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. The show developed a cult audience that followed it despite Fox's frequent shifts in the show's timeslot. The show's poor treatment and eventual cancelation angered fans, although at least Fox has finally issued the remaining episodes on DVD.
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 second DVD volume of the series includes the third and final season of the series, along with the controversial unaired episode, "Wish Upon a Weinstein", where Peter tries to get Chris to become Jewish because he believes he'll be successful if he does. The plots of season three still get laughs fairly often, although I don't think they reach the inspired heights of earlier episodes, such as the one where Peter's house became its own country or lead his family towards a twinkie factory after the apocalypse.
Still, there are certainly some highlights throughout many of the episodes. In "Peter Griffin: Husband, Father...Brother?" Peter takes Chris to an Irish Heritage Museum to learn more about his heritage, where both find out that, before alcohol, Ireland was a futuristic utopia. "Mr. Saturday Knight" has Peter working at Quahog's Renaissance Faire as a jouster when his boss accidentally dies at dinner. His competition is the Black Knight, brilliantly voiced by Will Farrell. "Thin White Line" and "Brian Does Hollywood" have Brian overdoing his new job as drug sniffing police dog, then running off to Hollywood and ending up with a job directing porn (at the adult awards in the episode, John Williams is one of the composers nominated for Best Original Score). In "Lethal Weapons", Peter uses Lois's newfound fighting skills to drive out New Yorkers who come up to Rhode Island just to stare at the leaves changing color.
Rude, crude and often hilarious, "Family Guy" saw fit to offend just about every group, but did so in a way that was sharp, funny and wonderfully absurd.
29 Jul 11/01 The Thin White Line
30 Jul 18/01 Brian Does Hollywood
31 Jul 25/01 Mr. Griffin Goes to Washington
32 Aug 01/01 One if By Clam, Two if By Sea
33 Aug 08/01 And the Weiner is...
34 Aug 15/01 Death Lives
35 Aug 22/01 Lethal Weapons
36 Aug 29/01 The Kiss Seen Round the World
37 Sep 05/01 Mr. Saturday Knight
38 Sep 19/01 A Fish Out of Water
39 Nov 08/01 Emission Impossible
40 Nov 15/01 To Live and Die in Dixie
41 Nov 29/01 Screwed the Pooch
42 Dec 06/01 Peter Griffin: Husband, Father... Brother?
43 Dec 20/01 Ready, Willing and Disabled
44 Dec 21/01 A Very Special Family Guy Freakin' Christmas
45 Jan 17/02 Brian Wallows and Peter Swallows
46 Jan 24/02 From Method to Madness
47 Jan 31/02 Stuck Together, Torn Apart
49 Feb 14/02 Family Guy Viewer Mail No. 1
50 When You Wish Upon a Weinstein
VIDEO: "Family Guy" is presented in the show's original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio. The picture quality is good, although there's the occasional issue. The issue with jagged lines that occasionally appeared on the earlier episodes of the other DVD set (which turned out to be an issue with the animation) don't appear as often here. Sharpness and detail remained satisfactory, as the rather low-tech animation appeared about as good as it can likely look here. The picture does offer the show's bright color palette well, as colors remained vivid and well-saturated throughout. No instances of edge enhancement or pixelation appeared.
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.
EXTRAS: Creator Seth McFarlane and various members of the cast and crew provide commentaries for "Mr. Saturday Knight", "Ready, Willing and Disabled", "Mr. Griffin Goes to Washington", "Death Lives", "Brian Wallows and Peter's Swallows" and "Wish Upon a Weinstein". I thought the commentaries for the first set were funny (some were a bit disappointed), but I thought these tracks were a little funnier. The participants seem a little looser and don't seem to get caught up in the episode (and not talking) as much as in the first set's commentaries. There's some very amusing moments throughout, such as the track for "Wish Upon A Weinstein", where McFarlane and the participants poke fun at the episode and talk about how they still don't understand how the episode was allowed to be finalized before Fox decided not to air it.
Also included are 28 deleted scenes provided in animatic (moving storyboards) form, the original pilot pitch (a rough, shortened version of the pilot episode), a 7-minute featurette on how the show pushed the envelope across its three seasons and a 17-minute documentary that takes a look at the overall series, from development to characters the voice talent. Unfortunately, this is a fairly "promotional" overview and doesn't look into the show's issues with Fox and how it was moved around by the network to different timeslots.
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. Although this third season wasn't as consistent as the first two, it's still hilarious and fans of the show should definitely pick up this terrific set. Highly recommended.