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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
All in the Family
by Geoffrey D. Roberts

Family Guy: Volume Four is a DVD box-set containing 14 of the best and worst episodes from the 2005-2006 season of the hit television series. This show chronicles the bizarre lives of the Griffin family -- which consists of Peter and Lois Griffin, their adolescent children, Meg and Chris, and the couple's psychotic nine-month-old Stewie.

Brian, the family dog, receives attention here. He is one credit away from completing college. Unfortunately for him, that goal has to be placed on hold indefinitely. Why? Because Peter just ran over Brian, who's severely injured and lucky to be alive. Naturally, he becomes seriously depressed about having to deal with a long, painful recovery.

An alcoholic for most of his life, Brian reverts to drinking in order to numb his pain. A stranger finds him drunk in a bar and offers up some sound advice to help handle his problems. The stranger then excuses himself. Soon Brian hears the manís voice coming from the speakers on stage, and it turns out the stranger is none other than Frank Sinatra Jr. Over several evenings, Brian performs gigs side by side with the talented singer.  

After Lois forces Brian to baby-sit Stewie one evening, he locks the baby in the dressing room thinking Stewie cannot possibly get out. But the crafty tot finds his way on stage, making room for disaster, hilarious banter, and some pretty saucy  improvisation.

In another episode, Peter, a huge fan of the Emmy Awards, cannot watch this yearís telecast because Lois has dragged him to yet another one of her boring events. Peter knows the minute he isnít watching the Emmys is just when something  historical will take place. He's right. A presenter accidentally exposes himself during the telecast. Now Peterís favorite shows have been sanitized by the FCC. 

Peter decides that the only way to beat the FCC is to begin his own cable channel. In an attempt to combat censorship, each show on Peter's prime-time lineup contains excessive language, nudity, and sexual innuendo. 

Family Guy certainly does not shy away from controversy. For example, there's an episode in which Brianís gay cousin Jasper has shocked the Griffin family by deciding to wed his partner in their backyard. Lois isnít thrilled by the idea and moves out of the house temporarily, not knowing whether or not she agrees with gay marriage. After Mayor West (voice of Adam West) announces a forthcoming ban on gay marriage, Brian -- believing he must protect Jasper's right to wed -- starts a petition while others seek to thwart his efforts.

Sadly, the jokes are inappropriate in an episode dealing with pedophilia and Chris having to work for a man who turns out to be a pervert. And it's too bad the story is thin and the laughter absent when Peter takes a stab at writing erotic literature. A poor marketing decision leads to Betty White narrating a steamy audio version of his prose. 

Also, many viewers will probably be disappointed with an episode about sibling rivalry between Stewie and newfound half-brother Bertram. Both share the same goal-- to rule the universe. With Bertram nothing more than a whinier version of his half-brother, it turns out one Stewie Griffin is more than enough.   

Despite its weaknesses Family Guy:Volume Four contains enough laughs to keep fans of the series more than satisfied.

(Released by 20th Century Fox; not rated by MPAA.)

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