TITLE: FAMILY GUY - VOLUME ELEVEN
Release Date: September 24, 2013 (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)
Color / 2011-2012
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 23
Running Time: 503 minutes
Running Time of Features: approx. 73 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital English, Spanish, and French
Subtitles and Captioning: English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese Subtitles; Closed-Captioned
Special Features: Deleted Scenes; Commentaries (six episodes); Animatics (three episodes); "Fishin' Around With Ricky Gervais;" Audio Outtakes; Ron MacFarlane Reads Viewer Mail; "Looking Back to the Pilot" featurette
The Griffins are back with Family Guy - Volume 11! The three disc set contains all 23 episodes of the tenth season (yes, we realize that is a bit confusing given that it is the eleventh volume) that aired in the 2011-2012 season on Fox. We get to see what happens when Brian and Stewie time travel to January 31, 1999 (remember what aired then?), Meg getting into a few new relationships (including one with perverted neighbor Quagmire), a return of a character presumed to be dead, an ill-fated trip to the south for Peter and the guys, and much more in this latest collection of the series.
The season begins with "Lottery Fever," where Peter solves the family financial crisis with a little bit of scratching. "Seashore Seashell Party" is just one part of a three part episode arc including The Cleveland Show and American Dad (unfortunately, neither of those episodes are included here). The guys try to save Quagmire's sister from her abusive boyfriend in "Screams of Silence: The Story of Brenda Q," an episode that plays like an old Lifetime movie (but with a much different ending). Stewie goes joyriding in Brian's Prius in "Stewie Goes for a Drive," but what he does with his car can't just be buffed out. With the help of Stewie's time machine, Brian and Stewie return to the pilot episode of the series, but with disastrous consequences. In "Thanksgiving," a surprise guest shows up for Joe at the Griffin family Thanksgiving dinner, and because of this, Peter's joke about "son died tomatoes" just won't work anymore. The Griffins head to Amish country in "Amish Guy."
In "Cool Hand Peter," a trip to the south lands Peter and the guys in prison, with no chance of release. Carter Pewterschmit retires in "Grumpy Old Man." Quagmire's newest squeeze isn't going over so well for Peter and Lois in "Quagmire and Meg." Brian has a perfect new girlfriend who happens to be blind in "The Blind Side," but she doesn't like dogs, which could present a problem. In "Livin' On a Prayer," Stewie has a new friend...and he also happens to be dying of cancer (but his parents won't do anything about it for religious reasons). Peter helps Tom Tucker realize his dreams once again in "Tom Tucker: The Man and His Dream." Ricky Gervais plays a dolphin who just won't go away in "Be Careful What You Fish For." Business isn't all that good at Mort's drug store in "Burning Down the Bayit," so Peter and Quagmire help him with the perfect plan to make money...to bad it is considered fraud.
Chris and Peter go to fat camp in "Killer Queen," but something isn't quite right when campers start turning up dead. Peter, Quagmire, Joe, and Brian end up in an accident that puts them into a deserted Quahog in "Forget-Me-Not." Peter becomes a children's TV star in "You Can't Do That on Television, Peter." In "Mr. and Mrs. Stewie," Stewie finds the perfect girlfriend, except she is evil...even by Stewie's standards. Meg's foreign exchange experience ends with her ending up in a sex slave trade in "Leggo My Meg-O." In "Tea Peter," the tea party takes over Quahog and results in the disbandment of city government. The series has three new stories inspired by viewer mail (sort of) in "Family Guy Viewer Mail #2." The season ends with "Internal Affairs," where Joe cheats on Bonnie.
The episodes on the set are not just unedited, but are also completely uncensored. Runtimes are as follows:
1. "Lottery Fever" (22:20)
2. "Seahorse Seashell Party" (22:19)
3. "Screams of Silence: The Story of Brenda Q" (21:17)
4. "Stewie Goes for a Drive" (21:50)
5. "Back to the Pilot" (22:08)
6. "Thanksgiving" (21:59)
7. "Amish Guy" (22:57)
8. "Cool Hand Peter" (21:42)
9. "Grumpy Old Man" (21:32)
10. "Quagmire and Meg" (21:50)
11. "The Blind Side" (22:32)
12. "Livin' on a Prayer" (21:31)
13. "Tom Tucker: The Man and His Dream" (22:13)
14. "Be Careful What You Fish For" (22:08)
15. "Burning Down the Bayit" (21:17)
16. "Killer Queen" (21:51)
17. "Forget-Me-Not" (22:10)
18. "You Can't Do that on Television, Peter" (21:24)
19. "Mr. and Mrs. Stewie" (22:04)
20. "Leggo My Meg-O" (21:46)
21. "Tea Peter" (21:38)
22. "Family Guy Viewer Mail #2" (21:48)
23. "Internal Affairs" (21:35)
The packaging is all Brian and Stewie...again. I'm not sure why they keep avoiding the rest of the family (particularly Peter, "the" family guy), but they do just that. In fact, early cover art for Volume 12 suggests that we'll be seeing the same thing again for that set, but we'll worry about that later. The earlier pressings of the set include a picture of Brian and Stewie on a time machine on the outer sleeve, with a photo of multiple Brians and Stewies on the cover art inside (from the episode "Back to the Pilot," which is the theme of the artwork for the set). On the back, you'll find Stewie encountering Stewie under the bed, along with a brief description of the season. Inside, you'll find the three discs, which feature different pictures of Brian and Stewie (who else?) from the episode. Episode titles are printed inside the case, but once again, there are no air dates or descriptions for the episodes.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The main menu on each disc features the members of the cast playing laser tag, along with Brian and Stewie on Stewie's time machine. Video clips from the episodes play on a screen in the background, along with the closing theme music. Options on the main menu include Play All, a listing of all of the episodes, and Extras. When you select an episode, you are presented with an episode menu that features a photo from the episode, along with options of Play Episode, Scene Selection, Language Selection, and Extras (where applicable). Most special features can also be accessed from Extras on the main menu. Each episode includes chapters placed at all of the appropriate places.
