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Fox Home Entertainment presents

Family Guy: Volume 1—Seasons 1 & 2 (1999)

"It seems today that all you see is violence and movies and sex on tv,
But where are those good old-fashioned values,
Of which we used to rely?

Lucky there's a family guy
Lucky there's a man who positively can do all the things that make us
Laugh and cry
He's our family guy."
- title song

Stars: Seth MacFarlane, Alex Borstein, Seth Green, Mila Kunis
Other Stars: Butch Hartman, Mike Henry, Patrick Warburton, Adam West, Lori Allen, Wally Wingert
Director: Peter Shin, Michael Dante DiMartino, Dominic Polcino, Roy Allen Smith, Monte Young, Neil Affleck, Jeff Myers, Bob Jaques, Jack Dyer, Swinton Scott III, John Holmquist, Gavin Dell, Scott Wood, Dan Povenmire, Glen Hill, Bert Ring, Ron Renzetti

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mature humor)
Run Time: 624m
Release Date: 2003-04-15
Genre: television

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Substance
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Image Transfer
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Audio Transfer
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A- A-C+B+ B-

 

DVD Review

When it comes to primetime animated series, Fox television may have struck paydirt with The Simpsons, but the network is just as reviled by fans for the properties it has let languish and die horribly slow deaths. Matt Groening's Futurama, itself a smart, well-written show that maybe suffered from the inevitable comparisons to Homer and company, was bounced around to so many different time slots in the lineup it made following the show virtually impossible.

That same fate also befell Seth MacFarlane's incredibly funny Family Guy, which has now been given the royal boxed-set treatment by the very same people who let the show shrivel away into nothingness in the first place. The fact that MacFarlane's show debuted on Super Bowl Sunday in 1999, and the second episode didn't air until April of that year would seem to indicate that it was destined to be swimming upstream its whole short life.

Family Guy takes place in the fictitious town of Quahog, Rhode Island, and centers around the functionally dysfunctional Griffin family. Peter (voiced by MacFarlane), he of the testicle-shaped chin, is the rotund head-of-the-household, and appears to be as similarly dense and simple-minded as one Homer J. Simpson. Lois (voiced by Mad TV's Alex Borstein) is Peter's wife, and often times is the only sane voice to be heard above the din. Their two angst-ridden teenaged children are Chris (voiced by Seth Green), the chubby introverted artist wannabe, and Meg (voiced by Mila Kunis), the lonely president of the Quahog chapter of the Luke Perry Fan Club. Stewie (also voiced by MacFarlane) is the Griffin's one-year-old son, and he is constantly planning violent upheaval; it's never made entirely clear whether Stewie, who speaks like Sideshow Bob's well-heeled sibling, can actually be heard by anyone else in his family, but that is one of the show's recurring unexplained gags. Lastly, the Griffin household is completed by Brian the dog (MacFarlane again), a martini-sipping alum of Brown University who, like Stewie, can talk.

A lot of the humor in Family Guy is based on quick, nonsensical sight gags, often prefaced by a character saying "That was like the time..." The bizarreness quotient is so high in this series that it's impossible to anticipate what joke might be lurking in the next frame, and it's just as likely that the payoff will be surreal, and generally laugh-out-loud funny. The episodes are loaded with not just a surprising amount of clever sexual innuendos, but a wealth of oddball pop culture references from the 1970s on up as well.

In watching these 28 episodes (each approximately 22 minutes) nearly back-to-back, one can see a slight change in the writing style from disc one to disc four that maybe weren't so noticeable when they originally aired. Watching them in large blocks, one after another, it becomes more apparent that there are less frantic one-shot visual gags, and more of a reliance on somewhat cohesive storylines. Still, the humor is way out there, but the style and approach are throttled down slightly.

Let's take a peek at what's inside the set:


DISC ONE

Death Has a Shadow
Original Air Date: 01/31/99
Directed by: Peter Shin

"Kids, Daddy only drank so the Statue of Liberty would take her clothes off." - Peter

The series premiere episode has Peter losing his job at the Happy-Go-Lucky Toy Factory after letting a number of unsafe toys pass inspection, and he struggles to keep it a secret from Lois. Meanwhile, a clerical error at the Welfare Office delivers Peter $150,000 per week (instead of $150) and the Griffins start living large. Plenty of great, quick visual gags, like the Kool-Aid guy busting in through the courthouse wall, keep the laugh content pretty high.

