“I think America is finally ready for an animated sitcom about a fat, stupid guy with a wife who’s too good for him”, claimed Seth MacFarlane, creator of Family Guy, American Dad and The Cleveland Show this week, when he announced that Fox has picked up his new series, due to premiere in America in 2013. The premise of the new show has already got commentators buzzing – don’t worry, it’s not a Klaus spin off – and I for one can’t wait to see the results.
I’ll let that sink in for a moment. If you’re not a fan of Seth’s work, you may be gaping at your screen in horror, imagining endless “e-rock-tion” jokes and Dino’s reincarnation as a fey triceratops with a glue addiction. Even I have to admit that I am slightly dubious, given how disappointed I was with the most recent offerings from Family Guy and Cleveland. However, I am going to go out on a limb here and say that I actually think he’ll pull this project off quite well.
To read the rest of this article, go to Unbored!
They had stopped caring.
And, by the time the third movie rolled around, everyone knew it. The episode opens as the other two did, with a power outage killing the TV, leading to Peter telling the Star Wars story to pass the time; “We have to do Jedi now, don’t we?”, asks Stewie in a defeated tone, and Peter asks him to shut up and just let him get through this. The opening scroll across space also portrays this sense of rushing to the finish line to complete the set: “Luke Skywalker has returned to his home planet of Tatooine in order to—okay, you know what, we don’t care. We were thinking of not even doing this one. Fox made us do it… Look, just do me a huge favour and lower your expectations, okay?”
With the creators even admitting to not believing in their own product anymore, there’s not really anywhere else to go but disappointment. Don’t get me wrong – this is, once again, a vaguely entertaining and funny movie. It’s still visually brilliant, and it rounds off the trilogy well. But there’s no passion any more, and it followed the slow steady slope of decline in quality that Family Guy has offered me of late. Oddly however, given that they have apparently tired of the project, it is the longest of the three episodes, and the DVD features a good six minutes of footage not seen when it was aired on TV, again as a two-parter.
This offering is the most complex and fast paced of the three. I am told that Return of the Jediis the best out of the original movies, so perhaps the few remaining fans on the production team wanted to do it justice. Sadly, all the additional new characters posed a problem for the writers: they were out ofFamily Guy stock characters to fill the roles. So, they fell back on cameos from Roger and Klaus from American Dad (the highlight of the hour for me, which says something) and Rollo and Tim the Bear from The Cleveland Show. They also re-cast some of their lesser characters into second roles.
Which is my one big complaint about this offering: one of the most talked about things on the net was who “was going to play Jabba the Hutt?” Most people speculated Meg as the obvious choice, but she had already been cast as two different space monsters and ended up playing a third in this film. Who did they go with? Joe Swanson.
Completely mis-cast in my humble opinion – it seems the only reason he got the part was because he was the only main character who hadn’t been used (except for two bit parts) already. I’ll give them credit that they got almost all the other characters down pretty well, as far as I can tell, but this one casting decision seemed to make little sense to me. I don’t know who else I would have gone with, (perhaps Stan from American Dad, if you’re looking for the real enemy of the Family Guy universe) but Joe is one of my favourites, and casting him as the bad guy sullied the rest of this film for me.
Overall, I would recommend this box set. It’s a part of the Family Guy canon now, and it’s not bad. Maybe a Star Wars fan would love (or hate) it more than I do, but all I can offer is that it’s a quick and humorous way to educate yourself about Star Wars without actually having to sit down and watch all three full-length originals. And it does justice to the cast and style of Family Guy too. But lower your expectations if you’ve read the hype surrounding this series and are expecting something groundbreaking.
It was recently released it as a complete trilogy, and that is how it will stay. They have stated emphatically that they will not be doing the prequels. “Maybe Cleveland can do those” says Peter, as we fade to the Family Guy credits done in George Lucas style, and fans of Family Guyand Star Wars alike breathe a sigh of relief that it’s over.
To read the review in full, go to Unbored!
