TITLE: FAMILY GUY - VOLUME 8
DVD Release Date: June 15, 2010 (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)
Packaging: Clear plastic case
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 15
Running Time: 344 minutes
Runtime of Special Features: approx 320 minutes
Subtitles and Captioning: Spanish, French, and English SDH subtitles.
Special Features: Uncensored commentaries on 11 episodes, Featurette on Road to the Multiverse, Deleted Scenes, Family Guy Karaoke
Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Conway Twitty...
Seriously, though: Family Guy has now reached its ninth season on-air and eighth volume of DVDs. The crazy and dysfunctional animated family from Quahog, Rhode Island is back for another 15 episodes of laughs, jokes, and more references than you shake a stick at. Family Guy stars the voices of Seth MacFarlane, Alex Borstein, Seth Green, Mila Kunis, Patrick Warburton, Adam West, and Mike Henry.
This review is Evil Monkey free, I promise.
Actually, speaking of the Evil Monkey, one of this volume’s fifteen included episodes revolves around him. One of the two primary plots in the episode “Hannah Banana” involves Chris striking up a friendship with the Evil Monkey that’s long tormented him from his closet. The Evil Monkey, you see, may just not be so evil after all. Truly evil, though, is Hannah Montana -- who Stewie meets in the episode. The first episode of the volume, Fox-y lady, both manages to well-showcase the acting talents of guest star Fred Savage, but also provides us with a great B-plot, Peter and Chris (and, theoretically, Meg) creating a cartoon called the Handi-Quacks.
Easily my favorite episode on the set, though -- and in fact my entire favorite episode of the series -- is incident as the third episode of Disc 2. The 9th season premiere from Fall 2009, the episode is titled “Road to the Multiverse.” The “Road to...” episodes have always been spectacular, but this one is amazing. Stewie developed a device that allows him to jump from reality to reality. Sometimes there are only one or two changes in each alternate universe, and sometimes there are drastic devices. If you’ve ever seen the series Sliders (one of my favorites), it’s JUST like that. In FACT, one bit of trivia, before giving this a “Road to...” title, the working title for the episode WAS “Sliders.” Each universe is amazing – with both the Flintstones-like and Robot Chicken universes being direct shout-outs at other TV series. The stand-out universe, at least to me, is the Disney-like animation universe. The characters virtually jump to life on-screen, and the characters even break out into song about, what else, pie.
But wait, there’s more. My SECOND favorite episode is ALSO on this set. No, it’s not necessarily the funniest episode. But it does feature the entire cast of one of my favorite shows of all time -- Star Trek: The Next Generation. In “Not All Dogs Go to Heaven,” while Meg (Meg is the primary character in a plot? What the heck?!) is attempting to convert Brian to Christianity, Stewie builds a teleporter and kidnaps the entire Next Generation cast. The drive-thru and bowling scenes are absolute classics. A new variant of the classic “cool whip” joke also appears in the episode with Wil Wheaton’s name.
I also can’t recommend strongly enough the episodes “Spies Reminiscent of Us,” featuring Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd moving to Quahog, where Peter, Quagmire, and Joe form an improv group, while Mayor Adam West is revealed to be a Russian spy.
With Family Guy being a popular, animated series, you’re going to see a lot of obvious – and not so obvious – guest spots. One guest appearing in the first episode on the disc is John Moschitta, Jr – best known for his ability to speak at a ridiculously fast speed while remaining coherent. Keeping in mind his talent for speed-talking, try saying along with me – quickly – the full list of guest stars (if you don’t recognize the name, IMDb/Google them):
John Moschitta, Jr, Seth Rogen, Fred Savage, Ed Helms, Patrick Stewart, Michael Dorn, Wil Wheaton, LeVar Burton, Gates McFadden, Denise Crosby, Brent Spiner, Marina Sirtis, Jonathan Frakes, Rob Lowe, Lauren Conrad, Drew Barrymore, Jay Leno (boo), Craig Ferguson (Yay!), Jimmy Fallon, Richard Dreyfuss, George Wendt, Neil Patrick Harris, Josh Radnor, Alexander Siddig, Ben Stein, Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, James Lipton, Nana Visitor, and Chris Matthews.
