Family Guy: Season 1


Reviewed by: Gator MacReady

Since, no doubt, most of you will be unfamiliar with the under-appreciated gem of TV animation that is Family Guy, I must go through the paces and introduce each Griffin family member before elaborating upon each episode.

The head of the household is Peter Griffin. He's a massive man, who looks alarmingly like Wayne Knight. Peter was raised by the trash culture of television through the decades and not by the wisdom of his parents. He makes allusions to TV shows at every opportunity and is a little off-tune with reality. He works as a quality control supervisor at Happy Go Lucky toys.

His ever-patient wife is Lois, a woman who gave up her privileged upper-class lifestyle and Pewterschmidt millions to settle down as a housewife with the man she loves. She is always available to pull Peter out of trouble.

Their 16-year-old daughter is Meg. She struggles for popularity at school and begs to be noticed. But she is neither beautiful enough to have friends, nor ugly enough to be the victim of teasing. The only time she is ever noticed is when Peter embarrasses her in public. Which is often enough.

Chris is the 13-year-old son, who is already fast becoming the massive man his dad became, still mentally undeveloped, with the same dependency on television that Peter had in his formative years.

Everybody's fave character is Stewie, the one-year-old baby who has the ability to talk already and seems to have a classical English education. His goal in life is clear - to take over the world. And, at a tender age, he has already set about doing it.

The Gator's fave character, though, is Brian, the dog. He's a true gentleman, who also has the ability to talk and appears to have a remarkable education, too. He's a perfect foil for Stewie and the only member of the family who seems level-headed and sane. His sarcastic humor is unmatchable.

Comparisons to The Simpsons are inevitable. But that show took a couple of years to get up and running and ran out of steam long ago. Family Guy instantly introduces unforgettable characters and has the advantage of not looking so dated in retrospect. The Simpsons exist in a kind of reality and operate within that environment. Family Guy does not have such a responsibility, or burden. In their world literally ANYTHING can happen.

The first episode is Death Has A Shadow, in which Peter is fired from his job for negligence and has to sign on. But the government makes a mistake and add three extra zeros to his welfare check. What does Peter do? He builds a moat around the house - good for keeping the Black Knight at bay - and buys Michelangelo's David.

I Never Met The Dead Man has Meg crash into the Quahog cable transmitter and wipe out the entire island's television. Peter makes a fresh start without TV, while Stewie builds a weather control device to kill off the world's broccoli. Erik Estrada guest stars, as does William Shatner - kind of.

Mind Over Murder has a house-arrested Peter - he punched out a mannish-looking pregnant woman - build a bar for his friends. Lois is not happy, until she takes up sexy lounge singing to entertain them. In the meantime, Stewie builds a time machine. Alex Rocco guest stars.

In Chitty Chitty Bang Death, Stewie is having his first birthday celebrations. He mistakes this for being a ceremony, in which he is put back into Lois's womb. Peter loses the reservation at the birthday house, Cheesy Charlie's, and must provide a massive party in the yard a few days later.

A Hero Sits Next Door has Peter's new neighbour, Joe Swanson, join in his work softball team. But when the man turns out to be disabled, Peter reacts nervously, while his family are intrigued by Joe's cop stories. Feeling that they worship Joe more than him, Peter tries to stop a bank robbery to prove how brave he is.

In The Son Also Draws, Chris is kicked out of the scouts. On their way to the head office in New York, the family make a stop over at an Indian Casino. Lois forfeits the car during a losing streak, which means that Chris and Peter must embark on a Vision Quest to get it back.

Brian: Portrait Of A Dog follows Brian's mission to free himself from jail after running away from home and biting an arrogant man on the street. This episode features a wonderful flashback to the way Peter and Brian used to be in a segment called Peter And Brian: Fixin' The Shed.

In Peter Peter Caviar Eater, Lois's aunt Margarite dies and leaves her the entire Pewterschmidt estate. But Peter is hypnotized by Brian into believing that he is an upper-class gentlemen and he ends up bidding $100, 000, 000 for a vase at an auction.

Running Mates has Peter and Lois go head to head over the school board president election. Peter spreads lies and gossip about her in order to win the position. His fave teacher has been fired and Peter is determined to get him back.

Holy Crap is the story of Peter's Catholic Fundamentalist dad and how he disapproves of Peter marrying a "Protestant whore". When he assumes the role of production manager at Happy Go Lucky toys, Peter is thankful at being given the opportunity to be close to his dad so often. But his dad makes work hell and only kidnapping the Pope can make him understand that work can be fun. In this episode, it is revealed that bestiality is a sin.

Peter's fave TV show, Gumble 2 Gumble: Beach Justice, is cancelled in the episode, If I'm Dyin', I'm Lyin, and the only way to get it back is through a dream-come-true charity organisation for dying children. Peter pretends that Chris has tumorsyphillisitisosis and a deal is done for the exclusive rights to Chris' death. To dig himself out of this hole, Peter claims to have healing powers. Then people start worshipping him as a God. Then the REAL God starts getting very angry. This episode features a clip of a blaxploitation movie, starring Peter's cousin Rufus Griffin, called 'Black To The Future' - we're talking Marty Mc(Super)Fly.

Spooner Street wins the trophy for best float in the Quahog annual parade in 'Love Thy Trophy'. But when it goes missing the neighbors turn on each other. Plus, in order to buy a brand new Prada bag, Meg takes a job at a diner, pretending that she is an unwed single mother and Stewie is her crack-addicted son. Child Services have a thing or two to say about this.

Death Is A Bitch has Death itself (voiced by Norm MacDonald) come to claim Peter, after he fills out a doctor's bill claiming to be dead, in an attempt to avoid paying. But when Death suffers a sprained ankle, Peter must take over. His first victims? The kids from Dawson's Creek.

Lois tries to direct the Quahog version of The King And I in the final episode, The King Is Dead. But Peter muscles in and turns it into a futuristic post-ninth-nuclear war epic, featuring lots of explosions and partial nudity. Brian plays the King of Siam and Peter plays the automaton-nuclear-neohuman-android (ANNA), a robot ninja from the Planet England, who must destroy him and free the land.

Family Guy definitely gets the Gator MacReady Claw of Approval.

Reviewed on: 09 Feb 2003
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Family Guy: Season 1 packshot
TV animated series about a strange family that make The Simpsons look positively normal
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Director: Neil Affleck

Writer: Alex Borstein, Steve Callaghan, Mike Barker, Jim Bernstein.

Starring: voices of Seth McFarlane, Alex Borstein, Seth Green, Lacey Chabert, Patrick Warburton, Jennifer Tilly, Mike Henry, Lori Alan, Billy West, Phil LaMar

Year: 1999

Runtime: 308 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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