North by North Quahog

North by North Quahog
"North by North Quahog"
Family Guy episode
Episode no. Season 4
Episode 1
Directed by Peter Shin
Written by Seth MacFarlane
Production code 4ACX01[1]
Original air date May 1, 2005
Guest stars
Episode chronology
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Family Guy (season 4)
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"North by North Quahog" is the first episode of season four of Family Guy, following the revival of the series three years after its cancellation in 2002. Directed by Peter Shin and written by series creator Seth MacFarlane, the episode was first broadcast on May 1, 2005, on FOX, though it had premiered three days earlier at a special screening at the University of Vermont, Burlington. In "North by North Quahog", the show's main characters Peter and Lois Griffin go on a second honeymoon to spice up their marriage, but are eventually chased by Mel Gibson after Peter steals the sequel to The Passion of the Christ from Gibson's private hotel room. Meanwhile, their anthropomorphic dog Brian and their infant son Stewie take care of their teenage kids Chris and Meg.

Family Guy had been canceled in 2002 due to low ratings, but was revived by FOX after reruns on Adult Swim became the network's most watched program, and more than three million DVDs of the show were sold. Much of the plot and many of the technical aspects of the episode, as well as the title, are direct parodies of the 1959 Alfred Hitchcock movie North by Northwest; in addition, the episode makes use of Bernard Herrmann's theme music from that film. The episode contains many cultural references; in the opening sequence Peter lists 29 shows that were canceled by FOX after Family Guy was cancelled and says that if all of those shows were to be canceled, they might have a chance at returning.

Critical responses to the episode were mostly positive; critics praised the opening sequence in particular. The episode was watched by 12 million viewers and received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Animated Program (for Programming Less Than One Hour). Shin won an Annie Award for Directing in an Animated Television Production for this episode.



As Peter Griffin and his wife Lois are having sex, she yells out George Clooney's name. Peter realizes that she is imagining him as Clooney to maintain her libido. Lois and Peter decide to take a second honeymoon to enliven their marriage, and leave their anthropomorphic dog Brian to take care of their children Stewie, Chris, and Meg. Brian is unable to control the children, but Stewie offers to help and together they manage the home. The pair chaperone a dance at Chris's school, during which a school staff member catches Chris in the boys' restroom with vodka that belongs to his classmate Jake. Although Brian and Stewie punish Chris, they try to clear his name. Jake's father Tom refuses to believe Brian and Stewie, so they resort to planting cocaine in Jake's locker, and Jake is sentenced to community service.

On the way to their vacation spot, Peter reads a comic book while driving (while Lois takes a nap) and crashes his car into a tree. They are forced to spend their entire honeymoon money on car repairs and are about to return home when Peter discovers that actor/director Mel Gibson has a private suite at a luxurious hotel nearby, which he barely uses. He and Lois then go to the hotel, where Peter poses as Mel Gibson to gain access to Gibson's room. When Lois yells out Gibson's name during intercourse, Peter, again, decides to return home. As the two are about to leave, Peter accidentally stumbles upon Gibson's private screening room and discovers a sequel to The Passion of the Christ entitled Passion of the Christ 2: Crucify This. To spare the world from "... another two hours of Mel Gibson Jesus mumbo-jumbo," Peter steals the film. However, when they leave the hotel, they are noticed by two priests, Gibson's associates, who were there to collect the film.

Pursued by the priests in a car chase that leads them through a shopping mall, Lois and Peter escape from the priests and drive to a cornfield where Peter buries the film. While he is doing so, the priests fly down in a crop-duster and kidnap Lois. Peter is then given a message telling him that if he does not return the film to Gibson at his estate on top of Mount Rushmore, his wife will be killed. Peter arrives at the house and gives Gibson a film can. As Peter and Lois are about to leave, Gibson discovers that the film has been replaced with dog feces, leading to a chase on the face of the mountain. While being chased, Lois slips but hangs on to George Washington's lips. Peter grabs her and, while being held at gunpoint, he tells Gibson that the film is in "President Rushmore's" mouth and points to the other side of the monument. Gibson follows Peter's direction, walks off the edge (because "Christians don't believe in gravity"), and falls to his presumed death as Peter pulls Lois to safety. Upon climbing back to the top of the mountain, the two make love on Washington's head, bringing the spark back into their marriage. As the two make love the 4 Presidents talk about Gibson's death.

