The Onion A.V. Club has recently done a marvelous interview with creator Seth MacFarlane. Let your eyes feast: http://www.theonionavclub.com/feature/index.php?issue=4104
"Family Guy" is an animated sitcom created by cartoonist Seth MacFarlane
. Since its inception, it has been lauded by critics and fans alike as being witty, surprising, random, irreverent, and intelligent. "Family Guy" is often praised for its random sense of humor, as well as its perennial
reference to esoteric pop culture (especially obscure television shows), mainly through the show's protagonist
, Peter Griffin
(the family guy himself). Examples include references to specific "Who's The Boss?
" episodes, the freckle
s on the bosom
s of Mrs. Garrett
from "Facts of Life
," the opening sequence from the series "That Girl
," sci-fi classic "Logan's Run
" and the Mr. Peabody
cartoon shorts. The real strength of Family Guy, however, comes from its constant, reckless lampoon
ing of stale, overused plot devices from American TV and movies. A good deal of the humour comes also from Peter's general ignorance, base urges, and stupidity, a la Homer Simpson
The show's origin is in a proposal short MacFarlane created known as "The Life of Larry." This proposal, originally pitched to the Fox Network
, features MacFarlane introducing various snippets of comedy starring his character "Larry" (who is the mental but not phenotypical equal of "Family Guy"'s Peter Griffin.) Reportedly, Fox passed on the idea and MacFarlane went to Cartoon Network
, working on some of its most celebrated shows, such as "Johnny Bravo
," "Dexter's Laboratory
," and "Cow & Chicken
." While at Cartoon Network, MacFarlane created a short episode of an animated series called "Larry and Steve", which was featured on the network's "What A Cartoon Show!
" The episode featured Larry from "The Life of Larry" and a talking dog named Steve, whose character would later become Brian on "Family Guy." Reportedly, after Fox premiered "King of the Hill
" in 1997, they became most interested in producing cartoons and called on MacFarlane to develop a program for them.
Originally airing on January 31, 1999, immediately following Super Bowl XXXIII
vs. Atlanta Falcons
) on the Fox television network, "Family Guy" had to endure a good deal of scheduling idiocy and network apathy. Oftimes, both fans and producers alike were kept waiting with bated breath to see if Fox would order another block of 13 episodes. In its final run of episodes, "Family Guy" was pitted in a primetime timeslot against "Friends
" on NBC
: Africa." Considering that these qualified as two of most anticipated and highly-rated shows on TV, most pundits and fans were dismayed by Fox's lack of scheduling acumen. Most felt that "Family Guy" would have fared far better in Fox's Sunday night animation block alongside stalwarts "King of the Hill
," and "The Simpsons
Despite Fox's ill treatment of the series, it managed to garner 3 Emmy
nominations and one statue. "Family Guy" was nominated for Outstanding Music and Lyrics - 'We Only Live To Kiss Your Ass'"
from episode 201, "Peter, Peter, Caviar Eater" and also "Outstanding Animated Program (for programming one hour or less)"
for episode 213, "Road to Rhode Island." Family Guy even won an Emmy in the jury award category "Outstandng Voice-Over Performance,"
for creator Seth MacFarlane's voice of Stewie Griffin.
When this WU
was originally penned (3/2002
), "Family Guy" seemed doomed, despite the fact that the show continued to air for an hour on Thursday nights. The last new episode had aired on February 14, 2002. Since that realization, the Family Guy community had leaped into action using Petition Online (http://www.petitiononline.com) and picketing at Fox Studios to sway the minds of the network. The rumor mill (mainly the messages boards at http://www.damnyouall.net), and a letter from the staff of "Family Guy" to the staff of Planet Family Guy (formerly at http://www.planetfamilyguy.com), seemed to indicate that MacFarlane and his troupe were attempting to peddle the show to the United Paramount Network. According to rumor sources, UPN
was the only network even willing to consider the show (the three majors had shown no interest) that also has the capital to make the show. "Family Guy" costs a reported $1.1 million per episode. Networks like Comedy Central, where Family Guy would likely flourish creatively, did (and do) not have the resources to produce it.
On April 20, 2003, "Family Guy" returned to air during Cartoon Network
's "Adult Swim
" block. The original airtimes were Sunday
at 11:30 PM Eastern Standard Time
. As of now, this appears to be 2 a.m. Eastern.
