20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment .
R4 . COLOR . 441 mins .
M15+ . PAL
The success of Family Guy has been something of a testament to the power of DVD. After calling a relatively low audience when broadcast on television, Family Guy was cancelled by the Fox giant after it didn’t reach the heights of Futurama or The Simpsons. Now, after two immensely successful DVD releases, Fox have resigned the series with a fourth season (now on air) and have a feature-film in the works. Seth MacFarlane’s brilliantly original characters and his ‘no-holds-barred’ politically incorrect humour have certainly now found a huge audience, world-wide. It stands somewhere between The Simpsons and South Park, but maintains a perfect balance of each. Brimming pop-culture references keep Family Guy widely accessible and well-received among the more liberal of viewers.
Peter's younger, blacker brother.
I must say, however, that Season Three of Family Guy doesn’t really compare to Seth MacFarlane’s efforts in Season One and bits of Season Two. While there are a number of side-splittingly funny, and very sharp episodes, the collection on a whole isn’t as good as the first two seasons. The new Season Four, that now plays on American and cable-TV has obviously been given a tad more time in development, and generally proves to be of a higher standard. That’s not a surprise, considering the lengthy time between Seasons Three and Four, after Fox’s temporary cancellation of the series. With a Family Guy feature-film in the works, I can only hope that Seth and the crew maintain a high level of wit, rather than falling into the dragged out clichéd humour that Season Three occasionally slips into.
Negative comments aside, this is still a great series, boasting the same brilliant set of characters Seth MacFarlane created way back in 1999. It’s an excellent break from the routine Simpsons episode, and seems to be pitched at a much older audience. In terms of quality, Seasons One and Two will probably leave you more satisfied, however it’s great to see a whopping 21-episodes featured in this release.
I’ve listed the episodes featured on this set below, and highlighted the cream of Family Guy glory.
The Thin White Line
Brian Does Hollywood
Mr. Griffin goes to Washington
One if by Clam, Two if by Sea
And Where the Weiner is
Stewie doing his Peter impersonation.
The Kiss Seen Around the World
Mr. Saturday Knight
A Fish out of Water
To Live and Die in Dixie
Screwed the Pooch
Peter Griffin: Husband, Father… Brother?
Ready, Willing and Disabled
A Very Special Family Guy Freakin’ Christmas
Brian Wallows and Peter’s Sallows
From Method to Madness
Stuck Together, Torn Apart
Road to Europe
Family Guy Viewer Mail #1
This transfer is quite good, but unfortunately not perfect, and not up to the high standards found in Fox’s other animated releases, such as Futurama. Fortunately, the terrible problems found in parts of Season One are gone.
Lois unleashing the dragon!
Detail levels are what is important in animated releases, and on the whole Season Three is great in terms of detail – every line is clear and defined, colours are accurately represented and never bleed or feel over-saturated. However, one negative aspect of this release is its unfortunate blur. In many episodes, the image feels slightly blurred (noticeable especially on a PC), which is a pain. The image remains quite detailed, but occasional changes of scene will bring in a definite blur.
Some minor aliasing/shimmering is present, but it’s really minimal and doesn’t warrant concern. There are no other problems with the transfer.
The audio is fine and adequate. Season One featured a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, whereas Seasons Two and Three were left with Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtracks, which is slightly disappointing. However, the 2.0 track is surround encoded, and in reality features the same level of surround/LFE action as the 5.1 track on Season One.
All dialogue is clear and easily understood. Music and sound effects will occasionally take advantage of the rear speakers, but not frequently. The soundtrack could have been mixed with a heavier LFE/surround presence, but what we’re given is perfectly fine.
"We meet again, Mr Bond!"
There are no extras at all to speak of. Quite a shame. The subtitles are easy to read and clear. Usually they'll deviate a little from the spoken word, but remain faithful to what's being said.
Overall, Family Guy is a great animated series well worth owning on DVD. Season Three is probably the weakest of the seasons, but the boosted number of episodes makes up for it. The DVD is fine. Unfortunately the visuals are a little blurred at times, but it doesn’t particularly distract unless you’re watching on a PC. The lack of extras is a shame, especially considering that audio commentaries have been recorded (but don’t feature), and that The Simpsons/Futurama feature ample extras, but Family Guy doesn’t.