Case Number 06060


Fox // 2001 // 112 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // January 26th, 2005

The Charge

Old Man: Hey, muscley arm, why the long face?
Chris: It's this girl. I can't talk to her. It's like girls are a different species or something.
Old Man: Who needs them? You like Popsicles?
Chris: Well, sure.
Old Man: Then you need to come on down to the cellar. I got a whole freezer full of Popsicles.
Chris: No, thanks. I gotta get going.
Old Man: Don't make me beg now.
Chris: You're funny. Bye.
Old Man: Get your fat ass back here!

Opening Statement

Sunday May 1st, 2005 is when Family Guy is scheduled to return from a very long hiatus (okay, it was cancelled) on Fox. Also, you may want to keep watching after the Super Bowl on February 6th, 2005, when Fox reveals Seth McFarlane's latest cartoon family in American Dad. I mention these two premiere dates because they both seem to be the impetus behind the release of Family Guy -- The Freakin' Sweet Collection. You might be wondering at this point..."Okay, there were three seasons of Family Guy, and two DVD sets have covered all the episodes (including the unaired "When You Wish Upon a Weinstein"), so why does this 'best of' set come out with five episodes I already own?" Well...basically, Fox needs cash. And since the Family Guy DVD sets sold better than any other television show DVD release ever, they figured this could be an easy sell. It has "cash cow" painted all over it.

What's new? An excised scene from "Road to Rhode Island" featuring Osama Bin Laden is inserted back into the episode, and we get new commentaries on four of the shows. You also get some new interviews with Seth McFarlane talking about why these five are his favorites, and a sneak peek of Season Four (only verbal -- no clips). Finally, there is a sneak peek of the new show American Dad which includes clips from what I am assuming is the pilot airing after the Super Bowl.

Facts of the Case

The five episodes featured here are:
* "When You Wish Upon a Weinstein"
* "Road to Rhode Island"
* "To Love and Die in Dixie"
* "I Am Peter, Hear Me Roar"
* "Lethal Weapons"

I could go into the plot of each episode, but there are only two scenarios here for you, dear reader. Either you're a fan, and these titles make you giggle with glee as you remember specific scenes or entire stretches of each of these; or you're new to the show, and I wouldn't want to ruin any surprises that await your discovery. It seems superfluous or cruel to even begin to summarize them. Let's just say this -- they are all very good.

The Evidence

Family Guy debuted after the 1999 Super Bowl -- which had little going for it as a football game, and not even Janet Jackson's nipple to up the ante. After its premiere, Fox bewilderingly put the show all over the place in its schedule. It was never a ratings winner, but Family Guy developed a strong cult audience who saw a show that blew The Simpsons off the map by being politically incorrect and insanely full of pop culture references. Fans were loyal to the show even though they had to constantly check the weekly listings in TV Guide each week, scrambling to catch what night and time slot the cartoon was now on. Things were so spotty after two seasons that many of the show's writers took other jobs before the series was renewed for a third season. Then it was cancelled. The Cartoon Network began to resurrect the show in its block of programming called "Adult Swim," and the show's Neilsen ratings spiked up higher than it ever had during its days on a network station. Then the DVD sets began to come out, and the show beat all records in sales.

Family Guy revolves around a bumbling blue collar dim-witted father, Peter Griffin, and his loving well-meaning wife, Lois. They have a slow son (Chris), a bright but very plain-looking daughter (Meg), and a baby (Stewie). They also have a dog named Brian, and they live in Quahog, Rhode Island. It's surprisingly close to The Simpsons in its basic premise, but the similarity stops there. Family Guy is more outrageous and out there, and its characters are never concerned with being lovable fools like the brood on Matt Groening's show. It is delightfully wicked and also quite a bit more perverse than any other animated show. Take the baby Stewie and compare him to Maggie Simpson. Whereas Maggie is mute and a pacifist with a pacifier, Stewie is a maniacal, sociopathic talking genius who's voice seems to be patterned after a very British and gay Rex Harrison. He's crass and violent, as well as disturbingly bent in several different directions. Then there is the dog who talks, Brian. He's a martini swilling brainiac who seems to be the most educated one in the entire family.

The video presentation mirrors the previous releases -- full frame, bright colors, and some artifacts. The musical sequences are rendered nicely in a stereo surround mix, but otherwise the show exists in basic stereo with the dialogue appropriately front and center. It seems little was done to these episodes that hasn't been done before, and there's hardly a reason to double dip. The tempting part of this collection would be that you do get new commentaries, and the inclusion of the Bin Laden in the airport sequence in "Road to Rhode Island" which was produced two full years before September 11th (spooky).

The Rebuttal Witnesses

I'm still not sure if the features here are enough to entice you to add this disc to an existing Family Guy collection. Some fans seem ecstatic to have the Bin Laden sequence back, but it seems like fifteen dollars is an awful lot to pay to have one minor gag back in a show (no matter how psychic it was). The looks at American Dad are too brief to be enlightening, and it seems similar to Family Guy in almost every way (different characters, but the same set-up and style). The new commentaries seem funny enough to warrant at least a listen.

Closing Statement

Family Guy is a no-brainer, but Family Guy: The Freakin' Sweet Collection seems like a move for more filthy lucre for Fox. If I knew all the profits went towards keeping the show on the air I would swoop into Best Buy and snap up the entire lot of them! Corporate greed meeting cult fandom puts you in an quagmire every time.

The Verdict

Seth McFarlane is free to go and make more of what I like -- daring politically incorrect toons that make me laugh until I pee. Fox is sentenced to performing public service for canceling the show in the first place, and then having the gall to resurrect it when they realized from DVD sales and a struggling cable channel they had a hit. I'm sending Stewie and Brian after them.

Review content copyright © 2005 Brett Cullum; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Video: 71
Audio: 86
Extras: 86
Acting: 97
Story: 95
Judgment: 87

Perp Profile
Studio: Fox
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

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

* English
* Spanish

Running Time: 112 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Commentary by Show Creator Seth MacFarlane (in character as Brian and Stewie) on "Road to Rhode Island"
* Commentary by Seth MacFarlane, Executive Producer Daniel Palladino, Writer Steve Callaghan, Writer Danny Smith, and Writer/Cast Member Mike Henry on "To Love and Die in Dixie"
* Commentary by Seth MacFarlane, Writer Chris Sheridan, Cast Member/Writer Alex Borstein (Lois), and Writer Craigh Hoffman on "I Am Peter Hear Me Roar"
* Commentary by Seth MacFarlane, Chris Sheridan, Writer Garrett Donovan, and Steve Callaghan on "Lethal Weapons"
* Inside Look at American Dad
* Seth MacFarlane Talks About American Dad
* Seth MacFarlane Talks About Family Guy Season 4

* IMDb

* Official Site

* Review of Family Guy Seasons One and Two