TITLE: FAMILY GUY - VOLUME NINE
Release Date: December 13, 2011 (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)
Color / 2009-2010
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 14
Running Time: 301 minutes
Running Time of Features: approx. 100 minutes
Subtitles and Captioning: English, Spanish, and French Subtitles; Closed-Captioned
Special Features: Deleted Scenes; Commentaries (five episodes); Animatics (three episodes); Brian and Stewie: The Lost Phone Call; Who Done It? The Making of "And Then There Were Fewer"; The History of the World According to Family Guy; Family Guy at Comic-Con 2010; Bonus Episode of The Cleveland Show
The Griffins, one of TV's favorite animated families, is back once again for another 14 episodes on DVD! Family Guy - Volume Nine contains the episodes of the series that aired on Fox from December 13, 2009 through October 10, 2010 (except for "Something, Something, Something, Dark Side" and the unaired "Partial Terms of Endearment," both of which have been released individually) in a three-disc set, along with plenty of special features. Join the entire gang as Peter becomes an entrepreneur, Meg goes to prison, Stewie becomes a cross-dressing actress, Quagmire's father goes through a major change, and some character on the series even die! You'll get all of this and more in these episodes.
The set begins with "Business Guy," where Peter takes over Carter Pewterschmidt's empire after he has a heart attack. The episode features cameos of Hugh Laurie as Dr. House, Johnny Galecki as Leonard Hofstadter, and Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper. Peter has amnesia in "Big Man on Hippocampus," but the biggest problem may be convincing him to stay with Lois. In "Dial Meg for Murder," Meg's latest boyfriend is an inmate in prison, but when he escapes from prison and Meg is charged with harboring a fugitive, the aftermath becomes unbearable for the entire family. Chris and Stewie go missing in "Extra Large Medium," which gives Stewie the opportunity to convince Chris to go after the girl he really loves--a girl with Down syndrome. But dating her creates problems that he didn't envision. The series does a parody of the movie "Tootsie" in "Go, Stewie, Go," where Stewie gets a role on his favorite TV show by pretending to be a girl.
Peter is being sexually harassed at work by his boss in "Peter-assment," but nobody will believe him. Charlie Sheen, Elijah Wood, and James Woods all guest star in "Brian Griffin's House of Payne," where Brian pitches a series to CBS and gets the green light, only to have the network destroy his series. Meanwhile, Meg and Chris have knocked Stewie unconscious and nobody seems to notice, at all. In "April in Quahog," a doomsday plot comes to Quahog, but matters are made only worse when Peter tells the kids that he doesn't particularly care for them. Jason Mraz guest stars as "some guy with a hat." Stewie and Brian are locked together in a bank vault in "Brian & Stewie," an unusual episode with no guest stars or cutaways. Wally Wingert guest stars as Quagmire's dad in "Quagmire's Dad," but he may not be Quagmire's dad for much longer. The guys meet up with an old friend in Virginia in "The Splendid Source," while on a quest to find the source of a dirty joke.
There's a murderer on the loose in "And Then There Were Fewer," and it is somebody staying in the same remote mansion where seemingly everybody in Quahog is spending the weekend. Brian's entire life is changes when he meets Rush Limbaugh (playing himself) in "Excellence in Broadcasting." In this episode, Christine Lakin makes her first appearance as Joyce Kinney, Gary Cole and Shelley Long voice the roles of Mike and Carol Brady, and Rainn Wilson voices the role of Dwight Schrute--a lot of crossing over here! The set ends with "Welcome Back, Carter," where Peter discovers a secret about his father-in-law, and takes advantage of it.
The episodes on the set are unedited, but there is one important distinction to make this time that was NOT the case in previous releases. Typically, Fox has included the unedited and uncensored version, as well as the version that made it past the Fox censors. This time, we only have the unedited and uncensored version, which is probably a better choice if they had to pick just one, but it still would have been nice to have the censored episodes on the set as well to see how they all originally aired (and what was added for the DVD). The extended length can really be seen on "And Then There Were Fewer," which runs about 15 minutes longer than it originally did. Runtimes are as follows:
1. "Business Guy" (21:56)
2. "Big Man on Hippocampus" (23:18)
3. "Dial Meg for Murder" (23:06)
4. "Extra Large Medium" (24:03)
5. "Go, Stewie, Go" (23:41)
6. "Peter-assment" (22:51)
7. "Brian Griffin's House of Payne" (23:48)
8. "April in Quahog" (21:40)
9. "Brian and Stewie" (28:39)
10. "Quagmire's Dad" (23:01)
11. "The Splendid Source" (24:12)
12. "And Then There Were Fewer" (57:43)
13. "Excellence in Broadcasting" (22:54)
14. "Welcome Back, Carter" (22:47)
This set uses the standard Viva-case packaging once again, but unfortunately, they use the one that has the recycling logo cutout inside, which means that the case is very flimsy. It is certainly more environmentally friendly, but the cases don't protect the discs nearly as well. On the cover, we have a family snapshot from the "And Then There Were Fewer" episode, with a cast snapshot from the same episode on the back. But if you buy one of the earlier pressings of the set, you'll also get a cardboard slipcase that has a magnifying glass cutout on it with a black background, with the magnifying glass showing the Griffin family. These slipcase are always nicely done on these Family Guy sets. Inside, we have a listing of all of the episodes (but no descriptions or airdates, unfortunately) on each disc, and the discs themselves. The disc artwork features theming of the characters from the "And Then There Were Fewer Episode," with Peter and Lois on Disc 1, Stewie and Brian on Disc 2, and Meg and Chris on Disc 3. Disc 1 contains five episodes, Disc 2 contains six episodes, and Disc 3 contains three episodes.
