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Family Guy - Volume Three


TITLE: FAMILY GUY - VOLUME THREE


Info:

Release Date: November 29, 2005 (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)
Color/2005
MSRP: $39.98
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 13
Running Time: 292 minutes
Total Run Time of Special Features: approx. 70 minutes
Audio: English
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Special Features: Commentaries on 10 episodes; "World Domination: The Family Guy Phenomenon," Deleted Scenes Animatics, "Score! - The Music of Family Guy" featurette, Multi-Angle Table Reads, Storyboard/Animatic Comparisons


Introduction:

Holy crap! Who would have thought that when Fox cancelled, and brought back, and repeated that cycle a couple 100 times five years ago, that Family Guy would have the following that it has today, enough to bring it back (with much more stability) in 2005??? But it happened! Fans did it, by watching it on Adult Swim (and now TBS even) and buying the first two DVD sets... and now, here we are, with new episodes airing Sunday nights on Fox, and of course, now here we are with another DVD set of the first batch of those episodes! The first 13 episodes of the new episodes (it is hard to know whether to call this season 4 or season 4 and the beginning of the season 5) are now on DVD from 20th Century Fox, and fans are going to want to get this set for sure!


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

Before the new season of Family Guy even started, the typical "oh it won't be as good now!" stuff started among some so-called fans. Okay, so maybe saying "so-called" is being a little harsh, but the reality is, to believe that these episodes are worse episodes than the original ones, before or after seeing them, is really in illegitimate criticism that people have little basis for. In my opinion (and I'm one of those Family Guy fans that watched the series on Fox since the FIRST episode aired, not one of the many new fans that discovered the show from DVDs and/or Adult Swim reruns... not that there is anything wrong with new fans), these episodes are as good as the original ones, and in fact, some are better than the earlier episodes.

The set begins with "North by North Quahog," the very first episode in the new batch of episodes. I can honestly say this wasn't exactly a great episode, but it is kind of an anomaly. In this one, Peter comes across a movie, "The Passion of the Christ 2: Crucify This," and decides to steal the movie. Drew Barrymore plays Chris' teacher (a teacher that he falls in love with) in "Fast Times at Buddy Cianci Jr. High." Meg finally loses her ugly looks, and becomes the next Hillary Duff (not as if that is a good thing) in "Don't Make Me Over." A mysterious white guy (who could it be???) is having an affair with Loretta in "The Cleveland-Loretta Quagmire." Peter learns that he is retarded (and loses Lois and kids in the process) in "Petarded." Peter decides to sell Meg to Neil Goldman in order to pay off a $34,000 pharmacy tab in "8 Simple Rules for Buying My Teenage Daughter." Lois becomes a model, and Stewie starts his own business (with Brian as his only employee) in "Model Misbehavior." Finally, the set concludes with "Jungle Love," where Chris joins the Peace Corps after being tormented on his first day of high school. You'll hear guest voices from many people, including James Woods, Gabrielle Union, Cloris Leachman, LeVar Burton, Gene Simmons, and of course, America's favorite television mayor, Adam West throughout the set.


Packaging:

The packaging is simple, and I really like it. Actually, it really isn't different from the other two sets, but it is still good. Once again, there are three slim cases included in the set. On the back of each slim case, there are episode summaries for the episodes on that disc, as well as original airdates. The picture on each slim case is the same as the picture on the outer box, except the curtains are different colors. There is no collective head packaging or any crap like that here--just a nice, plain, and sturdy box. When will these companies learn that this is what many of us like???

Fox was wise enough to use single sided discs for this (they've been doing a lot of double-sided ones lately, I like this form better). But one thing that I found to be a little strange is why they used three discs for this set. This stuff could have easily fit onto 2 discs (there are only 13 episodes!), and yet instead of two discs, they do 3 discs, with an episode breakdown of 4/4/5. It doesn't make a huge difference, but it WOULD make the set a thinner set, which is always nicer.


Menu Design and Navigation:

The menus are a LITTLE bit different this time than they were for the other seasons, but they are still good. Basically, once you get past the FBI warnings and such (and there are even trailers on Disc 1), a menu pops up with the closing theme song (technically the version from seasons 1 and 2) playing in the background, with short scenes from each episode on that disc playing on the top of the screen. From the main menu, you choose which episode you want, or Play All (Special Features is also available on Disc 3). From the episode menu, you get a very basic menu with some sort of snapshot from the episode, and options of Play Episode, Scene Selection, Language Selection, Commentary (on applicable episodes), and Home. These are all pretty basic and self-explanatory. On Scene Selection, you can choose to go to any place where a commercial break would be placed in the episode, as well as one about 4 minutes into each episode (and obviously the set puts chapters in these places too). For Language Selection, you can select from Censored English, Uncensored English (this isn't on all of the episodes), and Commentary for Languages (there aren't any foreign languages here), and you can select what subtitles (English, Spanish, French) you want.


Video and Audio Quality:

This is fine, basically, it is pretty much perfect. It is hard to go wrong with a show when the plans for DVDs are in the works before the episodes are even produced. I'm sure if I sat around for days and days, I could find something about this that is slightly imperfect. But the average viewer won't do that, so neither will I. The episodes look and sound exactly as they did on Fox, and of course, they are uncut (which strangely means they run about 21:30-22:00, but that is the reality these days). The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. The other sets had Spanish and French audio tracks--these are GONE this time! But the subtitles are still there for those that are interested, as are English subtitles (and closed captioning). An interesting thing about this set is that a few episodes have optional uncensored audio tracks. These episodes include "The Cleveland-Loretta Quagmire," "Petarded," "Model Misbehavior," and "Peter's Got Woods." This isn't ALL that much different from the censored version, but a few f-words just slip in here and there. It doesn't really change the episode that much.


