REVIEW: THE TICK (2001)

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MAIN CAST

Patrick Warburton (Family Guy)
David Burke (Joan of Arcadia)
Liz Vassey (Two and a Half Men)
Nestor Carbonell (Bates Motel)Space-Squad-Benikiba-Mad-Gallant

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Christopher Lloyd (Piranha)
T.J. Thyne (Bones)
Sam McMurray (Addams Family Values)
Maury Ginsberg (Vinyl)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Missi Pyle (Gone Girl)
Kurt Fuller (Ghostbusters 2)
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Armin Shimerman (Star Trek: DS9)

tik-gerojEdlund first published the adventures of the Tick in a black-and-white comic book that gathered a cult following. Somehow, he got the attention of Fox’s animation studios, and his rather mature story—about an insanely strong, decidedly off-balanced escapee from a mental institution living in a world packed with obscure superheroes and bizarre villains (Chairface Chippendale, the Chainsaw Vigilante, the terrifying District Manager)—into a slightly less offensive, even funnier Saturday morning cartoon. The animated Tick lasted three seasons, and the adventures of Tick and his sidekick Arthur  and their battles against villains like the Eastern Bloc Robot Cowboy, the Guy with Ears Like Little Raisins, and Joseph Stalin, were all that got me up on weekend mornings. 1457674447338But Fox ruined things by trying to turn the show from a cult hit into a mainstream entertainment and they soon cancelled it. Then, five years later, a brief bout of insanity overtook the Fox executives and they commissioned a live-action version of the large, blue, polysyllabic hero. Bringing Tick into the real world without screwing it up would require finesse, and luckily Fox allowed Edlund a ton of creative input. And despite some changes, including the substitution of the comic’s sidekicks with new characters Captain Liberty (Liz Vassey) and Spanish lothario Batmanuel (Nestor Carbonell), the live-action version is surprisingly faithful to both the original incarnation and the cartoon series. A large measure of credit goes to star Patrick Warburton and David Burke, a pitch-perfect pair of Tick and moth. Warburton in particular captures his character’s blend of big-hearted hero and moron.1457674447338Of course, it isn’t perfect. It’s a low-budget series, and you can tell—the Tick’s costume (complete with motorized antenna)—looks great, but the rest of the set dressing looks rather cheap. And these first nine episodes are somewhat hit or miss, only occasionally scoring as consistently as the animated series. On the plus side, the show’s late-night time slot and intended adult audience meant the plots could be a bit more mature and subversive. Standouts include Arthur, Interrupted, in which Arthur comes out of the superhero closet to his family and is thrown into a “deprogramming facility” run by guest star Dave Foley; The Terror, in which the Tick faces the dastardly, 115-year-old villain, The Terror (Armin Shimerman); and the heroic duo’s acceptance into a smarmy, elitist superhero team in The Big Leaguestickep4Unfortunately, after bankrolling the series, Fox apparently decided they had made a series no one would watch, so they shelved it for a year. Then they slotted in on Thursdays against Survivor and Friends, pre-empted it so often it took three months to air eight episodes, showed everything out of order, and ended the show without airing the ninth and final episode (which was supposed to be episode three anyway). Even the clout of executive producer Barry Sonnenfeld couldn’t keep it on the air.tick+1If only more comic fans had committed to a show that actually did everything they’d asked… Fortunately, the American dvd gave fans the chance to relive this short lived show. thankfully the amazon revival has brought the Tick back in a form, but fans of the character should check out first attempt of a live action Tick.

 

 

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REVIEW: SON OF ZORN

MAIN CAST

Jason Sudeikis (Movie 43)
Cheryl Hines (Waitress)
Tim Meadows (Grown Ups)
Johnny Pemberton (21 Jump Street)
Artemis Pebdani (Agents of SHIELD)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Mark Proksch (Better Call Saul)
Tony Revolori (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
Clara Mamet (The Neighbors)
Rob Riggle (The Other Guys)
Nick Offerman (We’re the Millers)
Ellen Wong (Scott Pilgrim vs The World)
Lori Alan (Family Guy)
Bryce Johsnon (The Skulls 3)
Cameron Monaghan (Gotham)
Alex Borstein (Bad Santa)
Olivia Wilde (Tron Legacy)

