The energy of the packed Comic-Con International crowd was only surpassed by that of the rowdy cast and producers behind "Family Guy," who met with fans in San Diego and got started right up front with a series of spoilers for next season.
Present at the panel were Steve Callaghan (Showrunner), Mark Hentemann (Executive Producer), Mila Kunis (Meg), Seth Green (Chris), Alex Borstein (Lois), Kara Vallow (Producer), Seth MacFarlane (Creator, voice of Peter, Brian, Stewie, others), and David Zuckerman (Producer and panel host).
We're promised the following for the upcoming season, but these being the "Family Guy" people, you can never be too sure that something isn't said sarcastically or in jest:
- Brian hits a dog while driving, and is horrified to find that society doesn't care when a dog is killed
- Peter meets and has an affair with a cut-out of Cathy Ireland
- Peter seeks the source of all dirty jokes
- Meg goes to jail and comes back a little tougher, a little meaner, and a bit more manly
- Chris finally unveils the monkey to the family. The family meets the monkey, and shenanigans ensue
- Lois dabbles in boxing
- Louis and Babs, her mother, bond over interesting sexual experiences in their lives, and the topic of an unwanted pregnancy
On the note of unwanted pregnancies, Vallow and MacFarlane also discussed the creation of an abortion-themed episode which they may not be able to air this season. "We thought it would be the responsible thing to do an abortion episode and Fox allowed us to produce the episode, and then said, 'You know what? We are scared to fucking death about this episode.' So they allowed us to put it on the DVD instead," said MacFarlane.
David Zuckerman introduced the long anticipated preview of the upcoming "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back" parody episode as a follow up to the very successful "Star Wars: A New Hope" parody. So far, it's titled "Something, Something Dark Side.
The preview began much as the prior episode, with Peter telling the family an unrelated story, this time of "Black Snake Moan." "Isn't there another story like Star Wars you could tell us?" asks the family? But of course. Cue the Star Wars theme!
The story scrolls across the screen much like the original material, only with the words mostly changed to protect the parody nature of the cartoon, of course, this time bashing Fox, and starting with "A long time ago, when gays weren't so in your face about it."
Luke is on the planet Hoth, checking out a meteoroid strike. He's attacked! By... the Cookie Monster.
Before Han becomes concerned by Luke's absence, he's called a Nerfherder by Leia, and punches her for it. "You can't use that word, only WE can use that word!" he responds.
Luke is rescued, and we're off to the escape from Hoth base.
Leia heads the meeting of the pilots preparing to take off. "We are fleeing into space... with literally any direction to choose from... and we have chosen to fly directly into the Empire Star Destroyers," she says. "Uh, ma'am, is there someone else we could talk to about this, like someone in the military, maybe a man?" asks one of the hapless pilots.
That's okay, the fleet is protected. "Activate the nipple gun!" we hear, as the Ion Cannons fire.
"I think we're doomed," says one rebel Hoth soldier. "Nah, not unless they have any big giant robot camels," responds his friend. And off in the distance, we see the AT-AT walkers. "Look Jim, robot camels," responds the first solder.
The rebels fight back. An AT-AT is tripped! And what happens when someone is tripped on 'Family Guy?' Yes, that's right, it stubs its knee, with a series of "mmm shh" over and over again, holding the knee. You think it must stop soon, only it doesn't, and another round of "mmm, shhh" inevitably comes.
Luke's ship goes down in the snow. Fortunately, he's got On-Star built in to his Snowspeeder. He puts a call in for roadside assistance, but apparently the Speeder belongs to Admiral Ackbar. "Uh, yes, I'm Admiral Ackbar...Uh, it's a trap," he says.
The preview ended at Hoth, but of course we're promised a complete package for the full episode, tentatively scheduled for a Christmas 2009 release date. "If we can get it done in time" noted MacFarlane. "You are seeing this at a much earlier stage than you guys saw the Star Wars episode [at the prior Convention]."
And with that, MacFarlane opened the floor to questions from the audience.
Asked how the name "Family Guy" was chosen for the show, MacFarlane said, "It was really kinda a half-assed thing. There is unfortunately no great story behind that, something that would be simple and roll off the tongue like that."
As for how the voice-over actors like working with each other, "This is a much closer show than normal," MacFarlane said, as Kunis, Green, and Borstein jumped all over each other below the table, only to have Green stand back up later, feigning buttoning up his pants, all to laughter from the audience.
Asked what MacFarlane's favorite musicals were, he said "The Sound of Music" and "Little Shop of Horrors".
Asked about "The Cleveland Show" and whether the Cleveland character would return to "Family Guy" if that other show does not work out, MacFarlane said, "The way it's going I would bank on it doing well, but if it doesn't do well, yeah he'll be back."
Asked if James Woods would return to the show, MacFarlane replied, "He does have a cameo on the 'Empire' episode, and we do have an hour-long 'who done it' episode in about a year that he is featured on. He's in at least two more shows that are coming out."
Finally, the panel hinted that a third Star Wars episode was slated for 2011, based on "Return of the Jedi." Eschewing a confusing "Episode VI: The Great Muppet Caper," the team has tentatively re-titled it "We Have a Bad Feeling About This."