Special Features:

The previous two Family Guy sets had a few special features here and there, and seemed almost adequate--but this one really outdoes both of those. To start off, we have commentaries on 10 out of 13 episodes this time (the other two sets had fewer commentaries and many more episodes). The episodes and commentators are as follows:

* "North by North Quahog" - Seth MacFarlane, David Goodman, Chris Sheridan, Seth Green, and Peter Shin

* "Blind Ambition" - Seth MacFarlane, David Goodman, Chris Sheridan, Steve Callaghan, and Chuck Klein

* "The Cleveland-Loretta Quagmire" - Seth MacFarlane, David Goodman, Chris Sheridan, James Purdum, and Mike Henry

* "Petarded" - Seth MacFarlane, David Goodman, Chris Sheridan, Alex Sulkin, and Wellesley Wild

* "Brian the Bachelor" - Seth MacFarlane, David Goodman, Chris Sheridan, Seth Green, and Mike Hentemann

* "8 Simple Rules for Buying My Teenage Daughter" - Seth MacFarlane, Mila Kunis, Greg Colton, Patrick Meighan, David Goodman, and Chris Sheridan

* "Break Out Is Hard to Do" - Seth MacFarlane, David Goodman, Chris Sheridan, Tom Devanney, Kurt Dumas, and Wellesley Wild

* "Peter's Got Woods" - Seth MacFarlane, David Goodman, Chris Sheridan, James Woods, Danny Smith, and Chuck Klein

* "Perfect Castaway" - Seth MacFarlane, David Goodman, Mike Henry, Mark Hentemann, James Purdum, and Mila Kunis

* "Jungle Love" - Seth MacFarlane, David Goodman, Chris Sheridan, Seth Green, Alex Sulkin, Wellesley Wild, and Mark Hentemann

So 10 out of 13 have commentaries--so why not the other 3? It doesn't make sense to me, it would be nice to have commentaries on all of them. Some fans will remember that in Volumes 1 and 2, commentaries were recorded for EVERY episode, yet they weren't even used for most episodes... I wonder if the other 3 episodes had recorded commentaries. The commentaries on the set are kind of interesting (though perhaps not as interesting as the commentaries found on The Simpsons), but the strange thing about it is that it seems that on some of the episodes (particularly the September batch that Fox aired), these commentaries were recorded BEFORE the episode was even fully produced! They mentioned that they only had the black and white animatic available to watch for one of the episodes... very strange. The commentaries should ideally reflect to some extent how viewers responded to the episodes, and if commentaries are recorded like this, that kind of defeats part of the purpose of commentaries.

But there is much more to talk about than just commentaries! There are many other special features, all on Disc 3. We start with "World Domination: The Family Guy Phenomenon." This is a very interesting featurette that talks primarily the comeback of the show. In the interviews, you hear from Seth MacFarlane, Seth Green, Danny Smith, Alex Borstein, Mila Kunis, Steve Gallagher, and Patrick Warburton. This runs at 24:10.

Next we have Deleted Scenes Animatics (2:22), which really isn't all that interesting, but if you are interested, it is there. This comes exclusively from the "Fast Times at Buddy Cianci Jr. High," where Brian becomes a high school teacher... this part features him singing with his class.

Next we have "Score! - Music of Family Guy" (7:57): which is another of the more interesting featurettes. This has interviews with Seth MacFarlane, Walter Murphy, and Ron Jones, and basically this featurette talks about, well, the music of Family Guy. The music of Family Guy is much different than the music on most shows--an actual live orchestra is used for the music on the show. That adds an interesting element to the show, and that is what this featurette talks about.

There is also a series of multi-angle table reads, from "North by North Quahog" (4:32) and two from "Blind Ambition" (4:14, 5:37). This gives you an opportunity to watch, on one screen at once, the cast members doing a table read (practice read) for certain scenes in those particular episodes. It is very interesting to see the facial expressions and how the other actors respond when they are doing this table read.

Next we have "Storyboard/Anamatic Comparisons" for "Don't Make Me Over" (7:01), "The Cleveland-Loretta Quagmire" (5:31), and "Brian the Bachelor" (7:53). I'm not a big fan of these anamatics, but if you are interested in seeing the black and white sketches of certain scenes side-by-side with the actual produced scenes.

Finally, the last special feature (although I wouldn't REALLY call it a special feature, it is more of an advertisement) is an American Dad Volume 1 preview (0:54), which will be released who-knows-when.


Final Comments:

I have to admit... Family Guy was the show that actually got me into DVDs. Before the Family Guy DVD sets were released, I really didn't care all that much about DVDs (that isn't to say I wasn't interested in DVDs, just that it wasn't a medium that excited me all that much). As a matter of fact, the very first TV on DVD set that I owned was Volume 1 of Family Guy. And compared to those first two sets, this one is not a disappointment at all, and is a huge improvement over those first two sets. Hopefully, the show will continue on for years to come, and there will be more sets put out (although I hope there won't be too many more sets that are so oddly fragmented as this one is, containing all of season 4 and what could be described as the first few episodes of season 5). If you are a fan of Family Guy, then you'll HAVE to get this set... it truly is "freakin' sweet!"


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 5/5
Audio Quality: 5/5
Special Features: 3.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

--Reviewed by skees53 on 12/01/05

To purchase the DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000AQ68Z0/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20


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