I was not sure if Son Of Zorn would be a TV series that would interest me but after watching all 13 episodes I must say the concept and story line are funny and interesting.The interaction between the cartoon character barbarian named Zorn who hails from the island of Zephyria with his real life ex-wife and 17 year old son is something unique. Now there is no one who thinks higher of Zorn than Zorn himself. Zorn is an egomaniac warrior god who decides to temporarily stop fighting his enemies on the island of Zephyria and to travel by plane and bus as normal human beings are expected to, and he travels to Orange County California only to discover that his 17 year old son is a vegetarian with no desire to kill or fight anyone and his ex-wife Edie, (played by Cheryl Hines) is engaged to be married to a dweeb professor Craig, (played by Time Meadows) who teaches through an on-line course so Zorn takes every opportunity to emasculate Craig.Zorn’s son Alan (played by Johnny Pemberton) is not exactly thrilled that his missing in action animated barbarian of a dad named Zorn has chosen to reappear in his life to try and reconnect with his teenage son and bond. There are some very comical situations that kept me laughing at the story as it progressed and Zorn’s unorthodox approach in trying to appeal to his son Alan is unique to say the least.Sadly the show was just recently cancelled, which is a shame considering it ends on a cliffhanger that now will never resolved. It’s still worth watching if you like something fun and different.

REVIEW: CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEETBALLS

CAST

Anna Faris (Mom)
Bill Hader (Power Rangers)
Bruce Campbell (Ash vs Evil Dead)
James Caan (Elf)
Andy Samberg (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
Mt. T (The A-Team)
Bobbie J. Thompson (Role Models)
Benjamin Bratt (Doctor Strange)
Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother)
Al Roker (Sharknado 4)
Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls)
Will Forte (Macgruber)
Neil Flynn (Scrubs)
Lori Alan (Family Guy)
Ariel Winter (Modern Family)

Flint Lockwood is a wannabe-scientist who lives in Swallow Falls, a tiny island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean that has sardines as the base of its economy. Flint lives with Tim, his widowed technophobic father who misunderstands his son’s talent, and his pet monkey, Steve. Despite Flint’s zealous enthusiasm, his inventions, including spray-on shoes, a remote controlled television, rat birds, hair-un-balder, and a flying car, all ended in failure. Flint states that his dream was to help his hometown and that Swallow Falls used to be famous for sardines until the popular Baby Brent Sardine cannery went out of business permanently.Flint then invents a machine that transforms water into food, called the “Flint Lockwood Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator” (FLDSMDFR). Flint turns on the FLDSMDFR in his laboratory, but ends up overloading the house’s electrical supply. He then decides to power the machine by hooking it up to a nearby power plant. When he turns the machine back on, it ends up rocketing through town, causing widespread damage, ultimately shooting up into the sky. While recovering from his failure, Flint meets Samantha “Sam” Sparks, a weather intern whose big break was foiled by Flint’s actions. Their conversation is cut short when rainbow colored clouds float over the town and begin to rain cheeseburgers.
The town rejoices in their renewed food choices, and Flint creates a communication device to send orders to the machine and order it to create different types of food. Swallow Falls (now renamed Chewandswallow) suddenly becomes a successful “food tourism” destination. Everything is going well until the townsfolk start greedily requesting food from Flint’s machine. Flint notices that the food is beginning to grow larger in size. Although he is concerned that the food is starting to “over mutate”, the now morbidly obese mayor sees it as profitable for him and the city, and guilts Flint into continuing to make food rain.
Citizens and worldly tourists in Chewandswallow are blissful until suddenly a large tornado formed of spaghetti and meatballs threatens the town. Flint rushes to his lab to turn the FLDSMDFR off and attempts to send a “kill code” to stop the machine, but the mayor, while trying to stop him by throwing a giant radish at him, accidentally destroys the communication device before he can do it. With Flint unable to control the machine, a massive food storm is created which threatens the world. When Flint’s father encourages him to fix the mess, Flint gains self-confidence, places the kill code in a USB flash drive, and builds a new flying car to reach and deactivate the FLDSMDFR, with the aid of Sam, her cameraman Manny, Steve and Brent (namesake of the Baby Brent Sardine cannery). As they approach the machine in the sky, they find that it is now at the core of a giant meatball, where clouds go in the top and a food hurricane goes out the bottom. The machine sends sentient food to attack them. In the chaos, the flash drive with the kill code is sucked by the wind out the window. Back at Chewandswallow, the citizens and tourists escape while the last leftovers fall. Mt. Leftovers collapses, causing an avalanche of food that destroys the town. Despite the avalanche ravaging Flint’s Lab, Tim manages to re-send the kill code to Flint’s cell phone from there. Flint then goes inside the meatball, finds the machine, and connects the phone to a port. To his dismay, Flint discovers that Tim sent him the wrong file, so he is unable to stop the FLDSMDFR. Flint then gets an idea and uses his Spray-On Shoes formula on the machine, causing it to explode. With the machine destroyed, the food storm subsides and everyone is able to return safely to Chewandswallow. Tim finally shows his appreciation for his son and his inventions before Flint and Sam celebrate with a kiss. Meanwhile, the obese mayor is seen stranded in the middle of the sea, having eaten nearly all of his peanut butter and jelly sandwich boat, while muttering that his plans were not well thought out.Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs took me by surprise, I went into it expecting an average computer generated movie incomparable with today’s best of the genre and came out astonished by the sheer creativity oozing from every aspect of the film.

