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Family Guy Volume 1

Fox // Unrated // April 15, 2003
List Price: $49.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Aaron Beierle | posted March 21, 2003 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:

Out of the small animation boom that happened a couple of years ago (see also "Futurama", "Clerks", "Dilbert" and a couple of WB animated shows I can't remember the names of) came "Family Guy", one of the most hilarious and controversial shows that Fox has aired. A mixture of "The Simpsons" and the darkest parts of "Married With Children", the TV-MA show seemed to take pride in pushing the limits and seeking out as many targets in current society to goof on as possible. Every week, the show turned pop culture on its head, offering twisted and laugh-out-loud spoofs of "Tron", "The Truman Show", "The Brady Bunch", "Willy Wonka" and "Dawson's Creek", among many others. Most episodes smoothly tied in as many of several of these hits at the entertainment industry.

For those unfamiliar with the show, it focuses on the Griffin family, residents of Quahog, Rhode Island. Peter (creator Seth MacFarlane) is the heavy-drinking father who works in a toy factory, Lois (Alex Borstein of "Mad TV") is the calm leader, Meg (Mila Kunis of "That 70's Show" and Lacey Chabert for the earlier episodes) is the insecure daughter, Chris (Seth Green) the chubby and dim-witted son, Brian (MacFarlane) is the alcoholic dog who talks and Stewie (creator Seth MacFarlane earned an Emmy for his voice work on the character) is the diabolical baby who is bent on world domination.

This first volume of the show on DVD offers both the first and second seasons of the show and gives viewers who missed it another chance to witness some of "Family Guy"'s most brilliant moments. "E. Peterbus Unum" has Peter breaking off from Quahog to form his own country when he finds out that his house is a blank spot on the map. When confronted after breaking the law, he gets out of it due to diplomatic immunity ("like that guy in 'Lethal Weapon 2'", says Peter). "The Son Also Draws" has Peter and Chris going on a Vision Quest when they lose their car at an Indian casino. When the trees start chatting with Peter, he asks, "If one of you falls, and no one's around, does it make a noise?" The tree responds, "Are you kidding? Scott fell last week, and he hasn't shut up about it since." In "Death Is a Bitch", Death (voiced by Norm MacDonald) comes after Peter after he fakes death to get out of paying his hospital bill. When Death sprains his ankle, Peter has to take over. "Da Boom" has the family searching for food (they dismiss a potential house after they find out Randy Newman is there, singing about everything he sees) after information hears about the world nearly coming to an end after Y2K turns out to be true.

"Family Guy" remained remarkably politically incorrect throughout its run, but most of the jokes were rolling-on-the-floor funny because they were throwaway, including one exchange between Peter and Brian: "Brian, there's a message in my Alpha Bits. It says "OOOOOO"!". "Peter, those are Cheerios." Every episode of the show was packed with such minor gags, most of which were successful and unexpected. The show's voice talent, especially MacFarlane, Kunis and Green, handled the material with perfect comedic timing. Fans of the show will likely be thrilled to have the show on DVD, as nearly all of the episodes are highly rewatchable. Those who haven't seen the series and are interested should absolutely give it a try.

The set includes: I Am Peter, Here Me Roar; If I'm Dyin', I'm Lyin'; Running Mates; A Picture's Worth a Thousand Bucks; Fifteen Minutes of Shame; Road to Rhode Island; Let's Go To The Hop; Peter Peter Caviar Eater; Holy Crap; Da Boom; Brian In Love; Love Thy Trophy; Death is a Bitch; The King Is Dead; Death Has a Shadow; I Never Met The Dead Man; Chitty Chitty Death Bang; Mind Over Murder; A Hero Sits Next Door; The Son Also Draws; Brian: Portrait of a Dog; Dammit, Janet!; There's Something About Paulie; He's Too Sexy For His Fat; E. Peterbus Unum; The Story on Page One; Wasted Talent; Fore, Father.

Disc One: Audio commentary on "Death Has A Shadow" and "The Son Also Draws"; Fox promos

Disc Two: Audio commentary on "Peter, Peter, Caviar Eater" and "Holy Crap"

Disc Three: Audio commentary on "Fifteen Minutes Of Shame" and "Let's Go To The Hop"

Disc Four: Audio commentary on "He's Too Sexy For His Fat" and "E. Peterbus Unum".


VIDEO: "Family Guy" is presented in the show's original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio. The picture quality is generally quite good, although one problem does occur on occasion throughout some of the episodes. The picture does offer the show's bright color palette well, as colors remained vivid and well-saturated throughout. The animation isn't as detailed as shows like "The Simpsons", but it's still a cut above some of the other animated fare that has been seen on TV in the past couple of years. The animation remained fairly crisp and detailed throughout, although some scenes showed noticable problems with jagged edges. No compression artifacts or edge enhancement were seen, though.

SOUND: The show's Dolby 2.0 soundtrack is included here in English, French and Spanish. The show's dialogue remains crisp and forward throughout, with the surrounds providing some reinforcement for music and occasional sound effects. Audio quality is superb, as sound effects remained clear (and occasionally punchy) throughout.


Commentary: Audio commentary from creator Seth MacFarlane, the show's writers and some of the cast (Seth Green, Alex Borstein) are present on eight episodes. The commentary is rather profane at times (in what I think must be a first, there's a disclaimer before the main menu opens about the language in the commentaries). The tracks are a little sparse at times, but they're also often extremely funny, with the cast and crew joking about some of the occasional animated screw-ups or story lines that just didn't quite work.

Also: A few promos for the show and a short, behind-the-scenes featurette. The discs are housed in four slim cases, with the air dates and episode information listed on the back of each of the four cases.

Final Thoughts: Often brilliant, extremely witty and darkly hilarious, "Family Guy" was unfortunately cancelled after Fox bumped it around six or seven different time slots. Fans of the show should definitely pick up this terrific sets, while those who haven't seen it should consider giving it a look. Highly recommended.

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Highly Recommended

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