Family Guy: Season 1 & 2

Family Guy: Season 1 & 2 (1999)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Extras: Commentary Track, Promo Spots, Featurette

’Family Guy’ is a quirky cartoon series from the Fox channel that gives us the chance to witness the escapades of a slightly off-kilter family through the eyes of Stewie, a one-year old with the maniacal plan for world domination. While the antics of all the family members are certainly hilarious, it is mostly the sharp witty commentary coming from Stewie that will have you rolling on the floor as he tries to oppress his will onto unsuspecting humans.

This 4-disc box set from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment contains the 28 episodes that make up the first two seasons of the series. The transfer is presented in a fullscreen aspect ratio, but for some reason it falls short of expectations with a number of problems. Registration problems, shimmering and serious aliasing distortion is visible in the picture, creating a rough image that contains just too many ’jaggies’ than you’d like to see. Serious edge-enhancement has been applied to this transfer to make things worse, and the resulting halos further exaggerate the deficits in the presentation. Color reproduction is good on the other hand, rendering the bold colors in vibrant hues, while solid black levels give the image a strong contrast and bold strokes.

The DVD contains Dolby Surround tracks for the episodes in English and Spanish, as well as a Dolby Stereo track in French. The quality of the tracks is very good with a natural frequency response, good basses and clear high ends, as well as a good dynamic range. Selected episodes contain a commentary track featuring series creator Seth MacFarlane, as well as executive producer David Zuckerman and selected cast and crew members. A selection of Internet promo spots is also on the release, as well as a behind-the-scene featurette.

This is a strangely poor showing for a 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment release, who is typically ahead of the field in terms of quality. Add to that the fact that one episode of the series is missing entirely from this set and that the episode ’Road To Rhode Island’ has been edited to remove a Bin Laden joke, and we are beginning to scratch our heads over this release. ’Family Guy’ is an irreverent series, always has been through its short-lived three seasons, and as such it has won its fans. Removing from a DVD release what made this series special, is just disrespectful to the series itself and the creative talent behind it.

While I recommend ’Family Guy’ for its anarchic qualities, I caution fans about this DVD set. You may want to sample it first as a rental to see if it is what you had hoped for.