Family Guy Season 6 Review

I’m sure you don’t need me to recap the colourful history of Family Guy for you. It was on, it was brilliant, it went away, we thought it was finished, and now it’s back. The real cause for celebration it that’s it as good as ever, possibly even better.

I’m also pretty sure you don’t need me telling you about the characters, but just in case….Peter Griffin (voiced by McFarlane) is basically Homer without the intelligence or social skills; wife Lois (Borstein) is the homemaker who occasionally likes it rough; daughter Meg (Kunis) has self esteem issues; son Chris (Green) is a bit of an oddball; baby Stewie (McFarlane) talks like Rex Harrison and used to have plans for world domination, which he seems to have abandoned; dog Brian (McFarlane) likes wine and human females.

Everything that was good or bad in previous seasons is still present and correct. 80s pop culture references abound and the non-sequitur asides are as surreal, irrelevant and hilarious as ever. But jokes are sometimes stretched to the point of distraction and well beyond, while individual plots can range from lame to non-existent. Atoning for this is the fact that it regularly generates more laughs than just about anything else on television. To describe Family Guy as un-PC would be a ludicrous understatement. It constantly plays with the boundaries of what is acceptable in terms of taste and decency, with some quite astonishingly inappropriate jokes. Everyone is fair game and it’s merciless towards its targets – New Orleans, the handicapped, 9/11, you name it. But its strength lies with the makers intuitively knowing that jokes about race and sexuality are not the same as racism and homophobia.

It seems in the last couple of seasons to have quietly but firmly become the Brian and Stewie show, which is fair enough. Chris and Meg are relegated to mere bit players, often barely appearing at all. Which is, again, fair enough. The makers clearly realise what makes for the funniest stuff and play to that, while many of the best bits come from the delivery of the lines rather than the lines themselves - McFarlane is a hugely talented voice actor, as is everyone else involved. No animated show does falling down gags like Family Guy and, on DVD (as opposed to the broadcast versions) unbleeped f’ing (not to mention unpixelated Peter nudity) adds a hell of a lot of comedy value.

Stewie Loves Lois “I will not turn a brown eye to this.”
A terrific opener with several laugh out loud moments. Peter accuses his doctor of molesting him during a routine prostate exam, while Stewie realises that Lois might not be so bad after all. Contains one of the best ever evil monkey jokes.

Mother Tucker “Could you tell Tom his contagious penis cancer medicine is ready?”
Peter’s mother announces she’s left his father and ends up dating local news anchor Tom Tucker. Brian gets to host a radio show which is upstaged by Stewie. Some stand out moments.

Hell Comes to Quahog “I may be an idiot but there is one thing I am not sir, and that sir, is an idiot.”
The actual point of this one is slightly difficult to fathom but it has something to do with a giant new superstore and a heat wave, making for a pretty weak effort all round.

Saving Private Brian “Why does Senator Palpatine have a desk?”
Brian and Stewie end up joining the army while Chris joins a rock band and rebels against Peter and Lois. Another one not quite showing Family Guy at its best.

Whistle While Your Wife Works “You’re a bigger buzz-kill than Buzz Killington.”
After injuring his hand in a firework accident, Peter enlists Lois to do his work for him before he gets fired. Brian’s new girlfriend (voiced by Drew Barrymore) is a moron, much to Stewie’s delight. Some good moments.

Prick Up Your Ears “That’s not going to help her nymphomania, it will only exacerbate it.”
Lois is outraged about the lack of sex education in Chris’ school but is quickly fired when she tries to teach it herself. Everyone is soon trying out alternatives to sex, leading to a position you can probably work out yourselves from the episode title. Hilarious.

Chick Cancer “Before I found these movies, women only made me cry through my penis.”
Peter decides to make his own chick flick after getting in touch with his feminine side, while Stewie meets up again with old flame Olivia. Quite superb, with Peter plumbing new depths.

Barely Legal “Something, something, something, Dark Side. Something, something, something, complete.”
Mayor West dispatches the entire Quahog police force to Columbia to search for Kathleen Turner’s character from Romancing the Stone, leading to lawlessness. Meg becomes obsessed with Brian after he accompanies her to a school dance. Another beauty.

Road to Rupert “Did we just car-jack someone?” “We sure did Brian, we sure did.”
Peter loses his driving licence after an Evel Knievel stunt goes wrong and he has to be driven around by Meg. Brian sells Stewie’s beloved teddy Rupert, sending the pair on a road trip to recover it. Pretty solid.

Peter’s Two Dads “You’re the broth of me own stubby shillelagh all right.”
Peter finds out his father isn’t his real father after killing him in a unicycle/drunken-hobo-clown skit gone wrong, and travels to Ireland to track down his real dad. This one’s a cracker.

The Tan Aquatic with Steve Zissou “It’s going to be an old fashioned father/son beat-off.”
Stewie becomes obsessed with getting tanned and worries he might have cancer, while Peter gets in touch with his inner bully. Not bad.

Airport 07 “There’s no one here by the name of Long Rod Von Hugen Dong.”
After deciding to become a redneck, Peter manages to get Quagmire fired from his pilot’s job and the boys come up with a crazy scheme to get him his job back.

Bill and Peter’s Bogus Journey “And now, ladies and gentlemen, Mr Conway Twitty.”
Peter becomes friends with Bill Clinton, with all the naughtiness you might imagine ensuing. A fine end to the series.

Picture quality is bright and vivid and gives no real cause for complaint. As you’d expect from an animated show, it’s extremely colourful but there are no issues with bleeding. It’s about on a par with broadcast standard, clean if a bit soft, and with no blemishes to speak of.

Early seasons were released on DVD as 2.0 stereo, but the step up to 5.1 doesn’t really provide much extra. Dialogue is strong, as is music, and occasionally sound effects will make themselves known from the rears, but there isn’t much in the way of directionality or input from the LFE channel. Does the job without standing out.

Commentaries: McFarlane (whose real voice sounds exactly like Brian’s) is joined on every episode by a selection of writers, directors and actors, including Borstein and Drew Barrymore. There’s quite a bit of info and no little entertainment value, and they thankfully don’t spend too much time laughing at the jokes as they point out a lot of lines that were changed between the broadcast version and the DVD. One of the best revelations is that they actually asked Bill Clinton if he wanted to voice himself, but the ex-pres politely declined.

Deleted Scenes: There are 17 minutes of deleted scenes, ranging from pretty weak to very funny indeed.

Drawing Peter is 5 minutes of a guy drawing Peter.

Toys, Toys Galore (16 mins): The toymakers who manufacture the Family Guy tie-in merchandise discuss their involvement with the programme and show how they make some of the toys, alongside some input from McFarlane. Reasonably interesting but not a lot of fun.

Animatic Episodes: Stewie Loves Lois, Prick Up Your Ears and Chick Cancer can be viewed in their rough pencil animatic form, with or without commentary from the animators, who talk about what got kept in and what got left out. You’d need to be pretty keen to sit through these.

8 out of 10
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