Picks and Pans Review: Family Guy

UPDATED 05/09/2005 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 05/09/2005 at 01:00 AM EDT

ANIMATION

FOX (Sundays, 9 p.m. ET)
American Dad

FOX (Sundays, 9:30 p.m. ET)
Guy [STARS 3]
Dad [STARS 1.5]

Feel free to call Seth MacFarlane the Comeback Kid. FOX axed creator MacFarlane's animated comedy Family Guy in 2002, but the show proved so popular on DVD and in Cartoon Network reruns that the network is bringing it back in fresh episodes starting May 1. Family Guy will be followed by the official premiere of another MacFarlane series, American Dad, which had an estimated audience of 15 million for a post-Super Bowl preview.

The first episode of Family Guy's return should please old fans and make new ones. Peter (voiced by MacFarlane), the Ralph Kramden-like head of the Griffin household, steals a print of the un-released sequel to The Passion of the Christ and battles Mel Gibson in a parody of the classic thriller North by Northwest. The fast-paced craziness has a hit-or-miss quality, but I'm still laughing at the thought of an action flick pairing Jim Caviezel's Jesus with motor-mouth Chris Tucker.

Too bad about American Dad, which seems as forced as it did in February. MacFarlane voices the character of an overzealous CIA man, and the show resembles Family Guy visually. But the creative energy is comparatively low.

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