The Larry shorts
are two animated films
made by Seth MacFarlane
in the 1990s
, which led to the development of Family Guy
as a prime-time TV show
The Life of Larry (1995)
Seth MacFarlane created a short film entitled The Life of Larry
while studying at the Rhode Island School of Design
. It featured a middle-aged slob named Larry Cummings, his cynical talking dog, Steve, supportive wife Lois, and pudgy teenage son Milt. The film begins with a live-action segment where MacFarlane, as himself, briefly describes the show and its characters. The film includes many of the same gags that would appear in the first few episodes of Family Guy
, such as the Star Trek
parody in "I Never Met the Dead Man
." The live-action footage of MacFarlane was referenced in the Adult Swim bumps
of MacFarlane introducing his favorite episodes of Family Guy
, noticeably the nonchalant line, "Oh, hi there. You scared the crap out of me." In the bumps, he sat in a chair by a fireplace of a study, as in the short.
Larry and Steve (1997)
After being hired at Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Inc.
, MacFarlane was given a chance in 1996 to direct a sequel
entitled Larry and Steve
, a seven-minute short broadcast as part of Cartoon Network
's World Premiere Toons
This short begins with Steve in front of a camcorder recording an SOS tape for somebody to come and save him from his bumbling owner, Larry. Steve recounts for the tape the misadventures that have ensued ever since Larry bought Steve from the dog pound, focusing on a series of misadventures and hijinks that ensued when the pair went to the mall to buy items for Larry's apartment.
While at the mall, the two destroy nearly everything. Larry, looking for a light bulb for his bedside lamp, puts in a high-wattage lighthouse bulb, then criticizes Steve for saying that wasn't a good idea, commenting that he didn't go to kindergarten for 12 years because he was stupid (it was because he got his foot caught in the radiator). When Larry plugs the lamp in, it turns into a wide lightsaber and he cuts the store in half. As this is happening, Larry references the "Luke, I am your father..." line from the movie The Empire Strikes Back by saying "Luke, this is your landlord. You still haven't returned my Weedwacker."
Although not as crude as the first short, it still retains the same random feel with sight gags that mirror gags later used in Family Guy. Such gags include
- A pilot handing the controls over a small boy, presumably his son, only to find that he crashed the plane while the pilot was gone and then taking the boy out for a snack, cutting the loss.
- A Scotsman reacting to the realization that people are around by running away and jumping out the window (a nod to a Looney Tunes gag where Gossamer reacts to people in a destructive and evasive manner).
- Letters from store signs crushing innocent bystanders.
- Seth MacFarlane as Larry, Steve, Old Man, Pilot, Ricky, Redneck, Scotsman, Kid in Pound
- Lori Alan as Cindy and Old Woman
Relationship with Family Guy
In basic form, Larry and Steve
is very similar in format to Family Guy
. Both Larry
shorts use characters and voices similar to those found in Family Guy
, with Peter Griffin
(the moronic, lowbrow family patriarch) based on Larry and Brian Griffin
(the smart, witty, alcoholic
dog) based on Steve (though only Larry can understand him, everyone else just hears barking) as well as an airline pilot character with a voice very similar to that of Glenn Quagmire
, who is an airline pilot on Family Guy
. In the Larry and Steve
short, Larry mentions a store named "Stewie's" which coincides with name of Peter Griffin's infant son, Stewie
. Larry's wife is named Lois, which is also the name of Peter's wife
in Family Guy
. Peter's teenage son, Chris
, is very similar in appearance to Larry's son, Milt.
When he was asked "What gave you the idea for Larry and Steve?" Seth MacFarlane replied, "Larry and Steve popped into my head one day in college during my chemistry course. I doodled some pictures on paper of what it would be like and little did I know I was drawing the foundation of what would later become Family Guy."
The "Drive-by arguments" (seen in "There's Something About Paulie"), Tom Hanks in Philadelphia, the priest's reading the story of Job with God in the audience (seen in "Death Has a Shadow"), the "What is diarrhea" (seen in "Brian: Portrait of a Dog"), and Star Trek parody gags (a couple seen in "I Never Met the Dead Man") were later recreated almost identically for Family Guy.
The title card in Larry and Steve is like a classical animated movie, much like the "Road to..." episodes of Family Guy. The announcer at the pound at the beginning and the clerk at the furniture store also sounds a lot like Diane Simmons, as they are both voiced by Lori Alan who provides the voice of Diane on Family Guy.
Executives at Fox Broadcasting Company
saw both shorts, and MacFarlane was given the opportunity to develop a show based on them . He agreed, and left Hanna-Barbera to continue working on the characters of Larry and Steve
who eventually evolved into Peter Griffin
and Brian Griffin
. Family Guy
premiered on Fox in 1999 and ran 49 episodes (although 50 were produced) in its first run between 1999–2002 before its cancellation. After strong DVD sales, Family Guy
was brought back for a second run in 2005, and reached 100 episodes in 2007.