REVIEW: CHUCK – SEASON 2

CAST

Zachary Levi (Heroes Reborn)
Yvonne Strahovski (Batman: Bad Blood)
Adam Baldwin (Firefly)
Joshua Gomez (Invasion)
Sarah Lancaster (Saved By The Bell: The New Class)
Ryan McPartlin (J. Edgar)
Mark Christopher Lawrence (Halloween II)
Scott Krinsky (Transformers 3)
Vik Sahay (eXistenZ)
Julia Ling (Undoing)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Bonita Friedericy (Veronica Mars)
Tony Todd (The Flash)
Michael Clarke Duncan (Sin City)
Matthew Bomer (Tru Calling)
Melinda Clarke (Gotham)
Nicole Richie (The Simple Life)
Tony Hale (Stranger Than Fiction)
Clyde Kusatsu (American Pie)
Jordana Brewster (D.E.B.S.)
Bruce Boxleitner (Babylon 5)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Gary Cole (Crusade)
Reginald VelJohnson (Die Hard)
Michael Rooker (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Dominic Monaghan (Lost)
Andy Richter (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty)
Jenny McCarthy (Two and A Half Men)
Brian Thompson (The Terminator)
Patricia Rae (Life)
Katrina Law (Arrow)
Brooklyn Decker (Battleship)
Robert Picardo (Stargate: Atlantis)
Arnold Vosloo (The Mummy)
Shaun Toub (Iron Man)
Chevy Chase (Christmas Vacation)
Christopher Cousins (The Vampire Diaries)
Ken Davitian (Borat)
Lori Alan (Family Guy)
Scott Bakula (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Morgan Fairchild (Roswell)

Sarah Walker (Chuck)

For those of you who have not watched Chuck before, I would recommend that you check out Season 1. Although Season 2 is superior in my opinion, Season 1 really lays down all the groundwork for what is to come.
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For those of you who have see Season 1, you will not be disappointed by what the new season has to offer. In S1, Chuck was mainly the passive observer, the guy who flashed on things, and often made situations worse than before. However, at times he was given opportunity to save the day, in something I like to call a ‘Chuck Moment’. Season 1 had a few of them (setting off the fireworks to distract the guards to save Sarah and Casey would be one) but Season 2 is full of them – and better off for it. Now don’t get me wrong, Chuck can still be blundering and innapropriate, but in the new season, he always gets the opportunity to be the hero. The first episode has a particularly good example of this.
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The season starts off very strong, following on with the storyline that involves the governement trying to make a new intersect (and invariably the team have to go on missions to help furthur that cause). In fact, the majority of the season is brilliant television, apart from a few select episodes that are merely good, dotted around the season. The season has a much more coherent storyline, with a smallish story arc near the start, and a solid story arc that takes off around episode 13.
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The character’s pasts are delved into alot more in this season, with a great appearance from Sarah’s father, a conman. Chuck’s past gets more attention however, as the long talked of ex, Jill gets reinvolved in Chuck’s life. Best of all may be the casting of Scott Bacula as Chuck’s father, who does a great job of convincing the audience of his connection to both Chuck and Ellie. Unfortunately, Casey’s past does not get an episode that shows him in a new light, like the Ilsa episode, rather a fairly disappointing face-off between him and his old mentor.
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Morgan’s back, along with the rest of the buy-more crew, and a new face joins the buy-more – that of Emmet (played by Tony Hale, of Arrested Development fame) to provide more comic relief in that bizzare place.

A truly amazing series, with twists and turns abound, and an ending that will only leave you wanting more.

REVIEW: FANTASTIC FOUR (1994): THE COMPLETE SERIES

CAST
Beau Weaver (Transformers)
Lori Alan (Family Guy)
Chuck McCann (Ducktales)
Brian Austin Green (Anger Management)
Quinton Flynn (Digimon)
Neil Ross (Being John Malkovich)
Tony Jay (Lois & Clark)
Clyde Kusatsu (Alias)
Robin Sachs (Buffy)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Robin Sachs (Buffy)
John Rhys-Davies (Lord of The Rings)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
Jane Carr (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Edward Albert (Power Rangers Time Force)
John Vernon (Batman: TAS)
Simon Templeman (The Neighbours)
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Launched in 1994 as part of Marvel’s Action Hour in the USA (alongside Iron Man), this then new cartoon attempted to bring Marvel’s First Family  to the attention of a new generation. The main US comic book of the time included a free ‘animation cel’ with #394 to promote the series and later a spin off comic book of the cartoon was launched. In its first season, the show is disappointing. Reduced to a crude sitcom, the show is creaky, toe curling and cheesy beyond belief.  Worst of all, Sue Richards is reduced to mere ‘damsel in distress’ for the entirety of the season, functioning only as a simpering wife and mother to the men on the team. Compared to the superior Batman: The Animated Series of the time and even Marvel’s other cartoons of the period Spider-man, X-Men and Iron Man, its not hard to feel disappointed with the translation of the Fantastic Four to the small screen.

