DVD Review: 'Family Guy Vol. 9'

DVD Review: ‘Family Guy Vol. 9’

Family Guy is a popular show. It has legions of fans who have made it an institution. Once it gets dark outside you can almost certainly find an episode on TV somewhere, and it’s popularity doesn’t seem to be waning. I personally feel it’s hit and miss style of throwing everything on the wall and seeing what sticks makes for an inconsistent show. But credit where credit is due I watch the show all the time, and digging into this set was a generally very pleasant experience.

The show continues on in this ninth volume, which is anchored by one of the better episodes Family Guy has ever produced. ‘And Then There Were Fewer’ is clearly the gem of this collection as it is the inspiration for the box art and menu screens. The set also has some pretty solid special features and, annoyingly, an episode from The Cleveland Show.

Interestingly though this set doesn’t follow along with any typical season order. It includes the end of the eighth season and the beginning of the ninth. I am not sure when the show jumped off of season based sets, but this odd organizational decision makes for a rather frustrating time when looking for specific episodes from specific seasons.

The Show Itself:

As I mentioned before, the lynch pin of this collection is the murder mystery hour long that launched the ninth season of the show. This was a rather brilliant episode that branched off away from the typical Family Guy style for a more cinematic approach. Helping that stylistic choice is the fact that this is also the first Family Guy episode to be animated in 16:9 widescreen. The episode is gorgeous and actually works well as a murder mystery.

The transition to widescreen was long in coming for Family Guy, it was one of the last popular animated shows to make the change. The show has always been a beautifully animated show so getting more screen real estate is a big plus. One of the interesting effects of the odd collection of episodes is that you can see 4:3 episodes and the newer 16:9 ones in the same set. Back to back the difference is astonishing.

‘And Then There Were Fewer’ is by far the best part of the set, and almost worth the price alone. It represents the very best of what Family Guy can accomplish. Unfortunately, there is more in the set to judge.

At this point in time for the series the show is in a groove, it is firing on all cylinders and does pretty much exactly what it wants to do. It is just to bad it seems to want to be a bit of an inconsistent tease. There are some great episodes in this set, including the episode where Brian befriends Rush Limbaugh (voiced by the actual Rush Limbaugh) and ‘Brian & Stewie,’ the brilliant episode that takes place entirely in a bank vault. It is just hard to ignore duds like ‘Brian Griffin’s House of Payne’ which comes across as annoyingly bitter and cynical.

Ultimately it is folly to rattle off reasons why I disliked several episodes, because they come down to personal taste. Like nearly all Family Guy fans I like some of the episodes a lot, some not so much and every now and then one will come along that I either loathe completely or I fall in love with. It is to the credit of the set that there are no loathed episodes, and more than one loved.

The Special Features:

The set’s features include:

  • Uncensored footage
  • Deleted scenes
  • Side-by-side animatics
  • 3 Featurettes
  • An episode of The Cleveland Show with a special introduction from Mike Henry
  • Audio commentaries

The Family Guy sets are usually far less loaded than The Simpsons or Futurama sets, but I was actually impressed with some of the features this set had to offer.

My favorite feature was the making of ‘And Then There Were Fewer’. It is a rather standard making of featurette, but the episode itself was so good that I was very interested in it’s creation. I was surprised to find out that they went with a full 90+ piece orchestra for the episode’s score, or to learn exactly how much computer generated sets they actually used.

I also thought the ‘History of the World – According to Family Guy’ was a clever way to edit together clips in a really fun and interesting way. A show like Family Guy has so many cut-aways that you could easily fill a feature film with the content, and while this feature is not that long, it is a longer length than expected.

The deleted scenes are interesting from a certain stand point, but they don’t really bring much to the table. I was alos unimpressed with the Cleveland Show episode. I don’t like that show all that much, and it feels like they are desperately trying to get me to appreciate it.

The features are actually really worthwhile for a set of this size. I am impressed that they managed to fit in enough to make me feel like I got my money’s worth this time around.

The Packaging:

The set is in a single clam shell with three disks shoved in. I don’t thin they would cause any scratching issues down the line like the Futurama boxes, but it feels crammed. The DVD has a slip sleeve that has imagery from the aforementioned lynch pin episode, and it looks sleek and handsome on a shelf.

The menus can be rather annoying to fall asleep to, but it is well organized and no episode or feature seemed lost to me. In all it is a really well put together set.

The Final Summation:

In all I think this is an above average set from the Family Guy crew. There are some dud episodes, isn’t there always though, and the split between two seasons is a head scratcher, but they don’t dominate the set. The good episodes shine well here and aren’t burdened by the lesser ones. The packaging is nice and the features are almost actually robust.

This is a really solid set that will do right by any Family Guy, or animation fan.

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