Family Guy Presents Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story (2005)
19th October 2005
When Stewie has a near death experience at his first swimming lesson, he is temporarily distracted from his plans for world domination and the constant pursuit of killing his Mum, Lois. He gets a glimpse that he ends up in hell, so to avoid this, he decides to change his ways and be good. This involves being really nice to Brian in the way of back rubs and holding hands, which makes Brian feel really uncomfortable.
This new lease of life is put on hold when Stewie sees a man who is his spitting image on television. Deciding immediately that this man must be his real father (after all, how could he possibly be genetically related to the none too bright Peter?). Stewie and Brian embark on a cross-country road trip to confront the man in question. However, the duo's journey leads Stewie to discover truths far more vile and shocking than anything found in his nappy!
Meanwhile, when Peter's outburst in the 'Lackluster Video' store after being informed that they no longer carry any films of an adult nature is witnessed by Quahog News Tom Tucker (himself in the store to rent adult entertainment), he is given a job on the show with a slot called What Grinds My Gears. It's an instant hit which makes Peter a minor celebrity in the process and, much to his annoyance, stealing Tom Tucker's thunder in the process. This is a cue for some great rants, including the first of many great references to Star Wars.
For those not familiar with Family Guy, it is the animated antics of the Griffin Family. Dad, Peter, is rather fat and somewhat oafish and not the smartest tool in the box. Lois is the smart, much put upon Mum, who is far too attractive for the likes of Peter. Chris is the slacker easily amused son with an artistic streak whilst Meg is the teenage daughter desperately wanting to be accepted by her classmates and just about everyone in general. Stewie is the super intelligent baby of the family whose constant attempts to kill Lois are usually thwarted by the family dog, the equally smart, Martini swilling, Brian. He also talks and can drive, no one said it was a documentary.
For an animation series, and a television series at that, the picture is good with some rich and vibrant colours without a hint of colour bleeding or saturation. Black levels are good and you can certainly tell that plenty of money has been spent here, perhaps as a penance for scrapping the series, and the images produced by this DVD really do belittle its television status. Still, there is a little bit of outlining, although given its animation it's to be expected, but there's no problems with artifacting or print damage. And when you consider the amount of money that the production of a The Simpsons season sucks out of Twentieth Century Fox, the picture quality of Family Guy is certainly on par, and perhaps even better, to what Homer and his friends can offer.
The Dolby Digital 448Kbps 5.1 soundtrack presented here is nothing spectacular, but then again, being a television series you can't really expect too much from a programme such as this. Still, it's actually quite good and the dialogue is crisp and clear in the centre channel whilst there's some reasonable, but hardly overloaded, use of the surround channels. There's some fair stereo steerage in the front channels whilst there's even some minimum use of the LFE channel. Never the less, it all sounds like a 2.0 stereo soundtrack which has been tweaked ever so slightly to turn it into a full blown 5.1 track. It's not the best you're going to hear, but it's still a fair effort for a television series.
The menu is a static and silent affair, with the sub menus the same. This is a bit of a let down as the menus from the series DVDs have much more life to them. Guest voice talent in Family Guy Presents Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story includes the likes of Drew Barrymore, Tori Spelling and Jason Priestley. The extras are sufficient for fans of the series and include a Commentary, a few Animatics plus a good old bit of filler material in the form of a Coming Soon section.
The main extra on the disc is the Audio commentary with actors Seth MacFarlane, Alex Borstein, Seth Green, producers David Goodman and Chris Sheridan plus director Pete Michels. It's certainly an interesting, rather amusing and a very chatty track. It gets even better once Seth Green and Alex Borstein arrive midway through the film, whilst Mila Kunis turns up even later on in the show - so late in fact that she misses most of her scenes and her few comments end up being rather pointless, although there's a bit of amusing Britney bashing to be had.
There's plenty of information about the show, it's demise and rise from the ashes, plus the amount of material in this film which in no uncertain terms will not be aired on television in prudish America. If only they had a Channel Five. At the beginning of the commentary Seth MacFarlane also mentions that the track is the second attempt as the first one with the cast ended up being a near drunken riot. Come on guys, it's what Family Guy is all about, so why is it missing here?!
Next up is the Animatic Comparison with the two five minute Red Carpet Ceremony and Road Trip/Dating Education sections covered. They are of fairly limited interest, but they still manage to show how close the animation runs to the animatics. They can either be compared in a side-by-side manner or as separate full screen images via the angle button. There's also a one minute preview of Seth MacFarlane's new animation series American Dad. Finally, there's the rather uninteresting Coming Soon section which includes trailers for 24 : Season Four, the complete Angel collection, That 70's Show, The Simpsons and, rather unsurprisingly, Family Guy.
This exclusive to DVD feature length outing for the Griffins is basically 3 episodes pieced together. Comparisons with the Simpsons (of which I am also a big fan of) are predictable as they are both cartoons…oops sorry, animations of 'family life'. However, that is pretty much where the similarities end as Family Guy is a little more near the knuckle with its jokes and visual cutaways, which are as confusing as they are completely hilarious. The language is also on a different plain and is most definitely for older audiences, especially in this feature where the lack of television broadcast restrictions means that the "F" word crops up uncensored on quite a few occasions.
The show also contains some good, if rather sick, jokes such as Stewie failing as an Iraqi Dictator, Bugs Bunny finally getting shot and Peter Griffins relative accidentally blinding a young Ray Charles. One of the simplest jokes with a TiVO also had me rolling about the floor laughing. There's also plenty of nods to other films and aspects of American life which some might miss. But saying that, we get enough US TV imports these days that we should be all be pretty well clued up by now.
Family Guy was actually cancelled after the third series in the States, amid much outcry from the fans. This comes as no surprise to me, as the same fate befell the brilliant Futurama. Now that really 'Grinds My Gears!' If you are a fan of the show I am sure you will enjoy it as much as I did. Bring on the season four DVD boxset.
- Audio commentary with cast members, producers David Goodman and Chris Sheridan, director Pete Michels and writer Steve Callaghan
- Deleted scenes
- Stills galleries