Family Guy-Season 1 (1999)
|Category||Animation||Main Menu Introduction|
|Year Of Production||1999|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Various|
Twentieth Century Fox
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||No|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, some episodes have a final skit in the end credits|
The Family Guy is the largely satirical animation creation of one Seth MacFarlane, responsible for other animation shows for kids such as Cow And Chicken. However, The Family Guy is really not one for the youngsters.
The basic premise of The Family Guy is similar to The Simpsons, in that it is about a dysfunctional family with a lot of issues. The father, Peter Griffin, is a pathological liar and, at heart, a selfish b******. His wife, Lois, is the sweetest thing, a piano teacher with infinite patience and far more class than her doltish husband. Then there is the whining disaffected daughter, Meg, who craves popularity and is always shunned by her peers, and the TV-addicted older son and down-and-out dropkick Chris. Finally we have the matricidal infant Stewie who is hell-bent on world domination, and the family dog Brian who is smarter and wilier than everybody else on the show. However, unlike the Simpsons, the Griffins are much more willing to have a go at minority groups and be generally unpleasant, as opposed to merely oafish and a little stupid. It is also more violent and leans more towards satire than any other brand of humour.
This DVD release of Season 1 of the show breaks down as follows:
1. Death Has A Shadow (22:31) — Peter loses his job and collects a welfare cheque for $150,000. Instead of reporting this mistake to the government, he cashes the cheque to buy the love of his family.
2. I Never Met A Dead Man (22:26) — Peter accidentally wipes out the Quahog cable television transmitter and blames it on his daughter. Meg agrees to take the rap if Peter will buy her a car.
3. Mind Over Murder (22:28) — It’s Stewie’s 1st birthday and Peter screws up the party reservation. Fearing that he will be returned to the womb, Stewie manufactures a death ray. And Meg makes a friend who turns out to be the member of a suicide cult.
4. Chitty Chitty Death Bang (22:32) — When Peter is put under house arrest, he builds a bar in his basement so that his friends will come visit him. However, his wife turns out to be the star attraction, raising many jealousy issues.
5. A Hero Sits Next Door (22:31) — Peter injures the company’s star inter-company baseball player and asks his new neighbour, a former police officer, if he wants to fill in. His neighbour agrees, but it turns out he is in a wheelchair. But when he proves to be the best baseball player they have he becomes a hero to the people of Quahog, making Peter jealous.
6. The Son Also Draws (22:12) — When Chris is kicked out of the Scouts, Peter takes the family to New York to get him back in. Along the way they stop at an Indian gambling reserve where Lois accidentally gambles away the family car. In response, Peter poses as an Indian to get the car back and is sent on a vision-quest with Chris to prove his Indian heritage.
7. Brian: Portrait Of A Dog (22:31) — Peter enters Brian in a dog show to win the family a new air conditioner. But when Brian refuses to beg for a treat, he and Peter have a fight and Brian leaves the household in disgust. Will this be the end of the relationship between Peter and his own man’s best friend?
8. Peter, Peter, Caviar Eater (22:34) — Lois’s aunt dies and leaves her the family mansion. Unable to fit in, Peter has Brian coach him to be a gentleman which leads to all sorts of complications when Lois starts realises that all those annoying habits were what made Peter different from the rich snobs she was raised around, and thus attractive.
9. Running Mates (22:34) — Lois runs for election on the school board. But when Peter loses his favourite teacher his job, he also runs for President of the board against his wife. However, Peter is ready to sink to all new lows in order to get what he wants, and his ideas on educational reform are not ideal.
10. Holy Crap (22:34) — When Peter’s dad retires he moves into the Griffin household bringing his tyrannical Catholic values with him. In order to solve the problem, Peter kidnaps the Pope.
11. If I’m Dyin’, I’m Lyin’ (22:30) — When Chris and Peter’s favourite TV show is cancelled, Peter pretends that Chris is dead so that the ‘Make A Wish Foundation’ will grant Chris’s last wish to have the show put back on. When Peter is caught out and claims to have cured Chris, people begin worshipping him as a god which angers the Man Upstairs.
12. Love Thy Trophy (22:34) — Peter rouses his neighbours into building a float which wins the local fair, but they cannot decide how to share the trophy. Peter decides to put it on display in the street, but when it goes missing the neighbours suspect each other and begin fortifying their houses. At the same time, Meg takes Stewie along to get a job and pretends she is a teenaged single mother in order to get better tips.
13. Death Is A B**** (22:34) — When Peter fakes his own death to avoid paying a medical bill, Death comes calling, but sprains his ankle before he can claim Peter. While Death is hung up on the Griffins’ couch, Peter fills in by offering to kill the cast of Dawson’s Creek.
14. The King Is Dead (22:34) — Lois gets a job as the art director for the local theatre and takes on Peter as a producer. However, when Peter starts making changes to the production of The King And I, Lois walks out in disgust, expecting Peter’s new version to be a total flop. However, she may be a little too hasty in writing off the commercial appeal of her husband’s creative interpretation.