The show also began syndication on TBS beginning July 7, weekdays at 2:30 PM. As of the 12/18/03 edit (that is, when I checked), it appear that it no longer airs.
Both are airing as part of a Futurama
/Family Guy hour.
Sometime in the late summer or early fall 2004, the TBS
Super-duper station picked up Family Guy again, for a full hour. They have since been known to air the show in late-night slots along with Futurama
, the fairly Currently, two episodes appears to air Wednesday nights from 8-9 p.m.
"Everyone, I've got bad news. We've been cancelled."
"Oh, no, Peter. How could they do that?"
"Unfortunately, there's no more room on the schedule. We've just got to accept the fact that Fox has to make room for terrific shows like 'Dark Angel
,' 'That '80s Show
,' 'Andy Richter Controls the Universe
,' 'Girls Club
,' 'Cracking Up
,' 'The Pitts
,' 'Get Real
,' 'Wanda at Large
,' 'The Lone Gunmen
,' 'A Minute With Stan Hooper
,' 'Normal, Ohio
,' 'Harsh Realm
,' 'Keen Eddie
,' 'The Street
,' 'American Embassy
,' 'Cedric the Entertainer
,' 'The Tick
' and 'Greg the Bunny
.' But I suppose if all those shows go down the tubes, we might have a shot."
And so began the second run of Family Guy
With more media hoopla than the Michael Jackson
trial (well ... it was close), Family Guy made a triumphant return to the airwaves on May 1, 2005. (The episode, of course, had leaked onto Internet at least a week earlier.) Following the episode, the forums at damnyouall.net were 404
ing like crazy.
The dominant narrative
about the resurrection of the show is the triumph
of the fan
, and there's a lot of truth in it. Not only were DVD sales for the series through the roof (spawning even no-new-content-but-new-commentary DVD, "Greatest Hits" to capitalize
on its popularity), "Family Guy" gave Cartoon Network its highest-rated half-hour of programming in network history (the first airing in Adult Swim), and reruns of the old episodes have enjoyed unprecedented rating on cable. Among the key 18-to-34-year-old
demographic, "Family Guy" reruns regularly were beating Leno
The surpise to many is that, as they perceive it, Fox actually listened to the fans
. Whether that's true or not (plenty of shows with cult followings have seen their efforts come up empty), something caught Fox's attention.
The more cynical
would probably point to money and ratings rather than a populist
framework to explain the softening of execs' hearts, but nevertheless, Fox appears smitten with McFarlane, having even giving him a second show, "American Dad
" (which has not been received nearly as well as "Family Guy" for a number of reasons including character/joke transplanting, a contrived premise and a lack of subtle/abundance of topical
humour, even among those who agree with McFarlane's left-of-center
The first episode of the new run was an obvious re-introduction to the characters for a (hopefully) new audience, and did not feature any of the traditional supporting cast. However, a number of cameos from bit characters, including creepy gay old man
, the monkey
who lives in Chris's closet, upside-down-face kid and news reporters Tom Tucker
and Diane Simmons
, Asian reporter Tricia Takanawa
and angry black weather forecaster Ollie
It was replete with the usual pop-culture goodness -- take-offs of "The Honeymooners
," the G.I. Joe 80s
's "Two and a Half Men
" and "Passion of the Christ
The most well-appreciated joke may have been a gravityless, outer-space limbo-like dimension that is the "Beyond" section at Bed Bath and Beyond
. Other non-sequiturs included:
- a hooker's vision is based on movement (like a Tyrannosaurus Rex)
- British porn
- the time Peter forgot how to sit down (a classic 'Peter Griffin learns something late in life' bit -- e.g. how to pee, or what a fart is)
- Ollie's punishment forecast: "He gonna get it!"
- Asians not allowed at a fancy hotel
- Brian and Stewie's strange mother-father dynamic
- "I love Total!"
In all, most fans heralded it as a success, but not the best work of the show. From my perspective, I'd judge the collective grade as a 3.5 to 4 out of 5 stars.
Family Guy currently is in the midst of a 35-episode order. It continues Sundays at 9 p.m. Eastern on Fox. (American Dad follows at 9:30.)
