My problem with the last season or two of Family Guy is that they’ve stopped making the show enjoyable. No-one would call Family Guy the most original or the smartest show on television, but almost everyone agreed that it’s one of the funniest around. Well, that was before, nowadays I say it used to be one of the funniest shows on television. Jokes miss the mark, go too far and/or just jump out of nowhere with no relevance to the plot whatsoever. To this season’s credit, it was an improvement on the last DVD which I remember only having 3 good episodes; this was one had 5. 5 episodes out of 15 isn’t a good thing and barely an improvement. Note that this review will contain spoilers.
This is a review of the Australian DVD, which is different to the American one. This one’s the tenth “season”, even though it should be called Volume Ten like the American DVDs, which have different episodes in them. That sounded less confusing in my head, but go type “Family Guy DVDs” on Wikipedia and that will explain things. On the Australian Season 10 DVD, it contains the latter 12 episodes of the actual Season 8 and the first 3 episodes of the actual Season 9. I don’t know why they don’t just release them in the proper seasons, it makes things really difficult.
The episodes that worked this season had a good story, giving us a good reason to keep watching and reminding us that we are watching an animated sitcom, rather than a skit show. I remember being pleasantly surprised during one episode when each cutaway gag seemed natural and relevant rather than a joke they were desperately trying to put in. The majority of them weren’t like this however, like the writers take the show for granted and just write it as fast as they can so they can go home, eat dinner, go to sleep, wake up, smell the roses and spend all that money. In fact I distinctly remember listening to the commentary on the last DVD on one of the episodes that has further imprinted this idea in my head. During an obvious movie reference, if I remember correctly, the crew “joked” (sad part is I believe them), that movie references like this is the only reason that these episodes are written. That doesn’t surprise me as it seems like a lot of the cutaway gags reflect this. So there you go, that’s why Family Guy sucks nowadays.
Early on one of the better episodes, “Dial Meg for Murder”, demonstrated why we watch this show. It had a good story, where Meg goes to prison after hiding her boyfriend who had escaped from prison. When she gets out she becomes a completely different person. The ending of the episode is both heart-warming and calls back to something from the beginning of the episode that started the whole plot, which was quite clever. It also had a funny subplot, with Peter becoming a bull’s bitch after trying out the rodeo, which is definitely something that would happen to him.
Another episode worth talking about was “Brian & Stewie”. This episode was a drastic departure from the usual Family Guy episode. Brian and Stewie get trapped in a bank vault over a weekend. They are the only main characters featured, obviously there are no sub-plots and this is the only episode without any cutaway gags. I’ve been reading things saying “if you wanted to know what Family Guy is like without cutaway gags, this episode is it”. My response to that is that if they wanted to know what it was like, well… American Dad has been on the air for years. The significance of the episode is the moments between the two characters. They almost ruined it, by having one of the most disgusting scenes I have ever seen. Brian eating Stewie’s poo fails to be funny, but I know there are some odd people that will love it. On the good side, Brian and Stewie got the chance to express their feelings about each other and life in general, and end on a positive and dramatic note. I applaud the Family Guy crew for trying something new, even though the poo parts were a bit much.
There is a murder-mystery episode on this DVD. It will definitely become a classic. Many of the show’s characters are invited to James Wood’s mansion, and then the murders begin. Several characters are killed off and the ending was well played. This double episode was well-written, engaging and funny; most importantly the plot wasn’t all over the place. That’s all I’m going to say as I don’t want to spoil this one.
Overall, while a stronger season (or volume) than the last, it wasn’t significantly better. Most episodes weren’t that good and will just make you mourn for what the show once was. Family Guy is neither original nor intelligent, but at least in the past it was consistently funny and that was all we needed. Now it’s just getting tired and far too random. I honestly wouldn’t be sad if Seth McFarlene put this show to rest permanently, unless he and his crew make an effort to write more than 5 good scripts a season. The few episodes that were good just don’t justify spending money on the DVD, which is why I give this DVD 2/5.