As you watch the 14 episodes in this boxed set, comparisons
with The Simpsons continually spring to mind. Like
Homer, the titular family guy Peter Griffin is a big boisterous
oaf with a love of beer and an allergy to hard work. Like
Homer, he is supported by an overburdened but devoted housewife
- in this case Lois. The couple find themselves in some very
similar situations to the Simpsons, as when Peter inadvertently
assaults a woman, or when Lois briefly catches the gambling
set the Griffins apart from the Simpsons are their kids: the
image-obsessed, peer-pressured 16-year-old Meg; the overgrown
gentle giant that is 13-year-old Chris; and, best of all,
baby Stewie. There are shades of Brain from Pinky and the
Brain in one-year-old Stewie. He's an evil little creature
who desires nothing less than total world domination and the
demise of his mother - or, to use Stewie's phraseology, his
"matriarchal oppressor". Many a zany plot twist revolves around
the tyrannical toddler's devious schemes to avoid the agonies
of teething or having to eat his greens. Finally there is
Brian, the multitalented and philosophical family dog, who
frequently acts as Peter's adviser and conscience.
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.
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 show
11's "blaxploitation" version of Back to the Future.
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.
a shame about the total lack of extra features on the DVDs.
However, of all this show's similarities to The Simpsons,
the most important one of all is the fact that Family Guy
is inventive, consistently humorous, subversive fun.
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