Starring: Seth MacFarlane, Mila Kunis, Seth Green, Mike Henry, Patrick Warburton, Alex Borstein, Adam West
Running Time: 457 Mins
Extras: Deleted Scenes, looking back at the pilot, scene animatic from “Seahorse Seashell Party” with side-by-side commentary, full episode animatic from “Back to the Pilot”, fishin around with Ricky Gervais, audio commentary on select episodes, audio outtakes with Ricky Gervais, Ron MacFarlane reads viewer mail, scene animatic from “Family Guy viewer mail #2″ with side-by-side commentary
With FAMILY GUY now in its twelfth season and dominating ratings on a weekly basis, it’s hard to believe that 20th Century Fox ever cancelled the show and it’s even harder to believe they did it twice in the early 2000’s. Now in its prime FAMILY GUY is looking sharper than ever with the animation almost as beautiful as a Disney classic in this glorious time of high definition that we live in. It’s instantly noticeable that MacFarlane and his team have stepped up their game in terms of visuals with it being abundantly clear that this is not the same television show it was in 1999. One sequence in particular that demonstrates the emphasis on gorgeous animation takes place when in one episode where Brian decides to take mushrooms. The results can only be described as the bizarre lovechild of Tim Burton and Guillermo Del Toro in a surreal, psychedelic, fantasy scene that will both baffle and engage you.
MacFarlane is also keen to show the audience that he is aware of the huge contrast between the show as it is today and how it was when it began all the way back in 1999. Arguably the best episode of the box set involves both Stewie and Brian travelling back in time to the original pilot thirteen years ago and directly pointing out the differences in terms of story and animation. This is satisfying for both long-time fans and newcomers as it openly displays the shows previous shortcomings in a refreshingly self-deprecating manner which will definitely bring in the laughs all round. The episode not only signals a new era for the decade old television show but also respects the fans’ loyalty.
It’s clear throughout the season that MacFarlane has well and truly perfected his multiple characters (if there was ever any doubt), and it’s even more impressive that he does so whilst juggling writing and producing duties on AMERICAN DAD and THE CLEVELAND SHOW as well. Since this season however, THE CLEVELAND SHOW has sadly been cancelled, although it’s clear MacFarlane and co were aware of the programme’s impending demise from the not so subtle references and jokes made at Cleveland’s expense in a few brief crossover episodes.
Characters are also developed throughout the course of the season with Meg as a particular highlight, finally giving Mila Kunis something interesting to do. It seems the production team are very aware of the OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL star’s increasing popularity and demand in Hollywood which explains her expanded role. There are plenty of celebrity guest stars as usual too, with Ryan Reynolds and Ricky Gervais as the obvious standouts. Reynolds thankfully pokes fun at his questionable career choices and ridiculously muscled physique. After his cameo in TED it’s hard to imagine the man does not have a great sense of humour. Gervais on the other hand is made to appear extremely and intentionally annoying, this could be MacFarlane’s way of playing a prank on Gervais’ incredibly vocal critics by over exaggerating his well known screen persona.
There’s plenty to enjoy in this hilarious box set of one of television’s most beloved animated comedies and it will definitely be appreciated by both fans and casual viewers. Not many programmes will easily accommodate new viewers in their twelfth season, however FAMILY GUY carries a relatively loose sense of continuity. The frequent references to the past also allow for an easier transition into the filth ridden world of the Griffins. Expect to laugh out loud on multiple occasions throughout FAMILY GUY season twelve, with a multitude of pop culture references, 9/11 jokes and the show’s secret weapon in the form of the always brilliant Adam West. Not to mention a side-splitting TAKEN spoof that’s just as entertaining as the actual film and probably the craziest chicken fight yet.
FAMILY GUY season twelve isn’t short of extra content for those that are still hungry for more crude humour from the Griffins. The deleted scenes aren’t overly funny although it’s hard to see why they were even removed in the first place, as they are no more offensive than the show is ordinarily. Seth MacFarlane’s father Ron MacFarlane partakes in a fan mail reading which is amusing at first but gets old and tiresome quickly. The real highlight of the extras is the ‘Looking back at the pilot’ feature which is a definite treat for long-time fans of FAMILY GUY as an interesting insight into how far the show has come. ‘Fishin around with Ricky Gervais’ is also worth watching for the interaction between Gervais and MacFarlane, which is pure comedy gold to see the two talented comedians and improvisation artists bounce off one another in what looks like the time of their lives.