Seth Green, Mila Kunis, Mike Henry, Patrick Warburton, Jennifer Tilly
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Reviewed by Jason Zingale
he 100th episode of any television show is always cause for celebration, but for the creators of “Family Guy,” that excitement probably extends a little further than cake and champagne. In two short years, Seth MacFarlane has gone from zero to hero in the halls at FOX, and it’s all thanks to a show that, only a few years earlier, had been cancelled… twice. Now, it’s the flagship of the network’s Sunday night animation block, and though it’s arguably decreased in quality since its return to the airwaves, “Family Guy” is still one of the funniest shows on TV.
The sixth volume includes 13 episodes from seasons five and six, and while it’s a bit upsetting that FOX still isn’t releasing the DVD sets as full seasons, this collection contains more than a few classic episodes. At the top of that list is the 100th episode itself, in which Stewie finally kills Lois after years of making empty death threats. Peter, however, is the one blamed for the murder, and when he’s put on trial one year later, Lois reemerges to reveal the identity of her real killer. This sets up the next (and even better) episode in which Stewie, who’s taken Brian hostage and headed to Washington, D.C. to take over the world, is hunted down by Lois and eventually killed by Peter. And if you’re wondering how Stewie manages to live after being shot in the head, well, let's just say that MacFarlane and Co. are big fans of “Dallas.”
My other personal favorite is “McStroke,” where Peter grows a mustache only to have it singed off while saving someone from a fire. The man he saves is actually the owner of the local McBurgertown, and when Peter has a stroke from eating more than his share of complimentary burgers, he vows to sue the company. The episode contains everything that’s great about “Family Guy” – from quotable quotes (“With great mustache comes great responsibility”), clever cutaways (the Monopoly guy gets gang raped in jail), and even a “Monkees”-esque musical sequence that has Peter and Brian being chased by security guards through a hallway of doors.
Some of the other episodes (like “Peter de Familia” and “It Takes a Village Idiot, And I Married One”) are much weaker in comparison, but a majority of the collection falls somewhere in the middle. “Meals on Wheels” features a great gag involving Peter’s discovery (and abuse) of static electricity when he buys a used pair of footy pajamas; “Meet the Quagmires” is a fun take on “Back to the Future;” “Movin’ Out (Brian’s Song)” is loaded with all kinds of movie trivia, including an homage to “Clerks” that finds Chris working at the local convenience store; and “Boys Do Cry” sets its sights on the god-awful WNBA in one of the volume’s funniest cutaways:
Announcer 1: And at the top of the second half, the score is 16 to nine. Easton leads the scoring with four.
Announcer 2: And that's why she commands $7,000 a year. These gals sure do make it look difficult.
Announcer 1: But is having this minor skill worth being so unattractive? That’s for the fan to decide.
There’s no underlying theme or story that bridges these episodes together, but there is one thing you can expect a lot of in volume six: extremely long, knock-down-drag-out fights. You wouldn’t expect a half-hour animated comedy to be so proficient at staging ultra-violent brawls, but ever since its primetime resurrection, “Family Guy” hasn’t held back one bit. This volume features three of the show’s best fights, including Round Three of the ongoing battle between Peter and Ernie the Giant Chicken (in “No Chris Left Behind”), the gun-blasting, knife-wielding “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”-inspired climax to “Lois Kills Stewie,” and Peter, Cleveland and Quagmire’s surprise attack on Joe in “Believe It or Not, Joe’s Walking on Air.”
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of the hilarious pairing of Brian and Stewie. Over the last few years, their relationship has been comic gold, but in this batch of episodes, they rarely get the chance to shine. Only “Movin’ Out” (where the two move in with Brian’s girlfriend Jillian, played by Drew Barrymore) and “Peter’s Daughter” give them an adequate amount of screen time together, and it’s the latter that’s the better of the two. It may only be the secondary story, but there’s some great material that comes from Brian and Stewie trying to flip an old house for profit – namely the Michael Bay-sized explosion that is shown from about 20 different angles when Stewie decides to commit arson in order to protect his investment.
If there’s one thing that hasn’t changed, though, it’s that when it comes to “Family Guy,” no one is safe. MacFarlane clearly feels strongly about some things (George Bush, religion, etc.), but that doesn’t mean his liberal friends get a free pass either. Everyone is a target, from Hitler and Tom Cruise to Barbara Streisand and Discover Card (“Ooh, they’re an exclusive club called anybody”). The show has even toned down the amount of fantasy sequences considerably in favor of the more natural humor that stems from it’s characters (take that “South Park”), but they still play a big role in the show. The new structure actually works better than when the series first premiered, and it’s the reason why “Family Guy” is still near the top of its game.
Special Features: Though it’s pretty lame that “Blue Harvest” isn’t included as part of volume six, McFarlane has crammed as much bonus material on this three-disc set as humanly possible. Along with cast and crew commentaries for every episode, there’s also an entire disc dedicated to even more goodies like deleted scenes and animatic episodes for “No Meals on Wheels,” “No Chris Left Behind” and “McStroke.” Rounding out the set is a Just For Laughs performance of “Family Guy Live!,” an in-depth making-of featurette for “Stewie Kills Lois,” the clip show special celebrating the 100th episode, and a look at the crew’s favorite moments.