Like a chicken bent on revenge, Fox’s Family Guy returns this Sunday with the animated series’ Season 11 premiere, which airs at 9/8c and chronicles the Griffin family’s ill-conceived climbing of Mount Everest.
Yep, Peter — whose greatest physical activity consists of cracking open a cold Pawtucket Patriot — suddenly decides to summit one of the world’s highest mountains. The undertaking is sparked by Peter and Lois’ jealousy of her ex-boyfriend Ross Fishman and his wife, voiced by 30 Rock’s Elizabeth Banks.
The Fishmans are “this perfect, athletic and successful family, and they tackle these great adventures. They’re a well-traveled family and they’re going to go climb Everest,” says executive producer Mark Hentemann. “And Peter says, ‘Well, so are we.’” At first, Lois resists. “But then she’s tired of her whole family feeling second-rate. So she says, ‘You know what? This is something we have to do for our kids, for their self-esteem. We’re gonna do it.’”
When the Griffins encounter the Fishmans on the mountain, the already grueling expedition becomes a race to the top. We’re pretty sure that Peter, Lois, Meg, Chris, Brian and Stewie survive – after all, they’ve got a whole season ahead of them and it’s full of big stuff: an age-related meltdown for Lois, a colossal power trip for Peter and a celebration of the sitcom’s 200th episode among it. Here, Hentemann gives TVLine some scoop on what to expect out of Quahog in the coming months.
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LOIS GETS A LITTLE ROWDY | Lois’ sensitivity about her advancing age flares when Peter gives a well-intentioned (but poorly worded) toast on her birthday. “That’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” Hentemann says. “That triggers her midlife crisis, and she comes back trying to be a 19-year-old party girl.” You’ll recall that we saw a little bit of what teen Lois might’ve been like during Season 3’s “A Fish Out of Water,” when she and Meg went wild on Spring Break – and at first, her hubby’s on board with the change. “But then Peter can’t keep up with her, and his ultimate realization is what he really wants is not this 19-year-old woman. He wants the middle-aged companion that he has a lot of things in common with and can talk to and all that. It has a sweet ending.”
PETER GRIFFIN, STUDIO EXEC? | In another episode this season, the Griffins get a Nielsen box. “Peter suddenly decides he feels like he’s a powerful player in the television industry,” says the EP. “He’s bored by Mad Men, so he calls up Jon Hamm [voiced by Don Draper himself] and says, ‘Do something exciting. This show’s boring.’” No one really pays attention to Peter, though, until he steals a bunch of boxes and rigs them up to his TV set “so he’s the most influential viewer in America. And then people start to have to take notice of what his demands are, and as a result he kind of ruins television,” he says. Quahog is in an uproar over the loss of quality programming, so Peter tries to fix it by calling meetings with TV heavy-hitters J.J. Abrams (Lost, pictured at right), Mark Burnett (Survivor) and Dick Wolf (Law & Order) — all voicing themselves.
A METH-OD TO THE MADNESS | A crime spree in Quahog makes Lois think that living somewhere else would provide a safer, better environment for Meg, Chris and Stewie. So in another upcoming episode, the Griffins “try living on a farm – and they don’t know what they’re doing,” Hentemann previews. “It’s a disaster; they can’t farm for the life of them. They realize it’s actually not an easy thing.” But a surprise finding suddenly makes everything crystal clear. “In the basement of their farmhouse, they discover all of this meth equipment from the previous owner. And they find that that’s a much easier way to make money,” he says, laughing. “There are sort of oblique little nods to Breaking Bad.”
ONLY THE BEAR ESSENTIALS | Stewie’s stuffed pal Rupert is the only teddy bear you should expect to see on screen this season – despite the success of Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane’s summer movie hit Ted. “In fact, the conversations we’ve had with Seth are more along the lines of steering clear of Ted,” Hentemann says. “We’re trying not to do anything that’s too close, that’ll feel like we’re duplicating Ted.”
MILESTONE MOMENT | The series’ 200th episode goes back — literally — as Brian messes with Stewie’s time machine and accidentally turns time backwards. So we watch epic moments in the Griffins’ life in reverse. “In Act 3, we’re at the hospital where Stewie was born,” Hentemann teases. “He’s screaming. He’s like, ‘Brian! Fix this!'”
ROLE CALL | As previously reported, Family Guy’s list of guest voices this season also includes: Ryan Reynolds, Sofia Vergara, Jessica Biel, Drew Barrymore, Johnny Depp and Cheryl Tiegs, among others.Follow @kimroots