This episode rates 5 out of 5 Stewies:





I Never Met the Dead Man
Original Air Date: 04/11/99
Directed by: Michael Dante DiMartino

"Forecast for tomorrow: a few sprinkles of genius with a chance of doom." - Stewie

Peter gives Meg a driving lesson, and on the way home he runs over Quahog's cable television transmitter, cutting off service to the whole town. This prompts Peter to discover new ways to pass the time, which results in an encounter with a comically spastic William Shatner. There is a great Wizard of Oz gag, and Stewie's revenge against broccoli has him building a weather-controlling device out of a See-And-Say toy.

This episode rates 4 out of 5 Stewies:





Chitty Chitty Death Bang
Original Air Date: 04/18/99
Directed by: Dominic Polcino

"I say, am I supposed to spend the whole day wallowing around in my own feces?" - Stewie

It's Stewie's first birthday, and he is worried about the return of "the man in white" who pulled him unjustly from Lois' womb. He has a funny Star Wars-inspired memory as a sperm fertilizing an egg, and Peter buys a "big ass pinata", literally, for the big birthday bash. MacFarlane throws in some sharp Heaven's Gate barbs, and features a murderous Marshall Applewhite-ish character as well.

This episode rates 4 out of 5 Stewies:





Mind Over Murder
Original Air Date: 04/25/99
Directed by: Roy Allen Smith

"For the love of God, shake me like a British nanny!" - Stewie

After getting put under house arrest for punching a masculine-looking woman at Chris' soccer game, Peter builds a lavish bar in the basement of their home. Marital pressures build when Lois becomes a popular, lusted after torch singer at the new bar, which takes the fun out of having a guys-only getaway place for Peter. There is a really funny Mentos-like commercial featuring Abe Lincoln and John Wilkes-Booth, and a surreal moment from "Homicide: Life on Sesame Street," which shows off Bert's bare ass.

This episode rates 4.5 out of 5 Stewies:





A Hero Sits Next Door
Original Air Date: 05/02/99
Directed by: Monte Young

"I'd like to help you, but I've got to go out in the hallway and chew on my ass for an hour." - Brian

Peter has to find a ringer for the company softball team, and he recruits his new neighbor. The caveat is that the guy's in a wheelchair, but when he turns out to be a charismatic, likeable guy it drives Peter crazy. This episode is one of the weaker in the set, and is loaded with a lot of non-PC handicapped jokes that mostly fall flat, something that was toned down slightly in later appearances by wheelchair-bound Joe (Patrick Warburton). A rooftop fight sequence with The Grinch almost saves this one, but the small moments are too few and far between.

This episode rates 3.5 out of 5 Stewies:




The Son Also Draws
Original Air Date: 05/09/99
Directed by: Neil Affleck

"Jello? How exotic. I feel like I'm on the deck of the QE II." - Stewie

Chris gets booted out of Boy Scouts, and the family takes an ill-fated trip to New York City to get him reinstated. After a stop at an Indian casino, Lois loses the family car and Peter and Chris have to go on a vision quest together. Overall humor is a little uneven, but there is a genuine gutbuster during the car trip where Peter is struggling to make it to a bathroom, all the while passing an assortment of none-so-subtle signs ("Dump," "Wide Load," "All Stools Must Go").

This episode rates 4 out of 5 Stewies:





Brian: Portrait of a Dog
Original Air Date: 05/15/99
Directed by: Michael Dante DiMartino

"I'll be on the veranda, since you're already on the cross." - Brian

Family pooch Brian is forced to enter a dog show to try and win the $500 prize so the Griffins can get a new air conditioner. Peter accidently humiliates him at the show, and the disgruntled Brian leaves home, only to end up on death row (where he reads "Barely Legal Bitches" magazine). Maybe not as laugh-out-loud as some, but the character of Brian is so comically low key, that it was good to see an episode devoted specifically around him.

This episode rates 4 out of 5 Stewies:





DISC TWO

Peter Peter Caviar Eater
Original Air Date: 09/23/99
Directed by: Jeff Myers

"If I ever go back to Quahog, it will be just to poke poor people with sticks." - Chris

The Griffins inherit a 30-room mansion in Newport, and Peter is worried about not being classy enough for all of the bluebloods. This is the typical fish-out-of-water scenario that has been done since time began by just about every sit-com, but it works pretty well here, in that wonderfully bizarre Family Guy way. Where else are you going to see a character dance with a corpse and find pornographic pictures of Abe Lincoln, all in the space of 22 minutes? If that weren't enough, all of you Annie fans will really appreciate the Emmy®-nominated production number parody of I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here.

