We're buying single episodes of Family Guy now?
The Story So Far...
This DVD is the series' 14th home-video release. Eschewing traditional season sets for shorter "volume" releases, the first seven seasons have made it to DVD, while a collection of series creator Seth MacFarlane's favorite episodes, the so-called "Family Guy" movie and two Star Wars homages all received one-disc releases. DVDTalk has reviews of each release.
When Lois decides to help an infertile old friend (Julia Sweeney) get pregnant as her surrogate, Peter doesn't want her to do it, but she gets in-vitro anyway. The scenario is complicated though when the parents-to-be die, and she considers aborting the now-orphaned zygote inside her. Then Peter has one of his usual nonsensical changes of heart, and wants her to keep the baby, making his argument is bizarre ways that make sense only to him, with the show-standard flashbacks and politically-incorrect jokes.
Peter serves to satirize the anti-abortion movement when he's swayed by a protester with a t-shirt and an over-the-top video (voiced by Wil Wheaton,) using all the arguments used by neo-conservatives when questioned by his family, including expressing his willingness to kill abortion doctors because they kill. As expected, his dog Brian is the voice of the intellectual, using scientific evidence that's quickly dismissed by Peter. Just when things get rolling though, the show is over, with one last zinger gag to punch home the point. Part of the problem is the majority of the episode serves to set up the storyline and Peter's position, leaving a small portion to really jab at the topic.
Considering what Family Guy has gotten away with in the past, and the fact that abortion is a topic that has been addressed in sitcoms in the (far) past, it's a touch surprising that this couldn't be seen on TV, as the jokes are no more cruel or perverse than any previous episode (the lack of a song similar to "Prom Night Dumpster Baby" probably helped.) Considering the network and the political atmosphere though, it's also not surprising at all. You can't help but think the studio was more than happy to have an excuse to pull out another DVD release though, especially since there's no reason to not eventually include this on a regular volume release, like the previously "banned" episode. I can't wait for Fox to reject a single scene in an episode, and see if that gets its own DVD.
The audio is delivered via a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, but without any of the show's trademark musical numbers or action sequences, it kind of goes to waste.The sound is solid overall though, presenting the show's dialogue and music queues cleanly.
Then there's a live reading of the show in front of an audience at the Montalban Theater in August of 2009, when, at the time, the episode was thought lost to viewers. Most of the cast is on hand, with the exception of Seth Green, while John Viner, Smith, Christine Lakin and Alex Sulkin join in on the fun. The performance sticks close to the script as seen in the episode, but is worth watching to see the voices come out of real people's mouths, which is an unusual experience to be sure. It's followed by an animatic of the episode, which features scenes and jokes that were cut or replaced in the final versions. At this point, the fourth time I'd watched the show, it wasn't quite as interesting, but there are some decent gags.
There's more MacFarlane and Borstein in the final on-disc extra, "Seth & Alex's Almost Live Comedy Show," which aired on Fox and online. A variety show, with singing and sketches, shot in a nightclub-style setting with a full orchestra, it's right up the alley of Family Guy fans, though the old-fashion humor, like the bit with Marlee Matlin or MacFarlane's performance of "Edelweiss," might not draw laughs like a standard episode of one of MacFarlane's shows.
Pop the disc into your computer, and you can access the final extra, a collection of nine songs from the show, presented in MP3, along with an application to transfer them to iTunes (if you need that.) I don't think I'd ever listen to these songs, but I'm not a huge fan of the series, nor do I really enjoy comedy music not performed by Stephen Lynch. At least they didn't include the godawful Shapoopi. Here's what's included:
The Bottom Line