OK, barring some sensational development, this will be the last Earth to Philly post about The Goode Family. But since I said last week that the second week would be the real indicator as to the series' potential, I felt I should check back in, now that ABC has graced us with both #2 and #3 last night.
First off, and I'll check with Ellen Gray on this, but it looks to me like the ABC's running two episodes back-to-back already means they're already impatient with the series and threw something of a Hail Mary to see if it catches on quickly - and if not, to burn through the episodes they (long ago) paid for. So even if I wanted to keep commenting on the series, it may not be around long enough to do so.
That said, I had to bump up a couple notches my appraisal of the long-term potential of the series (again, assuming there is any long term) after last night's entries. Though I may be too quick to read things into Judge's topic choices and treatment of them, even a stopped clock is right twice a day, and whether intentionally or not, he hit on a couple of pretty provocative issues for vegans, as well as the wider eco-community.
'Pleatherheads' set up a dilemma for the pacifist family as their son proves adept at the thinly-veiled war zone that is football, culminating in a standoff over the killing of a pig. The team's position was that they had to kill it because they had always done so and won. After the Goodes save the pig, the team wins anyway. Maybe it's just me, but this resonates pretty clearly with "we have to eat meat because we've 'always' done so and humans are still here." As with the team winning, it may turn out that the association is less than causal.
And 'Goodes Gone Wild' managed - again, it could have been accidental - to pry a lid off some of the sore points in the institution of pet ownership, or 'animal companions,' starting right there with the nomenclature. "When is it OK to euthanize a pet? When is it just something you do for your own convenience?" This is a pretty heady topic, even if treated in an over-the-top comic fashion. And with the competition between different animal-advocacy groups (including the ALF-like "Animals or Else," which stakes out an extreme ethical position, only to find that even they can't live up to it), the real plurality among animal & veg organizations - vs. the standard monolith of PETA/HSUS - was revealed.
I don't want to go too far here: On the whole, each episode was more tiresome than funny, even with the occasional startled belly laugh. Judge's bitter tone, which worked OK for the simpletons Beavis and Butthead, but which I found mismatched to more "sympathetic" characters as on King of the Hill, continues to undermine the overall comedic feel of the show. Also, the mother, Helen, is still a repository for any and every "going too far" joke with little to no attempt to reconcile them into an even 2-dimensional character - her conflicted relationship with her dad in the latter episode was a start, but only a tiny one.
With that caveat, the mere fact that these issues - whether animal-specific or generally about the complexity of "positive" decision-making - are getting regularly aired, in both senses of the word, is something of a landmark for American pop culture, and for that I think The Goode Family merits watching - while it's still around.
UPDATE 6/5: I did speak with Ellen Gray about the indications that ABC was not confident of the show's success. She said the doubling up had more to do with its lead-in than The Goode Family itself - but then within the hour sent notice that ABC is moving the show to Fridays, which is a very bad sign for its longevity. Stay tuned, while you can...