|Family Guy: Volume Two (2001)
Starring: Seth MacFarlane, Alex Borstein, Mila Kunis, Seth Green, Adam West, Patrick Warburton
You have plenty of people to thank for the animated treasure that is “Family Guy,” namely series creator Seth McFarlane and a fantastic cast of politically incorrect writers, but there’s no one that deserves a big round of applause more than the millions of college guys who repeatedly tuned in to the late-night showings of old “Family Guy” episodes on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. The sudden interest and rise in popularity of the show caused an animation renaissance that played a major role in the series coming to disc, and eventually back on the air with brand new episodes in 2005. What’s even more ironic is the fact that the “Family Guy” rerun rights were so worthless, the studio allowed the cable network to freely air the show for one month in trade for the complimentary advertisement of the upcoming season one DVD box set.
“Family Guy” is one of those shows that was never really given the chance to find its niche audience. After premiering behind the Super Bowl and cozying up in a comfortable timeslot behind “The Simpsons,” “Family Guy” was given the musical-chairs treatment and placed in so many undesirable weekly spots, that even a couch potato couldn’t have caught an episode during most weeks. The third and final (well, kind of) season of “Family Guy” housed some of the best episodes of the entire series, and it continued to reign primetime as the most hilarious and controversial show on the air.
In an attempt to keep the series fresh for a third season, Peter (McFarlane) is forced to find a new job when his boss, Mr. Weed, chokes on a muffin at the Griffin house and dies. His first inhibition is to throw in the towel, but Lois (Alex Borstein) encourages Peter to follow his life-long dream of becoming a renaissance fair knight in the mid-season episode “Mr. Saturday Knight.” Peter tries out some other careers throughout the season as well, including a fisherman of the Atlantic and sheriff of a small, Southern village. The entire cast is back, and a few new characters are introduced, but the best part of the third season is the abundance of single character-driven stories. Martini-drinking dog Brian (McFarlane) appears in a few, including the two-part series premiere, Lois kicks butt in “Lethal Weapons” and Stewie (McFarlane) finds himself in “Emission Impossible.”
The DVD release for season three of the series has been given a much better treatment than the first volume, and the change in the volume of special features really speaks to the fans about how dedicated the entire cast and crew are to bringing the show to a bigger audience. The three-disc box set features all 21 originally broadcasted episodes, as well as the controversial “When You Wish Upon a Weinstein," which Fox originally refused to broadcast. The main problem with the transfer to disc is that they are still presented in an ugly 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio, but the colors certainly look brighter. The audio transfer has been kept the same, and you’ll have no complaints about the Dolby 2.0 sound tracks. Not fixing what wasn’t already broke, the structure of the audio commentaries have stayed relatively the same as well, with members from both the cast and crew dropping in on the following six episodes: “Mr. Griffin Goes To Washington” (disc one), “Death Lives” (disc one), “Mr. Saturday Knight” (disc two), “Ready, Willing and Disabled” (disc two), “Brian Wallows and Peter’s Swallows” (disc three) and “When You Wish Upon a Weinstein” (disc four).
The special features section on disc three is a lot more complete this time, and fans won’t have to rely on only the commentaries as a supplement to the show. Along with a short six-minute spot on the censorship of the series and a complete overview with cast interviews, fans can access the 8-minute series pilot that Seth McFarlane originally pitched to Fox executives, and 28 deleted scenes. The series pitch isn’t exactly the greatest looking thing, filled with gaudy colors and bad animation, but it does give the viewer a basic idea of how the show was originally conceived by McFarlane. Also, the deleted scenes are really just the animatics for deleted gags, so you’re not watching completed animation, but rather sketches accompanied by the character’s voices. Most of these proved to be pretty funny, and it’s a shame that they were never included in their respected episodes.
The third season of “Family Guy” highlights some of the smartest writing you’ll ever see on TV, with McFarlane and team unleashing an endless supply of pop culture jabs that will have you rolling on the ground with laughter and coining new catch phrases with your friends. While its Simpsons-like origin seemed harmful to the new series at first, the brand of humor is completely unique. There really is no show quite like it, which makes it entirely refreshing to know that while we all sit around the house watching our favorite episodes of McFarlane’s notorious comedy, new episodes are on the way. Life doesn’t get much better with a copy of “Family Guy” at your side.