Back Add a Comment Share:
Facebook Button
Introduction
Family Guy is described as the show you’d get if you put Hank Hill, Homer Simpson and South Park in a blender, and that’s not a million miles from the truth. The show is a hilarious and often surreal look at the life of the Griffin family of Quonochontaug, Rhode Island.

Peter Griffin (voiced by Seth MacFarlane), the beer-obsessed, couch potato of the house, would give Homer Simpson a run for his money in the insensitivity stakes, while his long suffering wife Lois (Alex Borstein) was once an heiress to millions, but gave it all up in favour of the big old lug. Their children, Meg (Mila Kunis), a troubled teen constantly striving to gain acceptance from her peers, and Chris (Seth Green), a big, dumb, lovable oddball are social misfits, while baby Stewie (MacFarlane) is intent on world domination. As if that isn’t scary enough, the family dog, Brian (MacFarlane again), is an alcoholic intellectual who possesses more wit and intelligence than most of the humans…

Shatner and lederhosen... What a combination.
Episodes
There are fourteen episodes spanned over this two-disc set, comprising of the first and second runs of the show (marketed as ‘season one’ here). These range from extremely amusing to pant-wettingly hilarious, and here’s a brief outline of each:

Death Has a Shadow
Against strict orders from Lois, Peter drinks profusely at his buddy's bachelor party. After showing up at work hung over, Peter gets fired. When he applies for welfare, they accidentally send him a check for $150,000, which leads to a spending binge. When Lois discovers the truth, Peter attempts to return the money to the taxpayers by dumping it from a blimp at the Super Bowl. But when he is arrested, his family must come to the rescue.

I Never Met the Dead Man
While teaching Meg to drive, Peter crashes into a satellite dish and knocks out the city's cable. He goes crazy without television, until Lois suggests he spend more time with his family. This plan backfires when Peter drives the family nuts. Meanwhile, after Lois forces Stewie to eat his broccoli, he attempts to destroy all vegetables by building a weather control device.

Mind Over Murder
When Peter goes to Chris' soccer game, he inadvertently punches a woman he thought was a man. Restless under house arrest, Peter turns the basement into a bar and Lois ends up stealing the show. Meanwhile, Stewie attempts to create a time machine to avoid teething pain.

Chitty Chitty Death Bang
Lois is furious with Peter when he allows Meg to attend a party the same day as Stewie's first birthday. Unbeknownst to Meg, she's actually attending a cult meeting and when Peter brings her back home, the cult leader follows. Stewie recognizes the leader as the man who wants to return him to the "ovarian bastille."

A Hero Sits Next Door
When a bubbly new family moves next door, Peter gets annoyed. Lois becomes fast friends with Debbie, Meg tries to pick up on son Kyle and Peter is forced to invite Joe to play on his company baseball team. But when Joe shows up to the game in a wheelchair and wins the crowd's hearts with his slick manoeuvres and winning plays, Peter decides he wants to be a hero too.

The Son Also Draws
Chris is booted from the Youth Scouts, so Peter takes the family to the Big Apple to get him reinstated. But when Peter takes a wrong turn, they end up at a Native American casino where Lois hits the slot machine once too often. Peter must embark on a vision quest to prove he has Native American blood to save the day. Stand-up comedian Bobby Slayton makes a guest voice appearance as Lenny, the pit boss.

Brian: Portrait of a Dog
Peter persuades Brian to swallow his pride and enter a dog show to win some extra cash. But when they argue over a trick gone bad, Brian decides he's had enough of being a second-class citizen. His struggle to assert his civil rights lands him on death row at the pound, where he discovers every dog has his day.

Peter Peter Caviar Eater
When Lois' wealthy aunt dies unexpectedly, the Griffins inherit her extravagant mansion. Although his family doesn't want to relocate, Peter is eager to enter the ranks of the upper classes and moves them onto the estate. Revenue from the sale of the Griffins' old house goes to the live-in servants, who haven't been paid in months. Caught up in the spirit of his new social standing, Peter bids ten million dollars at the Historical Society for a work of art, offering to trade his mansion for the piece. It is revealed, however, that the mansion used to be a whorehouse and is not worth any significant amount. A commoner once again, Peter finds that his family still loves him.

Running Mates
Lois decides to run for the school board, which thrills Stewie who will be somewhat unsupervised during her campaign. Lois runs unopposed until Peter joins the race in order to get his favourite teacher reinstated. He immediately starts negative campaigning that spreads lies about Lois and shows sexy photos of her... His tactics work and Peter is elected. His first order of business is to replace the hall monitors with robots. Ultimately, his new policies backfire when Peter allows Chris to bring porno mags to school and protests erupt. Peter must publicly apologize in order to win Lois back and save face with the town of Quahog.