Thankfully, the approach of Season One , with its comedy landlord and irksome stereotypes don’t seemed to have found favour with audiences either and the show was given a serious overhaul for Season Two. The improvement in storytelling is immense and does a much better job of servicing the characters and situations they find thermselves in. The theme tune and accompanying score are still pretty naff though, all synthesized fanfares and flat sounding parps.
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The Inhumans three parter is my favourite, giving all its key characters a chance to shine and the romance between Johnny Storm and Crystal is nicely done, There’s also some neat guest appearances for The Avengers, Black Panther and even Ego – The Living Planet. As with all of Clear Vision’s Marvel releases, the set is attractively packaged with some nice artwork by Simon Williams and the picture is pin sharp and vibrant. The sound is superb as well, being dolby 5.1 stereo. There’s nothing in the way of any extras though, just the usual language and episode selections.

REVIEW: FAMILY GUY – DVD SEASONS 6-10

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MAIN CAST (VOICES)

Seth MacFarlane (Flashforward)
Alex Borstein (Power Rangers Zeo)
Seth Green (IT)
Mila Kunis (Black Swan)
Mike Henry (Ted)
Jennifer Tilly (Curse of Chucky)
Patrick Warburton (Scream 3)
Adam West (60s Batman)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST (VOICES)

Lori Alan (Wall-E)
Ellen Albertini Dow (The Wedding Singer)
Alexandra Breckenridge (She’s The Man)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Phyllis Diller (A Bug’s Life)
Carrie Fisher (Star Wars)
Indigo (Weeds)
Rachael MacFarlane (American Dad)
Louis Gossett Jr. (Stargate SG.1)
Samm Levine (Veronica Mars)
Drew Barrymore (Poison Ivy)
Robert Constanzo (Batman:TAS)
Gary Cole (One Hour Photo)
Taylor Cole (Heroes)
Lauren Conrad (The Hills)
David Cross (Scary Movie 2)
Stacey Scowley (The Brotherhood 2)
Garrett Morris (2 Broke Girls)
Rob Lowe (Code Black)
Ted McGinley (Highlander 2)
Connor Trinneer (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Charles Durning (The Sting)
Michael Clarke Duncan (The Finder)
Hugh M. Hefner (Citizen Toxie)
Roy Schneider (Jaws)
Gilbert Gottfried (Anger Management)
Neil Patrick Harris (The Smurfs)
Josh Radnor (How I Met Your Mother)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Adam Carolla (Road Hard)
Will Sasso (The Three Stooges)
Paula Abdul (Bruno)
Randy Jackson (American Idol)
Simon Cowell (The X Factor)
Patrick Stewart (X-Men)
Ted McGinley (Highlander 2)
Ricardo Montalban (Star Trek II)
James Woods (Another Day In Paradise)
Jessica Barth (Ted)
Chace Crawford (Gossip Girl)
Harvey Fierstein (Independence Day)
Bryan Cranston (Drive)
Brian Blessed (Flash Gordon)
Elisha Cuthbert (24)
Andy Dick (2 Broke Girls)
Debbie Reynolds (Singin’ In The Rain)
Frank Sinatra Jr. (Cool World)
Mae Whitman (Boogeyman 2)
Meredith Baxter (Family Ties)
Seth Rogen (Bad Neighbours)
Ed Helms (The Hangover)
Fred Savage (The Wonder Years)
LeVar Burton (Star Trek: TNG)
Denise Crosby (Trekkies)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
Jonathan Frakes (Lois & Clark)
Gates McFadden (Star Trek: TNG)
Marina Sirtis (The Grudge 3)
Brent Spiner (Dude, Where’s My Car?)
Wil Wheaton (Powers)
Wentworth Miller (Legends of Tomorrow)
Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World)
Jay Leno (The Simpsons)
Richard Dreyfuss (Tin Man)
John Ross Bowie (The Big Bang Theory)
Keri Lynn Pratt (Veronica Mars)
Chevy Chase (Chuck)
Dan Aykroyd (Ghostbusters)
Hart Bochner (urban Legends 2)
Christine Lakin (Valentine’s Day)
Brittany Snow (Prom Night)
Nana Visitor (Star Trek: DS9)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory)
Hugh Laurie (House)
Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)
Dwayne Johnson (Faster)
Adrianne Palicki (Agents of SHIELD)
Allison Janney (Mom)
Lucas Grabeel (Smallville)
Anne Hathaway (The Dark Knight Rises)
Charlie Sheen (Two and a Half Men)
Danielle Panabaker (The Flash)
Ioan Grufford (Ringer)
David Lynch (The Cleveland Show)
Sanaa Lathan (Blade)
Shelley Long (Cheers)

