Fox // 2008 // 305 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Daniel Kelly (Retired) // July 23rd, 2009
Uncut, Un-PC, and Unsuitable for Kids
The Griffin clan are back for another 13 episodes in Family Guy: Volume Seven, Seth McFarlane's crazy and crude animated TV show. Along with Dane Cook, McFarlane's sense of humor is one of the most divisive sectors of comedy culture. Some people run out and buy every DVD with his name on it whilst others avoid his brand of whacked out shenanigans like the plague. I can sit back and enjoy the irreverent ways of Family Guy and whilst not a card carrying member of the McFarlane fan brigade, have no trouble in confessing that the show makes me laugh. I realize that it's probably not as memorable or influential as South Park and The Simpsons, but there is no point in denying the brazenly un-pc mentality of Family Guy doesn't solicit chortles from me, but hey, I like Dane Cook so I'm probably an idiot.
This DVD set doesn't contain much material that takes the show in any new direction, but it provides the same solid comedic output that made the series a hit in the first place. The key characters are the Griffin family, whom each episode revolves around in some sort of capacity. Let me introduce you to them:
Peter Griffin: The key protagonist and more than slightly similar to another, yellower TV patriarch. Peter is the closest thing to a central figure the show has with the majority of the plotlines revolving around his crackpot scheming and general idiocy. Still for all his shortcomings, he's actually quite a likable oaf.
Lois Griffin: Long suffering and rather lovely wife of Peter. She is level headed and sensible but occasionally prone to outbursts of delirium or sexual excitement. As a solo character she's only modestly entertaining but sparking of Peter's stupidity some rather funny comedy often ensues. It's a nice dynamic though not an especially unique one, after all I hear there is a TV couple just like that who hail from Springfield.
Brian Griffin: The dog, although unlike most domesticated pets he can talk. Always full of acerbic barbs and martini fuelled retorts, Brian is probably the most intelligent of the Griffin clan though not necessarily the most imbued with common sense. He has a habit of taking blatantly terrible advice from Peter and frequently goes on wild and ridiculous escapades with Stewie, with whom he shares most of his screen time.
Stewie Griffin: The baby of the family and bent on world domination and the death of his mother. Stewie can talk (albeit only select characters can hear him) and has probably become the show's talisman in terms of advertising. His worldly vocabulary and at times tendency toward malicious violence are tempered only by his camp disposition.
Chris Griffin: The adolescent and dimwitted Griffin boy. Has trouble with girls and hormones but unlike most teenagers isn't shy about discussing it. Embarrassing comedy is never far away.
Meg Griffin: Self conscious and unloved teenage daughter Meg is the least prominent of the clan, indeed her lack of participation and the general disdain she receives from other characters has become something of a running joke in the show. Ironically she is voiced by perhaps the most noteworthy cast member, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Max Payne babe Mila Kunis.
There are like all great comedy shows a roster of regular supporting figures too, including Peter's pals Joe, Quagmire and Cleveland, Mayor Adam West (actually voiced by Adam West), an evil monkey that lives in a closet, and assorted others. The show draws both from reality and the decidedly bizarre in conjuring up its cast but McFarlane combines them all surprisingly well under his banner of no holds barred and inherently random comedy.
Family Guy: Volume Seven isn't one of the best seasons of the show I've seen (it's actually a mix of episodes from Seasons 7 and 8) but there is enough serviceable humor for it to amuse those already initiated into the Family Guy cult. A DVD set of a show like this is often judged on the amount of stand out material that is present, and whilst I can't say any of the episodes here marks genuine highlights, there is an enjoyable and commendable consistency that represents its value to fans. Volume Seven is spread out over three discs and packs 13 episodes, considerably less than some previous Family Guy releases but with fewer weaker episodes as a consequence. Each disc probably features one installment that borders on mediocrity but the other episodes cheerfully perform what fans have come to expect from the show and deliver a surreal take on society, politics and popular culture. Family Guy maybe isn't as incisive in its observations as say South Park but more often than not they still find your funny bone.
The best episodes on this release are probably "Back to the Woods" and "I Dream of Jesus," the former in which famous Hollywood thespian James Woods steals Peter's identity, the other in which Jesus comes down to Earth, befriends Peter, and becomes a celebrity. These really embody the sheer craziness and comedic fizz that have made the show both a success on TV and in the home entertainment market. As per usual there is an episode in which a Stewie and Brain based adventure takes place, "Road to Germany" is primed with some good gags and alot of Nazi references but probably isn't as funny as some of the duos past team offerings. Still it remains modestly entertaining and is easily forgiven by the quality of Volume Seven's vast majority of episodes.
The DVD set comes with a really healthy and admirable quantity of additional material, adding extra value in the process. Each episode comes with a commentary hosted by a selection of faces though most of these are built on the pretence of entertaining the audience rather than informing them. Four featurettes are present the best of which is a panel discussion at last years' Comic-Con, the makers discuss much of the material on this set which at the time had not been made readily available for public consumption. There are a lot of deleted and extended scenes on the set (somewhere in the vicinity of 30 I believe) but in honesty very few of them are actually memorable, it's obvious why they where snipped out of the series in the first place. For those interested in the animation aspects there are a few episodes done in the pre-production style of animatics which also come with commentaries.
Not the show at its edgy best but still pretty enjoyable. Remember though, I
like Dane Cook so my reviewing cred is totally shot. Still this moron is going
to pass a Not Guilty verdict.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 305 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Episode Commentaries
* Deleted/Extended Scenes
* Official Site