After two cancellations and a world of chaos and protesting, Family Guy has become a staple of adult-centred animation today. The exploits of the insane Griffin Family are some of the most offensive and deranged out there, but millions of viewers still can’t get enough – and it is easy to see why. Now in its 13th season, Family Guy is no longer in its fighting prime, but much like the prize boxer it can still go a few more rounds.
Family Guy sticks to a tried and true method of storytelling where each episode is its own self-contained story that results in its own conclusion. Rarely do episode plot points carry over to future episodes, and when they do it is usually in the form of a brief mention or cameo character appearance.
Out of the 22 episodes from season thirteen, there are a couple of impressive standouts. Leading the pack here is easily Yug Ylimaf, which has Brian accidentally reversing time. This episode features an awesome inverse giant chicken fight, as well as some backwards-reverse takes on some of Family Guy’s classic jokes (like another instalment of Peter falling down the stairs from season 12).
Ratings Guy is another great standout from the season, where Peter gets his hands on 100 Nielson Boxes and has control over television. The episode even features a cameo from Mad Men’s Jon Hamm who is coerced into changing the show or risk plummeting ratings.
Sadly, many of the characters have lost a lot of their depth and development that happened during the early seasons, devolving into caricatures of themselves. The most notable example of this is Peter, many of who’s actions resemble a toddler’s. It is this kind of writing that shows Family Guy, while still enjoyable is past its prime.
At this stage, the writers are not afraid of poking fun at themselves, or other similar programs. Stabs at The Simpsons, South Park and Bob’s Burgers are all par for the course this year. We even get the first glimpse at a Simpsons/Family Guy crossover (set to air in September this year) when Dan Castelanetta makes a brief appearance as Homer Simpson, pointing out that they are in the midst of a particular story line that Family Guy did first (poking fun at the fact that many critics and fans of each series have commented that Family Guy reuses old Simpsons storylines in its shows). Of all the self-mockery though, the parody of Macfarlane’s offensive Oscars hosting ceremony stands out as a highlight from the season.
Not a lot has changed visually in between seasons 12 and 13. Family Guy still uses the same art style that focuses on clean lines and exaggerated features to make its characters stand out from its competition. The benefit of it looking like this is the fact that anyone who has seen even five seconds of the show can see a still shot, or a piece of artwork and know instinctively that it is Family Guy. Like recent seasons, it is presented in HD visuals, but aside from the intro at the beginning of the episode, you likely wont really notice it when. Sadly, there is no Blu Ray release for Family Guy Season 13 (yet), so DVD is your only option here.
If I seem disappointed, it may be because I originally watched the episodes on TV in 720p, so watching the DVD release in 480p is a little bit of a downgrade. Don’t get me wrong, it by no means is a bad looking show, we are just so spoiled for quality nowadays that the differences between a Blu Ray and a DVD become apparent quite quickly.
At this point in Family Guy’s life span, the audio is very much set in place. The actors have all made the rolls their own, and the little musical flourishes are unique and feel just as much a part of the series as the Griffin family. As usual, Seth Macfarlane does most of the heavy lifting, both behind the scenes and with voicing the majority of the characters but it wouldn’t be Family Guy without the guest stars and special appearances. Everyone from H. Jon Benjamin to Jon Hamm and even Johnny Depp make cameo appearances this season (an awful lot of John’s in this year’s Family Guy).
The absolute best part about picking up a DVD collection of a show like Family Guy is the fact that you get to watch it and experience it how it was originally intended. This includes all of the swearing and vulgarity that was too inappropriate for television. Unlike similar programs, Family Guy only lightly sprinkles its foul language into its scripts. It is only on the rare occasion that the f-bomb will be dropped more than once in an episode and that is if it was used in the first place.
Family Guy doesn’t rely on its language to fuel its humour, so this means that when a character does eventually cry out an exasperated “F***!” that it catches you off guard and really adds to the punch line. One particular episode had me in stitches, which featured a cameo by everybody’s favourite web-slinger, who tells peter “You’re just a fat nobody, and I’m F***ing Spider-man!”
Here we come to the good part, the deleted scenes! Each of the season’s three discs has its own deleted scenes for a bunch of episodes. These fill a wide variety from crude to hilarious, from unnecessary to “why could they cut that!?” all in all, there is a lot to see and enjoy here.
Several episodes also feature director’s commentary over the tracks for those of you who love behind the scenes action, and there is even a look at some of how of the animation comes to life. Lastly, Fox have included the entire panel from last year’s Comic-Con that went over the present and future of the franchise, including the announcement of the Simpsons/Family Guy Crossover for 2014.
It is a sad fact that Family Guy has definitely passed its prime. The jokes are starting to become a little tired, and the characters have become caricatures of themselves, but there is still a lot to enjoy here. The humour while crude, still exudes a lot of intelligence. Macfarlane and his team are not idiots, and while their over the top antics might make people cringe, there is a lot of depth to a lot of the storylines here.
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