PictureThis release is presented with a fairly good-looking full-screen non-anamorphic transfer. It is just about as good as you are ever likely to find an animated TV show on DVD, with solid shaping and clarity throughout. Aside from the good detail, the colour scheme is very broad and always accurately represented, with a rich deep palette and good, solid blacks. It is difficult to rate an animated show alongside standard film productions but in as far as series' like this, Simpsons and Futurama go, this is one of the best presentations that I have come across.
SoundThere are two audio options - the standard Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks with the swearing bleeped out, or the superior uncensored track which allows all of the sporadic profanity in. Both have clear vocals, emanating mainly from the frontal array, with some interesting effects (explosions and other eventful occurrences) unfortunately also restricted to the fronts and centre channels. This lack of directionality does not, however, extend to the score which does manage to pervade the rears for the most part. There is no bass to speak of and little to distinguish this from a decent 2.0 effort, but it is still nice to see a TV show - an animated one at that - presented in six-speaker surround sound.
ExtrasFirst up we get a full-length audio commentary headed up by the director, Seth MacFarlane but also featuring some of the other writers (and voice cast members), including Mila Kunis and Alex Borsten - who join in later on in the proceedings. They talk about how this project came about (during the time when Family Guy was off the air) and how many different writers contributed to the story, which started off with an older concept (the near-death experience) followed by the main plot (Stewie finding his true father). It is quite an involving, buzzing commentary, with plenty of references noted (many of which I had not spotted) and lots of anecdotes provided. They discuss the huge writing staff that they employ to create the gag-packed show and overall fans of the series will be very interested to hear what is on offer here.
We also get an animatics comparisons of two scenes - the opening Red Carpet Ceremony and the Road Trip. Using your remote control, you can switch between the full-screen versions of both the animatics and the final cut or the side-by-side comparison of the two together. Both run for about five minutes and are quite revealing in that they show just how accurate the original animatics were in comparison to the final version.
Rounding off the disc there are previews for both Volume 3 of Family Guy and for the similar show, American Dad. The preview for American Dad is slightly lacking in image quality and makes a good comparison to show you just how good the transfer on the main feature is.
VerdictFamily Guy is a much loved and extremely popular animated show that runs along the lines of the Simpsons, employing the same tactics of pop-culture referencing and gag-filled exploits to entertain on several levels. This release sees three solid forthcoming episodes compiled to good effect, presented in a superior transfer, with an unexceptional audio track and one significant extra - the commentary. Fans are likely to want the entire season instead and this release is not quite special enough to warrant a double-dip, but newcomers should be tempted to pick it up and check it out.
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