Family Guy: Volume Four

The return of this cancelled cult cartoon is akin to when one of your favourite bands reforms and they’re not quite as good. This isn’t to say Family Guy has lost its spark, but it might be that any show that beats the odds and returns from cancellation can’t possibly meet the expectations placed upon it. In this round it feels like Family Guy is going overboard in its quest to be outrageous and shocking, and the "like the time” flashbacks are happening twice as much. Still, the nods to ’80s culture are always welcome, and the writers dig deep into obscurity to bring forgotten actors and events back for a few more laughs, or to finally show what contestants really want to say when someone outbids them by one dollar on The Price is Right. With the plots generally lost in random storytelling, there’s very little opportunity for the viewer to get lost in stories because the pace is hyper and the episodes don’t have much of a focus. This may have been the case with earlier episodes of Family Guy as well, but at this stage in the game the show needs to start growing or else it’s going to get tiresome. The DVD contains a slew of deleted scenes that range from a minute to seconds, but when watched in a row they tend to flow as randomly as a proper episode, with some of the jokes being a lot more funny than what makes it into the show. There’s a bit where we learn how to draw Stewie, which is interesting to watch, as simple lines become recognisable, and there’s a short feature on the responsibilities of being the director of an episode, which is quite boring. Adam West drops by to demonstrate the inner workings of the show in what is supposed to be his first time meeting everyone but it comes across as a lame sketch that’s focused more on West. The commentary is the best extra because you can quickly find out the meaning of every joke you didn’t understand or the obscure 1984 sit-com reference you’ve never even heard of. Family Guy is still a show with some legs, but let creator Seth MacFarlane write episodes again. (Fox)