Production and development

In 2002, Family Guy was canceled after three seasons due to low ratings.[2][3] The show was first canceled after the 1999–2000 season, but following a last-minute reprieve, it returned for a third season in 2001.[4] Fox tried to sell rights for reruns of the show, but it was hard to find networks that were interested; Cartoon Network eventually bought the rights, "[...] basically for free", according to the president of 20th Century Fox Television Production.[5] When the reruns were shown on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim in 2003, Family Guy became Adult Swim's most-watched show with an average 1.9 million viewers an episode.[6] Following Family Guy's high ratings on Adult Swim, the first season was released on DVD in April 2003.[2] Sales of the DVD set reached 2.2 million copies,[7] becoming the best-selling television DVD of 2003[8] and the second highest-selling television DVD ever, behind the first season of Comedy Central's Chappelle's Show.[9] The second season DVD release also sold more than a million copies.[6] The show's popularity in both DVD sales and reruns rekindled Fox's interest in it.[10] They ordered 35 new episodes in 2004, marking the first revival of a television show based on DVD sales.[9][11] Fox president Gail Berman said that it was one of her most difficult decisions to cancel the show, and was therefore happy it would return.[5] The network also began production of a film based on the series.[8]

A man with short black hair and a black shirt in front of a microphone. He touches his chin with his left hand.
Creator Seth MacFarlane wrote the episode.

"North by North Quahog" was the first episode to be broadcast after the show's cancellation. It was written by MacFarlane and directed by Peter Shin.[12] MacFarlane believed the show's three year hiatus was beneficial because animated shows do not normally have hiatuses, and towards the end of their seasons "... you see a lot more sex jokes and (bodily function) jokes and signs of a fatigued staff that their brains are just fried".[13] With "North by North Quahog", the writing staff tried to keep the show "... exactly as it was" before its cancellation, and did not "... have the desire to make it any slicker" than it already was.[13] Walter Murphy, who had composed music for the show before its cancellation, returned to compose the music for "North by North Quahog". Murphy and the orchestra recorded an arrangement of Bernard Herrmann's score from North by Northwest, a film referenced multiple times in the episode.[14]

Fox had ordered five episode scripts at the end of the third season; these episodes had been written but not produced. One of these scripts was adapted into "North by North Quahog". The original script featured Star Wars character Boba Fett, and later actor, writer and producer Aaron Spelling, but the release of the iconic film The Passion of the Christ inspired the writers to incorporate Mel Gibson into the episode. Multiple endings were written, including one in which Death comes for Gibson. During production, an episode of South Park was released entitled "The Passion of the Jew" that also featured Gibson as a prominent character. This gave the Family Guy writers pause, fearing accusations "[...] that we had ripped them off."[15]

Three days before the episode debuted on television, it was screened at the University of Vermont (UVM) in Burlington, accompanied by an hour-long question-and-answer session with MacFarlane.[16][17] The UVM's special screening of the episode was attended by 1,700 people.[17] As promotion for the show, and to, as Newman described, "expand interest in the show beyond its die hard fans",[18] Fox organized four Family Guy Live! performances, which featured cast members reading old episodes aloud; "North by North Quahog" was also previewed.[19] In addition, the cast performed musical numbers from the Family Guy Live in Vegas comedy album.[18] The stage shows were an extension of a performance by the cast during the 2004 Montreal Comedy Festival.[18] The Family Guy Live! performances, which took place in Los Angeles and New York, sold out and were attended by around 1,200 people each.[20]

Cultural references

A man in a grey suit. Behind him is a small crowd of people.
Actor Mel Gibson is prominently featured as a character in the episode.

