channel hop

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 April, 2008, 12:00am

Simpsons fanatics' blood may boil to see Family Guy (Star World; Monday to Friday, at 5.30pm) mentioned in the same sentence as their beloved cartoon but the similarities between the dysfunctional families featured in the shows are hard to miss. Each has: a dad with a big beer gut, a well-meaning but out-of-touch mum, two tweens of questionable levels of sanity and/or intelligence, a toddler who manages to stumble its way into the eye of any proverbial storm and an unfortunate pet.

In fact, Googling 'Simpsons versus Family Guy' yields plenty of links to 'showdown' pages set up by fans pitting members of the Simpson and Griffin families against one another, such as, Homer vs Peter, Bart vs Chris, Lisa vs Meg, or Snowball the cat vs Brian the anthropomorphic dog. There are clear wins for Bart, whose iconic status is indisputable, and Lisa, who is an inspiration for frustrated humanitarians everywhere. But the overall results are surprisingly close.

Since most of us have caught at least a handful of the 417 available Simpsons episodes and the recently syndicated Family Guy is coming to our screens, we will have a chance to judge for ourselves which family is more screwed up.

The Griffins live in the fictional town of Quahog, in Rhode Island. Peter is addicted to TV (hmmm, kinda like Homer) and isn't above bribing his children. Lois has her hands full with the two surly teenagers and Stewie the baby.

Each episode is self-contained, using cut-away scenes - illustrating past incidents or fantasies - that do nothing to further the plot. Creator Seth MacFarlane, who, at 24, became the youngest executive producer in the history of Fox Broadcasting, is a talented animator. He also voices Peter, Brian and Stewie.

By far the most complex and entertaining character in the series, Stewie is 12 months old but speaks with an English accent and uses vocabulary any college professor would be proud of. He is a mixture of childish desires and evil scientific genius - which he sometimes uses to further his matricidal goals.

To each their own - but given that the show's producers don't allow their children to watch it, you might want to follow suit.

While youth is wasted on the young, those who are Young@Heart (TVB Pearl, tomorrow, at 8.30pm) waste no time living life to the fullest, even when - as the late bon vivant and comedian George Burns put it - the candles cost more than the birthday cake.

Stephen Walker's documentary follows the antics of members of the eponymous chorus (above), made up of 27 senior citizens with an irrepressible zest for life. Founded in 1982 by residents of an elderly housing project in Northampton, Massachusetts, in the US, its current youngest member is 74. The cover band's repertoire has included I Wanna Be Sedated by the Ramones and Road to Nowhere by Talking Heads.

Walker follows the group through rehearsals and the culminating performance, and gets to know some of the band members, including Steve Martin, a 78-year-old ex-marine who likes to drive his Chrysler convertible at 210km/h and who shares his thoughts about sex after 70.