Recap: Family Guy S 1 E 1 Death Has A Shadow

(The Griffins are sitting watching an episode of The Brady Bunch)
Jan: Mom, Dad, I found cigarettes in Greg's jacket.
Mike: Greg, were you smoking cigarettes?
Greg: No, Dad.
Mike: (to Carol) Well, he's lying, there's no doubt about that. [to Greg] Greg, I'm afraid your punishment will be four hours in the snake pit. (Mike pushes a button revealing a trap door in the floor) Maybe that'll give you some time to think about what you've done.
Greg: Aw, man. [dives in]
Jan: That'll teach him.
Mike: And, Jan, I'm afraid you've earned a day in the chamber of fire for tattling on your brother. [pushes a button and unlocks a steel door with roaring flames behind it]
[cut back to the Griffin living room]
Lois: Uch! Smoking! How does a boy like that go so wrong?
Peter: Well, they live in a crummy neighborhood.
Brian: The Bradys?
Peter: Oh, hell, yeah, they got robbers, thugs, drug dealers, aw, you name it.
[a black woman with a plate full of pancakes appears at the window]
Black Woman: You folks want some pancakes?
Peter: No, thank you. [to his family] See, the worst that we got is Jemima's Witnesses.
The first lines of the series.

Airdate: January 31, 1999

The series begins when Peter goes to a stag party. Lois tells Peter to make a promise not to drink, considering the effects of what happens when he drinks.

Peter: Not a drop of alcohol is going to touch these lips tonight.
''(Smash Cut to the party)
Peter: Right here!

He drinks 37 cans of beer (partly so that "the Statue of Liberty would take her clothes off") and the next morning, Peter is home waking up on the kitchen table. Lois chastises him for breaking his promise, but Peter insists that it’s not going to have a negative effect on him. At work, Peter falls asleep at the toy factory and lets dangerous and harmful “toys” (including drugs, axes and grenades) go past his watch, which gets him fired.

Peter tries many jobs to try and make money, yet all fail. Not wanting Lois to find out and not wanting his finances drained, Peter signs up for welfare checks of $100 a week, but a mistake cause the checks to total $100,000 a week.

Meanwhile, Stewie tries to get a mind control device from the kitchen cabinet, all while trying to kill Lois.

With his new fortune, Peter buys his family many expensive things, like the statue of David (which Peter breaks the penis off of) and Collagen injections for Meg (which she wanted through the episode), breast implants for Chris (actually just the squishy bags) and a jukebox in the bathroom for himself. When a check is delivered, Lois discovers it and scolds Peter believing that all his problems can be solved with money. Wanting to make it up to Lois, Peter and Brian head to Super Bowl XXXIII and give the taxpaying people money from a blimp. The blimp is shot down and the two are arrested for disrupting the big game.

In court, Peter is sentenced to 24 month is jail. Lois sticks up for Peter saying that he wanted to give his family money that they needed, but instead is given jail time with Peter. Not wanting his mother gone and not be killed by him, Stewie hits the judge with his mind control ray, which works. Peter and Lois are released and Peter gets his job back. The episode ends with Peter arguing with his family of other ways they can get rich quick, such as a minority scholarship, a sexual harassment dispute, and a disability claim.

This episode, the series premiere, aired immediately after Super Bowl XXXIII.

"Death Has a Shadow" contains example of:

  • Adolf Hitlarious: The very first cutaway of the series.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Stewie's mind control ray.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Meg, a far cry from her current status as a Butt Monkey and disturbed teen who's one hair away from killing herself.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Brian.
    "Who knew tax fraud would be one of her buttons?"
  • Early Installment Weirdness: A lot of things from this episode (and all of season one's episodes) will feel really odd to people who are used to seeing the post-2005 revival episodes. Meg is a Bratty Teenage Daughter who wants friends and plastic surgery (and, probably best of all, none of the other family members are abusive to her and actually try to be real parents to her), Chris sounds dopier and admires his father's drunken antics, Peter is just a Bumbling Dad trying to make things right (and works at a toy factory run by a flamboyantly gay man named Mr. Weed), Lois's voice sounds lower, Stewie hated everyone in the family (even Brian the dog), Quagmire is just a generic party animal, Brian is just a martini-drinking dog who acts as the sane half of Peter (the only political thing he does is comment, "This is why I don't vote" after Peter shows Brian the botched welfare check he got in the mail), the jokes aren't totally tasteless (but they're still TV-14 level due to how politically incorrect they can be, like the cutaway of Hitler being jealous of a buff Jewish man getting all the girls at a gym and the time Peter got drunk when the family was watching Philadelphia and Peter thinks it's a comedy because Tom Hanks is in it), and most of the cutaways are flashbacks and "what-if" spots, not totally "random" CutawayGags that don't add anything to the plot.
  • Gilligan Cut: Peter's promise not to drink at the stag party, followed by a cut to Peter and Quagmire playing "Drink the Beer" at said party.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: This and the next three episodes featured titles that were done in the style of '40s crime drama/film noir. This practice was soon abandoned when the staff couldn't keep track of the episodes because of vague titles.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Peter outright ignores Lois, drinks his way out of a job, and hides it from her. However, he uses his welfare money to try and give the family a better life, then tries to give the money back during Superbowl Sunday.
  • Lampshade Wearing: Surprisingly, a non-drunk example. Peter posed as a lamp while lying to Lois that he was still working.
    • Failed a Spot Check: Lois apparently never noticed this (though Brian warned she would eventually).
  • My Little Panzer: The defective "toys" sold by the factory include a fire-breathing doll, a case of drugs, and an axe.
  • Never Trust a Title: Most of the titles in season one (not just this one) have titles that don't match the plot. According to Seth MacFarlane, he did it as an homage to old-time radio.
  • Parallel Porn Titles: At the stag party, Peter and the guys watch Assablanca (but it gets taped over with a documentary about the Statue of Liberty, causing the guys to drink so that the statue "would take her clothes off").
  • Pragmatic Villainy: The only reason Stewie doesn't allow Peter and Lois to be hauled away to prison is because he relies on them to survive and they have yet to outlive their usefulness to him.
  • Prison Rape: Subverted. When Peter is in prison, he tells Brian that "...those rumors about dropping the soap are true", then tells Brian that all the inmates were making fun of him for not holding on to the soap.
  • Running Gag: Twice Lois says these instances of Insane Troll Logic.
    Lois: You see Peter, laying drunk on the table is nature's way of telling you I was right.
    Lois: Well Meg, sagging lips is nature's way of telling you you shouldn't have covered for your father's lie.
  • Shot for Shot Remake: This episode is basically an extended and repolished version of the pitch pilot, with jokes from Seth MacFarlane's student film, The Life of Larry (though the next episode has the Star Trek scenes, like Captain Kirk splitting his pants, and Ensign Ricky muttering, "Aw, crap!" after Kirk picks him for the landing mission).
  • Super Bowl: Part of the episode takes place there. Plus it premiered after Super Bowl XXXIII.