The episode opens with Peter telling the rest of the family that Family Guy has been canceled. He lists the following 29 shows, that he says Fox has to make room for: Dark Angel, Titus, Undeclared, Action, That '80s Show, Wonderfalls, Fastlane, Andy Richter Controls the Universe, Skin, Girls Club, Cracking Up, The Pitts, Firefly, Get Real, Freakylinks, Wanda at Large, Costello, The Lone Gunmen, A Minute with Stan Hooper, Normal, Ohio, Pasadena, Harsh Realm, Keen Eddie, The $treet, The American Embassy, Cedric the Entertainer Presents, The Tick, Luis and Greg the Bunny.[21][22][23] Lois asks whether there is any hope, to which Peter replies that if all these shows are canceled they might have a chance, the joke being all these shows had indeed already been canceled by Fox.[24] The New York Times reported that, during the first Family Guy Live! performance, "... the longer [the list] went, the louder the laughs from the Town Hall crowd [became]".[19]

Australian-American actor Mel Gibson is prominently featured in the episode;[25][26] his voice was impersonated by André Sogliuzzo.[27] Gibson directed the film The Passion of the Christ and, in the episode, is seen making a sequel entitled Passion of the Christ 2: Crucify This.[28] The fictional sequel is a combination of The Passion of the Christ and Rush Hour,[29] and stars Chris Tucker, who starred in Rush Hour, and James Caviezel who portrayed Jesus in The Passion of the Christ.[13] Gibson was approached to voice himself but passed on it, which he later regretted because he enjoyed the episode.[citation needed]

The episode contains several references to Alfred Hitchcock's 1959 film North by Northwest.[29][30] Besides the title of the episode, several scenes in "North by North Quahog" are inspired by the Hitchcock film. In the scene in which Lois is kidnapped by Gibson's associates, the two priests chase Peter through a cornfield, flying a crop-duster, parodying the crop-duster scene from the film.[31] The final face-off between Peter, Lois and Gibson that takes place on Mount Rushmore is also a reference to North by Northwest.[27]

As Peter and Lois are driving to Cape Cod for their second honeymoon,[32] Peter is reading a Jughead comic book and their car crashes.[31] The fictional Park Barrington Hotel, where Peter and Lois steal Gibson's film, is located in Manhattan.[31] The car chase scene through a shopping mall is a recreation of a scene from the 1980 comedy film The Blues Brothers.[33] To stop Meg and Chris from fighting, Brian reads to them from one of the few books Peter owns, a novelization of the 1980 film Caddyshack and quotes a line by Chevy Chase's character, Ty Webb.

The episode contains a number of other cultural references. When Peter and Lois enter their motel room and find a hooker on the bed, Peter warns Lois to stay perfectly still, as the prostitute's vision is based on movement. This is a reference to a scene in the movie Jurassic Park in which Dr. Grant gives this warning in reference to a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Pinocchio appears in a cutaway gag, in which Gepetto bends over and deliberately sets Pinocchio up to tell a lie in an attempt to emulate anal sex.[12] This was based on a joke MacFarlane's mother had told her friends when he was a child.[15] Lois yells out George Clooney's name when she and Peter are having sex.[34] The 1950s sitcom The Honeymooners is also referenced when a fictional episode of the sitcom is shown in which Ralph Kramden, the show's main character, hits his wife, something he would only threaten to do on the show.[1] Meg watches an episode of the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men, which shows three men, one of whom is cut in half.[35] Fictional army soldier Flint of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero appears briefly after Chris is caught drinking vodka, and educates the children on drinking and informs them that "... knowing is half the battle".[36] Flint's voice was provided by Bill Ratner, the actor who had voiced the character in the G.I. Joe television series. According to Seth Green, who voices Chris, the reason the Family Guy cast members did not voice Flint themselves is because if you have the original actor providing the voice "[...] you take it with a little bit more gravitas".[37]


"MacFarlane penned the premiere segment, whose storyline largely involves Peter and Lois heading off on a second honeymoon to bring the passion back to a marriage that leaves her fantasizing about George Clooney during sex. As if that isn't offensive enough there's also copulation that occurs atop the carved mountain Mount Rushmore icons. It's funny stuff, sometimes too smugly self-aware of its own outrageousness. But hey, you can bet the DVD is gonna be huge."