15th of 2003, Family Guy was, at long last, released on DVD (Region 1
), only one year and two months after the last new episode aired on Fox. Sporting a retail price of $50, "Family Guy, Vol. 1" comprises the first two seasons of the show, totalling 28 episodes on four DVDs. Episode commentaries are included for the following eight episodes:
- "Death Has a Shadow"
- "The Son Also Draws"
- "Peter, Peter, Caviar Eater"
- "Holy Crap"
- "Fifteen Minutes of Shame"
- "Let's Go to the Hop"
- "He's Too Sexy for His Fat"
- "E. Peterbus Unum"
Commentaries were reportedly edited for content, leading to many awkward lapses of audio, at times of several minutes. Despite the editing, there is plenty of vulgarity and humour in the commentaries.
Certain references were apparently/presumably censored from episodes due to current events, e.g. the DC sniper
attacks and 9/11
- in "Road to Rhode Island," Osama bin Laden sings showtunes ("I Hope I Get It" from A Chorus Line) in order to distract airport personnel and sneak arms through an airport X-Ray scanner
- in "A Hero Lives Next Door," a stray sniper bullet decapitates a young boy's John F. Kennedy Pez Dispenser. He then comments, "Good thing I still have my Bobby Kennedy Pez Dispenser"
- in "Chitty Chitty Death Bang," Stewie's mental birthday wish (audio only) is guns firing, bombs exploding, and a crowd chanting "Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil!"; the chanting was eliminated from the DVD release (though, gaffedly, not from the non-English audio tracks)
There have been some general fan complaints about the low-grade quality of the packaging, as well as reportedly shoddy video quality. This is not due to poor DVD
transfer, as the flaws appear on the original tapes. "Family Guy" was one of the first digitally filmed shows, and multiple (sometimes foreign) animation teams plus at-times sub-par post production (digital frame pauses) contribute to jaggies
ated lines showing up in many of the early first-season episodes. Later episodes appear nearly flawless. A few cases of excessive edge-sharpening have also been reported.
The originally unaired episode, "When You Wish Upon a Weinstein," was not included, even though its production number (2ACX05) would have indicated an early-mid second season airing. It is included on the Volume 2 DVD.
Family Guy Volume 2 was released to collective fan joy on September 9, 2003
. Like the first volume, it retails for $50 MSRP
(or $35 on Amazon
). The DVD
includes all of season 3 of the series, plus the "controversial
" unaired-by-Fox episode "When You Wish Upon a Weinstein".
Commentaries on episodes were included for:
- "Mr. Griffin Goes to Washington"
- "Death Lives"
- "Ready, Willing and Disabled"
- "Brian Wallows and Peter's Swallows"
- "When You Wish Upon a Weinstein"
Commentaries apparently suffer from the same ailments as in the first volume, with long gaps of silence. Additionally, there have been reports of distractions during the commentaries, including cell phone
s ringing and people walking through the taping area. Consensus seems to be that the commentary in general is also lackadasical and uninspired. Reports say the commenters rarely stay on the topic of the episode, or even Family Guy, and basically chat about random
Volume 2 sports more extra features than the first. The most well-appreciated extra, by Internet community consensus, is the "Uncensored" segment. In it, Seth MacFarlane
and the Family Guy team detail their constant battle with the Fox censors. They show what was allowed, what wasn't, and what was altered. It is an excellent view of how the humour on the show was molded.
Other extras include:
- a series overview segment, where McFarlane explains the entire concept and genesis of the show
- original pilot pitch to Fox -- basic animation, different looking characters
- deleted scenes -- animatics with sound-overs
Both DVDs feature Dolby Surround
"2.0" sound, and not its superior first cousin Dolby Digital
Family Guy Facts
Family Guy is set in Quahog, Rhode Island.
A "quahog" is a type of hard-shelled clam of the Atlantic coast of North America. Also called a "hard-shelled clam" or "round clam" in modern vernacular.
One episode was produced for Fox but never aired -- rumor has it that the episode was deemed "too controversial." Entitled "When You Wish Upon A Weinstein", this episode focuses on Peter's obsession to find a Jewish businessman to help his family out with financial woes. It includes the song "I Need A Jew" (to the tune of "When You Wish Upon A Star"), a cadre of marauding nuns, and the revelation that Optimus Prime is Jewish. It has recently become widely available on the Internet through most P2P file sharing services.
