Judge Patrick Naugle ain't grinnin' with the Griffins.
Our reviews of Family Guy: Volume Four (published November 27th, 2006), Family Guy: Volume Five (published December 12th, 2007), Family Guy: Volume Six (published October 30th, 2008), Family Guy: Volume Ten (published October 13th, 2012), Family Guy: Volume 11 (published October 29th, 2013), Family Guy: Blue Harvest (published January 15th, 2008), Family Guy: It's A Trap! (published January 19th, 2011), Family Guy: It's A Trap! (Blu-Ray) (published December 21st, 2010), Family Guy: Partial Terms Of Endearment (published October 13th, 2010), Family Guy Presents Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story (published September 12th, 2005), Family Guy: Volume One (published April 21st, 2003), Family Guy: Something, Something, Something, Dark Side (Blu-Ray) (published December 26th, 2009), Family Guy: The Freakin' Sweet Collection (published January 26th, 2005), Family Guy: Volume Eight (published July 12th, 2010), Family Guy: Volume Nine (published December 26th, 2011), Family Guy: Volume Seven (published July 23rd, 2009), and Family Guy: Volume Three (published December 19th, 2005) are also available.
The entire Griffith family returns for Family Guy: Volume Twelve! Not a lot has changed for this dysfunctional nuclear family. Peter Griffith (voiced by creator Seth MacFarlane, Ted) is still as mentally deficient as ever, bumbling into a series of misadventures with his doting and ever patient wife, Lois (Alex Borstein, madTV), by his side. His kids are still a mess, including nerdy Chris (Seth Green, Robot Chicken), socially inept Meg (Mila Kunis, Friends with Benefits, and power hungry baby Stewie (MacFarlane again). Rounding out the family is their pet dog Brian (MacFarlane for a third time), who is able to walk and talk like a human. Although I've never figured out why. Get ready for a day in the life of your typical Family Guy!
Is there a television show as polarizing as Family Guy? Created by Seth MacFarlane in 1999, the show had its initial run on Fox until the network unceremoniously canceled the show in 2003. During a two year hiatus, Family Guy found new traction through DVD sales and reruns on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. During its second life Family Guy has become a cultural phenomenon—it's one of the television's highest rated animated shows and has become a marketing behemoth (beer glasses, T-shirts, and action figures, just to name a few). MacFarlane most likely baths using $100 dollar bills while Fox executives bask in the glow of their diamond encrusted executive suites.
After all of its success and profits, Family Guy still manages to provoke undying hatred or unbridled love, depending on who you talk to. There doesn't seem to be much in between. The criticism of the show has even come from one of Fox's own shows, the mega-hit The Simpsons, who claim that Family Guy ripped them off. In a way, it's true—there are many similarities between the two shows. Both have level headed wives, stupid husbands, problematic children, and a cornucopia of pop culture in-jokes and references. Yet that's the least of the reasons why I'm not a fan. The show just isn't all that funny.
Personally, I've never warmed to the Griffith family. One of the show's major failings is that it's seems to have nothing but contempt for its audience. The jokes are usually of the lowest common denominator, often non-sequitur or an easy pun. This is by no means a thinking man's television comedy. Even worse, MacFarlane's creative team injects a smug undercurrent into the show, which makes it difficult to connect to any of the characters. Unlike The Simpsons, Family Guy is never able to muster any pathos or true emotion for its characters. Whenever it does try to make the audience feel something, the rug gets quickly pulled out from under the viewer by a crude jab or borderline racist/misogynistic remark by another character. It's as if MacFarlane and company are doing their best to alienate the viewer.
I would be lying if I said I didn't laugh at all. While I found the show's batting average to be miserably low, there were a few brief and sporadic moments that were clever enough to make me smile. The Griffith's climbing Mount Everest provided some parody fodder (ala the 1993 movie plane crash movie Alive) that didn't seem to just be focused on current pop culture events. One of the show's biggest gags—Peter and some giant chicken getting into a very long fight—gets played in reverse when Stewie and Brian monkey with the space-time continuum (and forces the twosome to age backwards). These moments give Family Guy some much needed levity, but they few and far between.
Family Guy: Volume Twelve is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The image quality on all of these episodes (spread across three DVDs) is top notch for standard definition DVD. The colors are bold and evenly saturated and the black levels are solid. Fans will certainly be happy with how these episodes look. The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in English. There are a few nice moments of dynamic range here (especially during music cues), but often each mix ends up being front loaded without a lot of fidelity. Also included on this set is a Dolby 2.0 mix in Spanish, as well as English, French and Spanish subtitles.
Bonus features include various commentary tracks by the writers, directors, producers and cast members of the show (too numerous to name here), some deleted scenes, a short featurette on the show's 200th episode ("20 Episodes Later"), a 200th episode table read, some select scene animatics, and a featurette about the 2012 Comic-Con panel that MacFarlane and cast members participated in.
If you've read this far, clearly you're a Family Guy fan, and Volume Twelve will certainly tickle your fancy. If you're in my camp and find it difficult to sit through an entire episode without winching, this may not be the most worthwhile purchase you make this year.
Ambivalence reigns supreme.
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