Reviewed by David Williams (April 3, 2003)
Seth McFarlane’s Family Guy debuted on the Fox network after the Super Bowl in 1999. While quite controversial, controversy was nothing new to Fox and Family Guy seemed to fit right in with the rest of their renegade (and very popular) shows. The show touched on (and parodied) hot-button and pop-culture issues of the day and pushed limits that even live-action shows wouldn’t touch … and it was able to do all that and remain quite funny. Fox and Family Guy seemed to be a marriage made in heaven.
When the show debuted, it attracted a lot of media attention and received a nice heaping of praise along with some kind reviews from critics. The first season finished up in the spring of 1999 and was a quick and dirty seven episode job that did a marvelous job of introducing us to Quahog, Rhode Island and some of it’s most hilarious residents, the Griffin family. The show became an instant cult classic and those who latched on to the show were absolutely rabid about it.
When Family Guy returned for a much longer run in its sophomore season, all was well with the show and with fans until Fox started screwing around with the airing of episodes and consistency was definitely one word that couldn’t be associated with Fox’s airing of Family Guy eps. Fans revolted – websites sprang up – petitions were signed – letters were written – phone calls were made - and the show was saved for a third season only to be given the permanent dirt nap from Fox execs the next season.
Family Guy has got to be the single most horribly treated show in the history of television and it’s a shame that a network as willing to take chances as Fox couldn’t get it together in order to save the show for a few seasons longer. Regardless, the studio has given new life to the series on DVD and fans prayers have been answered with the marvelous boxed set coming to stores in mid-April.
For those unfamiliar with the show and the Quahog, Rhode Island residing Griffin family, we meet Peter (creator Seth McFarlane), the obese, heavy-drinking, and fun-loving father of the family who makes his living working in a local toy factory; Lois (Alex Borstein), the calm, cool, and collected mother who spends her days giving piano lessons, putting up with Peter and avoiding the collateral damage her infant son’s latest invention might cause; teenaged daughter Meg (Mila Kunis and Lacey Chabert in early episodes), who is constantly embarrassed by her family and someone who wants nothing more than to be considered cool and accepted by the popular kids at her school; Chris (Seth Green), the overweight and dimwitted son; baby Stewie (Seth McFarlane), the diabolical infant who is hell-bent on breaking away from his parents so that he can continue to carry out his plans of world domination; and finally, there’s the family dog, Brian (Seth McFarlane) and he’s quite intellectual - he talks, walks upright, and drinks heavily - you know, just like your dog.
Anyway, there’s your quick introduction to the family so strap yourself in for a 10+ hour ride through Seasons 1 and 2 with Fox’s DVD boxed set release of Family Guy.
SEASON ONE: DISC ONE
Death Has A Shadow (Original Air Date: January 31, 1999)
Commentary with Seth McFarlane, Alex Borstein, and David Zuckerman
Peter loses his job and goes on welfare. After his first check is too big ($150,000), he decides to give the money back to the people by going to the Super Bowl and dropping money into the crowd from a blimp. After being led away by the police, the judge eventually releases him back to his family with a little urging from Stewie’s mind-control device.
I Never Met A Dead Man (Original Air Date: April 11, 1999)
While Peter is teaching wife Meg to drive, they crash in to – and knock down – the main satellite dish that feeds the cable television company in Quahog. With the cable out, Peter starts to lose it and go stir crazy. In the meantime, Stewie works on a weather control machine.
Chitty Chitty Death Bang (Original Air Date: April 18, 1999)
After screwing up Stewie's birthday by losing the reservation at a popular local pizza joint, Peter screws up again, as against Lois’s wishes, he allows Meg to go to another party on the same day as Stewie’s first birthday party. Ends up, the party Meg is attending is a cult meeting. Peter shows up to bring Meg home and the cult leader follows them home, as he assumes that Peter is abducting Meg from the cult.
Mind Over Murder (Original Air Date: April 25, 1999)
Peter punches a pregnant woman (who he thought was a man) at a soccer game and is placed under house arrest. Since he can’t leave his home, he decides to build a bar in his basement so his friends can come over. While Lois is initially mad, it ends up turning into a venue for her singing abilities as well. Stewie builds a time machine to fast-forward past his teething pain, but as usual, it doesn’t quite work out as planned.