This episode rates 5 out of 5 Stewies:





Holy Crap
Original Air Date: 09/30/99
Directed by: Neil Affleck

"My dad worked at that mill for 60 years. That's almost 80 years." - Peter

A forced retirement for Peter's curmudgeonly father Francis leads to an onslaught of bible-induced diatribes aimed at the Griffin family. Plenty of weird bible-themed humor, which is always welcome, including a quick sight gag of Abraham (Lincoln) killing Isaac (from The Love Boat); the episode culminates with Peter eventually hijacking the Pope along with some funny Batman-styled antics.

This episode rates 4 out of 5 Stewies:





Da Boom
Original Air Date: 12/26/99
Directed by: Bob Jaques

"Y2K? What are you selling? Chicken or sex jelly?" - Peter

Probably one of the best Family Guy episodes of all, Da Boom addresses Y2K fears and paranoia as the big alabaster clam gets ready to drop in Quahog on New Year's Eve 1999. When midnight rolls around it heralds big-time apocalypse as bombs drop, planes crash and trains derail, resulting in a world full of mutated characters. The Griffins set out to search for a mythical Twinkee factory, and young Stewie sports squid-like tentacles after landing in a puddle of radioactive goo. The beginning has a comically prolonged fight scene between Peter and a giant chicken, while the ending is completely and undeniably brilliant.

This episode rates 5 out of 5 Stewies:





Brian in Love
Original Air Date: 03/07/00
Directed by: Jack Dyer

"I'd take my sweater off, but I'm afraid it's attached to my skin." - Brian

Not too many primetime shows could tackle the subject of bestiality with as much aplomb and humor as Family Guy, and in this one Brian has to come to grips with his love for Lois. A bout of accidental peeing leads the family dog to a therapist's couch where the truth comes out, as does what really happened to the Lindbergh baby and a stellar Logan's Run parody. There is a confrontational moment between Brian and Lois that manages to be both sweet and disturbing at the same time.

This episode rates 4.5 out of 5 Stewies:




Love Thy Trophy
Original Air Date: 03/14/00
Directed by: Jack Dyer

"Flappy, good news. I've decided not to kill you." - Stewie

Peter and his neighbors build a trophy-winning Who's The Boss float for Quahog's annual Harvest Festival, which leads to hilarious degrees of Treasure of the Sierra Madre-like obsessiveness as they all try to share the prize, and blame each other when it ends up missing. Meg gets a job waitressing at a pancake house, where Stewie gets a crack-like addiction to Flappy's flapjacks and sets up the episode's second act where he is taken away to a foster family. It's not often you'll find the word "vagina" worked seamlessly into a punchline on an animated show, but you will in this episode.

This episode rates 4.5 out of 5 Stewies:





Death is a Bitch
Original Air Date: 03/21/00
Directed by: Michael DiMartino

"Make yourself at home, Death. I'm going out for a while." - Peter

A breast cancer scare has Peter thinking he is going to die soon, and the Grim Reaper (voiced by Norm MacDonald) shows up to claim him. But when Death ends up with a twisted ankle, he has to recuperate on the Griffin's couch. Peter has to don the black robe and carry the scythe until Death is healthy, and his first order of business is to kill the cast of Dawson's Creek. MacDonald does his usual low-key, smart-ass schtick, as you might expect, and he is one of the few guest voices who nearly manages to effortlessly overshadow the regular talent.

This episode rates 4.5 out of 5 Stewies:





The King is Dead
Original Air Date: 03/28/00
Directed by: Monte Young

"Peter, don't wipe your nose on the couch." - Lois

Lois becomes the director of the local theater group, and arranges a production of The King and I. In an effort to bolster his creative side, Peter is appointed producer, and proceeds to usurp Lois as the classic play transforms into the story of a futuristic robot ninja, with a hint of Flashdance. This one is similar in basic tone to The Simpsons Ron Howard/Talking Pie episode, though McFarlane throws in the odd visual of God marveling at Shrinky-Dinks, only to have them stolen by Albert Einstein. Peter's Mr. Zucchini toy prototype is a demented phallic creation and how it slipped by the Fox censors is a mystery to me. I'm just glad it did.