Holy Crap
Peter's dad is forced to retire from the mill. A stern workaholic, the elder Griffin does not take retirement well. When Peter and Lois suggest that he come spend some time with them, Peter's dad agrees, and Peter gets excited at the prospect of bonding with his father. But the new living arrangement doesn't go according to plan: In addition to being a workaholic, Peter's dad is also a control freak. He tells the children what TV shows they can watch, tells Peter how to spend his free time and instructs Lois on how to raise the kids. Peter decides that the best way to get closer to his father is to bring him along to the toy factory, but this plan also backfires. Peter's boss is impressed by the retiree's work ethic and hires him as a foreman, ensuring widespread misery at the plant. After Peter's dad increases work hours and implements strict rules, Peter is desperate to make him quit, and tries to convince him to participate in a plot to kidnap the Pope. The Pontiff is also impressed by the retiree's ambition, and offers him yet another job.

I think we all know how this feels...
If I’m Dyin’, I’m Lyin’
When Peter's favourite show, Gumbel 2 Gumbel, faces cancellation, he takes drastic measures to save it. Using Chris as bait for "The Make-A-Dream-Come-True" Foundation, Peter tells them that Chris' dying wish is that the show be renewed. But when the Foundation arrives to check up on Chris' "tumorsyphillis-itis-osis", Peter panics and tells them that Chris was miraculously cured. Word spreads of the "miracle" and Peter becomes the "Miracle Healer of Quahog." Of course, Peter loves the attention and Lois thinks it's immoral to live such a lie. When the Griffins become mysteriously plagued by everything from locusts to bloody bathwater, Lois forces Peter to end the charade.

Love Thy Trophy
When their Who's the Boss float takes top prize in the Quahog Harvest Day Parade, the neighbourhood literally goes to war over who gets custody of the trophy. Meanwhile, in an effort to get big tips at her new waitressing job, Meg tells customers that Stewie is her illegitimate crack baby. When family services investigate, and finds the Griffin home in the middle of a war zone, they take custody of Stewie. Once everyone finds out that Stewie's in foster care, the neighbourhood declares peace and plots a rescue mission.

Death is a Bitch
After Lois discovers a lump in Peter's breast, he lands in the hospital. He's okay, until the whopping bill arrives! To avoid payment, Peter fools the hospital into thinking he's dead. As a result, Death pays a visit to the Griffin home. While Stewie is excited to meet his idol, the rest of the family doesn't want Peter to go--especially Peter! A chase ensues and Death is injured. While He recuperates, Peter is forced to take over Death's unpopular duties.

The King is Dead
Lois is named the new artistic director of the Quahog Players theatre group and decides to direct The King and I as her first production. Peter wants to be a star and becomes such a nuisance that Lois makes him a producer to get him out of her hair. He goes on a major power trip and soon wrestles total control away from Lois, kicking her off the production team all together! Peter soon realizes his vision by turning the musical into a racy cyborg battle, complete with bikini-clad dancing girls.

Family Guy is an irreverent, side-splittingly funny comedy. The jokes come thick and fast, and are far more risqué than your average episode of the Simpsons. Like that show, most of the humour centres on the father, who is even more inconsiderate and obnoxious than Homer! Baby Stewie provides many of the laughs, with his constant attempts to kill his mother (it’s funnier than it sounds), who is the bane of his existence. The humour is often very surreal, and the show features frequent ‘cameos’ by famous stars, although unlike the Simpsons the star’s voices are impersonated and they’re lampooned to hell! One of the best characters has to be Brian the dog, who can usually be found sipping away at his martini while hurling cutting asides at Peter.

There are also some notable guest voices, including Norm McDonald as Death. Believe me, his voice suits the role perfectly... Lacey Chabert (of Party of Five and Lost In Space ‘fame’) also provided the (uncredited) voice for Meg Griffin in the early days of the show.

Video
Family Guy is presented in 4:3, exactly as it was on television. The image is extremely bright, with vibrant colours, solid blacks and a good level of detail. There are some instances of artefacting, with noticeable jaggies in certain scenes, but overall this is good stuff. It is definitely the best looking version of the show I’ve seen, and that includes digital terrestrial and satellite broadcasts.

Audio
Contrary to the sleeve notes, Family Guy does not come with a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, but rather a Dolby Surround one. My amp only detected the track as Dolby Stereo, so it is likely that Fox have forgotten to encode the surround flag. Sound is good for what it is, with very clear dialogue and the occasional use of the surround channels helping to bring the episodes to life, but it’s obviously no ‘Saving Private Ryan’.

What the deuce are you staring at?
Extras
I’d like to take a minute to write about how impressive the supplemental material is. I’d like to, but I can’t. There is nothing on offer here (I don’t count animated menus), not even cast and crew biographies. All in all this is a very disappointing show from Fox, and it makes my job as a reviewer a difficult one. How much is it possible to write about nothing?

Overall
To sum up, Family Guy is a great series presented in a below average package. There’s no denying that the picture and sound quality are as good as you could realistically expect them to be, but the lack of supplemental features is a real letdown, especially considering the high price of the set. Another irritating thing is that two episodes have layer changes. You would have thought that this could have been avoided, given the episodic nature of the program. Even with these faults, Family Guy's good points far outweigh its bad. It is a great show and this DVD is well worth picking up if you’re a fan of this type of humour, especially as the episodes are presented in their full, uncut glory. Highly recommended.


Links: