It was a fantastic "get." Liberal "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane roped in hard-right radio host Rush Limbaugh for a full episode. The expectations were high considering MacFarlane's reputation for deftly filleting both sides of the aisle. But it somehow fell short despite the fact that Limbaugh sang, danced and brawled in a white-knuckled street fight. Here's what critics are saying:
The Episode Skewered Both Left and Right, writes Adam Markovitz at Entertainment Weekly: "The gloves were off for Rush Limbaugh’s guest-star duty as himself on last night’s Family Guy. Gearing up to meet his arch-nemesis at a local book signing, liberal canine Brian called the right-wing pundit a Nazi and a fascist who 'singlehandedly set political discourse back 100 years.' Throughout the episode, Rush didn’t hesitate to take his share of punches — including a particularly ego-free joke about man-boobs. But he threw plenty, too, ribbing bleeding-heart liberal values, poking fun at Lois’ belief in global warming (saying it makes her sound 'like a Jew'), and going to town on the left-leaning haters who denounce him without listening to his arguments. They even let him convert liberal Brian. After Limbaugh rescued him from a back-alley beatdown, the four-legged Griffin agreed to read one of Rush’s books — and he actually liked it... The show definitely skewered Brian’s hardcore conservative conversion, but overall it seemed like a pretty fair fight to me."
A Blown Opportunity, writes TV Fanatic:
While it should be considered impressive that Family Guy, which often pushes its liberal views and mocks conservatives featured Rush Limbaugh, we're actually much more impressed with the latter for coming on the show....
We're all for political humor when it's funny, but to base an entire episode on it when only a few of the jokes actually worked? It was definitely a weak episode to us.
Every attempt by the show to even mention Brian's new conservative views were done in such a mocking way, we'd take Stephen Colbert or Stan Smith (nice cameo btw!) more seriously as they expressed them. At least they properly can deliver the satire. Shame on you Seth MacFarlane and all your usual voice work talent.
Brian's Conversion Could Have Made More Sense, writes Oliver Miller at TV Squad: "We realize that no one watches 'Family Guy' for its dramatic consistency and strong character motivation. But Brian's transformation still could have made a little more sense."
Just a Weak Story All Around, writes Rowan Keiser at the A.V. Club: "My issue with Rush Limbaugh isn't that he's a conservative (I'd be perfectly happy with a television show that had Daniel Larison as a guest, but that seems pretty unlikely). My problem is that he's an idiot... This was toothless stuff. Brian may be the best (only?) character on Family Guy, but other than him and Lois, the Griffins were almost totally missing from the episode. It wasn't that terrible – Rush Limbaugh's kung-fu was a fun visual, and Nancy Pelosi smoking crack made me laugh. But most of the episode was spent justifying its existence as a Rush Limbaugh episode of Family Guy, and it failed to do that for me."
This Was Classic Limbaugh, writes David Weigel at Slate: "I'm not at all surprised that Limbaugh would embrace the show and answer its mockery of conservatives; the plotline, from what clips we have, is a perfect conservative narrative. And there's music! 'Trees grow from Republican sod/And everybody prays to a right-wing god!'