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The Splendid Source

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Episode no.  Season 8 Episode 19
Production code  7ACX17
Directed by  Brian Iles
Original air date  May 16, 2010
Written by  Mark Hentemann Based on a short story by: Richard Matheson

"The Splendid Source" is the 19th episode of the eighth season of the animated comedy series Family Guy. Directed by Brian Iles and written by Mark Hentemann, the episode originally aired on Fox in the United States on May 16, 2010. The episode follows Peter, Joe and Quagmire as they set out on a journey to find the ultimate source of all the world's dirty jokes. Along the way, the group is reunited with their old friend, Cleveland Brown, while traveling through Stoolbend, Virginia. Their journey becomes much more difficult than expected when they are kidnapped and taken to a remote island. There, they discover a secret society of the world's greatest geniuses at the center of all the world's dirty jokes. The plot is based on a short story of the same name written by Richard Matheson and first published in the May 1956 edition of Playboy magazine.

Contents

The episode was a follow-up to the departure of main character Cleveland Brown, who was removed from Family Guy to become the center of the spin-off The Cleveland Show. Former series writer and cast member Mike Henry returned to the series to provide the voice of Cleveland. The episode also featured the first official crossover between Family Guy and The Cleveland Show, and included cameo appearances by several of The Cleveland Show's main characters. The episode was first announced at the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con International.

Critical response to the episode was favorable. Critics praised the episode for its original premise, and its under-reliance on cultural references, but criticized the episode's plot. According to Nielsen ratings, it was viewed in 7.59 million homes in its original airing. The episode featured guest performances by Marc Alaimo, Gary Cole, Ioan Gruffudd, Sanaa Lathan, David Lynch, Kevin Michael Richardson and Wally Wingert, along with several recurring guest voice actors for the series. "The Splendid Source" was released on DVD along with ten other episodes from the season on December 13, 2011.

Plot

As Peter and Lois discuss a family trip to Maine, Chris alerts his parents that he has been suspended indefinitely from school for telling an inappropriate joke. Assuring Principal Shephard it will never happen again, Chris reveals that he learned the joke from Quagmire.

Peter asks Quagmire where he heard the dirty joke in the first place, and Quagmire reveals that he heard it from Bruce. Locating Bruce at his job at the bowling alley, the group discovers that the joke has been transmitted by a large number of people, and eventually trace it to a Virginia bartender.

The Griffins, the Swansons, and Quagmire prepare for a road trip, ostensibly for a vacation in Maine. Quagmire distracts Bonnie and Lois as Peter alters course to Virginia instead. The group arrives at a bar in Stoolbend, Virginia, and discover that it was Cleveland who told the bartender the joke. Peter asks Cleveland where he first heard the joke, and Cleveland reveals that a Washington, D.C., bellhop named Sal Russo told it to him. The group sets out for D.C. with Cleveland in tow. They are attacked by a black car, whose occupants fire guns at them to prevent them from learning the joke's origin. Joe shoots out one of the car's tires, causing it to spin out of control and flip onto its roof. The Quahog group arrive at a Washington hotel and locate Sal, who is reluctant to reveal the source of the joke. He races away on a handcart through Washington. Losing track of Sal, they are soon captured by several men in black suits who pistol-whip them until they are unconscious.

Kidnapped and thrown on a plane, they land on a remote island. They are led by the men in suits through a jungle wilderness to a large stone temple. The Dean of the Secret Order of Dirty Joke Writers appears from the shadows and leads the group into a large library, where the world's greatest geniuses study. The Dean explains that the world's greatest thinkers have come together to create dirty jokes, and distribute them throughout the world by a network of agents like the bellhop. The Dean takes them into a dark room. He reveals that they will not be permitted to leave the island now that they know the source of all the world's dirty jokes. They are locked in a jail cell. As a diversion, Peter stabs Cleveland with a pencil. When the guard opens the door to investigate, the prisoners escape. They are recaptured by the Dean and his armed guards immediately. As they are about to be shot by the guards, an old man claims he has just written the world's greatest dirty joke and then suddenly dies. Peter snatches a small piece of paper that the man dropped as he died, containing the joke. The prisoners escape with the joke on a small plane. As they fly over the secret enclave, it is destroyed in a fireball resulting from a burning drapery that Peter had set alight with a candle. Quagmire bemoans that they destroyed the source of all dirty jokes. They quickly realize that as long as there are people there will be dirty jokes. Peter, Joe, Cleveland and Quagmire then fly off into the sunset, before finding out the supposed greatest joke ever written is "Guess what? Chicken butt!"

In the final scene, Peter introduces footage of an ape scratching himself as a public service announcement from the March of Dimes Foundation.

Production and development

First announced at the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con International in San Diego, California on July 25, 2009, by future showrunner Mark Hentemann, the episode was directed by Brian Iles, written by Hentemann, and based on a short story by Richard Matheson before the conclusion of the eighth production season. Series regulars Peter Shin and James Purdum acted as supervising directors of the episode, with Andrew Goldberg and Alex Carter working as staff writers for the episode. The episode saw the fourth re-appearance, the first being an equally brief appearance in "Spies Reminiscent of Us", the second in "Road to the Multiverse" and the third being "Go Stewie Go", by 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. This episode is also the first crossover with The Cleveland Show, which was created by Family Guy creator and executive producer Seth MacFarlane, voice actor Mike Henry, and former animated comedy writer Richard Appel.

"The Splendid Source", along with the eleven other episodes from Family Guy's eighth season, was released on a three-disc DVD set in the United States on December 13, 2011. The sets include brief audio commentaries by various crew and cast members for several episodes, a collection of deleted scenes and animatics, a special mini-feature which discussed the process behind animating "And Then There Were Fewer", a mini-feature entitled "The Comical Adventures of Family Guy – Brian & Stewie: The Lost Phone Call", and footage of the Family Guy panel at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International.

In addition to the regular cast, actor Marc Alaimo, actor Gary Cole, actor Ioan Gruffudd, actress Sanaa Lathan, film director David Lynch, voice actor Kevin Michael Richardson and voice actor Wally Wingert guest starred in the episode. Recurring guest voice actors Chris Cox, actor Ralph Garman, writer Patrick Meighan, writer Danny Smith, writer Alec Sulkin, actress Jennifer Tilly, and writer John Viener also made minor appearances.

Reception

In a slight improvement over the previous episode, the episode was viewed in 7.59 million homes in its original airing, according to Nielsen ratings, despite airing simultaneously with the season finale of Desperate Housewives on ABC, the season finale of Survivor on CBS and Celebrity Apprentice on NBC. The episode also acquired a 3.8 rating in the 18–49 demographic, beating The Simpsons, The Cleveland Show and American Dad!, in addition to edging out all three shows in total viewership.

Reviews of the episode were mostly favorable, calling it "the only show with any sense of mystery." John Teti of The A.V. Club found the episode to have a "fantastic premise for a Peter Griffin adventure" but went on to state that he gives the episode "points for a strong first half, but I wish that the writers had pushed themselves a little harder to make this one go the distance." Ramsey Isler of IGN reiterated his own enjoyment of the premise of the episode, but went on to state, "While I can appreciate the point that good comedy does take a certain degree of wit and cleverness, this just wasn't a very satisfying end to an idea that had so much potential." In a much more positive review, Jason Hughes of TV Squad praised the underuse of cutaways, going on to note, "Reducing the reliance on cutaways seems to be the continuing trend for the series, and I think it's a good move [...] It forces smarter writing, and creates a better narrative structure."

References

The Splendid Source Wikipedia


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