Cult comeback

Seth Freedland

Some fraternities give back to the community by sponsoring philanthropic events. Others tutor inner-city children or raise money for cancer research. For one night, the men of Sigma Chi will turn their charitable attention in another direction — network TV.

Northwestern, meet the Griffin family.

On Thursday night, Sigma Chi will debut the season premiere of the cult cartoon “Family Guy” weeks ahead of the national airing, free of charge. With about 1,000 students in one of the handful of “Family Guy” fan groups, this news has some NU students rather joyous.

“I’m pumped up. I’m feeling absolutely great,” said David Bederman, a Weinberg freshman. “It’s probably among the top 10 things I’ve gotten excited about since coming here.”

According to Sigma Chi social chair Matt Gierke, Fox Broadcasting Company contacted the university and asked for a venue to pre-broadcast the show’s first new episode since its cancellation in 2001. Administrators asked Sigma Chi, and the fraternity jumped at the opportunity, Gierke said.

The college-age fervor over the new season — set to air for the rest of the country on May 1 — may be the factor in the shows un-cancelling.

“Family Guy” fanatics proved to Fox executives how much they yearned for the show’s fart jokes, sex humor, racial gags and general blasphemy by buying 2.2 million copies of “Family Guy: Volume One” on DVD, making it the second-highest-selling TV show DVD ever. Even the few reruns on Cartoon Network repeatedly beat late-night talk shows with Jay Leno and David Letterman among male viewers.

Fans such as Bederman, who said he watched the reruns until memorization, said the network resuscitation of Family Guy was unexpected.

“Let’s just say I hit the floor and then I ran around I was so happy,” Bederman said. “My friends and I didn’t want to wait the year before the new season. We’ll probably even stick around and see a few airings of (the new) episode.”

What about that episode? Fans will be delighted to hear it’s full of the usual range of off-beat allusions from “Caddyshack” to Hitchcock to a rather inappropriate Pinocchio joke. Even the pre-theme-song intro serves up a wry laugh as well as an epic retelling of Fox’s difficulties with replacing the show since its untimely cancellation.

The first of three showings will be at 9 p.m., Thursday night, at the Sigma Chi house. Also shown will be the first episode of creator Seth MacFarlane’s new cartoon, “American Dad.”

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