Reviewed by David Williams (October 6, 2003)
For most of you, Family Guy needs no introduction. However, for the uninitiated, let me rehash an quick introduction to the show and its characters from my Volume One review.
Seth MacFarlane’s Family Guy debuted on the Fox network after the Super Bowl in 1999. While quite controversial, controversy was nothing new to Fox and Family Guy seemed to fit right in with the rest of their renegade (and very popular) shows. The show touched on (and parodied) hot-button and pop-culture issues of the day and pushed limits that even live-action shows wouldn’t touch … and it was able to do all that and remain quite funny. Fox and Family Guy seemed to be a marriage made in heaven.
When the show debuted, it attracted a lot of media attention and received a nice heaping of praise along with some kind reviews from critics. The first season finished up in the spring of 1999 and was a quick and dirty seven episode job that did a marvelous job of introducing us to Quahog, Rhode Island and some of its most hilarious residents, the Griffin family. The show became an instant cult classic and those who latched on to the show were absolutely rabid about it.
When Family Guy returned for a much longer run in its sophomore season, all was well with the show and with fans until Fox started screwing around with the airing of episodes and consistency was definitely one word that couldn’t be associated with Fox’s airing of Family Guy eps. Fans revolted – websites sprang up – petitions were signed – letters were written – phone calls were made - and the show was saved for a third season only to be given the permanent dirt nap from Fox execs the next season.
Family Guy has got to be the single most horribly treated show in the history of television and it’s a shame that a network as willing to take chances as Fox couldn’t get it together in order to save the show for a few seasons longer. Regardless, the studio has given new life to the series on DVD and fans prayers have been answered with this, the second of two, marvelous boxed sets.
For those unfamiliar with the show and the Quahog, Rhode Island residing Griffin family, we meet Peter (creator Seth MacFarlane), the obese, heavy-drinking, and fun-loving father of the family who makes his living working in a local toy factory; Lois (Alex Borstein), the calm, cool, and collected mother who spends her days giving piano lessons, putting up with Peter and avoiding the collateral damage her infant son’s latest invention might cause; teenaged daughter Meg (Mila Kunis and Lacey Chabert in early episodes), who is constantly embarrassed by her family and someone who wants nothing more than to be considered cool and accepted by the popular kids at her school; Chris (Seth Green), the overweight and dimwitted son; baby Stewie (Seth MacFarlane), the diabolical infant who is hell-bent on breaking away from his parents so that he can continue to carry out his plans of world domination; and finally, there’s the family dog, Brian (Seth McFarlane) and he’s quite intellectual - he talks, walks upright, and drinks heavily - you know, just like your dog.
Anyway, there’s your quick introduction to the show and the Griffin family, so strap yourself in for the remainder of the Family Guy episodes, as well as one that never aired!
- DISC ONE -
The Thin White Line (Original Air Date: July 11, 2001)
Brian, the family dog, feels like his life’s in a rut and so he decides to take his therapist’s advice and mix things up. He decides to become a drug-sniffing dog for the Quahog Police Department and he becomes quite good at it. Problem is, he enjoys sniffing the cocaine just a little too much. Peter becomes more than slightly pissed when he has to cancel the family vacation in order to support Brian while he’s in rehab, but decides to fake an addiction and join him there when he sees how nice the facility is. When the therapist tells Brian that the Griffin family is a bad influence on him, Brian leaves home and heads out into the wild blue yonder …
Brian Does Hollywood (Original Air Date: July 18, 2001)
Brian moves out to Hollywood to become a screenwriter and the rest of the family follows when Stewie is chosen to be on “Kids Say The Darndest Things” and the Griffin family gets a free trip out to LA. Brian is struggling as a screenwriter, but gets his first big break directing a porno film, while Stewie decides to use some hypnotic glasses during his time on “Kids” – that way, he can take over the world while on TV. When the family hooks up with Brian in Hollywood, he tries to hide the fact that he’s a porno director. However, when he wins a “Woody Award”, the Griffin family is there to support him. Ray Liotta, as well as porn stars Jenna Jameson and Ron Jeremy offer up their voices for the show.
Mr. Griffin Goes To Washington (Original Air Date: July 25, 2001)
Commentary by Seth McFarlane, Craig Hoffman, Chris Sheridan, and Alex Borstein
Peter’s toy company is bought out by a huge tobacco conglomerate and they decide to install Peter as president. The tobacco company is planning on using the toys to hook children on cigarettes and when Peter confronts them about the evils of their ways, they make him president to shut him up. The perks of the new job are enough to keep the entire family quiet and pretty soon, Peter’s bosses send him to Washington to lobby Congress on behalf of tobacco companies. When Lois finds Stewie smoking, she heads off to Washington to stop Peter. Guest voices include Gary Coleman and Alyssa Milano.