Runtimes: (When two runtimes are listed, this indicates both the “Uncensored” DVD version followed by the original televised version)
FOX-y Lady: 24:20 / 21:52
Not All Dogs Go to Heaven: 23:42 / 21:41
Stew-Roids: 21:57 / 21:55
We Love You, Conrad: 23:05 / 21:53
Three Kings: 23:50 / 21:54
Peter’s Progress: 21:49 / 21:48
Road to the Multiverse: 22:00 / 21:55
Family Goy: 22:44 / 21:54
Spies Reminiscent of Us: 22:57 / 21:55
Brian’s Got a Brand New Bag: 22:11 / 21:48
Hannah Banana: 24:12 / 21:58
Quagmire’s Baby: 22:32 / 21:54
Jerome is the New Black: 23:13 / 21:51
Dog Gone: 22:47 / 21:54
It’s the clear plastic case of doom that I’ve ranted and railed about at least 20 times by now. Really, they all do about the same thing. If it breaks, it becomes a real pain in the rear, if it doesn’t break then the packaging is relatively decent, if boring. Package art is quite interesting, with the entire visual style referencing back to the Peter’s Progress episode and the 17th-century era Quahog. Disc art also features versions of characters from this era, with that era’s Peter and Lois counterparts on disc 1, the era’s Stewie and Brian counterparts on disc 2, and the era’s versions of Chris and Meg on the final disc.
Menu Design and Navigation:
Fox-released cartoons always have the greatest menus. While I was of the belief that using the Road to the Multiverse realities for the entire design scheme would be ideal, you should at least know that the various Multiverse realities do appear in the main menus. The menu for disc 1 features various people flying around on hoverpacks while Brian and Stewie are in the futuristic 2009. The menu for disc 2 features a strange, transitory bubble universe as seen in one of the opening credit art cards for the Multiverse episode, while disc 3 features Brian and Stewie in the semi-blank universe, with two movers moving away a misleading sign while the Disney-universe Tinkerbelle-knockoff flies around. Episode clips play on said misleading sign. Video clips from that disc’s episode appear in a large floating screen in the corner. Episodes all have their own sub-menus, with the episodic menus’ design scheme revolving around the Japanese version of the Griffins seen in the aforementioned Road to the Multiverse. Language selection menu? Think back to the universe that Stewie loved and Brian hated. Scene selection features the Brian and Stewie from the main universe as well as the Brian and Stewie from the final, dogs-and-humans-have-reversed-roles world, looking at stills on the wall. Extras menu was a close-up shot of Stewie’s Sliders-like remote control with a still from the episode inside.
Video and Audio Quality:
You’d have to be pretty bad in your job doing video transfers to screw up a cartoon that just aired a year and a half ago. Seriously, the episodes haven’t had time to age (never mind the growing use of digital storage), and you have only a fraction of colors represented as compared to a live-action show so there’s less room for deterioration. I’m only babbling about all that to bump up the text count as I really don’t have anything else to say about the video. It’s perfect. Colors are fine. No flaws. Audio is an amazing 5.1 Dolby Digital Stereo track. Chapter stops occur in sync with commercial breaks. Yes, the above sounds eerily similar to what I said about the American Dad DVD release recently, but it’s the same producer, same studio, the shows are the same age, the studio distributing the set is the same, it’s the same hardware specifications... it’s going to be the same.
Commentary: Included on 11 of the 15 episodes is commentary by various people involved with the show (voice actors, writers, guest stars, producers, etc). Commentary participants and comments vary by episode. Each episode’s commentary runs the same length as its episode. The episode Road to the Multiverse features a second commentary track by the various artists involved in making the several various universes come to life. Commentaries are available for the uncensored versions of the episodes only, so use those runtimes as a guide.
Deleted Scenes (approx. 10 min): Just what it sounds like. Stuff cut out that not only didn’t make it into the original broadcast but also didn’t make it into the fuller “uncensored” episodes.
Road to the Multiverse Featurette (10:09): Yay, Widescreen. A special 10 minute bonus feature talking about the various elements in producing my favorite episode of the series. A LOT of the time is spent talking about the wonder – and complicated – Disney-esque sequence, with a good deal of time also spent on the Robot Chicken sequence.
Family Guy Karaoke (37:26): Basically, large quantities of the series’ musical numbers have been ported over for the DVD, with the words (and stereotypical bouncing ball) at the bottom.
Total Special Features Running Time: approx 320 minutes.
It’s a wonderful day for pie -- and also for Family Guy on DVD. This volume has at least three of my favorite episodes of the series run. While taken as a whole I still feel the series is weaker now than it was in its original run or even early in its return, the show is still definitely capable of great moments.
There’s one thing that bugs me about this – and it’s the same issue that concerned me with American Dad! Volume 5...with each season set the quantity of special features seems to decrease. I’m not sure if the frequency of releases means less time for features production, or if they’ve just run out of things to do, but the shrinking pool of bonus content IS troubling. Still, though, this set still IS quite good as presented, and at the very least it’s worthy of a viewing if you can find the set at a discounted price, though I wouldn’t recommend paying the full MSRP under any circumstances. Recommended.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 5/5
Audio Quality: 5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 5/5
Special Features: 2.5/5
Final Score: 4.5/5
-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 07/10/10
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