At this point in the series, the beginning of the fifth season, the show has settled into being a showcase for Peter’s stupidity, throwing a bone to Brian and Stewie once in a while, and occasionally Lois and family. Only four of the 13 episodes aren’t focused on the head of the family, and unsurprisingly, the two of those four that aren’t Brian and Stewie stories are two of the best in the volume, “Prick Up Your Ears” and “Barely Legal.”
While it’s easy to see where an episode can go, one of the show’s biggest strengths is its willingness to do anything to get there, even if it won’t make it to TV, because they know that there will be a DVD release. Thus, you have jokes that would never get past standards and practices, and a reason for the show’s fans to check out the DVDs, as the episodes are expanded and uncensored. It has to be incredibly freeing to have almost no boundaries, and the writers take full advantage of it. It’s in this relatively free medium that a character like Quagmire, who has no filter and is obsessed with sex, can really shine. His behavior in “Bill and Peter’s Bogus Journey” is actually very funny simply because of how utterly obscene he can be on DVD.
As noted before, “Prick Up Your Ears” and “Barely Legal” are two of the best episodes in this collection, both of which feature the Griffins’ daughter Meg, voiced by Mila Kunis (“That ’70s Show”.) Meg’s character has grown up a bit, though she remains an awkward teen, and these two episodes focus on her explorations into love and lust. “Prick Up Your Ears” is a smart jab at the conservative Christian approach to sex education, and the effect it has on Meg, as well as Peter, is great, while “Barely Legal” show’s Meg’s crazier side, as she falls in love with Brian after they make out at her prom. A joke that’s born out of Meg’s insanity and efforts to woo Brian is among the series’ funniest, and again, one you only get on DVD. Also worth checking out is the B-story of “Mother Tucker,” in which Brian and Stewie host a morning zoo radio show. It’s a perfect parody of everything that’s wrong in radio.
The show’s guest-star list continues to be surprising in both its depth and quality, including Phyllis Diller (as Peter’s mom), Gore Vidal, Samm Levine, Carrie Fisher, Drew Barrymore (playing Jillian, Brian’s hot, but dumb girlfriend in several episodes), David Cross, Rob Lowe, Hugh Hefner and Roy Scheider. That the series can get a Gore Vidal to play himself getting shot in the mouth with a hot dog (it’s actually a funny scene, but not for that reason) is impressive.

This latest offering from the ‘Family Guy’ team finds the writers and producers doing their best to be more outrageous than ever before. No celebrity is too big to ridicule and absolutely no topic is considered too taboo.


But the acid test is this: when being profane and attacking and offending every minority group in existence, is it actually funny? The short answer is `yes’. This is not merely funny, it is very funny indeed. Rosie O’Donnell features in one particularly insulting sequence, and when Joe has a leg transplant and becomes his old active self, the guys decide the only way to fix things is to `re-cripple him again’. This is quite literally the most non-PC programme ever put on your TV screen, but it contains more invention and (frequently hilarious) jokes per minute than practically any sitcom. Highlights are two numerous to mention, but I particularly enjoyed the sofa at Quagmire’s shack and Peter’s stripper-cop routine at his daughter Meg’s hen night. Shocking stuff!

Only downside is the first two episodes were put out separately as the `Star Wars’ spoof `Blue Harvest’, so this pack is a little light at only 13 episodes.

another great Family Guy set Some of the best episodes include the one where Stewie helps Frank Sinatra Jr turn his fortune around with a club; the one where Peter meets Jesus; the one where Quagmire, Joe and Peter do Jackass style stunts, and the one where Mort ends up transporting himself to 1940’s Poland.


Even though everyone hates the episode, the one with Surfing Bird is a great episode, especially the parody with Stewie and Brian doing a scene from Office Space. Some people say it’s not Seth’s best moment, but it’s memorable like the chicken fight in series 6 and Brian being ribbed about his book by Stewie (“has it got a beginning, and end and a narrative?”

Highlights of this latest season to name a few include Brian committing murder, Quagmire becoming a Father, the truth behind Hannah Montana, Major West being ‘activated’ and the genius “Road to The Multiverse” which in my opinion is one of the greatest episodes within the last few seasons if not the entire collection.

