As third (and final) of the 'precancellation seasons' this review closes out the initial run for Family Guy and provides the most important piece for my simple question. "Are the first three seasons of Family Guy really the best, or is it a case of 'rose-tinted specatcles?" There is one pretty important fact for myself, when I think back I'll often mention the third season as being my favourite, but that doesn't mean collectively the original three seasons are better than the later ones. That's only something which time, and lots and lots of words, will tell.
The third season is the longest of the three initial ones, spanning for twenty one episodes. It opens with a great two parter (The Thin White Line & Brian Does Hollywood) which includes one of my favourite gags - the wonderfully over the top "Previously on Family Guy" which trots out a huge selection of hollywood action cliches, none of which happened in the previous episode. Of the other episodes it's One If by Clam, Two If by Sea, Mr. Saturday Knight, the frankly brilliant Emission Impossible, Road to Europe and my all time favourite episode To Love and Die in Dixie which the greats I enjoy. But Family Guy Viewer Mail #1 is also an episode of exceptional note - following The Simpsons ( and Futurama's (Tales of Interest) three short story format it gives us 'what if' type three stories, two of which (No Bones About it and Supergriffins) are frankly amazing - but I don't care for the third story (Li'l Griffins) at all, I suspect because I've never seen Little Rascals.
Other notable moments in this season include the death of Mr Weed, shaking up the show slightly because it resulted in Peter seeking new employment for several episodes, the first appearance of Bertram (voiced by the ever wonderful and completely inconcievable Wallace Shawn) and Jasper; Brian's cousin. It's also the first season where the animation really steps up and becomes a specatcle worthy of admiration on it's own - Emmission Impossible in particular stands out here during the 'Fantastic Voyage' sections.
In all Season three is definitely the strongest of the first three seasons. Season one takes a while to warm up, only really finding it's voice by about halfway through the episode run. Season two on the other hand starts well, but is a little inconsistent in quality. Season three on the other hand has very few weak episodes and duff moments, cementing it's place as the best of the intial run with ease.
None on my (now admittedly ancient) set, you might have some though.
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Run time: 452 mins
Soundtrack: 2.0 Surround
Subtitles: English HOH