Friday, December 23, 2011

Family Guy: Volume 9 DVD Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
America’s most dysfunctional family, the Griffins, return with another outrageous and hilarious, uncensored volume.  Follow unconventional dad Peter Griffin (Seth MacFarlane) as he gets up to plenty of antics with the reluctant help of his caring wife Lois (Alex Borstein), their awkward daughter Meg (Mila Kunis), dorky son Chris (Seth Green), maniacal baby Stewie (MacFarlane) and Brian, the family dog who is both a ladies man and a heavy drinker.  Bring the Griffins home this holiday season with Family Guy!  The three-disc DVD set features 14 episodes from the hysterical eighth and ninth seasons including the popular 150th episode, an extended version of "And Then There Were Fewer" and never-before-seen extras.

Film (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)

I recently reviewed the "Cleveland Show", which is a spin-off of "Family Guy," and it almost made me not want to watch "Family Guy"...almost.  I'm finally willing to forgive the creators of "Family Guy" and move on because I miss Stewie and I just can't stay mad at "Family Guy!"  If I were to hold a grudge I'd be left with "Futurama" or "The Simpsons" and neither of those shows amuse me the way "Family Guy" does, or more importantly have the same re-watchability factor.  "Family Guy" focuses on the lives of the Griffin family.  Threre's father Peter, his wife Lois, daughter Meg, son Chris, son with the football shaped head Stewie and their talking dog Brian.  Wheelchair bound neighbor Joe and the sex crazed Quagmire round out Peter's world. 

One of the things that I love about "Family Guy," is that you never really have to remember what happened in previous seasons.  This is volume 9, and you could easily just jump right into this series even without seeing the previous volumes.  Of course, I always recommend starting at season one, so you have all the backstory and get every underlying joke but if you don't that's okay too.  I meant to start over at season one and have a "Family Guy" marathon but I just didn't have time and even though I have the memory of a goldfish I was never lost or wondering what was happening in this season.

Volume 9 contains the following episodes on three discs:

Disc One
  1. Business Guy - Peter takes Lois' father Carter out for the bachelor party he never had.  During his lap dance he has a heart attack and slips into a coma.  Peter decided to run the company with ideas like "make the quarter more quarterly" and refuses to give up control when the time comes.
  2. Big Man on Hippocampus - The Griffin family is chosen for Family Feud because they have three sons (Meg is mistaken for a boy) and the opposite family has three daughters.  Peter gets amnesia and Dwayne (the Rock) Johnson makes a cameo simulating sex with Peter and Lois dolls that apparently can't be animated and shown on TV.
  3. Dial Meg for Murder - Brian learns of Meg's boyfriend in prison and rats on her.  Her boyfriend breaks out; Meg harbors him, and goes to jail herself.  Meg after "doing time" is a completely different girl.  Brian writes an article for Teen People about Meg that brings it all back into perspective.
  4. Extra Large Medium - Stewie and Chris are lost in the wilderness and Lois visits a psychic who tells her they will be fine and makes her believe.  Peter pretends to be a psychic to show Lois how easy it is to fake the gift.
  5. Go, Stewie, Go - Stewie auditions for a children's show called Jolly Farm and ends up cross dressing to get the part.  Meg brings home a shockingly normal guy, who Lois really likes.

Disc Two
  1. Peter-Assment - Peter is sexually harassed by his boss and creates an alter ego to date her so that she will leave him alone.
  2. Brian Griffin's House of Payne - Brian wrote a TV pilot which gets picked up but turned into a completely different show, and not one to be proud of.  Meg and Chris injure Stewie and try to pretend he is fine while he's unconscious like they are in the movie Weekend at Bernie's.
  3. April in Quahog - The local news reports that a black hole threatens the existence of earth.  Peter admits that he doesn't like being around the kids before learning this was just an April Fool's joke.
  4. Brian and Stewie - Stewie and Brian are locked in a bank vault and Brian is forced to help Stewie dispose of the contents of his dirty diaper.
  5. Quagmire's Dad - Quagmire's dad visits while being honored at the naval ball.  Quagmire becomes concerned his father is gay, but learns that he is planning a sex change.  Brian meets, and hooks up with, Quagmire's dad while away at a seminar not realizing who it is.
  6. The Splendid Source - Chris is suspended for telling a dirty joke he heard from Quagmire.  Joe, Quagmire and Peter set out on a quest for the source of all dirty jokes, leading them on a road trip that has them cross paths with Cleveland again.
Disc Three