This episode rates 5 out of 5 Stewies:





DISC THREE

I Am Peter, Hear Me Roar
Original Air Date: 03/28/00
Directed by: Monte Young

"This comic sucks. He couldn't make me laugh even if I was laughing my ass off and he was making me do it." - Peter

Appreciating women isn't Peter's strong suit, which leads him to utter such witticisms as "Women are not people. They are devices built by the Lord Jesus Christ for our entertainment." When a sexual harassment suit against Peter lands him at a two week "Woman on Woman" retreat, he gets way too in touch with his feminine side. This episode follows up on horny neighbor Quagmire's secret lust for Lois (something first brought up in Love Thy Trophy) when she enters his swinging space-age bachelor pad, and almost becomes his sexual conquest.

This episode rates 4 out of 5 Stewies:





If I'm Dyin, I'm Lyin'
Original Air Date: 04/04/00
Directed by: Swinton Scott III

"Symptoms? He's growing nipples all over his body!" - Peter

When the "beach justice" Gumbel 2 Gumbel show (a Griffin favorite) is cancelled, Peter pretends that Chris has a terminal illness in order to get the Grant-A-Dream Foundation to get the show back on the air. Just when it seems he will be found out, Peter claims to have "healed" Chris, and that sets a horde of faith-healing worshippers onto the Griffin doorstep. Not much in the way of weird visual gags or references, though the plagues bit at the end was pretty enjoyable.

This episode rates 3.5 out of 5 Stewies:





Running Mates
Original Air Date: 04/11/00
Directed by: John Holmquist

"Your mother is not an object. Listen to what it says." - Peter

Conservative Lois decides to run for School Board President, but finds herself running against Peter, who is trying to get a radical teacher reinstated. Meanwhile, Stewie finally comes to terms with his true feelings about Lois during a rendition of I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face. Political consultant James Carville lends his voice to a characterization of himself as a political consultant, who is so ugly Peter can't bear to look at him. Ouch!

This episode rates 4 out of 5 Stewies:





A Picture's Worth a Thousand Bucks
Original Air Date: 04/18/00
Directed by: Gavin Dell

"I'm going to crap double for you tonight." - Stewie

The nearly forgotten Chris gets a lead role in this installment after a snooty New York artist discovers him. Renamed Christobel, he is set to become the new Warhol, but since this is Family Guy you, we should realize by now that likely won't happen. Typical surreal weirdness abounds, like Big Bird showing up to call Meg a "bitch," or New York City suddenly transforming into Bedrock for no apparent reason.

This episode rates 4 out of 5 Stewies:





Fifteen Minutes of Shame
Original Air Date: 04/25/00
Directed by: Scott Wood


"Shut up and throw a chair!" - Peter

It's during Quahog's Clam Days Festival that we learn that the town's mayor is the one and only Adam West. Yes, that Adam West. His role serves no real purpose other than to just add to the general off-center vibe, but the real core of Fifteen Minutes of Shame is dished up when Meg realizes that her family completely embarrasses her, highlighted during a slumber party where the sounds of Peter and Lois having sex echo through the house. The Griffins then become the subjects of a reality television show ("The Real Live Griffins"), and when Meg walks off she is replaced by a sexier, more popular "Meg."

This episode rates 4 out of 5 Stewies:





Road to Rhode Island
Original Air Date: 05/30/00
Directed by: Dan Povenmire

"You could be in magazines. And not like Juggs or Creamsicle." - Brian

This episode bypasses the traditional opening song in favor of one dedicated to Brian and Stewie in a take-off of the Hope/Crosby Road pictures. In trying to deal with his abandonment issues, Brian starts drinking heavily. When he is dispatched to Palm Springs to retrieve Stewie from a visit to the grandparents, the pair have trouble getting back to Quahog after their plane tickets are stolen. Not as many of the usual quick sight gags in this one, but with the focus on Brian and Stewie it stands to reason that there is a good amount of witty back and forth banter here. Plus Road to Rhode Island includes a splendid Hope/Crosby soft shoe number done in a boxcar, with perfectly perverse lyrics.

This episode rates 3.5 out of 5 Stewies:





Let's Go to the Hop
Original Air Date: 06/06/00
Directed by: Glen Hill

"Not only did I live long enough to see Meg go to her first dance, but I'm taking her. Thanks, Geritol." - Peter

A planeload of Columbian Spotted toads crashes in Quahog, and the local high school kids discover the mind-altering pleasures of toad-licking. In order to bust up the toad ring, Peter volunteers to go undercover as pompadoured hipster Lando Griffin, the kind of guy who spray paints "The Thompson Twins Rule" on school walls. There's a weird storyline about Lando taking Meg to a dance, but this episode is best remembered for the full-blown Grease parody where Lando describes, in great detail, what will happen if you don't "get off the toad." Uneven, but worth it for the Grease segment.