49 episodes of Family Guy aired on Fox, albeit sporadically (1999-2002), in 3 seasons. "When You Wish Upon A Weinstein" was first publicly aired on Cartoon Network on August 6, 2003. Cartoon Network "was asked" (by who, I'm not certain) to edit a line in the episode. During Peter's song "I Need A Jew", the lyric line "even though they killed our Lord" was changed to "I don't think they killed our Lord". Both versions appear on the DVD.
- Peter Griffin - Father, head of the Griffin household. Fat, slovenly oaf. Quahog's native son, self-described Hugenot. His antics, references and hijinks provide the main comedy basis for "Family Guy." Voiced by Seth MacFarlane.
- Lois Griffin - Mother, wife to Peter. Beautiful and tactful. She is from an aristocratic old Rhode Island family. Clearly more intelligent than Peter; most would say too good for him. Voiced by "Mad TV"'s Alex Borstein.
- Brian Griffin - The loyal family dog. What's unique about him? He can talk, and no one on the show thinks this is in the least bit odd. Brian is a well-read and cultured alcoholic, and Peter's closest friend. Voiced by Seth MacFarlane.
- Meg Griffin - The eldest Griffin child. Meg is a typical unhappy teenager who attends James Woods High School. Her main character motivations center around being unpopular and trying to fit in. Voiced by "That '70s Show"'s Mila Kunis.
- Chris Griffin - Immature, aloof middle Griffin child. Enjoys painting, writing, and talking about poo. Chris is easily amused by anything. Attends Buddy Cianci Junior High School. Voiced by "Austin Powers" and "Buffy The Vampire Slayer"'s Seth Green.
- Stewie Griffin - Arguably the most popular and well-known "Family Guy" character. Stewie is a toddler with an overarching wish to rule the world. He is portrayed as an evil-genuis James Bond-esque supervillain. Many of the early episodes deal with his wish to eliminate Lois as a thorn in his side, and his elaborate plots to gain control of Earth. (As the series has worn on, however, the Stewie-centric humour has largely revolved around his seeming closet homosexuality/confusion about his own sexual identity.) Stewie provides many of the show's most well-worn phrases, such as "Damn you! Damn you all!" and "Victory is mine!" Choice quotes include "Damn you and your estrogenical tyranny!" and "My e-mail address is email@example.com." A central question surrounding him is "Can Stewie talk?" Oftimes, Stewie angrily speaks of his plans of world domination, or vilely insults other characters, only to be met with baby-talk or blank stares. Occasionally, however, characters engage him in adult conversations. A mystery, indeed. (For MacFarlane's take, see http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/articles/seth.cfm). Voiced by Seth MacFarlane, who won his Emmy for this character.
- Glen Quagmire - Next-door neighbor of the Griffins, and one of Peter's friends. A commercial airline pilot and bachelor, his never ending quest is the almighty one-night stand. Famous for saying "All riiight" to indicate his general suaveness, as well as "giggity giggity" (which is a wonderful non sequiturish euphemism for sex). Voiced by Seth MacFarlane.
- Cleveland - African-American neighbor and friend to Peter, Cleveland owns a restaurant (deli) and is supremely laid back. His slow and methodical speech makes normally mundane things funny. Voiced by "Smokey and the Bandit"'s Mike Henry.
- Joe Swanson - Paraplegic neighbor of Peter, Joe is a policeman determined not to let his disability get the best of him. He makes up for it by being overly enthusiastic and physically fit. Voiced by "Seinfeld" and "The Tick"'s Patrick Warburton.
- Mayor Adam West - Mayor of Quahog. He is the same Adam West who starred in the "Batman" TV series from the 1960's. This caricature of a very strange Adam West is one of "Family Guy"'s gems. West, as portrayed here, is an eccentric quasi-super hero conspiracy nut who believes there are nefarious plots that he must constantly foil. Voiced by himself.