Many of the episodes are extended when compared to their TV counterparts (blame the censors) along with dozens of deleted scenes which will keep even the most devoted or demanding Family Guy fan happy. Other special features worth noting are the Multi-verse featurette which was pretty interesting along with commentaries from cast and crew alike.

Despite being cancelled twice the show is still going strong and still offers brilliant humor, dialogue and cutback scenes after all this time. The characters continue to amuse and develop as the seasons progress (Stewie on Steroids stroke of brilliance) and there is plenty of scope for the future. The vast majority of the episodes are gold. I’ve already mentioned Multi-verse but also up there is “Dog Gone”.

If further proof is needed as to the series’ ability to succeed without its usual crutches, it can be found in “And Then There Were Fewer…” a mystery in Family Guy clothing. Series semi-regular James Woods gathers the town people for dinner, hoping to atone for his past wrongs, but someone starts bumping them off, leaving the group to figure out who the killer is and escape with their lives. Though the cutaways are present, they are worked into a genuine storyline, that’s both well-crafted and funny, feeling like a quality parody of the Agatha Christie school of mysteries. It may be close to blasphemy to say so, but there’s definitely a touch of Clue to the proceedings. The quality story is matched step-by-step by the animation (in the series’ first widescreen episode) and music, both of which may be the best the show’s ever produced (which is no feint praise.) The series may find itself in a rut at times, going to the same comedy well again and again, but when inspiration strikes, they take the show to another level.
As is often the case with this series, there’s always an attempt to push the envelope, including episodes focusing on suicide and sex changes, but “Extra Large Medium” is one of the show’s most controversial to reach airwaves, and it’s mainly due to a throwaway joke. Following a life-changing event, Chris (Seth Green) decides to finally ask out a girl he likes, and it so happens that she has Down’s syndrome. This leads to one of the finest songs the show’s produced to date in “Down’s Syndrome Girl,” as well as a line where the girl notes that he mom was the former governor of Alaska. It’s hard to figure out what the joke really is (it’s not really making fun of anyone, be it Palin or people with Down’s) but it pissed off a lot of people. Fortunately, the rest of the episode, especially that song, makes the headaches worth it, as Chris struggles with his feelings for his special gal and Brian’s attempts to break Lois of her belief in psychics accidentally convinces Peter he actually is psychic.
Though the series proudly sees the world from a liberal point-of-view, savaging republicans and conservatives at every chance, “Excellence in Broadcasting” stands as an unusual team-up, with Rush Limbaugh giving voice to himself, as he visits Quahog and gets what could be considered a friendly reception (at least by Family Guy standards.) Yes, there are jokes about the Republicans and Limbaugh himself, but he doesn’t get it too rough, and if anyone comes off badly, it’s Brian, who is easily swayed by Limbaugh into selling out his own convictions. It’s rather odd to see, and makes one wonder what went on behind the scenes to make it happen, as MacFarlane doesn’t seem the type to play nice, and the idea of Limbaugh working in tandem with an atheist pot advocate is mind-bending.

REVIEW: FAMILY GUY – DVD SEASONS 1-5

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MAIN CAST (VOICES)

Seth MacFarlane (Flashforward)
Alex Borstein (Power Rangers Zeo)
Seth Green (IT)
Mila Kunis (Black Swan)
Mike Henry (Ted)
Jennifer Tilly (Curse of Chucky)
Patrick Warburton (Scream 3)
Adam West (60s Batman)
Lacey Chabert (Mean Girls)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST (VOICES)

