“The Simpsons Guy,” the highly anticipated crossover episode between animated staples The Simpsons and Family Guy, hit airwaves on Sunday night. The hour-long Family Guy premiere found the Griffin crew stranded in Springfield after their car is stolen; Homer bumps into the family at the Kwik E Mart and offers to let them stay at the Simpson home. Chaos, naturally, ensues: Peter and Homer employ a number of insane tactics to track down the missing vehicle, holding a “Stolen Car Wash” and guzzling gasoline in order to “think like a car.”
“This crossover began – we were in the writers room, kicking around ideas,” says Family Guy showrunner Rich Appel in the “making of” clip below. “There’s a history on Family Guy of Brian and Stewie taking road trips, and where could a new place be? And though that, kind of like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, we’re not in Kansas anymore. Look around, where are we? Oh, Springfield.”
Appel also spoke to The Wall Street Journal about the difficulty of turning that seemingly simple idea into an actual finished product. While both shows average 10 months, top-to-bottom, to create an episode, “The Simpsons Guy” took twice as long. “We spent weeks coming up with a story we liked,” he said, also noting the scheduling issues of recruiting the Simpsons voice actors to record their parts.
“Even though it’s our character in Springfield, it wasn’t just as simple,” Appel added, discussing the variances between the shows’ visual styles. “Our characters move differently. Our characters’ eyes react differently. Homer has a different articulation of his physical being then Peter Griffin. Certain compromises were made so it wouldn’t feel jarring to fans of either world.”
While both creative teams were pleased with the outcome, the episode did face a mild controversy regarding a rape joke. The scene in question – which was teased online prior to airing – finds Bart Simpson teaching Family Guy‘s Brian and Stewie how to craft one of his trademark Moe’s Tavern prank calls; following Bart’s harmless, butt-related gag, Stewie follows with, “Hello, Moe – your sister’s being raped.”
According to CBS News (via The Hollywood Reporter), Parents Television Council president Tim Winter was troubled by the joke and contacted both Simpsons creator Matt Groening and Family Guy boss Seth MacFarlane with a request to remove the line. He reportedly did not receive a response.
Sunday was a huge day for The Simpsons, as the long-running series also kick-started its 26th season with the episode “Clown in the Dumps.” Back in October, showrunner Al Jean announced that the episode would be killing off a major character – one whose voice actor received an Emmy for work on the show. This led to speculation about which Springfield resident would kick the bucket: Princess Penelope (Anne Hathaway)? Demented fan-favorite Sideshow Bob (Kelsey Grammer)? But after the episode title was revealed, most fans assumed the character in question was Krusty the Clown.
That wasn’t the case – at least, not exactly. “Clown in the Dumps” finds a depressed Krusty seeking the approval of his father, Rabbi Hyman Krustofsky (voiced by Jackie Mason); when asked if he finds his son funny, the Rabbi responds with a long “ehhhh,” leading to Krusty confusion as to the meaning of that noise. Then, after nearly dying himself, Krusty goes to “Jewish Heaven” and talks to his dad.
Jean told The Hollywood Reporter that the fan speculation was unexpected.
“The whole thing has been pretty funny in the way that people took something that was not intended to be a brainteaser and completely tied themselves into a knot and then wouldn’t believe it when someone told them the truth,” he said.
“I was doing an interview where they asked what episodes we had coming up and I said, ‘Well, a character dies, and the actor who played the character won an Emmy for that portrait,’ and that turned into this huge puzzle,” he continued. “People all over the world were trying and are trying to solve still this mystery. . . When we titled [the episode], we said we weren’t going to play games; that we’d give it a title that’s a pretty good clue and we had people going, ‘You’re going to kill Krusty?!’ “
The episode also featured a bizarre, futuristic opening couch gag created by Oscar-nominated animator-filmmaker Don Hertzfeldt. Check out the sequence below.