The Griffins, residents of Quahog, Rhode Island, aren’t the standard sitcom familial unit. The patriarch, Peter, a thick-necked, thicker-accented simpleton, has a wonderful grip on eighties television shows and bad musical groups, but lacks in social graces (soiling oneself at a neighbor’s funeral?). His wife, the animated-hot and ever-loving Lois, seems hell-bent on keeping some semblance of normalcy in the household, even if it means burying her feelings and ignoring reality a bit. Their oldest child, Meg, is the very definition of unpopular, but trying. Chris, her thirteen-year-old brother, is a dense lug who fears the evil monkey only he can see. Baby Stewie is a two year old with Rex Harrison’s voice, Howard Cosell’s vocabulary, and Napoleon’s lust for world domination, but his family treats him just like any other two year old. Finally, their dog, Brian, is a well-read, well-spoken hound who’s trusted enough to babysit, even if he’s known to take a martini or two. Family Guy is the almost always hilarious story of their lives and their struggles.
Fox never really knew what to do with Family Guy, even though it premiered right after the Super Bowl. It moved around the schedule like a cartoon Bedouin, never getting a chance to claim a timeslot for its own. Its fans followed it, but newcomers never knew where to find the show after its initial viewing. Its humor also didn’t make it a very easy sell to advertisers; it’s a more gruff version of The Simpsons, with far “bluer” material (sort of like if Homer and Marge were involved in an S&M episode). As a result of these obstacles, and in spite of serious protestations from a very large fan base, Family Guy only lasted three seasons. But never count a good series out for the count. Three years after it left the airwaves, Family Guy was back. Now the show is going into its 9th season. Quite a success story.
Disc 1: Fox-Y Lady: Lois starts to work at FOX News and covers a liberal “Michael Moore-like” filmmaker with interesting results for a conservative talk show host.
Not All Dogs Go To Heaven: Stewie kidnaps the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation to hang out with them. Meanwhile Meg finds religion after becoming sick.
Episode 420: Brian gets busted for pot and pushes the town to legalize the drug. The result is a town of stoners where nothing ever gets done.
Stew-Roids: Peter beefs Stewie up with steroids after he gets the crap kicked out of him.
We Love You, Conrad: Brian is heartsick to discover that Jillian is getting married to someone else … until he meets and falls for actress Lauren Conrad.
Three Kings: Peter imagines that he and his family are in three Stephen King stories in this anthology episode.
Peter’s Progress: Peter has his palm read and begins to fantasize about his past life.
Road To The Multiverse: Stewie and Brian travel to an alternate universe where dogs are the masters and humans are the pets.
Family Goy: A doctor visit leads Lois to discover that she’s really Jewish. It’s hard to celebrate her new life when Peter’s father’s ghost expresses some concerns.
Spies Reminiscent Of Us: Stewie and Brian spy on the new neighbors when they discover that they are international spies. Before long the duo are in way over their head … in snow, because they’re in Russia.
Brian’s Got A Brand New Bag: Brian’s new romance breaks her hip, and he discovers the downside of dating an older woman.
Hannah Banana: Stewie learns more than he wants to know about his teen idol.
Quagmire’s Baby: Stewie clones himself, and Quagmire makes a startling observation that Peter is beginning to look just like him.
Jerome Is The New Black: The guys have to find a new friend when Cleveland leaves. In a spoof of a South Park episode, the boys audition new friends.
Dog Gone: Brian accidentally kills another dog, and no one seems to care all that much.
It was with some trepidation that I turned a critical eye on the video portion of Family Guy’s 1.33:1 television ratio. This was because the first volume of Family Guy had an unexpected problem in this area. For the most part, starting with Volume 2 it seems to have cleared up. The result is a much smoother picture. Once in a while this problem still arises, but to a far lesser degree than it did in the first set. As one would expect, color work is outstanding because of the natural level of control, and there are no real authoring issues due to the digital processing.
Of course, Family Guy is presented in a Dolby 5.1 Stereo Surround. The digital production eliminates any annoying analog errors like hisses or pops, and really allows the show’s myriad of character voices and hilarious musical numbers to ring out clearly. No real glaring blemishes to point out.
Commentary on select episodes
Family Guy Karaoke
The Road To Road To The Multiverse Featurette
A DVD set like Family Guy, with excellent extras and improved technical specs, makes it a little easier to forgive Fox for canceling this show without ever really giving it a fair chance to succeed. Of course, they’ve since redeemed that glaring error. As is the case with most Fox products, the reasonable asking price makes this one even easier to recommend as an accompaniment to their other excellent animated sets, Futurama and The Simpsons.
Some of this review was written by Gino Sassani