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  • Full Frame
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English
  Extras
  • Animated menus

Family Guy - Season One

20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 317 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
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Pop quiz. Name the animated Fox series about a suburban, four-fingered family featuring a dopey beer and TV obsessed father, a long-suffering but devoted mother, a son, a daughter, a baby and a dog, all of which is infused with all manner of pop culture references, stabs at their home network and regular guest voice stars…

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The gang's all here...

Naturally, The Simpsons will come to mind for most, however Family Guy takes a very similar premise and, well, does very similar things with it. Still, despite never achieving the success of Matt Groening’s saffron-tinted cash-cows, in fact surviving only 50 episodes over three seasons, it isn’t completely fair dismissing Seth MacFarlane’s effort as a hopelessly derivative rip-off for, thanks to a couple of inspired characters, it raises itself quite well above such accusations. While taking many a situation that will be familiar to fans of The Simpsons, Family Guy well and truly justifies its existence with a propensity for pushing the naughty envelope a tad more (or, at least, a tad more obviously), while adding a certain air of twisted surrealism that’s been sadly missing from certain other animated shows for more years than we care to think about – the numerous tripped-out nods to popular television programmes past and present and some genuinely snappy visual gags being particularly worthy of note.

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Shaken, not stirred - naturally.

But where Family Guy really wins out is in the inclusion of two particular characters. The most intelligent family member in Brian the dog, an upright walking, talking canine vaguely reminiscent of Rocky and Bullwinkle’s Mr Peabody who comes across much like a doggy James Bond, and the show’s most original ingredient in football-headed baby Stewie, only hitting the one year old mark during this season and already possessing the countenance of a jaded British theatre critic crossed with the nastiest nemeses a certain 007 has ever encountered. His continual attempts at breaking the shackles of oppressive matriarchal tyranny via all manner of wild gadgets and fiendish plots are an absolute evil joy to behold.

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Stewie does his block...

As for the more typical family members, former towel boy Peter Griffin is the traditional patriarchal boob (complete with rather testicular chin), with his dead-end job at a toy factory. His poor, somehow loving wife Lois came from money, but through that inexplicable thing called love remains loyal to her hubby. Underused teenage daughter Meg occasionally goes through the usual travails of a girl her age, whilst her slightly younger brother Chris (voiced by Seth Green) has the approximate intelligence quotient of a carrot. They all reside in the Rhode Island town of Quahog and, well, generally get up to the same sort of antics we’ve become accustomed to from other animated families, be it The Flintstones, The Jetsons or, indeed, The Simpsons.

Disc 1

  • Death Has a Shadow
    Summary: After another drinking binge, Peter loses his job and discovers the benefits of welfare…

  • I Never Met the Dead Man
    Summary: Peter isn’t exactly popular upon knocking out Quahog’s cable link; more time with the family doesn’t go as Lois had planned…

  • Mind Over Murder
    Summary: Bound by house arrest, Peter opens a bar in the basement, much to Lois’ eventual delight…

  • Chitty Chitty Death Bang
    Summary: After screwing up Stewie’s birthday party reservations, Peter hijacks a circus, while Meg hangs out with a cult…

  • A Hero Sits Next Door
    Summary: New neighbours move in and after handicapped Joe saves the company baseball game, Peter decides he too wants to be a hero ...

  • The Son Also Draws
    Summary: Chris isn’t too fussed about being booted from scouts – he just wants to draw – however Peter is incensed so the family head for New York, but one wrong turn later…

  • Brian: Portrait of a Dog
    Summary: Brian faces the indignity of being entered into a dog show. Feeling a lack of respect he goes on the lam – only to face a death sentence…

Disc 2

  • Peter Peter Caviar Eater
    Summary: The death of Lois’ rich aunt means a mega-inheritance, so the Griffins move into a mansion. Some, however, cope with the experience better than others...

  • Running Mates
    Summary: After a favourite old teacher is sacked, Peter runs against Lois for the school board...

  • Holy Crap
    Summary: When Peter’s control freak dad is forcefully retired, he comes to live with the family – can the Pope save the day?

  • If I’m Dyin’ I’m Lyin’
    Summary: A growing web of lies is spun by Peter, all in order to save a favourite TV programme...

  • Love Thy Trophy
    Summary: Neighbours are at war over a trophy, while Meg’s desires for a real Prada bag see Stewie taken from the Griffins’ custody...

  • Death is a Bitch
    Summary: After Peter tries to shirk a medical bill, the Griffins’ are faced with a visit from Death...

  • The King is Dead
    Summary: Lois becomes artistic director of the Quahog Players; however Peter’s need to satiate creative urges gets in her way...

  Video
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Seriously, who could resist?
Made in full frame, released to DVD in full frame, how can we complain? The beauty of computer-created animation is that it usually enters the home domain looking quite snazzy, and this is certainly no exception. Save for the rare instance of aliasing and even rarer example of fleeting glitches (the more anally retentive may wish to check out around 5:41 in Mind Over Murder for an example of this) everything is verging on perfection vision-wise – the odd occurance of Lego-ness on certain zooms being beyond the control of the transfer as it was kinda made that way. Anyway, colour is gorgeous and solid, blahblahblah, detail is exceptional, blahblahblah, and we can see little use in waffling further in order to make this section pointlessly longer.

  Audio
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Getting down with the Griffins...
Although broadcast in Dolby Digital stereo, Family Guy comes to us at home in DD 5.1. Mind you, before anybody starts dancing on tables and cracking open the champers, there’s very little to distinguish it from its roots. The surround experience is pretty much limited to musical ambience and little else, whilst the subwoofwoof snoozes away peacefully for the duration. Still, the important stuff is covered; dialogue is never left wanting, no audio gremlins are apparent anywhere and synch, well, it’s a cartoon – you know the rest.

Approximately 99.7 percent (measured) of the music is original, coming from either Ron Jones or Walter Murphy. And yes indeed trivia buffs, this is actually the very same Walter Murphy responsible for the disco smash A Fifth of Beethoven from those gloriously glitzy mid ‘70s.

  Extras
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Sadly it seems that, in a rare fit of retrogressive doggy pique, Brian ate all the extras. A complete compendium of all 50 episodes of Family Guy that’s due for UK release soon promises all manner of bonuses including the pilot episode, whilst US releases boast commentaries for some episodes featured here. Phooey!

  Overall  
Contract

If you've been blessed with a slightly twisted sense of humour and can get past the on-the-surface derivativeness, despite falling flat on its face in the gag department a few too many times there’s actually a lot to like in Family Guy. Spread over two DVDs, audio and video is essentially as good as could ever be hoped, however the complete absence of anything even vaguely resembling an extra – especially in light of planned future (at least overseas) releases – is rather unforgivable. Maybe it’s time to sic Stewie onto those blasted Fox harridans responsible for compiling DVD bonus bits?


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=3192
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      And I quote...
    "If you have a slightly twisted sense of humour and can get past the on-the-surface derivativeness, there’s actually a lot to like in Family Guy... "
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-466-K
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
      Recent Reviews:
    by Amy Flower

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    "...worth a look if you’ve never before had the pleasure. Bullshit, or not?"

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    "Proving that simplicity is no obstruction to brilliance, this is an ultimately sweet (but not sickeningly so) tale that gives all those bigger English films out there a more than respectable run for their money... "

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