FOX recently released Family Guy Volume Twelve on DVD. Unlike earlier sets, Family Guy is now releasing its episodes by season, though they still bear the volume moniker, probably because the season and volume numbers don’t match up. Volume Twelve has all 22 episodes that aired last year, the show’s 11th season, spread across three discs.
Over the past few seasons, Family Guy has definitely started to show its age, and overall the episodes on this release are certainly of lesser quality than those of its early years. This is actually the first Family Guy release in a long time where I can’t link to specific episodes I previously reviewed. It’s not that the batch is necessarily worse than the last couple; Family Guy has just settled into a very comfortable routine, so it’s rarely necessary to check in with it for review. I would be repeating myself a lot. That being said, the show isn’t completely without life left in it. It’s just not the must-see, oft-discussed program that it used to be.
The episodes are stand-alones, and although the series has always had some serial elements to it, only rare episodes really changing anything for the characters. Some of the inclusions on Volume Twelve include: “Into Fat Air,” in which Peter (Seth MacFarlane) jealously forces the family to compete with Lois’s ex-boyfriend’s clan while climbing Mt. Everest; “Ratings Guy,” a fun lambasting of the Nielsen rating system, on which the longevity of TV shows is (some would argue unfairly) decided; “Yug Ylimaf,” the 200th episode, where Brian (also MacFarlane) tampers with time and Stewie (MacFarlane again) is never born; “The Giggity Wife,” in which Quagmire (um, MacFarlane), the ultimate bachelor, gets married; “Turban Cowboy,” where Peter accidentally becomes a Muslim terrorist, and yes, you read that correctly; and “Roads to Vegas,” in which Stewie and Brian are copied and the two versions have very different vacations in Law Vegas.
“Roads to Vegas” and “Ratings Guy” are my favorite inclusions, for completely different reasons. Family Guy is best when it ventures into satire, and their commentary on the way renewals are decided is way more witty than most of the other installments. “Roads to Vegas” is the latest in a recurring road trip series, a la the old Bob Hope-Bing Crosby films, always much more enjoyable than when the show parodies more modern movies, as it does in a couple of episodes on this set that I didn’t mention above.
It’s interesting that a quick rundown of the episodes I best remember all feature characters MacFarlane voices. One might think, looking at that list, he’s the only actor in the show. There are actually a number of other very talented performers in Family Guy including Alex Borstein, Seth Green, Mila Kunis, Patrick Warburton, and Mike Henry. This season, more than most, made Peter, Brian, and Stewie the center of it all, though. They are popular and reliable characters, but it would be nice to see the others get some more screen time.
There are decent extras included on Volume Twelve. “200 Episodes Later” is the special that aired in conjunction with the 200th episode. There’s also a table read from that installment, as well a portion of the show’s 2012 Comic-Con panel, always enjoyable. Deleted scenes, animatics, and audio commentaries are present for select episodes.
At the end of the day, Family Guy Volume Twelve is a very average release of what has become a very average show. But if you need some mindless laughs, Family Guy still delivers those pretty consistently, like The Simpsons, so it’s reliable for that. If you’re someone that only picks up an occasional Family Guy DVD, this one might not be at the top of the list of those recommended, but if you’re a completionist or an irregular viewer who’d like to catch a few fresh entries, then Volume Twelve should satisfy.
Family Guy Volume Twelve is available now.