A Hero Sits Next Door (Original Air Date: May 2, 1999)
Peter’s wheelchair-bound neighbor, a police hero and award-winning ballplayer – makes Peter feel very inadequate. Peter attempts to foil a bank robbery - with hilarious results - to prove he’s a hero too.
The Son Also Draws (Original Air Date: May 9, 1999)
Commentary with Seth McFarlane, Craig Hoffman, Alex Borstein, and Chris Sheridan
The family takes a trip to New York to complain to the Youth Scouts about Chris not earning a particular badge. When they take a wrong turn and end up at an Indian-run casino, Lois becomes addicted to video poker and ends up losing the family’s car. Peter must go on a “vision quest” to prove that’s he’s worthy of getting the car back.
Brian: Portrait of a Dog (Original Air Date: May 16, 1999)
Peter decides to enter the family dog, Brian, into a dog show to earn some extra money. While Brian originally agrees to perform, when he’s forced to beg for a treat, he decides it’s all too humiliating and then refuses. Brian leaves and returns to the mean streets where Peter originally found him and he’s quickly arrested and given the death sentence. Now, it’s up to Peter to save Brian once again.
SEASON TWO: DISC TWO
Peter, Peter, Caviar Eater (Original Air Date: September 23, 1999)
Commentary with Seth McFarlane, Chris Sheridan, Ron Jones, and Seth Green
Robin Leach makes a cameo as we learn that Lois is from a quite wealthy family. Her aunt dies and leaves Lois her “weekend” mansion in Newport, Rhode Island that used to be a whorehouse. Peter and Brian try to become a bit more aristocratic and well refined and when Peter bids $100 million dollars on a vase, we find Lois longing for their simple life back in Quahog. In an unusual turn of events, Peter finds pictures of ex-presidents with their whores and sells them for enough money to pay off his vase bid.
Holy Crap (Original Air Date: September 30, 1999)
Commentary with Seth McFarlane, Chris Sheridan, Danny Smith, and Steve Callaghan
Peter’s devoutly religious father moves in with the family after being forced to retire. He gets hired on at Peter’s factory and needless to say, starts to drive everyone nuts with his fire-and-brimstone ways. In order to get him fired again, Peter convinces him to kidnap the Pope.
Da Boom (Original Air Date: December 26, 1999)
Peter is warned about the end of the world via a giant chicken and he and his family take cover in the basement. It just so happens the chicken was right and the world’s fate is a nuclear holocaust. Peter founds “New Quahog” from the remains and appoints himself mayor. It doesn’t take long for the folks to get tired of the horrible job Peter’s doing and they banish him from New Quahog. In a wild cameo, Victoria Principal’s ‘Pamela’ character wakes up in a “Dallas” episode to tell ‘Bobby’ – aka Patrick Duffy – about a dreadful dream she had; and it’s about an awful episode of “Family Guy” she has seen - and it just so happens to be the one we just watched.
Brian In Love (Original Air Date: March 7, 2000)
After Brian starts having “accidents” all over the house, he goes to visit a pet therapist. The therapist concludes that Brian’s constant peeing is a physical manifestation of his unspoken love for Lois. At the same time, Stewie is refusing to potty-train.
Love Thy Trophy (Original Air Date: March 14, 2000)
The Griffins and their neighbors get together and create a float to enter in Quahog’s annual Harvest Festival Parade. They end up winning, but the trophy soon disappears and it starts a war between the neighbors who all think the other one stole it. Also, Meg wants an expensive Prada purse like her friends have and she takes on a waitressing job in order to help pay for it. She realizes that she can make a lot of money in tips and in order to get a bit more, she brings Stewie to work with her and claims that she’s an unwed mother and Stewie’s her crack baby. Child protective services comes in and takes Stewie away and the neighborhood pulls together in order to help the Griffins get him back.
Death Is A Bitch (Original Air Date: March 21, 2000)
Peter survives a health scare and gets a massive doctor’s bill to prove it. In order to keep from paying the bill, he writes “Deceased” next to his name on the form and sends it in. The Grim Reaper gets a copy of the bill and comes after Peter. However, when he arrives, Peter makes a run for it and Death sprains his ankle. While laid up on the Griffins couch, Peter does all kind of crazy stuff knowing that Death is recuperating and off the job - and lying on his couch. Death allows this taunting to continue as long as Peter does a job for him and kills the cast of “Dawson’s Creek”. Peter fails, but the Grim Reaper lets it slide.