One If By Clam, Two If By Sea (Original Air Date: August 1, 2001)
A destructive hurricane strikes the town of Quahog and destroys everything in its path – including Peter’s favorite hangout, The Drunken Clam. When a goofy Brit buys it out and turns it into a snobby English pub, Peter and his friends do all they can to reclaim it and turn it back into the red-blooded American bar it used to be. It just so happens, that the pub’s owner, Nigel Pinchley, moves in next door to the Griffins and Stewie ends up trying to teach Nigel's cockney-accented daughter how to speak “proper” english.
And The Wiener Is … (Original Air Date: August 8, 2001)
Peter becomes overly competitive with Chris when he finds out his son has a bigger penis than he does. But when Chris saves his father’s life, Peter realizes that there are more important things in life than having a bigger penis than his son. Meanwhile, Meg joins the flag girl squad at school in order to impress the cool kids, but all they do is mock her for being “almost a cheerleader” and pelt her with rancid meat at a football game. Lois tries to help Meg get revenge, but Meg takes the high road and chooses to live and let live.
Death Lives (Original Air Date: August 15, 2001)
Commentary by Seth McFarlane, Daniel Palladino, Mike Henry, Lori Alan, and Gene Laufenberg
While playing golf on his the day of his wedding anniversary, Peter is struck by lightning and gets a visit from death (voice of Adam Corolla) who guides him through his near-death experience. Through various flashbacks, Peter realizes what a bad husband he’s been and that he needs to change. While all of this is going on, Peter gives Death dating tips and sets him up with a girl from a local pet store. Death decides to give Peter a second chance … with a little help from Peter Frampton (playing himself).
Lethal Weapons (Original Air Date: August 22, 2001)
Lois takes a few Tae-Jitsu lessons in order to combat the obnoxious New York tourists who have come to Quahog to check out the pretty leaves. But soon, Lois’ violent tendencies start carrying over into her everyday home life and after some anger management counseling, the family has an all out donnybrook in order to clear the air.
The Kiss Seen Round The World (Original Air Date: August 29, 2001)
Meg applies for – and gets – an internship at a local TV station in order to get closer to her crush, local news anchor, Tom Tucker. However, she’s bummed out when she learns that the biggest dork in her class, Neil, has an internship there as well – along with a crush on Meg. However, when caught in a life-threatening situation, Meg tells Neil that she’s never kissed a guy and agrees to kiss him. Neil tapes the entire incident and broadcasts it. Stewie’s tricycle is stolen and the guilty party soon learns not to mess with Stewie.
- DISC TWO -
Mr. Saturday Knight (Original Air Date: September 5, 2001)
Commentary by Seth McFarlane, Mila Kunis, Daniel Palladino, Steve Callaghan, and Seth Green
Peter’s boss dies suddenly while visiting the Griffin’s home and the toy factory is sold and dies with him. In order to make ends meet, Peter decides to follow his dream of becoming a jouster at the local Quahog Renaissance Faire. Voice talent in the episode includes Will Ferrell (a hilarious Black Knight), Charles Durning, and Adam Carolla.
Fish Out Of Water (Original Air Date: September 19, 2001)
Peter puts the family home on jeopardy when he bids $50,000 on a fishing boat at a police auction and decides to become a fisherman. When he reads the fine print on the loan for the boat, Peter realizes that he has put up everything he owns as collateral and the bank wants payment soon. In order to get the money, Peter decides to hunt down a legendary man-eating fish for the bounty money that’s being offered up. Meanwhile, Meg and Lois head down to Spring Break together and Lois ends up being able to party with the best of ‘em.
Emission Impossible (Original Air Date: November 8, 2001)
Peter and Lois decide that having another baby might be a good idea and it doesn’t sit real well with Stewie. As a result, Stewie vows to do whatever it takes in order to keep Lois and Peter from conceiving. He creates a ship to do battle with sperm, shrinks himself and his vessel down to microscopic size, and enters Peter’s body in order to terminate all of his sperm.
To Live And Die In Dixie (Original Air Date: November 15, 2001)
Waylon Jennings makes a guest cameo in this episode that has the Griffin’s moving to the Deep South – via the Witness Protection Program – in order to avoid an escaped killer that Chris fingered who has vowed revenge. Peter has become sheriff of the small, southern town and Chris has found his first, real girlfriend and when the killer escapes from prison and hunts down the Griffin family, it’s Sheriff Peter and Deputy Brian to the rescue!