This episode rates 3.5 out of 5 Stewies:





DISC FOUR

Dammit, Janet!
Original Air Date: 06/13/00
Directed by: Bert Ring

"If you get a job, who's going to protect me from the evil monkey living in my closet?" - Chris

Concerned about his ability to play with others, Lois dumps off violent Stewie at the Hugs and Kisses (The Good Kind) Day Care. With new found free time, Lois gets a job as a stewardess, but Peter abuses the free flight privileges, of course. Stewie falls head-over-heels for a girl named Janet, and considering The Rocky Horror Picture Show-esque title, it shouldn't be a surprise that she soon is making eyes at a toddler named, you guessed it, Brad. There's yet another song in this episode, sung by Stewie about his unrequited love, and Peter ends up in Cuba after a hijacking.

This episode rates 3 out of 5 Stewies:





There's Something About Paulie
Original Air Date: 06/27/00
Directed by: Monte Young

"No way. A guy at work bought a car out of the paper. Ten years later: Herpes." -Peter

The quality control monitor must have been dozing off for this uncharacteristically tired mob satire, whereby Peter has to babysit the obnoxious mobster Big Fat Paulie. Peter inadvertently puts out a mob hit on Lois, and spends the rest of the episode trying to convince the local don to call it off. A few giggles, but in general this is a weak installment of an otherwise brilliant series. Everyone is allowed one.

This episode rates 2.5 out of 5 Stewies:




He's Too Sexy For His Fat
Original Air Date: 06/27/00
Directed by: Glen Hill

"Dad, I don't like running. The sound of my thighs scraping together hurts my ears." - Chris

Chris is concerned about his weight problem (after being mistaken for a van) and Peter decides to take him for liposuction. Even though Chris chickens out, Peter gets sucked and turns into a ripped stud, which earns him a prestigious membership in the snooty Quahog Beautiful People's Club. The trimmed down Peter is a funny visual, but not as funny as him licking his own breast, which he does in this one. Meanwhile, Stewie develops an eating disorder and balloons into a rotund ball.

This episode rates 3.5 out of 5 Stewies:





E Peterbus Unum
Original Air Date: 07/12/00
Directed by: Ron Renzetti

"Nothing says 'Obey Me' like a bloody head on a fencepost." - Brian

Just when I thought Season 2 had slumped, along comes a gem like E. Peterbus Unum. When Peter discovers his property is not formally part of Quahog (or the United States, for that matter) he forms a self-governing "tiny, 4-bedroom republic" called Petoria. His maniacal form of leadership eventually earns the attention of the U.S. military, and the only allies of Petoria are Libya, Iraq and North Korea. The political humor is just as ripe today, perhaps even more so, and even an animated Susan Sarandon shows up whining about orphans and peace. Peter's big despot BBQ even includes an appearance by Saddam Hussein, who does his best to describe an episode of Seinfeld. Excellent

This episode rates 5 out of 5 Stewies:





The Story on Page One
Original Air Date: 07/18/00
Directed by: Gavin Dell

"Mission accomplished. We now have a picture of Luke Perry vomiting." - Brian

Meg wants to attend Brown University, which we learn is also Brian's alma mater. Her lack of extra curricular activities has her seek out a position on her school newspaper, and she writes a controversial article about Mayor Adam West and his paranoid obsession with water. Peter decides her article isn't hip enough, and he rewrites one proclaiming Luke Perry is gay, which is a problem considering Meg is the President of the Quahog chapter of the Luke Perry Fan Club.To avoid a lawsuit, Peter has to prove Perry is gay, and the episode showcases another weird man-breast moment involving ice cubes and freshly-squeezed orange juice.

This episode rates 4 out of 5 Stewies:




Wasted Talent
Original Air Date: 07/25/00
Directed by: Bert Ring

"This is the happiest day of my life. Now I know how Barbra Streisand felt when she married James Brolin." - Peter

You would think that a wicked Willy Wonka take-off would be a good source of comedy, but this one tanks a bit. Pawtucket Pat is a Wonka-like brewer who awards a magical brewery tour to whomever can find one of five silver scrolls hidden inside a bottle of beer. Peter downs mass quantities, finds a scroll and proceeds to get booted out, but not until after an unfunny song about wheelchair-bound neighbor Joe. The episode picks up a little when Peter discovers that being drunk makes him a natural at the piano, so he enters a competition primed on "talent juice." This one showed promise, but never developed properly.