I Am Peter, Hear Me Roar (Original Air Date: March 21, 2000)
Peter gets drunk at a low-brow comedy club and starts performing his own brand of stand-up. People laugh at him because he’s so drunk – not because he’s funny – and obviously, Peter thinks he’s a hit. He starts telling his tasteless jokes at work and ends up offending a female co-worker and getting sued for sexual harassment. He’s given an option to dodge the lawsuit and is forced to take a sensitivity class and go off on a women’s retreat. Lois doesn’t like the new, overly sensitive man he’s become and she rescues him by getting into a catfight with one if the feminist leaders.
SEASON TWO: DISC THREE
The King Is Dead (Original Air Date: March 28, 2000)
Lois is named artistic director of the local theater troupe, the Quahog Players, and she decides to put on a rendition of “The King and I”. Complaining of nothing to do, she makes Peter the producer of the show and he ends up making a mockery of the play. He sets the play in the future and throws in a few robots and a bit of nudity for good measure.
If I’m Dyin’, I’m Lyin’ (Original Air Date: April 4, 2000)
When Peter’s favorite show gets cancelled, “Gumbel 2 Gumbel”, he goes to the Grant-A-Dream Foundation and tells them that his son Chris is dying. He also tells them that Chris’s dying wish is to have “Gumbel 2 Gumbel” back on the air. When the Foundation comes to tell Chris’s story, Peter tells them that Chris is no longer sick and that he has been healed by his miraculous powers. Some folks in Quahog begin to worship Peter and God sends down a plaque to remind Peter who’s in charge.
Running Mates (Original Air Date: April 11, 2000)
Lois is running for the school board unopposed and Peter decides to run against her when his old whacked-out science teacher loses his job and Lois feels that he should remain fired. Chris gets in trouble when he’s caught peeking in the girl’s locker room and Peter gives him a collection of porno mags so he’ll look at those instead. The porno mag incident comes to light and causes Peter a few problems in his new position as school board member … and in a cameo appearance, James Carville advises Peter to blame the incident on his wife. Ultimately, Peter can’t follow through with the dirty deed and resigns from the school board.
A Picture’s Worth A Thousand Bucks (Original Air Date: April 18, 2000)
Chris gives his dad a painting for his birthday and a snobby New York art dealer spots it and decides that it shows some real promise. The Griffin family travels to New York to nurture Chris’s budding art career and when Chris learns that one of the conditions of his art training is that he can never see his father again, he decides that the life of an artist isn’t for him. In the meantime, Stewie becomes a Calvin Klein underwear model.
Fifteen Minutes of Shame (Original Air Date: April 25, 2000)
Commentary with Seth McFarlane, Steve Callaghan, and Lisa Wilhoit
Meg is sick and tired of being constantly embarrassed by her family, so she ambushes them on a talk show. The network is captivated by the story and they decide to cast the family in a reality show. Meg is obviously upset … and even more so when viewers vote her the least popular member of the family. Her role is re-cast with a perky blonde and the family soon realizes just how silly the whole mess is.
Road to Rhode Island (Original Air Date: May 30, 2000)
Brian goes to Palm Springs to pick up Stewie from their grandparents and they end up missing their flight home because Brian gets drunk and loses their plane tickets and luggage. They end up stopping in Texas so that Brian can deal with his mother-abandonment issues and he regrettably learns that she has died and was stuffed by her owners. Brian and Stewie give her a proper burial before they head back home. In another storyline, Lois makes Peter watch some tapes that will help make communication stronger between them and it ends up being porn.
Let’s Go To The Hop (Original Air Date: June 6, 2000)
Commentary with Seth McFarlane, Steve Callaghan, Matt Weitzman, and Seth Green
After a plane carrying “psychedelic toads” from Columbia crashes in Quahog, toad-licking becomes the new craze at the local high school. Peter goes undercover as a student and tries to convince the kids that toad licking isn’t cool and he ends up becoming one of the most popular kids in school. Meg, always wanting to become cooler and more popular, gets her dad to ask her to the dance (so she’ll being going with someone cool) and he ends up dumping her when he gets an offer from the most popular girl in the school. After being voted King of the dance, guilt sets in and Peter tries to make things right with Meg by making an unusual announcement at the dance.
