Family Guy - The Original Series Box Sets
B Sound: B- Extras: B+ Episodes: B+
When The Simpsons arrived, it became one of
the most important animated shows ever, even with its short-segment origins on The Tracey Ullman Show. It did for animation what The Honeymooners did for situation
comedy, another show that also began as shorter subjects. In the wake of the show, there has been a
slew of animated series that followed.
The more explicitly wild South Park and Beavis
& Butthead were the biggest hits in its wake, while more passive
aggressive shows like Daria (a loose
Beavis & Butthead spin-off) had
a healthy run, but not the success it deserved.
Fox thought they had another animated hit in The Family Guy and launched it with much fanfare, including
advanced merchandise. Remarkably, the
show did not catch on.
run three-season run, it was cancelled, but it had already begun to establish a
following. When the show came out on DVD
and Cartoon Network picked it up for late-night broadcast, it was suddenly a
hit! So much so in fact that the DVDs sales
stunned the industry and went on to become the biggest TV sellers of their
year, plus the fourth largest of any series to date. Now, in a career resurrection like nothing
since Tina Turner, the series has gone back into production. It is a show that deserves it, which extends
to the two DVD boxed sets that cover what will go down as the classic episodes.
is it about this show that makes it a TV classic? Simple.
No series in animation or TV history has had so much fun exploiting that
great TV myth of closure. This begins
right off the bat with the theme song.
TV always tells us everything will be fine and tries to nearly wrap up
everything, even when the storyline goes on for an entire season. Unlike any previous show that played with
this aspect of the medium, the series takes a quantum leap ahead of all that
preceded it by throwing a constant (and even dazzling) one-two punch of taboos
and the hippest and most obscure pop culture references. Some very, very bad TV shows and feature
films grew tiresome years ago as they explain every pop culture, cinematic,
music, and TV reference they dig up. It
also demonstrates what a bunch of pseudo-hip frauds they are (all trying to be
Quentin Tarantino, for instance).
Creator Seth MacFarlane does many of the voices and is joined by an
astoundingly talented group of writers, directors, and other voice actors to
make 49 of some of the most important half-hours of TV a commercial network has
produced since the waning days of the Big Three networks.
likely a reason many of the references date back to that time or earlier, in
its own way, picking up where great TV left off from that time. There are many references to great pop
culture since, but the older ones are always the most knowing and telling. The comic timing is nothing short of
remarkable, and there are many historic references to match all the pop
culture. Then there is the wittiness,
clever outrageousness that reminds us over and over why politically correctness
is one of the great frauds of the 20th and 21 Centuries.
there are the characters. They make up a
family that knows it’s dysfunctional and has overcome it and exceed it with
glee, which is where the series picks up.
Add that up and you have what may the first post-Freudian/post-modern TV
family, the logical next step after The
Simpsons that TV not dared to do.
It’s amazing this debuted on a broadcast network and not cable/satellite
or a premium pay service. The Griffins
include Peter, the father who is the only character who is still trying to believe
in closure. He is good hearted, working
at a toy company, but he’s also insecure.
The result is he is either a little wired or a bit depressed many
times. Lois is the semi-hip wife and
mother who is from the richer background, but is now struggling with the family
for a better tomorrow. Chris is the son
who seems to have inherited the dull side of Peter’s personality, though sister
Meg has depressive issues of her own, neither necessarily fit in. Stewie is their newborn baby brother who is
the dangerous intellectual genius in the family, but his very short time on
earth and lack of “experience” creates some unique “distorted perceptions” of the
world around him. Yes, he is only
one-year-old. Finally, there is the
realist of the family, Brian, who happens to be the family dog.
there are the episodes.
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
Peter Peter Caviar Eater
10) Da Boom
11) Brian In Love
12) Love Thy Trophy
13) Death Is A Bitch
14) The King Is Dead
15) I Am Peter, Hear Me Roar
16) If I’m Dyin’, I’m Lyin’
17) Running Mates
18) A Picture Is Worth A 1,000
19) 15 Minutes Of Shame
20) Road To Rhode Island
21) Let’s Go To The Hop
22) Dammit Janet
23) He’s Too Sexy For His Fat
24) E Peterbus Unim
25) The Story On Page 1
26) Wasted Talent
27) Fore Father
28) The Thin White Line (Box Two begins)
29) Brian Does Hollywood
30) Mr. Griffin Goes To Hollywood
31) One If By Clam, Two If By Sea
32) And The Wiener Is…
33) Death Lives
34) Lethal Weapons
35) The Kiss Seen ‘Round The World
36) Mr. Saturday Knight
37) A Fish Out Of Water
38) Emission Impossible
39) To Love And Die In Dixie
40) Screwed The Pooch
41) Peter Griffin: Husband, Father…
42) Ready, Willing And Disabled
43) A Very Special Family Guy
44) Brian Wallows And Peter’s
45) From Method To Madness
46) Stuck Together, Torn Apart
47) Road To Europe
48) Family Guy Viewer Mail #1
49) When You Wish Upon A Weinstein (never broadcast)
titles alone are a hoot, but the stories are hilarious and as preposterous as
anything you will ever see or hear. The
gags are so multi-layered that you have to see the shows a few times to get all
the jokes, then there are the ones you forget when you go through that. When you get your hands on these boxed sets,
you can’t stop watching.
reason they have sold so well is the picture quality is one of the most
outstanding examples of full frame presentation in DVD to date, with superior
color richness and quality lacking from many anamorphically enhanced widescreen
DVD transfers, plus remarkable detail to match.
It is the new high watermark standard with which all full screen DVDs will
be judged, likely until HD-DVD arrives.
Fox, who supports the 16 X 9 D-VHS format, could put these episodes on
those tapes and they would be impressive.
The sound is also not bad, offering Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo with Pro
Logic surrounds that have exceptional presence and range most atypical of Dolby
at this (or any) level. If it were
remixed for 5.1 Dolby and DTS, it would probably work well too, but this is
extras are many. 14 of the shows have
great audio commentaries, though I had adjustment problems getting used to
hearing the voice actors as themselves.
That is 2 commentaries per each of the seven DVDs. Disc One has Seven internet promos, while
Disc Seven has an uncensored featurette, 28 deleted scenes as animatics, and
the series “pilot pitch” that was thankfully picked up. The series has finally found an audience and
will go beyond relegation to cult status.
The legacy of The Family Guy
is just beginning and is must-see viewing for everyone… who has a true sense of
- Nicholas Sheffo