"Family Guy" Episode List and Airdates Guide
Episode # Production # Air Date Title
1-1 1ACX01 31-Jan-1999 Death Has a Shadow
1-2 1ACX02 11-Apr-1999 I Never Met the Dead Man
1-3 1ACX04 18-Apr-1999 Chitty Chitty Death Bang
1-4 1ACX03 25-Apr-1999 Mind over Murder
1-5 1ACX05 02-May-1999 A Hero Sits Next Door
1-6 1ACX06 09-May-1999 The Son Also Draws
1-7 1ACX07 16-May-1999 Brian: Portrait of a Dog
2-1 1ACX08 23-Sep-1999 Peter, Peter, Caviar Eater
2-2 1ACX11 30-Sep-1999 Holy Crap
2-3 2ACX06 26-Dec-1999 DaBoom
2-4 2ACX01 07-Mar-2000 Brian in Love
2-5 1ACX13 14-Mar-2000 Love Thy Trophy
2-6 1ACX14 21-Mar-2000 Death Is a Bitch
2-7 1ACX15 28-Mar-2000 The King Is Dead
2-8 2ACX02 28-Mar-2000 I Am Peter, Hear Me Roar
2-9 1ACX12 04-Apr-2000 If I'm Dyin' I'm Lyin'
2-10 1ACX09 11-Apr-2000 Running Mates
2-11 2ACX07 18-Apr-2000 A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Bucks
2-12 2ACX08 25-Apr-2000 Fifteen Minutes of Shame
2-13 2ACX12 30-May-2000 Road to Rhode Island
2-14 2ACX04 06-Jun-2000 Let's Go to the Hop
2-15 2ACX09 13-Jun-2000 Dammit Janet
2-16 1ACX10 27-Jun-2000 There's Something About Paulie
2-17 2ACX10 27-Jun-2000 He's Too Sexy for His Fat
2-18 2ACX13 12-Jul-2000 E. Peterbus Unum
2-19 2ACX14 18-Jul-2000 The Story on Page 1
2-20 2ACX15 25-Jul-2000 Wasted Talent
2-21 2ACX16 01-Aug-2000 Fore, Father
3-1 2ACX17 11-Jul-2001 The Thin White Line (1)
3-2 2ACX20 18-Jul-2001 Brian Does Hollywood (2)
3-3 2ACX11 25-Jul-2001 Mr. Griffin Goes to Washington
3-4 2ACX19 01-Aug-2001 One If By Clam, Two If By Sea
3-5 2ACX22 08-Aug-2001 And the Wiener is...
3-6 2ACX21 15-Aug-2001 Death Lives
3-7 2ACX18 22-Aug-2001 Lethal Weapons
3-8 3ACX02 29-Aug-2001 The Kiss Seen Around the World
3-9 3ACX04 05-Sep-2001 Mr. Saturday Knight
3-10 3ACX05 19-Sep-2001 A Fish Out of Water
3-11 3ACX01 08-Nov-2001 Emission Impossible
3-12 3ACX09 15-Nov-2001 To Live and Die in Dixie
3-13 3ACX08 29-Nov-2001 Screwed The Pooch
3-14 3ACX06 06-Dec-2001 Peter Griffin: Husband, Father...Brother?
3-15 3ACX07 20-Dec-2001 Ready, Willing, and Disabled
3-16 2ACX03 21-Dec-2001 A Very Special Family Guy Freakin' Christmas
3-17 3ACX03 17-Jan-2002 Brian Wallows and Peter's Swallows
3-18 3ACX11 24-Jan-2002 From Method to Madness
3-19 3ACX10 31-Jan-2002 Stuck Together, Torn Apart
3-20 3ACX13 07-Feb-2002 European Road Show
3-21 3ACX12 14-Feb-2002 Family Guy Viewer Mail #1
?-?? 2ACX05 UNAIRED When You Wish Upon a Weinstein
Your complete source on "Family Guy" info is http://www.planet-familyguy.com. It's that simple. They do a much better job of keeping up with news than I do. http://www.damnyourall.net is the best FG forum, hands-down.
All information here gleaned from general observation and reading -- special thanks to http://www.planet-familyguy.com (at former URL www.planetfamilyguy.com for years and years and years) for pointing me in the right directions, and the message boards at http://www.damnyouall.net for many nuggets of useful information amongst claptrap. Also thanks to phrozenfire for suggestions.
I have chosen to leave "When You Wish Upon a Weinstein" with "unaired" status in the episode list. It is important to realise that the episode was produced as part of the original show run, and was refused to be aired by Fox censors. It was first aired nearly a year and a half after the show was cancelled, on late-night cable, in syndication.
When I first wrote this wu, there was another in this node: lyrics to the theme song. It has since been inexplicably killed, and in an attempt to tread lightly on the corpses of killed nodes, I haven't yet added it to my writeup. I feel the lyrics would be a welcome addition to a somewhat stagnant node. They probably will be added at some point soon.
Last updated May 2, 2005. I swear I'll overhaul this node soon. Really.