SEASON TWO: DISC FOUR
Dammit, Janet! (Original Air Date: June 13, 2000)
Lois feels that Stewie is having a hard time meeting other kids his own age and she ends up putting him in daycare. At first, Stewie hates it and when he gets a crush on a girl named Janet, everything changes. Lois becomes bored around the house without Stewie around and Peter encourages her to get a job as a flight attendant – what he doesn’t tell her is that he only enjoys the perk of husbands being able to fly free. When Lois works a flight that Peter is on, things don’t turn out quite as planned.
There’s Something About Paulie (Original Air Date: June 27, 2000)
When Peter and Lois buy a second car that ends up being a lemon, Peter gets an offer from the mob to steal his crummy car so that he can file it on insurance and collect the money. Since Peter accepted the mob’s offer, they come to him for a favor and we learn that The Don wants Peter to take his nephew, Big Fat Paulie (Michael Chiklis), to the movies. The two become buddies and when Paulie pisses off Lois, Peter tells him they can’t hang out anymore. Paulie puts out a hit on Lois and ends up getting killed himself.
Too Sexy For His Fat (Original Air Date: June 27, 2000)
Commentary with Seth McFarlane, Steve Callaghan, Chris Sheridan, and Danny Smith
Chris decides that being fat is no fun and he decides to diet and exercise to lose weight. After working out and dieting to no avail, Chris decides to get liposuction. Chris is scared off by the surgery - and the surgeon - and Peter undergoes the operation instead. Lois disapproves, but finds herself attracted to her newly svelte and sexy husband, who is soon inducted into Quahog’s “Beautiful People’s Club”. However, Peter’s newfound good looks end up creating more problems than they solve.
E Peterbus Unum (Original Air Date: July 12, 2000)
Commentary with Seth McFarlane, Neil Goldman, Garrett Donovan, and Greg Garcia
When Peter goes to City Hall for a pool permit, he learns that their home isn’t listed as part of Quahog – or even the United States for that matter – and therefore, he forms his own country, “Peteroria”. Peter’s new country gets no respect and in order to get some, he decides to invade his neighbor’s pool. US-Peteroria relations go downhill from there and the Army ends up invading Peter’s border/home. After living without water, electricity, or access to the US because of sanctions, Peter decides to end his saber rattling and become a citizen of the United States again, dissolving Peteroria.
The Story On Page One (Original Air Date: July 18, 2000)
Meg writes an expose on Mayor Adam West (as usual, appearing as himself) for the school paper and when Peter discovers it before it goes to press, he replaces it with an article stating that Luke Perry is gay – and puts Meg’s name on the article. In a hilarious cameo, Luke Perry shows up and threatens to sue Meg while Peter tries to find evidence that Perry really is gay.
Wasted Talent (Original Air Date: July 25, 2000)
The local brewery – home of Pawtucket Pete – lets drinkers know that they are sponsoring a contest where silver scrolls have been placed inside of beer cans and whoever finds one gets a tour of the mystical brewery and a lifetime supply of beer. Peter drinks himself into a stupor and wins the contest so he and Brian go on the tour. They are kicked out when they’re caught drinking an experimental beer that never goes flat. Meanwhile, tired of coming in second every year to a rival piano teacher, Lois is desperate to find a piano student that can win the State Piano Competition. When she discovers Peter is a piano-playing genius when inebriated, she gets him loaded and he wins the competition for her.
Fore, Father (Original Air Date: August 1, 2000)
Peter escapes his spring-cleaning duties by going on a father/son camping trip with Joe and Cleveland. Joe points out that Chris is lazy and irresponsible and says that Peter's lack of fathering skills has a lot to do with it. Then, Peter unsuccessfully attempts to teach Chris responsibility by getting him a job at the golf course. It’s there that Peter discovers that Cleveland’s son, Cleveland Jr., is a natural at the game of golf and he decides he’s going to mold him in to a pro. Peter immediately begins neglecting Chris in order to work with Cleveland Jr. and it’s then that Chris turns to Peter’s friend Quagmire, who ends up taking him to a strip club where one of the strippers convinces Chris to give his dad another chance. Meanwhile, Brian convinces Stewie that the booster shots he just received are part of a plot to control his mind.
Whew! That’s well over 10 hours of Family Guy and I for one, couldn’t be happier. This was … and still is … a great show and I can’t think of another studio other than Fox that I would want to handle its transition from TV show to DVD boxed set. As usual, Fox has done an outstanding job and I can’t recommend this set highly enough.