20th Century Fox presents
Family Guy: Volume 4 (2005-2006)
"Well kids, just when I thought I would never find an assistant coach, I ran into this drifter hanging out near the elementary school playground. He's got a clown costume in his trunk, so we know he's good with kids, and pictures of boys in their underwear, so he's probably had some medical training. Well, I'm going to take off while he fits you for cups in that window-less supply shed. See ya!- Peter Griffin (Seth MacFarlane)
Stars: Seth MacFarlane, Alex Borstein, Seth Green, Mila Kunis
Other Stars: Patrick Warburton, Phil LaMarr, Mike Henry, Anne-Michelle Seiler, Fred Tatasciore, Ralph Garman, Chris Sheridan, John Veiner, Johnny Brennan, Adam West, Carrie Fisher, Bob Barker, Bobby McFerrin, Robery Downey Jr., Lori Alan, Charles Durning, Paula Adbul, Sherman Hemsley, Marion Ross, Tom Bosley, Nicole Sullivan, Jennifer Tilly, Frank Sinatra Jr., Wally Wingert, Tom Brady, Pat Sajak, Alex Trebek, Norm McDonald, Tara Strong, Wallace Shawn, Kate Jackson, Fred Welker, Betty White, Michael Clarke Duncan, Wanda Sykes, Carrot Top, Stacey Scowley, Bob Costas, Judith Light, Danny Smith, Gary Cole
Director: Dan Povenmire, Greg Colton, Kurt Dumas, Sarah Frost, James Purdum, Chuck Klein, Zac Moncrief, Cyndi Tang, Seth Kearsley, Dominic Polcino
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mature humor, language)
Run Time: 05h:14m:00s
Release Date: 2006-11-14
DVD ReviewBy now you're either on board with something like Family Guy or you're not. I don't really expect this 14-episode set of the show's fall 2005 to spring 2006 run (technically the second half of the fourth season) to necessarily make you a convert, though if it did I think you'd thank me eventually. No, I think a set like this is for the regulars, the ones who want to watch the politically-incorrect comical animated wrongness over and over again and laugh like drunken sailors at the steady barrage of absurdist humor.
So I won't waste time recapping the show's premise, because if you don't already know about the Griffins, I probably couldn't convince you to take a chance on this anyhow. Unlike something like The Simpsons—a show that I still hold in pretty high regard despite all the naysayers who claim it's in its death throes—the comedy on Family Guy is edgy and dark, often pushing itself hard against the boundaries of good taste, all the while hitting viewers with mounds of laugh-out-loud dialogue and completely bizarre scenarios. Under the watch of creator/voice talent Seth MacFarlane, Family Guy exists in a universe where off-the-wall, nonsensical tangents are king.
And that's what we get in Volume Four—in heaping piles—as MacFarlane takes on topics like same-sex marriage, religion, and FCC censorship. With characters that can do or say just about anything, he is able to build on the freedom to take the humor in literally any direction he chooses. To further this point, there are even four uncensored audio tracks in this collection, so MacFarlane and company are not even constrained by acceptable language limitations. Let's not forget the occasional musical breakout—such as a barbershop quartet singing about vasectomies or Peter Griffin's The Music Man rendition of Shipoopi as his touchdown celebration song—which tend to also move the show's humor into strange-but-hilarious places.
Some of the episode plots, whether it be Stewie encountering his just-as-evil half brother Bertram or a variation on Poltergeist, coexist alongside more topical throwaway things like Osama Bin Laden flubbing a video message, yet once again there is a clear reliance on having the writers beat a joke into submission. Intentionally, that is. I'm talking clubbing it mercilessly until it goes from sort of funny to overdone and then suddenly back to funny again. The uncomfortable length and repetition is almost like a dare, an endurance test made famous with Season Two's infamous, protracted Peter versus Giant Chicken fight.
I know that you know whether you're a Family Guy fan or not. If you are, then the need to have Volume 4 is pretty much a given. It contains some veritable classic moments—like the "fat guy" serial killer or Peter's new religion based on The Fonz—and the consistency of the funny stuff is very, very high.
Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: All episodes retain their original broadcast aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and the clean transfers show a marked improvement over the first volume. Gone is much of that distracting shimmer and shake from Season One; we're largely left with bright, vibrant colors held in by stay-in-place edges. On the nitpick scale, there are still some apparent compression issues, but overall it's not a bad looking set.
Image Transfer Grade: B
Audio Transfer Review: One audio choice, and it's Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. Nothing especially luxurious, but character voices do sound full and clear, with a nice directional spread across the front channels. The show's theme song and the occasional musical number sound especially strong and make use of the rear channels, something that isn't often done during non-singing segments.
Audio Transfer Grade: B+
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 70 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
5 Multiple Angles with remote access
42 Deleted Scenes
14 Feature/Episode commentaries by Seth MacFarlane, Chris Sheridan, Mila Kunis, Alec Sulkin, Wellesley Wild, Dan Povenmire, David A. Goodman, Alex Borstein, Matt Fleckenstein, Greg Colton, Mike Henry, Kirker Butler, Sarah Frost, Danny Smith, James Pardum, Kara Vallow, Frank Sinatra Jr
Extras Review: This three-disc set is packaged in three thin, clear plastic Scanavo cases inside of a slipcase. Individual case art carries things like original air date info and a one sentence episode summary, along with a list of commentary participants. Each episode is cut into five chapters and features optional subtitles in English, French, or Spanish.
And yes, each of the fourteen eps do indeed get a commentary, all featuring the big man, Seth MacFarlane, and a rotating crew of cast, directors, writers, and actors including Chris Sheridan, Mila Kunis, Alec Sulkin, Wellesley Wild, Dan Povenmire, David A. Goodman, Alex Borstein, Matt Fleckenstein, Greg Colton, Mike Henry, Kirker Butler, Sarah Frost, Danny Smith, James Pardum, Kara Vallow, Frank Sinatra Jr., Zac Moncrief, Shannon Smith, Cyndi Tong, Mike Elias, Steve Callaghan, Pete Michels, Darrel Heath, Alex Thomas, Cherry Chevapravatdumrong, Ron Jones, Patrick Clark, Patrick Meighan, Kim Fertman, Andrew Goldberg, Charles Song, A. Spencer Porter, and John Viener. MacFarlane's the go-to guy, and there's a whole lot of wacky banter, with the added weirdness of Frank Sinatra Jr. during Brian Sings And Swings.
Five episodes also feature the often overlooked multi-angle option (allowing for animatic comparison), but of real interest for you expletive lovers are the optional uncensored audio tracks available for The Fat Guy Strangler, Brian Goes Back To College, Brian Sings And Swings, and You May Now Kiss The...Uh...Guy Who Receives.
Disc 3 is also where the rest of extras reside, starting off with A Director's Life: Debunking The Myth (13m:51s), in which MacFarlane and a few of the series' directors talk about what it takes to do what they do. Then we have Peter Shin Draws Stewie (04m:47s), a quick lesson that wants to imply any of us could draw football-headed Stewie as quickly and easily as Shin does, as well as Behind The Scenes: A Glimpse Into The Family Guy Office (07m:14s), which has Adam West being lead on a tour of the production facilities by writer/voice talent Mike Henry. A set of 42 deleted scenes (14m:38s) isn't terribly long, and most of the gags are very quick ones, but this is still worth a look.
The Family Guy Exclusive Content requires a DVD-ROM equipped PC, but don't worry Mac-users, because you're not really missing anything. After a long install process for the HOTTLLAMA media player and a few downloaded updates, we're given access to a few storyboards and animatics and links to familyguy.com, americandadvsfamilyguy.com, and stewielive.com.
Extras Grade: B
Final CommentsThe absurdity just keeps rolling along, and the laughs in this set of fourteen episodes shows no real signs of letting up. The extras, with the single exception of the commentaries, are just so-so, but the option to hear a few uncensored episode audio tracks should boost the re-watchability for even the most rabid Family Guy fan.
Rich Rosell 2006-11-13