DVDs in Review #84: Family Guy: Season One

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Yes, that's right. This Wednesday we again dip back into the reaches of time for another DVD review, this time it's focused on the first season of Family Guy. I don't really need to go into describing the show in much detail here, Family Guy has had massive saturation across many countries with it's mix of crude, broad humour and offbeat non-sequitur style... um... humour. It features the Griffin Family, a 2.4 unit which (dys)functions it's way through life. It's been compared to The Simpsons and even South Park have parodied it in one show.

Peter, Lois, Chris, Stewie, Brian and the other one are pretty popular in the circles I move near, but the general consensus seems to be "The first three seasons are better than the later ones". Which made me curious enough to go back and see if this really is the case, in order to do so I have to start at the beginning - I've got to have something to compare against in order to decide if this is really the case or if it's rose tinted spectacle syndrome ("Things were better when I was a lad, we used to climb in a tin bath, sail down a river and kill rats with a stick.")

The first season features fourteen episodes; Death has a Shadow, I Never Met the Dead Man, Mind over Murder, Chitty Chitty Death Bang, A Hero Sits Next Door, The Son Also Draws, Brian: Portrait of a Dog, Peter Peter Caviar Eater, Running Mates, Holy Crap, If I'm Dyin' I'm Lyin', Love Thy Trophy, Death is a Bitch and The King is Dead.

On the whole they're actually a bit of a mixed bunch, The Son Also Draws is probably the first genuinely good episode in the mix; and of rest it's Peter Peter Caviar Eater, Holy Crap, Death is a Bitch and The King is Dead which are the good ones. Not bad for a show which was just finding it's legs, but it's not a season filled with memorable classics - it's more one which was trying to find it's feet and really nail it's own particular voice. This is especially noticable in Peter's fantasy/non-sequitur/sketch sequences, some of them are hilarious, but others are either exceptionally steeped in American Pop culture or just a little flat.

Likewise the animation is also crude and lacking refinement, but that's the case with most cartoons that employ a new style, it takes time for the animators to smooth out the kinks, as such the first season doesn't look as slick as some of the later seasons, especially the ones which were created after the hiatus.

Also of considerable note is the character of Meg, Lacey Chabert provided the voice in the first season and while there are some vocal similarities between herself and Mila Kunis who took over in the second season onwards, the character is more sympathetic and less a target for the entire family to dump on. It's definitely fair to say that Mila is a better fit for the direction they decided to take Meg in, but there's also the possibility that Meg became more and more a target of ridicule because of Mila's performance. She is the queen of shrill, whiney young women for sure. Irregardless, first season Meg is a far more rounded character than her later incarnation, and Lacey is to thank for that.

So, is the first season great? The answer is 'Umm, sort of', it's filled with comedy and laugh out loud skits, but the first half of the season is middling to average and it's only towards the end of the season that things really come to life. I'd actually go as far as to say that the later seasons are an improvement over this one.

That all said, the first season of Family Guy is still a great product to own, one which holds up to repeated viewing and is comparable in standard to the first season of The Simpsons. It's an enjoyable beginning which lays the groundwork for some fantastic later seasons.

My version features an "Interactive Menu" and "Scene Access". Wow! Someone better stop the presses. It's possible later versions have better extras, but mine dates from during the 'cancelled years'.

Audio: 2.0 Stereo
Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Rating: 15
Region: 2
Run time: 312 mins
Soundtrack: English
Subtitles: English HOH


1 comment so far.

  1. dorsey 4 September 2009 at 08:55
    i like Lacey Chabert.she is very good actress. She served as voiceover in several animated series. Most notable, she gave her voice to Eliza Thornberry in the animated series The Wild Thornberrys. She has also voiced Eliza in two movies, ‘The Wild Thornberrys Movie’ and ‘Rugrats Go Wild’.For the 1999 animated sitcom ‘Family Guy tv show ‘, she gave her voice to Meg Griffin. She was also seen playing the title role in ‘The Brooke Ellison Story’, a made for TV movie.

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