Lori Alan (Wall-E)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Billy West (Futurama)
Joey Slotnick (Nip/Tuck)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
Rachael MacFarlane (American Dad)
Alex Rocco (The Simpsons)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Dick Van Patten (Spaceballs)
Fairuza Balk (Almost Famous)
Charles Durning (The Sting)
Dwight Schultz (The A-Team)
Patrick Duffy (Dallas)
Victoria Principal (Blind Witness)
Will Sasso (Movie 43)
Sam Waterson (Law & Order)
Tara Strong (Batman: TAS)
Norm MacDonald (Billy Madison)
Candice Bergman (Gandhi)
Martin Mull (Sabrina: TTW)
Lee Majors (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Faith Ford (Hope & Faith)
Will Ferrell (The Lego Movie)
Jay Mohr (Cherry Falls)
Brian Doyle-Murray (Groundhog Day)
Robert Costanzo (Batman: TAS)
Michael Chiklis (Gotham)
Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men)
Gary Cole (One Hour Photo)
Luke Perry (The Fifth Element)
Adam Carolla (Wreck-It Ralph)
Michael McKean (This Is Spinal Tap)
Thomas Dekker (Terminator: TSCC)
Haley Joel Osment (A.I.)
Leif Garrett (The Outsiders)
June Foray (Mulan)
Ray Liotta (Killing Them Softly)
Ron Jeremy (Orgazmo)
Alyssa Milano (Charmed)
Edward Asner (Elf)
Hugh Laurie (House)
Estelle Harris (3rd Rock From The Sun)
R. Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacet)
Majel Barrett (Star Trek)
Carol Kane (Gotham)
Dakota Fanning (Taken)
Jane Lynch (Glee)
Meredith Scott Lynn (Legally Blonde)
Valerie Bertinelli (Hot In Cleveland)
Tony Danza (Who’s The Boss?)
Fred Willard (Anchorman)
Jennifer Love Hewitt (Ghost Whisperer)
Andy Dick (2 Broke Girls)
Jon Favreau (Iron Man)
Lauren Graham (Bad Santa)
Judy Greer (Jurassic World)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Peter Riegert (The Mask)
Drew Barrymore (Poison Ivy)
Jonathan Lipnicki (Jerry Maguire)
Gina Gershon (Bound)
Judd Hirsch (The Big Bang Theory)
Indigo (Weeds)
Stacey Scowley (Dollhouse)
Jane Carr (Treasure Planet)
Cloris Leachman (The Iron Giant)
LeVar Burton (Star Trek: TNG)
Jessica Biel (Stealth)
Nancy Cartwright (The Simpsons)
Alexandra Breckenridge (The Walking Dead)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek: TNG)
Marina Sirtis (The Grudge 3)
Patrick Stewart (X-Men)
Gabrielle Union (Flashforward)
James Woods (Another Day In Paradise)
Carrie Fisher (Star Wars)
Mia Maestro (Alias)
Maurice LaMarche (Futurama)
Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man)
Sherman Hemsley (Lois & Clark)
Marion Ross (Happy Days)
Carol Channing (The Love Boat)
Jay Leno (The Simpsons)
Alexander Siddig (Game of Thrones)
Bryan Cranston (Argo)
Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride)
Kate Jackson (Charlies Angels)
Betty White (The Golden Girls)
Chad Morgan (Pearl Harbor)
Judith Light (Ugly Betty)

Out of the small animation boom that happened several years ago came “Family Guy”, one of the most hilarious and controversial shows that Fox has aired

For those unfamiliar with the show, it focuses on the Griffin family, residents of Quahog, Rhode Island. Peter (creator Seth MacFarlane) is the heavy-drinking father who works in a toy factory, Lois (Alex Borstein of “Mad TV”) is the calm leader, Meg (Mila Kunis of “That 70’s Show” and Lacey Chabert for the earlier episodes) is the insecure daughter, Chris (Seth Green) the chubby and dim-witted son, Brian (MacFarlane) is the alcoholic dog who talks and Stewie (creator Seth MacFarlane earned an Emmy for his voice work on the character) is the diabolical baby who is bent on world domination.The first two volumes of the show on DVD offers both the first season and half of the second seasons of the show and gives viewers who missed it another chance to witness some of “Family Guy”‘s most brilliant moments. “E. Peterbus Unum” has Peter breaking off from Quahog to form his own country when he finds out that his house is a blank spot on the map. When confronted after breaking the law, he gets out of it due to diplomatic immunity (“like that guy in ‘Lethal Weapon 2′”, says Peter). “The Son Also Draws” has Peter and Chris going on a Vision Quest when they lose their car at an Indian casino. When the trees start chatting with Peter, he asks, “If one of you falls, and no one’s around, does it make a noise?” The tree responds, “Are you kidding? Scott fell last week, and he hasn’t shut up about it since.” In “Death Is a Bitch”, Death (voiced by Norm MacDonald) comes after Peter after he fakes death to get out of paying his hospital bill. When Death sprains his ankle, Peter has to take over. “Da Boom” has the family searching for food (they dismiss a potential house after they find out Randy Newman is there, singing about everything he sees) after information hears about the world nearly coming to an end after Y2K turns out to be true.

“Family Guy” remained remarkably politically incorrect throughout its original run, but most of the jokes were rolling-on-the-floor funny because they were throwaway, including one exchange between Peter and Brian: “Brian, there’s a message in my Alpha Bits. It says “OOOOOO”!”. “Peter, those are Cheerios.” Every episode of the show was packed with such minor gags, most of which were successful and unexpected. The show’s voice talent, especially MacFarlane, Kunis and Green, handled the material with perfect comedic timing.