"North by North Quahog" was broadcast on May 1, 2005 as part of an animated television night on Fox,[23] was preceded by two episodes of The Simpsons (including the show's 350th episode), and was followed by the premiere of MacFarlane's new show, American Dad!.[23] It was watched by 11.85 million viewers, higher than both The Simpsons and American Dad.[39] The episode's ratings were Family Guy's highest ratings since the airing of the season one episode "Brian: Portrait of a Dog".[40] Family Guy was the week's highest-rated show among teens and men in the 18 to 34 demographic,[41] and more than doubled Fox's average in its timeslot.[42] The episode's first broadcast in Canada, on June 5, 2005, on CTV, was watched by 1.27 million viewers, making it fourth for the week it was broadcast, behind CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: Miami and the third series of Canadian Idol.[43]

The reactions of television critics to "North by North Quahog" were mostly positive. In a simultaneous review of the two episodes of The Simpsons that preceded this episode and the American Dad! pilot, Chase Squires of the St. Petersburg Times stated that "North by North Quahog" "... score[d] the highest".[23] Multimedia news and reviews website IGN was pleased to see Stewie and Brian get more screen time as a duo, something they thought had always been one of the show's biggest strengths.[1] IGN placed Peter's idea to pose as Mel Gibson and steal Passion of the Christ 2 in 9th place on their list of "Peter Griffin's Top 10 Craziest Ideas".[44] Matthew Gilbert of The Boston Globe commented that the episode's material "would wear thin after a while if the character's weren't as distinct and endearing as they are, most notably Stewie, the wrathful infant."[45]

Critics reacted positively to the opening sequence; in his review of the episode, Mark McGuire of The Times Union wrote: "... the first minute or so of the resurrected Family Guy ranks among the funniest 60 seconds I've seen so far this season."[46] Variety critic Brian Lowry considered the opening sequence to be the best part of the episode.[12] M. Keith Booker, author of the book Drawn to Television: Primetime Television from The Flintstones to Family Guy, called the opening sequence an "... in-your-face, I-told-you-so rejoinder to the Fox brass [...] followed by one of the most outrageous Family Guy episodes ever".[31]

However, the episode also garnered negative responses. Melanie McFarland of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer stated that "Three years off the air has not made the 'Family Guy' team that much more creative".[29] Kevin Wong of PopMatters thought the episode made fun of easy targets such as Gibson and The Passion of The Christ, although he felt Family Guy regained "... its admirable mix of niche nostalgia and hysterical characterizations" after the first two episodes of the new season.[47] Though Alex Strachan, critic for The Montreal Gazette, praised the opening sequence, he felt "it's all downhill from there".[48] Bill Brioux of the Toronto Star considered the show to be similar to The Simpsons.[49] Media watchdog group the Parents Television Council, a frequent critic of the show, branded the episode the "worst show of the week".[50]

"North by North Quahog" was nominated for an Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program (for Programming Less Than One Hour),[51] the eventual recipient of the award being South Park episode "Best Friends Forever".[52] Peter Shin, director of the episode, won the Annie Award for Best Directing in an Animated Television Production. Fellow Family Guy director Dan Povenmire, was nominated for the same award for directing "PTV".[53]