Part 2 of 3 of my review of the Family Guy Star Wars Trilogy. (Missed part 1? Read it here)
Calls began to come in for a sequel and in 2009, those calls were answered! The second instalment of the Family Guy trilogy was a straight-to-DVD parody of Empire Strikes Back (later aired as two episodes at the end of the 8th season on American TV). The title came from a cutaway joke set up by Stewie in “Barely Legal”, an earlier episode of Family Guy, about the Emperor’s prefect formula for Star Wars dialogue.
But, something, something, something was different about this one. It lacked a certain energy, in my humble opinion, both from the production team and the final product. The jokes weren’t as clever or as snappy, and the plot seemed to drag at points, looking for something funny to say in expositional scenes and amid a much more serious story line. If I had seen it, maybe I could compare it to Empire vs A New Hope, but I all I can say is that I was slightly less than impressed with this DVD. It was okay, but not great; amusing but not side splitting. What I can offer by way of observation is that Blue Harvest was the product of the Volume 6 era, when the writing was still solid and the episodes still impressed me, while this one was being written round about the same time as Volume 9, which I didn’t think much of (see the review I wrote recently).
One thing that was impressive about this instalment – and the first one, come to that – was the animation. The graphics of Star Wars were revolutionary at the time; spaceships, believable alien Muppets, costumes, props, and foreign landscapes must have all impressed their viewers visually. And the Family Guy instalment has lived up to that with impressive use of CGI and wide screen format to make their style look as much like Lucas’ as possible. As a side note, this was the last ever episode of Family Guy to use hand-drawn anamatics, before transitioning to computer-designed ones.
Like I said, I’m not sure what Star Wars fans thought of this one in terms of accuracy or telling the story well. You’ll have to ask the sci-fi nerds about that one. All I know is that it relied a lot on the Family Guy nerds knowing their stuff – there were a lot of call-back jokes, bit characters, and inside references that people who aren’t as obsessed with Family Guy as I am might have missed out on.
Maybe it was because they churned this one out faster to please the fans, perhaps they realised that making fun of Star Wars has been done to death, or maybe it was because they’d done it before and it had lost its edge, but this offering just missed something. It’s longer than the first instalment – 52 minutes – and produced to the same high standard, but there was a certain apathy that seemed to come across on the commentary and which was obvious in the footage. They had stopped caring.
To read the rest of this review, go to Unbored!
Part 1 of 3 of my review of the Family Guy Star Wars Trilogy.
Back in 2006, when the rumours started flying that the team at Family Guy were planning on doing a feature length Star Wars parody, there must have been a collection of nerds out there who couldn’t believe their luck. Blue Harvest, as the episode came to be known, was one of the most hyped DVD releases of the 2007, despite the fact that it wasn’t a ‘real’ film, but rather an hour-long television special, and ran to only 48 minutes without commercials. Still, a full endorsement from George Lucas and plenty of internet buzz meant that this release was much anticipated.
Now, I have a confession to make. The entire sum of my knowledge of Star Wars at that point came from the referential jokes on Family Guy prior to this making of this trilogy; I have never watched any of the originals. So I wasn’t one of those anticipating it because I was a Star Wars fan. The entire appeal of this project to me was that it was yet another DVD to spend my money on – yet another Seth MacFarlane project to endorse. I pre-ordered the UK release, and waited.
I was pretty impressed with the final product. It was really funny, even to people like me who hadn’t seen the original, and from what I understand they went out of their way to make the shots etc true to the source material. I now know the basic premise of Star Wars enough to fake knowledge of them at parties. (I still haven’t seen the original movies, but my knowledge of them is much more in-depth thanks to these volumes and their commentaries. Did you know, for example, that “Blue Harvest” was the fake working title for Return of the Jedi? They didn’t want fans to mob the sets while they were filming.)
It was also great to see the Family Guy characters we all know and love transformed into people from an alternative story universe. The six key members of the Griffin family play the leading roles as you would expect (Stewie as Darth Vader, Brian as Chewie, Lois as Leia and so on), with neighbours Quagmire, Cleveland and Mort filling out the cast as C3P0, R2D2 and Lando Calrissian respectively (Meg takes her usual ribbing). The rest of the extended cast fill in the supporting roles, with very few mis-cast or doubled up (more on that later).
