FAMILY GUY: VOLUME ELEVEN
MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
Seth MacFarlane as PETER GRIFFIN
Seth MacFarlane as STEWIE GRIFFIN
Seth MacFarlane as BRIAN GRIFFIN
Alex Bornstein as LOIS GRIFFIN
Seth Green as CHRIS GRIFFIN
Mila Kunis as MEG GRIFFIN
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Created by: Seth MacFarlane
BY KEVIN CARR
There was a time when “Family Guy” made fun of “The Simpsons” for being the establishment of Fox animation. Now, after more than ten years on the air, “Family Guy” has become that establishment. While it’s different from “The Simpsons” in very noticeable (and often offensive) ways, “Family Guy” has developed its own brand over the past decade.
Volume Eleven is now available on DVD, featuring 23 episodes of the series which essentially spans the 10th season. Even though the show has been on the air (in a somewhat choppy broadcast history at the onset) for more than a dozen years, the series continues to keep itself fresh with some clever writing and thinking outside of the box.
This batch of episodes offer some new experiences for characters, including Meg developing a romantic relationship with Quagmire, Peter going to jail in a “Cool Hand Luke” fashion, a deeper look into Joe’s marriage, and Peter’s quest into Tea Party politics. Additionally, the series also has some nice call-backs to previous shows, particularly the original pilot in “Back to the Pilot,” which features Brian and Stewie traveling to the original pilot episode to undo mistakes of the past.
We see the return of Stewie’s time machine, which also gets some tongue-in-cheek self-referential humor. Other running gags includes a epic battle between Peter and his chicken nemesis. As the show has grown to popular cult status, it has opened the door to more voice guest stars, including Cate Blanchette, Ricky Gervais, Ellen Page and Ryan Reynolds (in one of his better self-deprecating performances I’ve seen in a while).
Now that “Family Guy” has become a staple at Fox, there’s room for some high-budget animation, which is seen in the keystone episodes about the changing of the time stream and the chicken fight. It’s also reached the level where it can deconstruct itself as a series. The cutaway jokes have become so numerous in the show that we see plenty of in-jokes about these in-jokes throughout the season.
These elements of this year are fun because it shows that the people running the show realize there’s a ludicrous nature to the series, and they don’t take themselves too seriously.
However, like any long-running television series – particularly one that has such a polarizing effect as “Family Guy” does – it all depends on your level of fandom whether you’ll like the show. If you hate Seth MacFarlane’s work, you’ll loath Volume Eleven of “Family Guy.” But if you still think the guy’s shtick is funny, you’ll enjoy the heck out of this run.
Of course, as an uncensored box set, there’s plenty more harsh language that is left in the dialogue moments (as if you couldn’t tell what was being said under all that bleeping).
The DVD set comes with some decent special features, especially considering this is the eleventh set released. There are commentaries on select episodes, plus a slew of deleted scenes across all three discs. There’s select scene animatics, for those who are interested in the minutia of animation development. Additional featurettes include a spotlight on Ricky Gervais’s guest spot, Ron MacFarlane reading viewer mail and a look back at the pilot episode.