HTF REVIEW: "Family Guy" Volume One

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Ronald Epstein, Mar 18, 2003.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein
    Family Guy
    Volume One

    Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
    Year: 1999-2000
    Rated: NR
    Film Length: 632 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: Full Frame (1.33:1)
    Subtitles: English and Spanish

    Family Guy is a subversive animated comedy
    about the everyday trials and tribulations of family
    life. The show was the brain child of its creator
    Seth MacFarland whose short films produced at Hanna
    Barbara garnered the attention of 20th Century Fox
    executives who gave Seth a modest budget to produce
    a 15 minute pilot episode. After working endlessly
    for months he delivered the finished product to Fox
    and the studio picked it up soon there after.

    Family Guy began as a special preview on Jan
    31, 1999, following the Superbowl on FOX. It wasn't
    long before the show had a regular spot in the Fox
    Sunday Night lineup.

    This is my very first exposure to the series, and
    I am just overwhelmed by this show that can best
    be describe as a very vulgar cousin of The
    . Everything about Family Guy
    goes against the grain. First, the subject matter
    of this show is utterly inappropriate for anyone
    under the age of thirteen, and that's pretty good
    for those of us that enjoy any cartoon that pushes
    the envelope. This is a show not afraid to tackle
    sexist or racist issues. Second, the show lacks
    total focus as it constantly shifts between sidebars
    that may do nothing more than illustrate a point from
    the main storyline. This device lets the writers
    pull out all the stops in providing visual gags that
    seemingly come out of nowhere.

    Perhaps, however, the funniest aspect of this show
    is the characters themselves. From the hopeless,
    lazy toy factory line worker Peter Griffin, to
    the lovable toddler bent on world domination Stewie,
    to Peter's brainless older son Chris, to his almost-
    stereotypical teen daughter Meg, to his long-suffering
    yet level-headed wife Lois, to his talking world weary
    braniac dog Brian, every character in Family Guy is
    the result of a writer's ultimate wet dream.

    Alas, the show only ran for three seasons (less than
    50 aired episodes) when Fox pulled it off their
    schedule. Through all the research I have done on
    this show I am unsure why the series was cancelled.
    Was it poor ratings or just the fact that perhaps
    Family Guy pushed the envelope too far as
    what is acceptable on prime-time television?

    With Fox giving special DVD treatment to their most
    coveted animated television series, you probably had
    an inkling that Family Guy was due for a
    major release. The Volume One set finally
    arrives on April 15, with a total of 28 episodes
    spread out across 4 DVD discs. These episodes
    represent the entire first and second season.

    Whereas much thought was put into the packaging
    for Fox DVD releases of The Simpsons and
    Futurama, Family Guy seems like more
    of an afterthought. An oversized cardboard box
    holds 4 individual slimline plastic cases inside.
    The packaging is very similar to the Futurama
    packaging, but it definitely looks more generic.
    There hasn't been much attention to giving each of
    the plastic cases their own unique artwork, and
    when you open up the case, you are greeted with
    black innards that are void of any artwork. I hate
    to compare this set to Futurama, but after
    seeing the beautiful job they did on that package,
    this is pale in comparison.

    On the back cover of each slimline plastic case is
    a guide to each episode including original airdate.

    As I stated above, this was my first look at the
    show and these were the episodes I chose to watch...

    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.

    Dammit Janet
    Fearing that Stewie has no social skills, Lois
    places him in daycare. Stewie hates the bureaucracy
    of the playground until he sets his eyes on a female
    toddler, Janet. While he tries various ways to
    impress her, he finally wins her over by sharing
    his cookies. Meanwhile, Lois now has nothing to do
    all day so Peter talks her into becoming a flight
    attendant. Peter's ulterior motive is to take
    advantage of the free travel - and he promptly
    starts abusing the privilege. When Peter and Lois
    land on the same flight, Peter's game is over!
    Unfortunately the plane is high-jacked and forced
    to land in Cuba, where Peter and Lois remained
    stranded. After a trip to the local black market, the
    gain passage back to the U.S. on a lifeboat filled
    with refugees.

    Death is a Bitch
    My favorite! 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. Norm Macdonald Makes Guest
    Voice Appearance.

    How is the transfer?

