One of this past weekend’s Family Guy episodes was “Patriot Games” which features a crazy musical number called “Shipoopi.” I didn’t think too much of it when it first aired but for some reason I decided to find out the origin of Shipoopi after seeing it again. Not only is Shipoopi a real song (which I guess shouldn’t surprise me since pretty much everything in Family Guy is lifted from something else) but the Family Guy version is more entertaining than the classic Music Man movie version.
Seth MacFarlane’s singing sounds better and richer to me than Buddy Hackett’s rendition. (And we know how awful Peter Griffin sounds.) Still he comes across with more feeling. The direction and cinematography in the Music Man is too distant and feels too much like watching the theater production. I know what they were going for back then, showing the complete choreography and letting audiences know that the performers could really perform, letting them feel like they saw the Broadway original. Unfortunately what it has in energy and synchronization it lacks in emotional connection to that song. Maybe it worked better on the big screen in Cinemascope? In any case, I think really great musical numbers should be able to survive out of context from the rest of their shows which the Music Man’s Shipoopi doesn’t do very well. As much as I sometimes dislike Family Guy’s single track mind of harpooning and reeling in of past works to be put on display for a new generation, the show is unmatched in making that approach work.
Compare for yourself. Which do you like better?
The original Music Man 1962 version:
The football themed Family Guy 2006 remake: