Judge Paul Pritchard is no stranger to controversy; he still takes two bottles into the shower.
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: 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 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 Most Outrageous Episode Ever Conceived!
Seth MacFarlane's Family Guy is no stranger to controversy, often willfully goading censors and its critics alike with an unending stream of ever more distasteful jokes. Highlights include the world's first dead baby joke, Peter Griffin having his butt licked clean by a mentally deficient racehorse, and the (in)famous "Prom Night Dumpster Baby" song and dance routine. Until now, despite some close calls, every episode of Family Guy produced has made it to the small screen; but this time it's different—this time they done gone too far!
It seems that the contentious subject matter of Family Guy: Partial Terms of Endearment was simply too much for Fox, and, at the time of writing, any other US network; meaning that the episode has effectively been banned from US TV (though it was shown over here in the UK). To get around this US ban (or to cash in on the episode's notoriety, you decide), Fox has released the episode on DVD to give fans of the show a chance to see what the fuss is all about.
Considering that Fox was seemingly happy to air an episode that made jokes about Sarah Palin's down syndrome child, is "Partial Terms of Endearment" really that bad? Honestly? No, it isn't. "So why the ban," you ask? The answer is simple: abortion. That's right, Family Guy has gone and tackled one of the most divisive issues going. Now, clearly there are people with very strong views on the subject, and a DVD review really isn't the right forum for me to throw my hat into the ring and voice my opinion on the matter, but I might as well say that if you're views on abortion are particularly strong—especially if you are very anti-abortion—then read on no more; this episode is definitely not for you.
The episode begins with a frantic burst of energy. Following the revelation that Lois had a lesbian relationship back in college with a girl named Naomi, Peter, as usual, completely misreads the situation and becomes convinced that he's about to partake in a threesome when Naomi says she has a proposition for the Griffins. Peter is in his element here, in one scene kicking the kids out after telling them, "Daddy is going to have a three way with your mommy and her friend…isn't that nice about daddy's three way?" With the kids out the way, Peter is let loose, popping up around the house in a variety of costumes and suggesting various porn scenarios (which include Peter in a Gestapo uniform).
Much to Peter's chagrin, Naomi and her husband, Glen (who Peter is not happy to see, but still informs "I'll do you last."), reveal they are unable to have children, and so have come to ask the Griffins if they would consider Lois acting as a surrogate mother for them. After much thought Lois agrees, and is soon pregnant with her friends' baby. Peter is uneasy with these developments, and goes through a series of Looney Tunes style attempts to cause a miscarriage. The ensuing argument between the Griffins is interrupted when Channel 5 news reports a car crash, in which Naomi and her husband have been killed, leaving the Griffins' unsure on what to do.
When the time comes for abortion to be considered, the Griffin family is divided, with family members falling into the pro- and anti-abortion camps. The arguments made are, you may be shocked to hear, often well considered and reflect the unblinking views held on both sides of the divide. Of course, this being Family Guy, we're never too far away from a jaw-droppingly shocking comment. Exhibit A comes from a scene where Brian and Peter discuss if abortion can ever be okay:
Brian: "Well, what if a woman is raped?"
Need more? How about an anti-abortion video shown to Peter that explains how abortion robbed the world of the man who would have killed Hitler, the fourth Stooge, and Osama Bin Laden's US loving older brother? And, if that wasn't enough, the Griffin family's final decision on what to do is left until a split-second before the final credits roll. There's nothing here to win over the show's many detractors, but converts should love what is a surprisingly well written, and sometimes deeper episode than you might expect. The writers of Family Guy frequently use the show as a mirror on society, with varying degrees of success; here they are on top form with one of the better episodes in recent memory, and if nothing else, make it clear that abortion isn't a black and white subject.
The extras kick off with a live reading of the episode, where (most) of the show's cast take to the stage and perform the episode to an appreciative audience. It's interesting to note a few changes to the final script where particular jokes either didn't elicit the desired response, or were simply refined a little.
Complementing the episode, and in all honesty just as worthy of top billing, is "Seth & Alex's Almost Live Comedy Show," which sees Seth MacFarlane joined by his Family Guy co-star Alex Bornstein (who provides the voice of Lois Griffin). The duo sing popular songs from the series ("Shipoopi," the theme song, and of course, "Surfin' Bird"); introduce never before seen screen tests (including Kermit the Frog testing for the lead role in Philadelphia); and perform a live rendition of the Marlee Matlin sketch from the episode "I Dream of Jesus," that contains a fantastic payoff following Alex's version of Marlee singing "Poker Face."
There's no doubt this "special" is all too self-congratulatory and wholly unnecessary, but for fans of that Family Guy sense of humor, it works. And whether it be Alex telling a joke only a rapist could hear, or Seth being totally unconcerned with Alex's discomfort over the song Edelweiss due to her Jewish heritage, there are plenty of laughs to be had.
Finally there's an animatic of the episode, a cast commentary and nine downloadable songs. Not a bad set at all for a single episode release.
Family Guy: Partial Terms of Endearment comes with reasonably good transfer, albeit in full-screen, while the 5.1 soundtrack is pretty flawless.
For fans only.
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