    The good news is that the transfer is bright
    and crisply detailed with vivid colors that almost
    leap off the screen. This is certainly one of the
    best quality animated TV shows I have seen to date.
    The bad news is that there seems to be an
    awful amount of jagged lines and jitter that appear
    frequently throughout the Death Has a Shadow
    episode and much less frequently through the other
    two episodes I watched. These imperfections were
    more noticeable on my 57" television than were my
    smaller computer screen.

    The 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack provides audio that
    sounds extremely clear and vibrant. The mix works
    rather well for the fact that it does a nice job of
    throwing various effect sounds (such as crowds of
    people) and music into the rear channels. The
    show's opening musical number throws music in
    the fronts and choral support in the rears. All in
    all, this is a pleasing mix.

    Special Features

    The menus are well designed, giving you easy access
    to any of the 7 episodes on each disc, including
    specific chapter access.

    Scattered throughout these four discs are 8
    specific episode commentaries. All of these
    commentaries feature Seth MacFarlane and various
    writers and voices who contributed to the show.
    I listened to bits of the commentary on the very
    first episode, Death has a shadow, and found
    it to be quite a fun group effort. It seems everyone
    is sort of proud of the lack of "tact" they brought
    to the show, and we learn about some of the
    controversy that was brought on by some of the
    humor. Fox has posted an advisory that the commentary
    may not be suitable for young audiences.

    Disc One contains seven various Internet Promos
    that show 30-seconds of clips that beg audiences to
    tune in right after the Superbowl.

    Disc Four contains a FOX TV Behind the scenes
    featurette that features creator Seth MacFarlane
    and Executive Producer David Zuckerman who give us
    a general overview of the show while voice talent
    Alex Borstein (Lois Griffin) tells us a little about
    her animated family members. The featurette jumps
    into high gear as it quickly glosses over the
    production of the show from initial table read to
    the recording session to storyboard sketches and
    on to final animation. This is an interesting watch,
    but nothing substantial as so much material gets
    jammed into its 4-minute time span.

    Final Thoughts

    As I close this review, I just happened to
    accidently click on the episode Wasted Talent
    which contains an uproarious sendup of Willy
    Wonka & The Chocolate Factory.
    I actually

    had to put this review on hold so I could
    sit back and enjoy it. It just goes to prove how
    addictively funny and clever this show is.

    More daring and provocative than any cartoon show
    before it, The Family Guy is the most
    "undeniably clever" series to date. I absolutely
    recommend the purchase of this set but am concerned
    about some of the transfer problems I described above.

    Release Date: April 15, 2003
  2. NickSo

    NickSo Producer

    Jul 2, 2000
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    Real Name:
    Nick So
    Sweeeet! Thanks alot ron! I've been waiting for this DVD sine Peter Staddon confirmed its existence on the last FOX chat [​IMG]

    Family Guy was a hilarious show, and had a small cult following. Not many people watched it however, coz of the stupid time-slots FOX used to put it in (thursdays at 8:00... I mean c'mon, Friends, Survior and... FAMILY GUY? Its liek they wanted to kill it)

    Glad you had a chance to review it! I cant wait!
  3. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

    Feb 8, 2002
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    "Family Guy" was another victim, much like "Futurama," of Fox's peek-a-boo scheduling -- Oh, there it it's gone. Or you might get four episodes on a single night, then go for a month without seeing any. The audience could never find it.

    One of my fave animated shows (along with "The Critic"). Can't wait to get this set. [​IMG]
  4. justin.n

    justin.n Auditioning

    Dec 13, 2002
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    thanks for the review, i already have the set on pre-order, but i want it now. this is probably my favorite show ever, plus it won emmy awards, so fox was wrong to can it. i mean, is married by america and other reality crap so much better than this show?

    i wish comedy central would pick it up for new seasons.
  5. Gregory E

    Gregory E Second Unit

    Feb 19, 2002
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    YES! I can't freakin' wait for this set!!!! One of my favorite shows of all time coming to DVD. I'm so jealous that Ron has his paws on this and I don't...but thanks for the mean review!
  6. Rob Lutter

    Rob Lutter Producer

    Nov 3, 2000
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    Am I the only one who is EXTREMELY glad to see that the discs are kept in keepcases... I HATE the cardboard digipacks that FOX is using w/ Simpsons. I just can't see them holding up over time.
  7. Matt Goddard

    Matt Goddard Stunt Coordinator

    Mar 21, 1999
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    This show was too smart for its own good. What many people no doubt saw as offensive, I saw as brilliant and cutting-edge comedy. I've loved this show ever since it's post-Super Bowl premiere and can't wait for my preorder to arrive.
  8. Scott_J

    Scott_J Cinematographer

    Jul 17, 2000
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    Ron, great review. I love this show, and am thrilled about its DVD release. I just have 1 favor to ask of you. One episode from 2 (episode 20) on at least 1 of its repeat airing(s) on FOX, as well as on the R2 season 2 DVD. I was wondering if you could please watch that episode and comment on whether or not that episode is unedited on the DVD.

