In the season premiere of Fox's Family Guy this Sunday, "Road to the Multiverse," the show takes a decided turn into science fiction territory as Stewie invents a device that takes him and Brian to alternate universes.
"It's actually pretty easy," series creator Seth MacFarlane told a group of reporters last week. "It's a theory that's interesting enough in its dry form."
Here's a preview of some of the alternate universes Stewie and Brian visit in their comic journey. (The following contains spoilers about the universes, though we respectfully preserve the punch lines.) Family Guy returns Sunday at 9 p.m. on Fox.
Disneyverse. One of the more elaborate universes is modeled after Disney animation. It seems idyllic until Mort Goldman shows up, giving MacFarlane a chance to make fun of Walt Disney's reputed anti-Semitism. "Well, you know, Disney and Jew-bashing, that kind of fits fairly snugly, doesn't it?" MacFarlane said. "Walt Disney, a bit of a notorious anti-Semite." (We didn't say it!)
Normally animated in South Korea, Family Guy went to great expense to mimic Disney's classic cel animation look. "The animation itself was a challenge to do," MacFarlane said. "It's one of the few pieces of animation that we've done in the U.S., that's done entirely in L.A. It turned out looking great. It was kind of an experiment."
Technoverse. One universe features a technologically advanced present. Not so controversial, until you find out that the reason technology advanced so far was because Christianity never existed. There was no religious movement around in the Dark Ages to halt scientific advance. That's satire for you. Also in this universe: a disturbing reference to John Hinckley Jr. "He's just a funny guy," MacFarlane teases.
Robot Chickenverse. MacFarlane gives a shout out to Seth Green (the voice of Chris Griffin), who also created the Adult Swim stop-motion-animated show that's lampooned in this universe. A stop-motion Brian and Stewie ultimately force Green to break character.
Dogverse. The bulk of "Road to the Multiverse" takes place in a universe where humanoid dogs rule over domesticated humans. You can bet Brian would love to join canine versions of Peter, Lois, Chris, Meg and Stewie. Brian's Dogverse counterpart is a subjugated human. MacFarlane said drawing the human Brian was easy. "I just gave him a big nose and a collar," MacFarlane said.