To the ranks of shows too brilliant and outrageous for prime time (The Ben Stiller Show
, Andy Richter Controls the Universe
), add Seth McFarlane's Family Guy
. This animated series, which debuted after the 1999 Super Bowl, simply sparked too much controversy and offended too many sensibilities to survive (Entertainment Weekly
dubbed it "the Awful Show They Just Keep Putting on the Air"). That the Fox network also played hackysack with its schedule, ensuring viewers would not be able to find it, sealed its fate (it was cancelled in 2002). This boxed set containing all 28 episodes from the first two seasons is payback for the show's devoted cult following, who may be moved to echo the words of infant Stewie Griffin, the megalomaniacal 1-year-old bent on matricide and world domination: "Victory is mine!"
The dysfunctional Griffins of Quahog, Rhode Island, invite comparisons to The Simpsons. The testicular-chinned father, Peter Griffin, is a clueless oaf in the Homer mold. "Peter, what did you promise me last night?" asks his long-suffering wife Lois in one episode. "That I wouldn't drink at the stag party," he replies. "And what did you do?" she asks. "Drank at the stag part--oh ho ho, I almost walked into that one," he cackles. Other family members include teenage daughter Meg, a desperate high school social pariah; 13-year-old son Chris, a chip off his father's blockhead; and Brian, the family's sarcastic talking dog. But this series' true inspiration is football-pated Stewie (voiced by McFarlane, who earned an Emmy), who was born to be a Bond villain once he escaped his mother's "ovarian bastille." Family Guy recklessly ventured where The Simpsons feared to tread. In one episode, Meg's one and only friend turns out to be the member of a suicidal cult. In another, Death (voiced by Norm McDonald) becomes an unwanted houseguest. Each episode plays fast and furious with surreal flashes (in one episode, Peter turns his house into a puppet) and pop-culture references and TV, movie, and commercial parodies that invite repeated viewings. Freed from its own family-hour bastille and the whims of dim network executives, Family Guy can be appreciated at last on its own profane, sacrilegious, and irreverent terms. Welcome to the DVD family, Griffins. --Donald Liebenson
Meet the Griffins: Peter, the big, lovable oaf who always says whats on his mind. Lois, the doting mother who cant figure out why her baby son keeps trying to kill her. Their daughter Meg, the teen drama queen whos constantly embarrassed by her family. Chris, the beefy 13-year-old who wouldnt hurt a fly, unless it landed on his hot dog. Stewie, the maniacal one-year-old bent on world domination. And Brian, the sarcastic dog with a wit as dry as the martinis he drinks. The animated adventures of his outrageous family will have your whole family laughing out loud.