    The episode is called "Road to Rhode Island." The scene in question is:
  9. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

    Feb 16, 2001
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    Albany, NY
  10. StevenJ

    StevenJ Stunt Coordinator

    Oct 4, 2002
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    I can't wait for this to be released, I loved this show and it's a damn shame that it's been canceled
  11. George_W_K

    George_W_K Screenwriter

    Feb 13, 2003
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    Once again, I am in debt to the HTF. I had no idea Family Guy was on its way out on DVD. I loved that show and was very disappointed to see it go. I second the motion for Comedy Central to pick it up! Family Guy was one of the only episodes to make me cry from laughing so hard so many times. My favorite moment from the show was when Peter was teaching Meg how to drive and she ended up racing an Amish buggy! The end of that scene made me miss the next few minutes of the show because of my laughter. I can't wait for this one!
  12. Inspector Hammer!

    Inspector Hammer! Executive Producer

    Mar 15, 1999
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    Houston, Texas
    Real Name:
    John Williamson
    Thanks a bunch Ron, i'm so glad that you had an opprotunity to discover and enjoy one the funniest cartoon series ever IMO. [​IMG]

    Fox, the network that is, really jumped the gun with cancelling it, it had an audience, but as stated, even the shows most devout fans could rarely find it. It shouldn't have been cancelled. [​IMG]

    Baby Stewie used to freakin kill me! [​IMG] So innocent looking, yet such a dastardly evil little fellow. He's like a cross between Dr. Evil and a baby David Hyde Pierce. And that football shaped noggin of his...[​IMG]

    Can't wait to laugh at him again! [​IMG]
  13. Wes C

    Wes C Supporting Actor

    Jan 7, 2002
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    YEA!!! Its almost here! One of the funniest shows I can remember - It will be mine.
  14. JustinCleveland

    JustinCleveland Cinematographer

    Dec 23, 2002
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    Madison, WI
    Real Name:
    Justin Cleveland
    Wonderful review, Ron. I'm so glad that you got a review up for this excellent show, that as people have said before, was never given a chance by FOX.
  15. Tim Hoover

    Tim Hoover Screenwriter

    May 27, 2001
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    Thanks once again, Ron, for doing this review - and a day early to boot! I'm really surprised the writers of the show got away with as much as they did.

    In regards to the transfer problems, the R2 releases suffered the same. I never noticed these on network airings, but perhaps the resolution of DVD makes them stand out more. OTOH, it could just be a lackluster transfer...
  16. Lee Jamilkowski

    Lee Jamilkowski Stunt Coordinator

    Jun 15, 2001
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    Sam: I learned in church that if you’re good, you go to Heaven. But if you’re bad, you go to a place where the dead believe they’re still livin’ and they pray for death, but death won’t come.
    Chris Griffin: UPN?

    Family Guy
    To Live and Die in Dixie

    I love the show's parody of Star Trek, where the redshirt ensign realizes he's going on an assuredly fatal away team mission and his only response when Kirk chooses him to participate is, "Crap." [​IMG]
  17. Adam_WM

    Adam_WM Screenwriter

    Oct 25, 2001
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    Can't wait! Any word on Osama, Ron?
  18. NickSo

    NickSo Producer

    Jul 2, 2000
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    Real Name:
    Nick So
    Does anybody know if "Wish upon a Weinstein" is in this set?
  19. Steve_Knutzen

    Steve_Knutzen Screenwriter

    Feb 17, 2002
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    I believe that "When You Wish Upon a Weinstein" was a season three episode.
  20. Rick P

    Rick P Supporting Actor

    Mar 18, 2003
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    "When You Wish Upon a Weinstein" was a season 2 episode (production code 2ACX05) but FOX never aired it (in this country).. technically it's a season 2 episode, it's on the R2 Season 2 set, but IIRC has been omitted from the R1 Season 1 & 2 set. It is unknown if it will be on the (eventual, I hope) season 3 R1 set.

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