This episode rates 3 out of 5 Stewies:





Fore, Father
Original Air Date: 08/01/00
Directed by: Scott Wood

"I say, Rupert. This paste is delicious. It's almost worth the bowel obstruction." - Stewie

It's male bonding time, as Peter tries to turn Chris into a man. When that fails miserably, he sets his sights on neighbor Cleveland's hyperactive son instead. The highlights here actually revolve around some weird fever hallucinations that Stewie has, the most memorable being a flock of birds with Mr. T's head. Really, you have to be there. The four-disc set sort of ends on a whimper with Fore, Father, showing up the second season's inconsistencies.

This episode rates 3 out of 5 Stewies:







Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The 1.33:1 full-frame transfer on this four-disc set is not completely without flaws, and the imperfections are sadly glaring. There is excessive shimmer and edge enhancement, and some of the backgrounds look so wiggly that I feared they might actually shake themselves off the screen. Some episodes fare worse than others, and I suspect those of you with 50"+ screens will find these transfer gaffes more than just casually annoying. Sure, the colors are ridiculously bright, with deep blacks, but the jiggly-wigglies are a near constant.

The flaws on the image transfer should not be enough to deter you from picking this set up, but it seems that 20th Century Fox could have done more to improve the look of this set.

Image Transfer Grade: C+
 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Spanish, Frenchyes


Audio Transfer Review: Audio is presented in a solid 2.0 surround track, that while decidedly light on any rear channel activity, still manages to present the character dialogue clearly and cleanly. The music sounds jumpy and alive, and the song-and-dance numbers come across wonderfully. The absence of a significant .LFE track doesn't diminish the overall presentation at all.

French and Spanish 2.0 tracks are also included.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+ 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 140 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Featurette(s)
8 Feature/Episode commentaries by Seth MacFarlane, Alex Borstein, David Zuckerman, Seth Green, Steve Callaghan, Lisa Wilhoit, Matt Weitzman, Craig Hoffman, Chris Sheridan, Ron Jones, Danny Smith, Neil Goldman, Garrett Donovan, Greg Garcia
Packaging: Nexpak
Picture Disc
4 Discs
4-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Fox didn't go overboard with extras for Family Guy (another slap?), but they have seen fit to include eight commentary tracks (two per disk), all featuring Seth MacFarlane, as well as a rotating group of writers, producers, voice talent, and even a composer. The content of these commentaries, like the show itself, is a little uneven in spots, and there is more casual chatter than there is substantive insight. While it is funny to hear MacFarlane and Alex Borstein (voice of Lois) deliver obscenity-laden lines in character, I was hoping for more frank talk on some of their censorship battles; MacFarlane does address a couple of instances (the jewelry commercial in Peter Peter Caviar Eater and the use of the line "this cock" versus "my cock" in Holy Crap), but most of the time the commentators are just poking fun at what's occurring in the particular episode. Still, the tracks are fun to listen to, and it's great to hear MacFarlane slip in and out of the various character voices. The commentaries are included on Death Has A Shadow, The Son Also Draws, Peter Peter Caviar Eater, Holy Crap, Fifteen Minutes of Shame, Let's Go To The Hop, He's Too Sexy For His Fat, and E Peterbus Unum.

Disc Four also contains a Fox Behind the Scenes featurette (04m:01s), which is nothing more than an extended commercial with slightly distorted audio. David Zuckerman, Seth McFarlane, Seth Green and Alex Borstein toss out a few soundbites, as do a couple of storyboard artists. In addition, we get to see segments of a table read, where McFarlane goes from the voice of Peter to Brian in a flash, to a quick peek at recording dialogue. Really the only merit of a quickie promo piece like this is to simply put a face to McFarlane's voice(s).

Each episode is divided in 5 chapters, with available English and Spanish subtitles. Each disc includes a Play All option, as well.

As for packaging, the four discs come in slim-line NexPak cases, housed inside a cardboard slipcase.

Extras Grade: B-
 

Final Comments

While the transfer is noticeably iffy in spots, it is the raw, surreal humor that makes this first R1 release of Family Guy episodes a required purchase for not just fans of the show, but for all of those who missed it the first time around. The high comic moments outweigh the tepid stuff, and the Fox execs who let this show die on the vine should be hung by their thumbs.

Highly recommended.

Rich Rosell 2003-04-13