  1. And Then There Were Fewer - Virtually the whole town is invited to a dinner, and each is told it's in their honor.  Guests begin to die and everyone is a suspect.  This hour long episode is a murder mystery much like Clue or an Agatha Christie mystery.
  2. Excellence in Broadcasting - Brian meets Rush Limbaugh, who he initially despises.  After a total reversal of values Brian finds himself agreeing with everything Rush says, and the two briefly become roommates.
  3. Welcome Back Carter - Lois' parents courtship is revealed and Peter learns of an affair and decides to blackmail him to keep it quiet.
I enjoyed the season overall, with the exception of "Brian and Stewie" - that episode was just sad, depressing, and long.  Until that point, I was having a great time watching "Family Guy," having a little marathon.  After that episode, I didn't want to continue, and in fact I stopped there that day.  Some episodes just shouldn't be, and just because things are animated it doesn't make them less disgusting than in real life.  They missed the boat in my opinion with that episode, but I did enjoy the season overall.

    Video (4 out of 5 stars)

    Eleven episodes are presented in full screen 1.33:1 ratio and 3 episodes are presented in widescreen 1.78:1 ratio.  Unfortunately, the set is only on DVD, not Blu ray.  The colors are bright and clean, and the image is fairly sharp for a DVD.  Black levels are fairly solid and the occasional CGI effect looks good too.

    Audio (4 out of 5 stars)
    Family Guy Volume 9 is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound.  The sound and dialogue levels are consistent throughout and there are some nice directional effects as well.  The rear speakers kick in for music and surround effects while the front channels are well used for dialogue that sounds clear and clean.

    Special Features (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)

    The quantity of special features is more than sufficient but some of them seemed like pointless filler.  They could have narrowed the special features down to a few less, higher quality features and I would have been just as happy.  I did enjoy hearing that playing with toys as a child was useful to the director of the Star Wars episode.  It makes me wonder if my three year old is already working on his career when he's playing with his action figures.
    • More from Fox - the Cleveland Show Episode "The Way the Cookie Crumbles" - I still don't like the Cleveland Show and I have now watched this episode twice.  It's not growing on me.
    • Deleted Scenes - Most of the deleted scenes aren't that funny but I did like the predator vision on Go Stewie Go and there were a few funny things left out of Business Guy.  Overall though, most of the deleted scenes wouldn't add much to their respective episodes.
    • The Comical Adventures of Family Guy - Brian and Stewie The Lost Phone Call - A Comic book style animated call for help answered by a joke answering machine recording.
    • Side by Side Animatic - Brian Griffith's House of Payne - Director commentary and side by side comparison of the animatic and final scene of Stewie's Star Wars Death Star scene.
    • Side by Side Animatic - Brian and Stewie - Episode Director commentary and side by side comparison of the animatics and Brian and Stewie episode.  The Director discusses applying the Jaws principle to the diaper scenes (letting your imagination run wild).
    • Side by Side Animatic - Quagmire's Dad - Episode Director commentary and side by side animatic of Quagmire’s Dad episode.  Turns out it's tricky for Brian to kiss a human because of the placement of his mouth.  Overall, it looks like not much significant changed to me.
    • Who Done It?  The Making of "And Then There Were Fewer" - A featurette about making the Clue-like, Agatha Christie-ish hour long episode.  Contains interviews with cast and crew.
    • The History of the World - According to Family Guy - For an animated comedy, Family Guy has devoted quite a lot of air time to history and religion.
    • Family Guy at Comic Con 2010 - Not surprisingly Family Guy was popular at Comic Con.  The panel is interesting, but I think it’s always weird to see voice actors, especially when they do the voices.
    • Commentary - filmmaker commentary is available on various episodes throughout all three discs.

    Final Thoughts (4 out of 5 stars)

    Terry Schaivo the Musical proves that "Family Guy" has no boundaries what so ever and will make a joke out of literally any situation, no matter how sad. I'm not saying that's a bad thing at all.  I think overall the world is far too sensitive about too many things and it’s refreshing to see everything and everyone made fun of without hesitation.

    Order your copy today!

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