Case Number 26487: Small Claims Court

FAMILY GUY: VOLUME 11

Fox // 2012 // 504 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron // October 29th, 2013

The Charge

Just mention the name "Meg" around me and see what happens...

The Case

There is a bit of a ritual in the Gibron household that started as a lark and has now turned into a hard fast nightly rule. Be it on [adult swim] or our local syndication station, between 11PM and 12AM every evening, Family Guy must be watched. Must...be...watched. Not because we find it particularly hilarious or cutting edge, but because, over the years, it's become a kind of soothing salve for the rest of the entertainment ideal. While other shows are busy trying to milk laughs out of traditional material (or, better still, going off on decidedly surreal strategies ala the amazingly brilliant Superjail!), the Griffin family remains forever stuck in Seth MacFarlane's 14-year-old boy brain stem. It's a reminder that, somewhere out in this struggling society of ours, are people who purposefully tune into this show, week after week, to chortle like weed-infused hyenas over every bodily function noise father Peter makes, over every pithy Brian bon mot and queer eye for the under-aged guy quip from the baby Stewie. Throw in Chris' crudeness, Mother Lois's loose lipped (all around) reality, and Meg's ugly duckling denials, and you've got something so unstructured and unsettled it's like watching an animated car wreck.

And I have become addicted to the carnage. I have watched every episode at least ten times, can rattle off the upcoming "jokes" at the drop of a hat and never feel fully ready to go to bed until the final blackout and the theme music plays. It's like therapy, a cartoon ambient buzz in the background of an otherwise complicated life. I can say I have laughed at times, but mostly for the wrong reasons and as each successive season shows up, I dial up my cable provider's Video on Demand and see what installments Fox, or TBS, or A.S. will let me labor through this week. Oddly enough, I do not own a single Family Guy DVD (or Blu-ray). I am not interested in preserving my particular psychological panacea or revisiting them at my leisure. I need the structure of the 11PM run, just like I do the 5:30PM predictability of PTI or the Tuesday at 10Pm regularity of Tosh.0. In my advancing age, I have been hooked on shows and subjects for no good GD-ing reason, and the results are a brain awash in a concrete set of shows. It takes a lot to break through (Wheeler Dealers did, Wheeler Dealers: Trading Up didn't) and even more to make me miss them when they are gone.

So Family Guy is one of those mysterious messages from the anterworld that demands my attention while amplifying my displeasure. The latest DVD release from Fox, which fudges up everything with a label of Volume 11 though it really represents the whole of Season 10, only proves my point. This is the season with the senseless American Dad/The Cleveland Show crossover "Seahorse Seashell Party" episode where Brian drops 'shrooms and then goes on a wild Frances Bacon meets Salvador Dali meets one of the Guy writers whose also an artist. Talk about a mesmerizing if ultimately unfunny mindf*ck. This is also the season where Ryan Reynolds proves he probably isn't gay, though should be ("Stewie Goes for a Drive"), Quagmire's sister returns with her supposed to be hilarious (?) wife beater of a boyfriend ("Screams of Silence: The Story of Brenda Q") and when Kevin Swanson, presumed dead in Iraq, returns to play politics ("Thanksgiving"). About the best bets here are the second installment of "Viewer Mail" (we get a great British take on the series and...that's about it), a visit from Ricky Gervais as a dolphin ("Be Careful What You Fish For") and Stewie's shock and horror at the cover to Queen's News of the World album ("Killer Queen").

But this is also the year where Peter does his own TV thing (been there/done that, thank you very much "You Can't Do That on Television, Peter"), Meg becomes the victim of a Taken parody ("Leggo My Meg-O") and Lois steps into the center of a mystifyingly stupid rant against religious tolerance when a young boy's parents won't give him the medical treatment he needs based on their faith in God ("Livin' on a Prayer"). In fact, a lot of Season 10/Volume 11 feels like those moments when the show sheds its fart infused scatology and tries for actual human emotion...and misses by about a billion light years. An attack of the Tea Party ("Tea Peter") has its moments, as does another time travel episode, this one seeing Stewie and Brian heading back to the show's origins to fiddle with something or other ("Back to the Pilot"). But when placed up against the pointlessness of Lois' parents forced retirement ("Grumpy Old Man"), Quagmire trying to get in Meg's man pants ("Meg and Quagmire") and James Woods showing up, once again ("Tom Tucker: The Man and His Dream"), it's clear the show remains as inconsistent as ever. Just the way I like...nay, need it.

As for the DVD release, you really have to take your time with this set to get the full force and effect of its offerings. There is lots of added content secreted away here, and the menu can be maddening at times. For example, in order to find commentaries and other bonus bits, you have to head to each episode individually. If you don't, you'll never know what is offered overall. Some of the best bits include aural outtakes from Ricky Gervais' guest turn, a discussion of what it took to incorporate the pre-cancellation Family Guy into the present series (for "Back to the Pilot"), some intriguing full episode discussions, and-perhaps best of all-a completely uncensored presentation. Curious what the Griffins are saying when things get bleeped? Consider your cat-like inquiries quashed. Visually, the series looks great. Not full blown presented in HD great, but excellent none the less. The 1.78:1 anamorphic image is color and clean, and there are no digital defects to be seen. Similarly, the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is perfectly balanced and loaded with crazy sounds and zany dialogue. Right.

For me, the highpoint of the season (and the reason Family Guy remains a reclusive ritual) came when the great Cate Blanchett turned up as Penelope, a little girl with an equally insane desire to destroy the world ala Stewie. When the two are together, the show struggles to be good (that included The Matrix inspired action sequence which closes the episode). The rest of the time, Lois complains about Peter's elephantine girth crushing her in her sleep. When she demands separate beds, Peter is perplexed. He needs someone to cuddle and snuggle with. Enter...Quagmire? Yep, that's how this show rolls. Homophobia disguised as humor. Thanks for never letting me down, Family Guy. My nightly need to feed -- mentally -- thanks you.

The Verdict

Not guilty. It satisfies on a level probably foreign to most who simply find it funny.

Review content copyright © 2013 Bill Gibron; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 80

Perp Profile
Studio: Fox
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)

Subtitles:
* English (SDH)
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 504 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Commentary
* Deleted Scenes
* Featurettes
* Animatics
* Audio Outtakes
* Viewer Mail

Accomplices
* IMDb
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0182576/combined

* Official Site
http://www.fox.com/familyguy/

* Facebook Page
https://www.facebook.com/FamilyGuy