This second DVD volume of the series includes second half of season two and all of third season of the series, along with the controversial episode, “Wish Upon a Weinstein”, where Peter tries to get Chris to become Jewish because he believes he’ll be successful if he does. The plots of season three still get laughs fairly often, although I don’t think they reach the inspired heights of earlier episodes, such as the one where Peter’s house became its own country or lead his family towards a twinkie factory after the apocalypse.

Still, there are certainly some highlights throughout many of the episodes. In “Peter Griffin: Husband, Father…Brother?” Peter takes Chris to an Irish Heritage Museum to learn more about his heritage, where both find out that, before alcohol, Ireland was a futuristic utopia. “Mr. Saturday Knight” has Peter working at Quahog’s Renaissance Faire as a jouster when his boss accidentally dies at dinner. His competition is the Black Knight, brilliantly voiced by Will Farrell. “Thin White Line” and “Brian Does Hollywood” have Brian overdoing his new job as drug sniffing police dog, then running off to Hollywood and ending up with a job directing porn (at the adult awards in the episode, John Williams is one of the composers nominated for Best Original Score). In “Lethal Weapons”, Peter uses Lois’s newfound fighting skills to drive out New Yorkers who come up to Rhode Island just to stare at the leaves changing color.

Rude, crude and often hilarious, “Family Guy” saw fit to offend just about every group, but did so in a way that was sharp, funny and wonderfully absurd.Often brilliant, extremely witty and darkly hilarious, “Family Guy” was unfortunately cancelled after season three Fox bumped it around six or seven different time slots. Although this third season wasn’t as consistent as the first two, it’s still hilarious and fans of the show should definitely pick up this terrific set. thankfully a few years later the show would return for a fourth and become a constant.

Back on the air after an unprecedented un-cancellation, “Family Guy” had a slight bit of leeway in its return. Fans were rabid for some new episodes, while the network that had cancelled it once wasn’t likely to do so again and risk being considered foolish twice-over. As a result, there was a chance to experiment and try something new, and expand the horizons of the show. Or, they could choose to keep doing the same thing they did before, which is exactly the choice they made.

In a way, it was the smart choice. Why mess with a good thing, when you could keep making the kind of show the fans fell in love with and bought rapidly on DVD. The un-PC content is still in place, along with the pop-culture references, cut-aways and nonsensical characters. Call-backs to old favorites, like Herbert the old molester and the evil monkey were good, but the shows tended to settle into ruts. A love of musicals is appreciated, but is it funny every time a character breaks into song, as in “Jungle Love”

This set has some very good episodes in this set, starting with “Petarded,” which sees Peter declared mentally retarded. The ways he takes advantage of this status is classic “Family Guy” material, while the musical montage here, involving phone calls all over town, is actually quite funny. Plus, the appearance of the Greased-Up Deaf Guy gave hope that the creators still had that sense of the bizarre in them.

But if any moment stands out among this run, it’s the supermarket scene in “Breaking Out is Hard to Do.” When Chris is pulled into the “Take On Me” video by A-Ha, it’s a perfect blend of what this show does best, combining nonsense, the ’80s and some neat animation. The lead-in, the punchline and the execution of the whole scene is handled so well that it might be one of the show’s most memorable ever.If there’s a real reason for fans of the show to own this set, it’s provided in the extras. According to the commentaries, there are scenes included that were produced for the show that the creators knew would be cut, but did them with the intent of including them on DVD. I’m not certain what scenes were added, but there are several lines that would have been questionable for network TV. Also included are uncensored audio tracks that were bleeped on TV. It’s certainly a welcome change having the series presented as they were intended, instead of chopped up as so many shows are on DVD.

Among the 14 episodes in this set is a number of funny moments, normally involving either Lois or Chris, though neither enjoys a spotlight episode. Instead, Peter powers a couple of inspired shows, starting with “PTV,” a sharp rebuttal of the FCC’s assault on broadcast standards. As a fan of entertainment for adults, the crippling of language by the government certainly needs to be skewered. Peter’s revolutionary instincts crop up again in “The Father, the Son and the Holy Fonz.” It delivers an entertaining parody of religion, as Peter forms a faith based around Henry Winkler’s “Happy Days” character, with about as valid a basis as most religions.
comedy. There’s some good stuff in here, culled from the 14 episodes, including some subplots that were cut. They are joined by three featurettes that look behind the scenes of the show. The first is a simple one, as supervising director Peter Shin shows how to draw Stewie. Straightforward, but a bit interesting. “A Director’s Life: Debunking the Myth” spends almost 15 minutes looking at the job of the directors on the show, explaining in detail what they do to make the series go. It’s rather good and shows how much goes into making animation.

I enjoy sitting down with a set of “Family Guy” episodes, thanks to the voices and rather lush animation, another great set thou some fans might be confused with the season box sets not watching the actual seasons but once you figure out the numbering its