This show is quite amusing, sitting somewhere between The Simpsons and South Park. While it has a more cynical edge than The Simpsons it lacks the blunt force trauma of South Park. This can sometimes be a benefit, because South Park often crosses the line from being lurid and amusing to just plain disgusting and a little boring. However, The Family Guy toes the line, never quite getting as offensive as South Park, and thereby missing out on some great political commentary and hard hitting laughs, but also kicking in far more teeth than The Simpsons. The kung-fu fight with The Grinch (yes, the very same Dr. Seuss one that stole Christmas) had me in stitches.
The biggest shortfall for The Family Guy is its persistent references to US advertising campaigns with which we are not always familiar, here in Australia. Many of these parodies are just not cross-cultural, and come across as either absurd or ineffective. Its other weakness is its overuse of the “you remember the time when” flashback sequences. Some of these are very amusing, like Peter Griffin hiding in the attic with Anne Frank and munching too loudly on potato chips so that the Nazis hear them. But the plot device becomes tiresome and expected after a while, and you begin to wonder if MacFarlane was running out of ideas so early in this show’s running.
Overall, The Family Guy has lots of laugh-out-loud moments, and you have to give credit to a show that is willing to be so un-PC in this day and age. It is no wonder Fox cancelled it only three seasons in. While at this early stage it is not quite a classic, apparently it gets better, and I am looking forward to some more of Seth MacFarlane’s World War II and pop-culture satire.
Presented in 1.33:1, full frame, non-16x9 enhanced; this is the original broadcast ratio for the series.
As far as animation goes, this is pretty good. I mean, it is not the artistic realism that you expect from some of the more advanced anime productions such as Ghost In The Shell or Patlabor 2. The artwork is very simple, although not the intentionally impoverished image that South Park goes for.
Overall, the image is well defined. Shadow detail is not an issue – this is cartoon style animation with either well-lit images or black images with white eyes lit up.
Colours are rich and vibrant, although I noticed that the 20th Century Fox logo at the end of the credits was very washed out.
There are, however, a couple of obtrusive MPEG artefacts. The worst of these was a background scene where a set of blinds becomes a blocky pixelated mess that is very jarring. This happens at 11:21 during the episode Holy Crap. Moreover, the image is highly prone to aliasing and what looks like very faint telecine wobble. Thankfully, the wobble is only noticeable when the background is a dark shade. However, the aliasing gets a little distracting after a while.
There is nothing in the way of dirt here, suggesting the whole thing was done digitally.
Subtitles are available in English for the Hearing Impaired. Given this show’s tendency towards mocking the disabled and minority groups I half expected these subtitles to be horribly offensive. However, they just seem to follow the show.
The dual-layer pause is in the middle of the fourth episode on both discs. This is at 8:00 during the episode Mind Over Murder on Disc 1, and at 11:10 during the episode If I’m Dyin’, I’m Lyin’ on Disc 2. The first pause happens during a break in dialogue and is very minor – I almost missed it. The second pause is not well timed at all, occurring during a line of dialogue and effectively blotting out a couple of words.
Audio has been remixed from the original 2.0 Dolby Stereo to an English 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround track. This is the only audio track available.
This track is not bad, but nothing special. Dialogue is centre driven, clear and easy to understand. There were no audio sync problems.
The range is reasonably dynamic, however this is still a frontal and dialogue-driven show which rarely employs the surrounds for anything other than the music. Directional cues are rare.
Subwoofer use is minimal.
|Surround Channel Use|
All menus are presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced. The main menu has a short intro featuring some amusing sequences from the series and the show’s theme tune playing in 2.0 Dolby Stereo.
There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Sadly, the R1 version of this has the R4 release totally whipped. The R1 release comes as a 4-Disc set incorporating Seasons 1 and 2. Just limiting the comparison to the first two discs, the R1 release has audio commentaries for the episodes Death Has A Shadow, The Son Also Draws, Peter, Peter, Caviar Eater, and Holy Crap. It also has a production featurette. Sound is only available in 2.0 Dolby Surround, but it is available in English, Spanish and French.
Given that the R4 release has nothing in the way of extras and apparently comparable video, the only real difference is the 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack available in R4. However, in my opinion, this remix is a largely wasted effort, and a 2.0 Dolby Surround track would have provided a similar effect.
All up, I’m giving this to the R1 release – not only to you get the first two seasons in one batch, available at a competitive price, you also get a bunch of extras.
The Family Guy got me laughing out loud many times during this, its first season, and thus gets off to a good start. The fact that MacFarlane is not afraid to pick on minorities or make fun of white middle class America is a bonus.
Video suffers from far too much aliasing and at least one horrible MPEG glitch. Worse yet, the dual layer pause on Disc 2 is very poorly timed. Otherwise, it is okay, but just barely.
The sound is an acceptable 5.1 Dolby Digital mix, but does not heavily employ its bass or surround potential and seems a little wasted.
Unlike the R1 release, we are afforded no extras whatsoever.
|DVD||Panasonic DVD-RV31A-S, using S-Video output|
|Display||Beko 28" (16x9). This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver.|
|Speakers||Energy - Front, Rear, Centre & Subwoofer|