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The ‘Family Guy’ Variety Show: That Was It?

After all the hype, Fox’s Seth MacFarlane special didn’t establish any new advertising templates. Next!

So after a heavy dose of hype, the "Family Guy" variety special turned out to be not-so-groundbreaking after all.

Sunday’s half-hour "Family Guy Presents Seth and Alex’s Almost Live Comedy Show" was originally touted by Fox as an innovative form of product integration, with extensive plans to work original sponsor Windows 7 into numerous storylines within the show.

But then Microsoft, having apparently never seen "Family Guy," pulled out due to concerns over the show’s racy content. And Fox was forced to scramble.

The network quickly lined up Warner Bros. as a new sponsor. And, indeed, the studio was the only advertiser presence in the half-hour.

But rather than clever integrations working in references to Warner movies, Sunday’s special made due with little more than Stewie Griffin introducing extended trailers for "Sherlock Holmes" and "Ninja Assassin."

The decidedly unrevolutionary nature of "Almost Live" isn’t really a surprise, considering Fox and producers had already taped the special.

As for critical reaction, Entertainment Weekly’s Ken Tucker called the special "fitfully amusing and unusually good-natured." Gawker, meanwhile, said the show "managed to do something ‘Family Guy’ doesn’t always accomplish: Be funny in an ‘offensive’ way while avoiding the sense that to cause offense was an end in itself."

MoJoe’s take? Well, we love Seth MacFarlane. And "Family Guy." But "Almost Live" just fell flat for us.

On the positive tip, it did manage to be far less embarassing than the Rosie O’Donnell and Osbournes variety shows. Plus, we’re totally going to see "Sherlock Holmes" on Christmas Day.