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Featured TV on DVD Review: Family Guy: Partial Terms of Endearment

October 6th, 2010

Family Guy: Partial Terms of Endearment - Buy from Amazon

After reviewing two dozen DVDs and Blu-rays last week, I don't get a single day off this week, as I already have a dozen releases that arrived late that I have to get through A.S.A.P. Things start with Family Guy: Partial Terms of Endearment. This TV on DVD release features a single episode, which was considered too much for Fox's Standards and Practices, which isn't the first time they've balked at airing a Family Guy episode. But is it really that controversial? And more importantly, is it entertaining?

The Show

The episode starts with Peter and Lois at her college reunion. Peter is worried that they'll run into one of Lois exes, who put the moves on Lois. However, when they do first meet an ex, she's not what Peter expected. Note the pronoun. Yes, Lois "experimented" in college and now Naomi is asking her for something important. It's not what Peter was hoping for. But rather she introduces the pair to her husband, Dale, wants Lois to be a surrogate for her and her husband's child.

Lois agrees to think about it, but Peter is dead set against it. And when she agrees and gets pregnant, Peter uses desperate measures to end the pregnancy. (This includes a Acme Miscarriage Kit, which sets up the best bit of the episode.) However, after telling Peter to be more mature about the situation, she learns from the TV news that Naomi and Dale died in a car accident, shortly after Dale won the lotto. Now she's unsure what to do, and unable to pay for nine months of medical bills. (Wouldn't she be able to use Dale's lotto winnings? I know it was just a setup for a cheap joke and I'm over-thinking things.) Lois eventually decides to have an abortion. At first Peter is overjoyed, but then he runs into a group of anti-abortion protestors, and Peter being Peter, he's easily swayed by the last argument he hears, and suddenly he's vehemently anti-abortion. I think it was the prospect of a fourth Stooge that convinced him, even though there were actually six Stooges over the years (Larry, Moe, Shemp, Curly, Joe Besser, and Curly Joe). I know, I know, I'm over-thinking things again.

Any time you bring up abortion, someone is going to freak out, but quite frankly, Family Guy handled the subject with as much maturity as any show has since, well, since Maude. Also, the more serious subject matter didn't get in the way of the show's typical sense of humor. I wouldn't call it a classic episode, but it's better than most.

The Extras

On the other hand, it is just one episode, so the DVD will need a lot of extras to be worth picking up, instead of waiting for whatever volume it will be part of. There's an audio commentary track with Seth MacFarlane and Alex Borstein, who portray Peter and Lois, there's also the writer / producer Danny Smith. They talk about this episode in particular, the show in general, and whatever crosses their minds. They also do get caught up watching the episode from time-to-time, so we have to deal with a few pauses. You can also watch the episode in Animatic form, for those who like partially rendered cartoons, or going even further back in its development, you can watch the table read. It's only one episode, but you can watch it three ways.

The only non-episode specific extra is the Seth MacFarlane and Alex Borstein Almost Live Comedy special, which is a 24-minute long variety show that only includes some live bits. It's hit and miss, but that's true of the show, and most fans should enjoy it.

The Verdict

Rent it. Family Guy: Partial Terms of Endearment is a better than average episode, but not by so much that you simply must own it on its own DVD, as opposed to the volumes that are releases every year or so.

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