Menu Design and Navigation:
Just like the packaging on the set, the menus are (again) themed based upon the "And Then There Were Fewer" episode. The screen has a black background, with a flashlight turning off and on and shining on different scenes from the episodes on each disc. There is an "invitation" on the corner of the screen listing all of the episodes, as well as a Play All and Extras option. Once you select an episode, you get a submenu that has a photo from the episode, along with Play Episode, Scene Selection, Language Selection, and Extras. These are all rather self-explanatory. Each episode also has chapters placed throughout the episode.
Video and Audio Quality:
The video and audio quality on this set is, like most of the previous ones, excellent. I couldn't really find any problems worth mentioning. Of course, this set covers episodes as the series transitioned from standard definition to high definition, so the first eleven episodes on the set are in SD and the last three (all on Disc 3) are in widescreen. This leads me to think that it is possible that the next release will be available on Blu-ray, as all of the SD episodes of the series have now been released, and all that remains is HD episodes. The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, and there is also a Spanish audio track. There is even a French audio track, but for some reason, the French audio track is not available for the HD episodes. There are subtitles on the episodes too, with options being English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. Additionally, the episodes are all closed-captioned.
I have no clue what happened with the special features on this set, but they are nowhere near as impressive as the previous sets. We'll start with the commentaries. In previous sets, they have been on most (and in some cases, ALL) of the episodes, but this time, there are hardly any. In fact, there are no commentaries on Disc 1, four on Disc 2, and only one on Disc 3. And the commentaries aren't quite as entertaining this time, featuring mostly just behind the scenes people--no cast, and not even Seth MacFarlane. The commentaries are as follows:
"Brian Griffin's House of Payne" - Alec Sulkin, Shannon Smith, Spencer Porter, Jerry Langford
"Brian and Stewie" - David A. Goodman, Kara Vallow, Gary Janetti, Dominic Bianchi
"Quagmire's Dad" - Chris Sheridan, Danny Smith, Tom Devanney, Pete Michels, Bao Nguyen, Deborah Cone
"The Splendid Source" - Mark Hentemann, Danny Smith, Shannon Smith, Peter Shin
"And Then There Were Fewer" - Mark Hentemann, Cherry Chevapravatdumrong, Dominic Polcino, Walter Murphy
There are still plenty of deleted scenes included, in addition to what has been added to the episodes for the uncensored versions. The deleted scenes on these sets are always very funny to watch, and it is unfortunate that they were left out of the episodes as broadcast. The runtimes for these by disc is as follows: Disc 1 (7:21), Disc 2 (3:50), Disc 3 (2:16).
Disc 1 has a bonus episode of The Cleveland Show with an introduction by Mike Henry (the voice of Cleveland). The episode, "The Way the Cookie Crumbles" (23:00), is a second season episode involving Cleveland trying to reclaim his childhood items after Cleveland's father sells them.
On Disc 2, we have "Brian and Stewie: The Lost Phone Call" (1:34) is just audio of a phone call from Brian to Peter with a comic book artwork presented. It really isn't that great of a special feature, and seems to have been just added for fluff, really.
Many of the episodes on Disc 2 have side by side animatics, but they aren't very long and don't really give a whole lot of comparison. Each of these have commentaries from the animators themselves, along with very brief scenes from the episodes showing the actual episode next to the animatic. These can be found for "Brian Griffin's House of Payne" (3:06), "Brian and Stewie" (3:45), and "Quagmire's Dad" (2:58)
On Disc 3, we have "Who Done It? The Making of And Then There Were Fewer" (13:17), where we get to see a very nice behind-the-scenes look in the episode. The production of this episode was much more elaborate than most episodes of the series, with three-dimensional "camera" angles and extensive use of the orchestra. We also saw many characters get killed off in this episode, and producers talk about making decisions about who to kill and how to kill them.
One of my favorite special features, though, is surprisingly a footage of clips from the episodes. Normally, I don't like these, but this set took a very creative angle with this and did "The History of the World - According to Family Guy" (20:58), which goes takes clips from the entire series (primarily cutaways) to tell a story of world history in order from the big bang up to the modern era. This was actually very entertaining to watch.
Finally, "Family Guy at Comic-Con 2010" (30:14) is probably the best feature on the set featuring the cast and crew. Here, we get to see most of the cast (except for Mila Kunis) and crew of the series basically talk about the series at a panel event. And at the end, we even get to see Seth MacFarlane perform a somewhat infamous song from one of the episodes on the set.
This is certainly a great set, though I honestly feel a bit let down from many of the previous Family Guy sets. Perhaps I was spoiled by the numerous commentaries or the more unique special features that were on the sets in the past, but I feel like this set isn't QUITE as impressive as those previous releases. And as always, it frustrates me that they won't do full season releases for this series. It would only take one additional disc to do a full season. But with all of that aside, I think that most fans will appreciate this set for the great episodes that are presented on it. Most of the episodes on this set are great episodes that fans are going to remember and love... in other words they contain all the things that make you laugh and cry, but mostly laugh.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 3.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
-- Reviewed by skees53 on 12/20/11
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