Plot: What’s it about?
What do you do with a show that’s been cancelled, twice, and is now one of the jewels in your network’s crown? Well, I guess the best thing to do would be “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Those familiar with Family Guy likely know what I’m talking about. And if you don’t, it’s basically a more foul-mouthed version of The Simpson’s. Odds are you’ll like one or the other or in my case – both. Co-creator Seth MacFarlane provides many of the voices and is surrounded by a wealth of talent like Alex Borstein, Mila Kunis, Patrick Warburton and Seth Green. Various celebrities lend their vocals to episodes and season 16 was no different with guest stars ranging from Sir Ian McKellan to Amanda Seyfried to Ryan Reynolds.
The show’s seasons don’t really impact one another, much like The Simpson’s most episodes stand on their own. This season is no different with a variety of clever and insightful episodes, the highlights (for me) being “Three Directors.” In this episode, we see the same plot through the eyes of three different directors: Wes Anderson, Quentin Tarantino and Michael Bay. This episode is shown in rough animatic form with commentary as one of the few extras. Also of note are “Follow the Money” in which we see how a dollar bill flows through the hands of most every resident of Quahog (where the show takes place) and “Family Guy: Through the Years” in which we see the show in some more familiar settings like The Brady Bunch and so forth. Those who know and like the show will be right at home and it seems that Fox has finally fixed the issue with these releases. They used to be in “Volumes” that would encompass part of one season and move onto the next. With this most recent release, it’s the stand-alone season. It took long enough!
Video: How’s it look?
I’m sure there’s a reason, but I can’t seem to find it. Fox issues a lot of their television shows (series) on DVD as opposed to the more standard-offering of Blu-ray. Maybe it’s a cost-cutting thing or maybe they’ve done market research that says more people will buy a DVD rather than a Blu-ray. Whatever the reason, I can say that the over the air broadcasts look superior to the way these look on DVD. They don’t look bad, but when you can watch episodes on network television that look better than a DVD set, things have to change! Add to that, streaming services like Hulu or Netflix (Family Guy used to be on Netflix and as of this writing it’s on Hulu) offer these in picture-perfect 1080p quality.
That being said, the prints have minimal signs of wear, so debris and grain are never problems. This allows for a clean, crisp visual texture, so the show’s bright presence comes off in fine fashion. The Quahog atmosphere looks excellent, so the basic animation style carries well here. This is not always a very colorful show, but when needed, the hues have ample richness. I found black levels to be spot on also, which means there is no imbalance within the darker hues.
Audio: How’s it sound?
I don’t have a whole lot to discuss in this department, since the show’s audio is basic and so is this presentation. There is no real power or depth to mention, outside of the music, which has a little presence at times. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is passable, but shows like this or The Simpson’s don’t really offer a lot in this department. The sound effects don’t amount to much, but all of the needed elements are on full showcase in these tracks. In other words, the background noises sound good, but don’t expect much beyond the basics. The real focus is on dialogue, so the clean and clear vocals found here are a welcome fixture in the mixes.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Previous offerings from Family Guy have been packed with extras, and what get here isn’t that much, but it’s better than nothing.
- Deleted Scenes – Roughly 8 minutes’ worth that are inter-spliced with some black title cards. I didn’t really find that they added a lot to their respective episodes.
- Extended episode animatic – The “Three Directors” episode is shown in its rough, animatic form and runs nearly 35 minutes. The commentary for this one is actually quite interesting leading off with Executive Producer Steve Callahan and a slew of writers and producers including Travis Bowe, who wrote this episode. I learned a lot about the animatic process, why they do them and with this episode in particular, why it was such an undertaking. I wish there were more commentary tracks on other episodes, but this one was a nice listen.
The Bottom Line
You either like Family Guy or you don’t. That’s how Seth MacFarlane and his shows/movies are. This latest season brings us current with the other DVD releases. While the season itself contained some pretty memorable episodes, I found it wasn’t quite up to what the more recent seasons offered. The DVD looks pretty good, though over the air broadcasts or streaming services offer higher-quality audio and video. The extras are nice, but there should be more.