Family Guy shouldn't work at all. Even by the witless standards of modern television, it is breathtakingly derivative: does an animated series about the travails of a boorish, suburban yob with a saintly wife, a hopeless son, a clever daughter and a baby sound familiar at all? Even the house in Family Guy looks like it was built by the same architects who sketched the residence of The Simpsons.
However, Family Guy does work, transcending its (occasionally annoyingly) obvious influences with reliably crisp writing and the glorious sight gags contained in the surreal flashbacks which punctuate the episodes. Most importantly, the show's brilliance comes from two absolutely superb characters: Stewie, the baby whose extravagant dreams of tyrannising the world are perpetually thwarted by the prosaic limitations of infanthood, and the urbane family dog Brian--Snoopy after attendance at an obedience class run by Frank Sinatra. Family Guy does not possess the cultural or satirical depth of The Simpsons--very little art in any field does. But it is a genuinely funny and clever programme