Screwed The Pooch (Original Air Date: November 29, 2001)
Peter and Lois visit the in-laws and Peter tried really hard to impress Lois’ father, Mr. Pewterschmidt, and his very rich, wealthy, and influential friends. However, Brian has his eyes on the Pewterschmidt’s prized racing greyhound, “Sea Breeze”. However, when a vet informs the family that “Sea Breeze” is pregnant, Mr. Pewterschmidt refuses to let Brian near her and Brian decides to sue for custody of the puppies. Bob Barker appears in a cameo.
Peter Griffin: Husband, Father … Brother? (Original Air Date: December 6, 2001)
Chris embraces black culture and slang and Peter takes him to an “Irish Heritage” museum to straighten things out. However, when digging through a genealogy book at the local library, Chris ... and Peter … learn that there’s a black ancestor in the family tree. Stewie learns that he has a thing for the local Junior High cheerleading squad and he infiltrates their clique in order to learn their mind control secrets. Peter’s in-laws, the Pewterschmidt’s, make surprise visit after they learn that Peter now has a black ancestor.
Ready, Willing, and Disabled (Original Air Date: December 20, 2001)
Commentary by Seth McFarlane, Seth Green, Daniel Palladino, and Allison Adler
When Joe, Quahog’s wheelchair cop, loses a crook in a chase, he loses his self-confidence too. Peter decides to help Joe regain his pride and encourages him to enter the “Special People’s Games” as a confidence booster. Joe confronts some stiff, trash-talking competition, but when Peter spikes Joe’s drink with steroids, the gold medal is a foregone conclusion. Also, a money clip with $26 dollars causes problems for the rest of the family. Tony Danza and Valerie Bertinelli have voice cameos in the episode.
A Very Special Family Guy Freakin’ Christmas (Original Air Date: December 21, 2001)
Christmas gets off to a bad start when Peter accidentally gives away all of the family’s presents to “Toys For Toddlers” and then, he misses his favorite holiday special, “KISS Saves Santa” to boot. The entire family is stressed when they have to shop on Christmas Eve because of Peter’s mistake. With all of the problems, Lois has a hard time keeping her Christmas cheer, but Stewie is pumped when Santa remembers to bring him the plutonium he asked for. In a funny cameo, KISS provides their own voices for the episode.
- DISC THREE -
Brian Wallows And Peter Swallows (Original Air Date: January 17, 2002)
Commentary by Seth McFarlane, Seth Green, Daniel Palladino, Allison Adler, and Walter Murphy
Brian hates the local dating scene and decides to drown his sorrows in booze. He gets a DUI and is sentenced to care for an elderly, cranky, old hag who ends up becoming the love of Brian’s life. In an odd side story, Peter grows a beard that provides shelter for some endangered birds.
From Method To Madness (Original Air Date: January 24, 2002)
Brian auditions for a role at the local theater, but it’s Stewie who is discovered and he soon enters the Quahog School for the Performing Arts. Meg hits it off with a young nudist boy and when he goes to meet the Griffin’s, Meg is embarrassed to find that they want him to feel right at home. Fred Willard makes a cameo in this episode.
Stuck Together, Torn Apart (Original Air Date: January 31, 2002)
Lois runs into an old friend from school and they renew their friendship rather qickly – much to Peter’s displeasure. While he and Lois decide to spend some time apart, Peter gets a date with Gwyneth Paltrow and is totally bored to death on their date. Meanwhile, Brian and Stewie are accidentally glued together for an entire week. Jennifer Love Hewitt has a voice cameo as herself in the episode.
Road To Eurpoe (Original Air Date: February 7, 2002)
Hoping to join a TV show family that he thinks is real, Stewie (who takes Brian with him) stows away on a plane he thinks is bound for England and they end up in Saudi Arabia instead. Peter is excited to learn that Lois was once a groupie for the band KISS and she was known as “Loose Lois”. Again, KISS provides their own voices for the cameo and other cameos are made by Andy Dick and Michael McKean.
Family Guy Viewer Mail #1 (Original Air Date: February 14, 2002)
Mail from viewers inspires three mini-episodes, as Brian attempts to answer the viewer questions: What if the Griffin’s were little? What if the Griffin’s had super powers? What if Peter found a magic lamp? Voice cameos are featured from Adam Corolla and Alex Trebek.
When You Wish Upon A Weinstein (Never Aired)
Commentary by Seth McFarlane, Ricky Blitt, Mike Barker, and Dan Povenmire
In this “controversial” episode, Mr. Weinstein, a Jewish friend of Peter’s, encourages him to let Brian become a Jew so he’ll be successful as well. Not nearly as controversial as expected – nor as controversial as other episodes – this was a very funny episode and I was surprised at all the uproar that surrounded this particular ep. A nice addition nonetheless.
Three of the funniest discs you’ll ever spin through your player, Family Guy comes with my highest recommendation. Make sure you pick it up if you haven’t already.