  1. ^ a b c KJB (April 26, 2005). "Family Guy: "North by North Quahog"". IGN. Retrieved July 3, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b Morrow, Terry (August 13, 2004). "Resurrected 'Family Guy' is drawing a growing audience". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved July 2, 2009. 
  3. ^ Erickson, Chris (May 2, 2005). "Family Guy hits air waves again". The Heights. Retrieved July 3, 2009. 
  4. ^ Wheat, Alynda (September 12, 2008). "Fall TV Preview: 'Family Guy'". Entertainment Weekly.,,20223760,00.html. Retrieved July 2, 2009. 
  5. ^ a b Gordon, Devin (April 4, 2005). "Family Reunion". Newsweek: p. 50. 
  6. ^ a b Levin, Gary (March 24, 2004). "'Family Guy' un-canceled, thanks to DVD sales success". USA Today. Retrieved July 3, 2009. 
  7. ^ Poniewozik, James; McDowell, Jeanne (April 19, 2004). "It's Not TV. It's TV on DVD". Time.,9171,993880,00.html?promoid=googlep. Retrieved July 2, 2009. 
  8. ^ a b Kipnis, Jill (February 7, 2004). "Successful "Guy"". Billboard: p. 44. Retrieved July 3, 2009. 
  9. ^ a b Goodale, Gloria (April 22, 2005). "Cult fans bring 'The Family Guy' back to TV". The Christian Science Monitor: p. 12. Retrieved July 2, 2009. 
  10. ^ Louie, Rebecca (April 28, 2005). "The 'Family' can't be killed. Fox thought it was out, but we pulled it back on. The 'Guy' who wouldn't die". New York Daily News. Retrieved July 3, 2009. 
  11. ^ Levin, Gary (November 18, 2003). "'Family Guy' may return". USA Today. Retrieved July 3, 2009. 
  12. ^ a b c Lowry, Brian (April 28, 2005). "Family Guy". Variety. Retrieved July 3, 2009. 
  13. ^ a b c Williamson, Kevin (May 1, 2005). "'Family Guy' returns". Calgary Sun & Jam!. Retrieved July 3, 2009. 
  14. ^ Goldwasser, Dan (April 28, 2005). "MacFarlane's Power-Hour". SoundtrackNet. Retrieved July 3, 2009. 
  15. ^ a b McFarlane, Seth (writer); Goodman, David A.; Sheridan, Chris (executive producers); Shin, Peter (director); Green, Seth (voice actor) (November 29, 2005) (DVD). Family Guy: Volume Three: Commentary for "North by North Quahog". Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. 
  16. ^ Barrera, Sandra (April 14, 2005). "Live Readings, Song-and-Dance Herald `Family Guy' Comeback". Long Beach Press-Telegram: p. U6. 
  17. ^ a b "The UVM Connection > Class of 2005". The University of Vermont. Retrieved July 3, 2009. 
  18. ^ a b c Adalian, Josef (March 10, 2005). "Family Guy Center Stage". Variety: p. 1. 
  19. ^ a b McKinley, Jesse (May 2, 2005). "Canceled and Resurrected, on the Air and Onstage". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-19. 
  20. ^ "'Family Guy' Returns to FOX". Fox News. April 30, 2005.,2933,155143,00.html. Retrieved July 3, 2009. 
  21. ^ "Back in the Fold". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: p. W37. April 28, 2005. 
  22. ^ Rohan, Virginia (May 1, 2005). "An amazing comeback cartoon — Why Fox resurrected Family Guy". The Record (Bergen County, New Jersey). 
  23. ^ a b c d Squires, Chase (May 1, 2005). "Fox packages animation creations". St. Petersburg Times: p. 8E. Retrieved July 1, 2009. 
  24. ^ Bianculli, David (April 28, 2005). "'Dad' Joins MacFarlane's 'Family'". New York Daily News. Retrieved July 3, 2009. 
  25. ^ Stanley, Allesandra (May 1, 2005). "The Week Ahead: May 1–7; Television". The New York Times. Retrieved July 2, 2009. 
  26. ^ Ryan, Maureen (April 29, 2005). "Gleeful comeback for 'Family Guy,' as well as for fans". Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois): p. 8. 
  27. ^ a b "Episode Detail: North by North Quahog". TV Guide. Retrieved July 3, 2009. 
  28. ^ Duffy, Mike (2005-04-28). "Warning: Approaching `Family Guy' return zone". Detroit Free Press. 
