DVD
Family Guy compendium box set

Starring: Seth MacFarlane
20th Century Fox
RRP 59.99
26044DVD
Certificate: 15
Available now


Join the dysfunctional Griffin family (Peter, Lois, Meg, Chris and Stewie) and their Martini-swilling dog Brian as they fight against the norm. Everyday problems in the Griffin household include Peter and Brian's drinking binges, Lois and Meg's struggle against the disgraceful men in their lives and one year old Stewie's repeated attempts to kill his mother and take over the world. And then there's
Brian's peeing problem, Peter's addiction to liposuction and Meg's run in with the law when she is blamed for slanderously "outing" teen heartthrob Luke Perry...

Like the Simpsons, the Griffins are a family obsessed with TV, and accordingly their series is packed with media satires (including references to American commercials that most British viewers will not be familiar with). A particular speciality of Family Guy is its penchant for taking cosy family shows, such as The Brady Bunch, Happy Days and The Cosby Show, and presenting the characters therein with the kind of hard-hitting real-life issues that they never had to confront within the parameters of their own series.

Sci-fi fans will particularly appreciate the prolific allusions to Batman, Scooby Doo, The Twilight Zone, The Incredible Hulk and The Six Million Dollar Man (with Lee Majors himself providing a vocal cameo), as well as movies including the Star Wars trilogy, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Robocop. Among the best spoofs are the second episode's hilarious exaggeration of William Shatner's gesticulations as Captain James T Kirk, and the "blaxploitation" version of Back to the Future.

As with Fox's more famous animated show, Family Guy contains some particularly un-PC jokes, with Peter mouthing off on the topics of gender, race and disability. Usually (though, it has to be said, not always) the show's moral outlook manages to distance itself from Peter's boorish attitudes. This series is less overtly moralistic than The Simpsons, and is also more adult in content - its level of coarse language helped to earn it the 15 certificate.

To all the family guy fans out there who might feel a bit cheated. Stop. Go and buy this. I can understand that you have paid for all the separate season's box sets, but this is worth it. Aside from containing all 50 episodes from the show you also have two whole discs as extras.

These include commentary on 14 episodes and 28 deleted scenes, as well as Promo's and featurettes.

Enough about what's so good about the disc, what about the actual programme itself? It's a heady mix, From the "smartness" of The Simpsons to the subtlety of Futurama and the humour of Blackadder thrown in you end up with... a bit of a mess.

As funny and as highly addictive as it could be, it isn't as highly addictive as it should be. But don't get me wrong there are some genuinely funny moments within this neat series and it is a great shame that Fox cancelled it before its prime. Although, there is talk that the show will live again in the near future.

Simon Lee

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All prices correct at time of going to press.