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Through the Family Guy prism with Fox's Bordertown


The residents of Mexifornia congregate in Bordertown. Fox photo

Premiering: Sunday, Jan. 3rd at 8:30 p.m. (central) on Fox
Voiced by: Hank Azaria, Alex Borstein, Nicholas Gonzalez, Judah Friedlander, Missi Pyle, Stephanie Escajeda
Produced by: Mark Hentemann, Seth MacFarlane, Alex Carter, Dan Vebber

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This one’s been idling for a while after being announced long before Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump injected his views on illegal immigration and how he’d stop it.

Bordertown arguably is even cruder than Trump, though. But with Family Guy maestros Mark Hentemann and Seth MacFarlane at the throttle, this should not come as a shocker.

Their latest Peter Griffin is Border Patrol agent Bud Buckwald (voiced by Hank Azaria), a lumpy knuckle dragger who in Sunday’s premiere episode exclaims, “Sweet Nixon’s nuts, we did it!” after the deportation Proposition 7010 bill breezes through Mexifornia.

Later in these festivities, Bud blows his head off (but cartoon characters never die) upon hearing that his homely, histrionic daughter Becky (Alex Borstein) is planning to marry the college-educated nephew of next door neighbor Ernesto Gonzalez (Nicholas Gonzalez). The Buckwalds’ live-in pig, Sparkles, immediately slurps up Bud’s blood and guts. (Bad taste aside, Fox lately seems to have a jones for pigs as pets. Sunday night’s fellow new comedy series, Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life, also has a hog in residence.)

Bordertown initially was announced in May 2014 as a midseason entry for 2014-15. At that time, Azaria hadn’t been cast yet as the voice of Bud. But everyone else was in place, with Gonzalez and Borstein both doing double duty by additionally voicing J.C. and Bud’s wife, Janice. Back then, no one envisioned Trump actually running for president, let alone dominating the field. So the timing couldn’t be much better for Bordertown’s belated debut, even if it’s pretty much Family Guy all over again in terms of the corpulent protagonist, out-of-body pop culture references and some really abhorrent jokes.

The worst, in Episode 2, is at the expense of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. By all that is holy, cut this one out. The second episode also includes a reference to “Goofy’s rape room,” followed by a trademark chuckle from the veteran bumbler. The Disney Company has been known to be extremely vigilant in terms of protecting its trademark characters, so maybe this one also gets axed before air time. One easily could make it a trifecta by likewise removing Bud’s reference to his wife as a “boobed bozo.” But pretty soon there’d be no show. Which really would be just as well.

Episode 2 is mainly built around building an impregnable wall to keep Mexicans at bay. But that means Bud is no longer needed as a border guard. Which means he initially goes to work for Ernesto’s landscaping company before succumbing to cash payments in return for letting illegals into Mexifornia through a “smuggling tunnel.” No, this is not deep stuff. But I did laugh when the Buckmans’ little daughter, Gert (Missy Pyle), asks her parents in Episode 1, “Mom, dad, will one of you read me a bedtime tabloid?”

The series’ other principal character, the Buckmans’ sub-stupid son, Sanford, is voiced by Judah Friedlander from NBC’s 30 Rock. MacFarlane and Hentemann already have pumped all of these wells all but dry, which leaves Bordertown with its ramped-up topicality and little else.

“Well, well, if it isn’t Mrs. Benicio Del Taco,” Bud brays at his daughter, not knowing that J.C. already has been shot back to Mexico via the town’s red, white and blue Deportation Cannon despite being born in the USA. Ugh.

There’s undeniably been a longterm market, though, for both Family Guy and another MacFarlane offshoot, American Dad. Which is another way of saying that Bordertown very likely is critic-proof and destined to survive all slings and arrows. Just like . . . Donald Trump.

GRADE: C-minus