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Featured TV on DVD Review: Family Guy: Volume Eight

June 16th, 2010

Family Guy: Volume Eight - Buy from Amazon

Family Guy first debuted on TV in 1999 as a mid-season replacement. While it had a loyal fanbtase, that fanbase was too small and it was canceled almost immediately at the beginning of Season wo. Granted, new episodes were aired irregularly for while, but at the end of season two it was officially canceled. And then a third season was ordered. And then it was canceled again. Normally when a show is canceled three times, that's the end. However, the fan response to the DVD releases was so strong that the network brought it back. That was in 2005. Five years later it is still going... well, it's still going.

As it has been from the start, Family Guy DVD releases are a bit of a mess. Volume 8 starts with the tenth episode of season seven, FOX-y Lady , and continues to episode eight of season eight, Dog Gone.

Of the 16 episodes found on this three-disc set, many are hits, but the hit to miss ratio is weaker than in volumes past. Perhaps that's because Seth McFarlane has spread himself thin by doing three shows at once. Or to be a little more snarky, doing the same show three times under three different names.

Hits can still be found, starting with Not All Dogs Go to Heaven, which has two storylines: Stewie kidnaps the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Meg tries to convert Brian from atheism to Christianity. Three Kings is an anthology of Stephen King parodies. Peter's Progress travels back in time to show Peter Griffin in a previous life, Griffin Peterson, who was exiled from the U.K. and founded Quahog. Road to the Multiverse has Stewie and Brian traveling through the many different alternate universes, many of which are simply one note jokes. But there's a solid story here as well. Hannah Banana has two primary storylines: firstly, Stewie and Brian go off to a Miley Cyrus concert, only to learn her secret. Secondly, Chris tries to prove that the evil monkey that lives in his closet is real. Quagmire's Baby has Stewie making clones of himself and Brian to do chores for them, while the A-plot of Quagmire finding out he is a father is also pretty good.

Notice a trend there? If the story focuses on both Stewie and Brian, then it is probably pretty good. The others are more miss than hit. The Stewie and Brian segment of Spies Reminiscent of Us was better than the Peter story, for instance.

There are a few misses, like We Love You Conrad or Episode 420, while in too many episodes a joke is stretched far too thin. For fans of the show, there are still more than enough hits that the 3-disc set is worth checking out. On a side note, Family Goy isn't a bad episode, but it does try a little too hard to be offensive, which hurts the humor. I do like the ending.

As for the extras, there are audio commentary tracks on all episodes, with a variety of participants. And no, I didn't listen to them all, as that would be another six hours of viewing, but the ones I did listen to have great energy, if a little scattered. Some episodes include extended cuts that are a few minutes longer than the original broadcast version, but you can watch these how they were originally aired. There is also a 10-minute making of featurette of Road to the Multiverse. This is a smart episode to focus on for two reasons. Firstly, it is arguably the best episode of this volume. Secondly, because it has so many different styles, it's the most unique to talk about. There is a Family Guy Karaoke with more than two-dozen songs; however a lot of them are just a minute of so in length, so that's not as much as it sounds. Finally, there are deleted scenes for 12 of the episodes.

One last note, the DVD is labeled "Uncensored" and it earns it. There are quite a bit of swear words that there bleeped during the original broadcast, as well as at least one part that was blurred out.

The Verdict

The hit to miss ratio for Family Guy: Volume Eight is not as high as the peak of the show, but it is still high enough that it is worth checking out. Add in the many extras, including audio commentary tracks, making of featurette and more, and the three-disc set is worth picking up.

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