  29. ^ a b c McFarland, Melanie (April 30, 2005). "Time spent off the air hasn't been kind to 'Family Guy'". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved July 2, 2009. 
  30. ^ "Fans help 'Family Guy' return to Fox". Observer-Reporter: p. E5. April 29, 2005. 
  31. ^ a b c d Booker, M. Keith (2006). Drawn to Television: Prime-time Animation from The Flintstones to Family Guy. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 87–88. ISBN 0-275-99019-2. 
  32. ^ Brownfield, Paul (April 29, 2005). "Resurrecting dead shows: At this rate, who needs ratings?; Family Guy rises from the grave. Meanwhile, despite praise from its network, 'Arrested Development' is pulled". Los Angeles Times: p. E1. 
  33. ^ Newbart, Dave (June 20, 2005). "They 'were on a mission from God' // Chicago landed a lead role in 1980 film that celebrated the city's rhythm and soul". Chicago Sun-Times: p. 8. 
  34. ^ Schirra, Steve (May 5, 2005). "Victory is mine! 'Family Guy' returns to Fox". Daily Kent Stater. Retrieved July 3, 2009. 
  35. ^ Smith, Andy (April 30, 2005). "A real Family reunion". The Providence Journal TV. Retrieved July 2, 2009. 
  36. ^ Keim, Seth (May 2, 2005). "TV Review: The Griffin family makes its triumphant return to prime time TV". University Wire. 
  37. ^ MacFarlane, Seth; Povenmire, Dan; Green, Seth (2006). "Family Guy — The Voices". The Paley Center for Media. Retrieved July 16, 2009. 
  38. ^ Richmond, Ray (April 29, 2005). "Back from the dead; The irrevent Family Guy finds new life on TV thanks to monster DVD sales.". The Toronto Sun: p. E12. 
  39. ^ Aurthur, Kate (May 3, 2005). "A Sweeping Weekend". The New York Times. Retrieved July 2, 2009. 
  40. ^ Levin, Gary (May 3, 2005). "'Guy' fares better than 'Dad'". USA Today. Retrieved July 3, 2009. 
  41. ^ DeMoraes, Lisa (May 4, 2005). "'Family Guy' Back Home; 'Star Trek' Lost in Space". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 2, 2009. 
  42. ^ Kissel, Rick (May 3, 2005). ""Family" value pays off for FOX". Variety: p. 1. 
  43. ^ "Stats Entertainment". National Post: p. AL1. June 8, 2005. 
  44. ^ Haque, Ashan (July 31, 2008). "Family Guy: Peter Griffin's Top 10 Craziest Ideas". IGN. Retrieved July 4, 2009. 
  45. ^ Gilbert, Matthew (April 30, 2005). "Family Guy Returns, as funny as ever". The Boston Globe: p. D12. 
  46. ^ McGuire, Mark (May 1, 2005). "'Family Guy' is back in first home". The Times Union. p. S2. 
  47. ^ Wong, Kevin (June 13, 2005). "Family Guy / American Dad". PopMatters. Retrieved July 4, 2009. 
  48. ^ Strachan, Alex (May 1, 2005). "Simpsons celebrate and Family Guy fails". The Montreal Gazette: p. B4. 
  49. ^ Brioux, Bill (May 1, 2005). "Shark Bait; So Long, chumbs: Our Critics Says Goodbye to an Old Friend, The Simpsons". Toronto Sun: p. 6. 
  50. ^ Bowling, Aubree (May 8, 2005). "The Family Guy on Fox". Parents Television Council. Archived from the original on June 13, 2007. Retrieved July 1, 2009. "Nearly every second of the May 1 episode of Family Guy was offensive – from the assaults on Catholicism, to inappropriate jokes about sex and excrement, making it an easy choice for Worst of the Week." 
  51. ^ Staff (July 15, 2005). "Emmy nominees". The Star-Ledger: p. 60. 
  52. ^ "Complete List of the 57th Annual Emmy Award Winners". San Francisco Chronicle. September 19, 2005. Retrieved December 3, 2007. 
  53. ^ "Legacy: 33rd Annual Annie Award Nominees and Winners (2005)". Annie Awards. Retrieved April 28, 2009. 

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Preceded by
When You Wish Upon a Weinstein
Family Guy (season 4) Succeeded by
Fast Times at Buddy Cianci Jr. High

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