con International on July 23, 2011 by series showrunners and executive producers Steve Callaghan and Mark Hentemann.
In addition to the regular cast and Lathan, actor Bob Gunton, voice actor Julius Sharpe, and actress Jennifer Tilly, who portrayed the sheriff, warden, UPS Guy and Bonnie Swanson, respectively, guest starred in the episode. Recurring guest voice actors Danny Smith, writer Alec Sulkin, voice actor Ralph Garman, and writer John Viener made minor appearances throughout the episode. Recurring cast members Adam West, and Patrick Warburton also appeared in the episode, portraying the characters of Adam West and Joe Swanson, respectively. Bob Gunton's voicing of the warden is probably a nod to his most famous role, that of the warden in the film The Shawshank Redemption.
"Cool Hand Peter" was originally broadcast on Fox in the United States on December 4, 2011. It was watched by 7.14 million viewers, according to Nielsen ratings, despite airing simultaneously with the Desperate Housewives on ABC, The Good Wife on CBS and Sunday Night Football on NBC. The episode also acquired a 3.6/8 rating in the 18–49 demographic, beating Allen Gregory and The Cleveland Show, in addition to significantly edging out both shows in total viewership. The episode's ratings increased significantly from the previous week's episode, "Amish Guy".
The episode received mixed reviews, with Kevin McFarland of The A.V. Club calling the storyline "disappointing." He wrote of the episode, "At this juncture, disappointment is an expectation, something I have to fight against whenever I sit down to watch the show in an attempt to give each episode a fair shake." He continued, "This week, I was at a bit of a loss, because despite a return to an older, more successful formula, with a clearly plotted path, Family Guy didn't muster up enough material to fill out the A-plot of a half hour." McFarland also stated that the episode did not live up to the 1967 drama film Cool Hand Luke, that the title of the episode was named after. He concluded his review of the episode by giving the episode a grade of C. Terren R. Moore of Ology also found the episode to be unimpressive, noting, "It's good fun while it's on, but nothing here really sticks or adds to anything new to love about Family Guy." Moore also commented, "it's a pretty weak episode of Family Guy, where the most memorable joke of the night involves a thought bubble where Quagmire pulls a string of beads out of a woman's vagina." In the conclusion of the review, Moore gave the episode a 6/10 score.