As usual, the menus on the set are rather nicely designed. On the main menu, we have a looping dancing scene similar to the one on the opening credits, with video clips from the episodes playing on the top of the screen and the closing theme music playing in the background. Meanwhile, "Evil Stewie" goes around and destroys the set while everybody is dancing. From the main menu, there are options of Play All, a listing of the episodes, and an Extras option. Selecting an episode takes you to a submenu where you see a snapshot from the episode, along with a background featuring another snapshot of the episode. Options here include Play Episode, Scene Selection, Language Selection, and Extras. Additionally, all special features (aside from the commentaries) can be found on the Extras option from the main menu.
Video and Audio Quality:
There are no problems with the video and audio quality on the episodes. Once again, the episodes are mostly in high-definition, although of course, the episode "Back to the Pilot" is partially in standard-definition. There are still no Blu-ray releases of this series, which is a bit surprising...I think that they would go over rather well. The audio is presented as a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, with French and Spanish audio tracks also available. Subtitles are available in English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. And, surprisingly, they are continuing to include closed-captioning on each episode, which is surprising given that closed-captioning on home media is becoming a challenge given the imitations on HDMI (it is largely being replaced with English subtitles, but this set retains both).
The set contains commentaries as usual, but there are only six this time. And, once again, they're all commentaries from the crew of the series, and not the cast. So while these people were certainly heavily involved with the series (and probably more than the cast), they aren't quite the voices that fans are familiar with, and provide more technical commentaries. Episodes and commentators are as follows:
"Cool Hand Peter" - Mark Hentemann, Artie Johann, Shawn Ries, Brian Iles, and Brent Crowe
"Quagmire and Meg" - Steve Callaghan, Tom Devanney, Joseph Lee, and Kim Fertman
"Killer Queen" - Mark Hentemann, Spencer Porter, Peter Shin, Shannon Smith, and Greg Lovell
"Forget Me Not" - Steve Callaghan, Brian Iles, Peter Shin, and Shannon Smith
"Mr. and Mrs. Stewie" - Steve Callaghan, Joe Vaux, Joseph Lee, Annie Brown, Brent Crowe, and Patrick Clark
"Family Guy Viewer Mail #2" - Mark Hentemann, Tom Devanney, Greg Colton, Mike Elias, and Anjel Shehigian
As always, the set includes plenty of deleted scenes from the episodes. Many of these are in the forms of cutaways that were shortened or removed for the actual airing of the episode. You can view them by episode, or view them all at once through the special features menu. The runtimes are as follows: Disc 1 (4:22), Disc 2 (6:27), and Disc 3 (3:17).
Animatics (a look at the show in the production process) are common on these animated series, but this one actually has a full episode animatic for "Back to the Pilot" (22:43), which unlike most animatics, is actually pretty interesting to watch. It shows a clear indication of which parts were created for the episodes, and which parts were recycled footage from the original pilot. The remaining animatics are just standard scene animatics, from episodes including "Seashore Seashell Party" (6:10) and "Family Guy Viewer Mail #2" (6:51).
"Looking Back to the Pilot" (11:16) is a very nice look back to January 31, 1999...the date that the series began, airing immediately after the Super Bowl. Fox thought that the series would be their next big hit, but things didn't work out, and the series was canceled a few years later, only to be revived again a few years later. Of course, in this season, the episode "Back to the Pilot" allowed the Family Guy of today to take a trip back to the pilot, thanks to Stewie's time machine, and in this feature, the cast and production staff talk about creating this episode. As it turns out, they reused some of the old scenes for the episode and added things in when possible...but that wasn't always possible. The episode also used some CGI effects for the "future" of Family Guy, which also presented a few new challenges.
"Fishin' Around With Ricky Gervais" (6:41) gives us a look into Ricky Gervais guest voice appearance on the episode "Be Careful What You Fish For." Naturally, with Gervais being who he is, there were plenty of outtakes from this...in fact, there is a whole other special feature for the outtakes (6:21).
"Ron MacFarlane Reads Viewer Mail" (7:15) brings Seth's father back as he reads select "letters" written to the show (they're not real) and responds to them in his own hilarious way. It is a bit fun to watch, and it is great to see Seth getting his father involved in the series in recent years.
Usually, this is the point where I complain about the fact that the series isn't being released in seasons, and I even pointed out that the previous release wrapped up the ninth season. Well, finally, we've got a full season of episodes this time, and it looks like this will be the case going forward. I'm glad Fox finally decided to do the right thing here. I still feel like the series hasn't really declined, although I am starting to get annoyed by some of the Stewie and Brian stories. The special features continue to decline in quantity on these releases, but it isn't something to be deeply concerned about. After all, not every series can be like The Simpsons on home media (this is also probably why The Simpsons is still almost a decade behind on releases). Pretty soon, with the upcoming release of Volume 12, we will finally be caught up with the most recent season of the series. Fans who have been collecting the series on DVD will want to continue collecting them with this set, for sure.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 3/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
-- Reviewed by skees53 on 11/25/13
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