Once again the Griffins and friends are dealing with modern fads and lampooning pop culture at every turn. I'm all for skewering celebs and whatnot, but the writers rarely reached higher than the lowest hanging fruit. Chris dates Taylor Swift in one episode, and what happens next surprises no one: She sabotages the relationship so she can write another hit song about how awful her love life is. Peter and Lois take on the anti-vaccination movement, and cause an outbreak of measles as a result. Ron Gronkowski moves into the neighborhood and causes problems with all his partying. With ideas like this, I can understand why people accuse the show of being on auto-pilot. I don't expect much depth out of Family Guy, but it doesn't feel like they're trying. These jokes aren't meant for broadcast, but observational musings you'd share with friends over a few drinks.
So, as far as the show being divisive, I can understand why.
But this season provides something which I haven't seen in a long, long time: some real character. That's not to say that the Griffins have evolved from caricatures, because they haven't. Still, it's been years since we've seen Chris as anything more than an obnoxious idiot and Meg as more than everyone's verbal punching bag. For the first time in years, Chris deals with some real life issues, forcing his character to do a bit more than shout, "You said booger! Hah hah hah hah hah!" And in a real twist, Peter actually defends his daughter against a bunch of bullies. Lois is less of a nag, too. Sure, these plot points exist to present outrageous gags, but these minor touches of humanization is what this show has been missing since its initial run (which I'll call the first three seasons).
All things considered, this doesn't rank up there as one of Family Guy's better seasons, but it's a step above the last two or three. That means if you're not one to stomach the show's humor anymore, this new batch of episodes isn't going to make you come crawling back. If, however, you've been perfectly content with Family Guy over the years, then you won't be disappointed. In fact, you may see a twinkle of the show you fell in love with back in 1999 and the early 2000's.
I'm watching these DVD's - presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 - on a 4K television, so if there were any major issues I'd spot them in a heartbeat. For the most part, the presentation is solid. Colors are as bold and crisp as you can expect from a DVD, sharpness is adequate, there isn't any major compression issues to speak of… it's solid all around. The only issue is some minor edge enhancement, but that's typical for these releases. Overall, nobody should feel too disappointed about what they're getting. In fact, the only thing we really have to complain about is the fact that Fox has always stubbornly refused to give us Family Guy on Blu-ray… but considering The Simpsons debacle, we should consider ourselves lucky that this show has had a consistent release schedule up to this point.
The 5.1 Dolby Digital tracks not only replicate what we've heard during broadcast with ease, but they make the show sound better than ever. Most of the music and dialogue is front heavy, but there's enough ambience driving the rears to make everything sound natural. Music blends in well with whatever's happening and dialogue is always prioritized and crisp. Nothing really worth complaining about!
Each disc offers some deleted scenes, but the final disc in this set features tributes to beloved icons Carrie Fisher and Adam West. Also, if you're a mobile app playing, an included code grants 2 hours of unlimited lives in the Family Guy: Another Freakin' Mobile Game, available from the App Store or Google Play.
Family Guy passed its prime a long time ago, and it's disheartening to see the writers barely reaching for the stars anymore. That said, the show is still a good bit of fun in its 15th season, so fans will most likely come to appreciate it. That's all well and good considering the millions Family Guy still draws, but they'll need to do some revitalization if they want to keep those millions glued to their screens year after year. This batch of episodes does hint that maybe the writers are at least listening to the concerns of fans, though, so maybe the show isn't really over until the fat chicken sings, right? After all is said and done, I recommend this release.