Overall, I quite enjoyed this offering. It seemed a great success for the creators, and judging by the commentary and what I’ve read they had great fun doing it too. It was a special project that they all got passionately involved in and devoted extra special effort to. It was very well received by critics and fans and was even nominated for an Emmy. Calls began to come in for a sequel…
To read the rest of this review, go to Unbored!
One of the girls at work started an interesting discussion today, and I thought I’d extend the question to my readers. Her friend lives in Brisbane, Australia, and has been asked to prepare herself for evacuation in the event of the flood waters rising; she’s been told to go home, pack a small bag of essentials and await further instruction.
My colleague was asking: if it was you, what would you take? Assuming you had just one hour to pack, and that all of your loved ones would be leaving safely with you, what would you put in your suitcase, knowing that there may not be a home or anything left to come back to?
The first three things that people in the office thought of, without fail, were their laptops, passport, and photographs and/or hard drive. Quite a few of them thought of insurance documents and mobile phones. (One lovely man answered that, so long as his wife and kids were safe, he’d take his dog, and nothing else really mattered to him.) Warm, practical clothes and a change of underwear were also high on people’s lists. Being a writer, I decided to play a little imagination game in my lunch hours, and mentally pack my bags, just in case. (more…)
Family Guy Volume Nine was released way back in November and, of course, I was among one of the first people to have it land on my doormat and slide into my DVD player. So you may wonder why I’m only just getting around to reviewing it now. Well, there is a reason. But brace yourselves folks, because even I am shocked by what I am about to say. I haven’t dared to write a review for FG Volume 9 until now, because that would mean having to admit (to both the world and myself) that…
I actually didn’t think it was all that good.
There. I said it. And I think Seth MacFarlane would be proud of me for doing so: after all, he was the man who famously said (via Stewie) that he wanted to hurt “The guys who watched the Simpson’s back in 1994, and won’t admit the damn thing isn’t funny anymore”. As someone who still has a huge amount of respect and admiration for the earlier canon of the series, I am just being honest and true to their own lessons by not remaining a slavishly adoring fan when they have ceased producing work which entertains and amuses me as much as it used to. I tried to be loyal and stick out the slump (in fact, Seasons 7 & 8 impressed me more with subsequent viewings than they did at first), but it’s now looking like that confidence was misplaced. It’s been, in my humble opinion, a downwards slope since about midway through Season 6, and I don’t see it being back on the way up any time soon.
To read the rest of this review, go to Unbored!
This post comes to you courtesy of the lovely Cat Fyson over at the Student Blogger Alliance. By way of promoting her new resource, and in honour of our 13 inaugural members, she has asked all the members to compile a list of “13 things” and post it on our blog.
But before I do, let me tell you just three things about the SBA:
1) It’s a website and forum aimed at student and recent graduate bloggers, to give them somewhere to talk about their blogs and share information on leads, competitions etc. It also has a Facebook page, and you can follow it on Twitter too!
2) We currently have just 14 members, and are looking for more.
3) We’re a wonderfully friendly and helpful bunch. If you blog, come on over and join us! You won’t regret it!
So, about those 13 things:
1) I have 8 Standard Grades at Credit Level, 6 Highers and 3 Advanced Highers (one with an A). If you understand the Scottish Education system, this will massively impress you. If, like all my friends and colleagues, you did GCSEs etc, you will have no idea what that means. A tiny, vain part of me dislikes this. I’m smart, dang it!
2) On the subject of vanity, I dye my arm hair blonde once every 6 weeks. It involves an hour of my time, a box of Nice & Easy, and it just makes me feel less self conscious about my ‘gorilla arms’. I keep saying I’m going to stop, but then the brown grows back and bugs me.
3) I can only wink with my right eye. One of my shoulders is slightly higher than the other, due to one leg being slightly longer than the other. (For some reason, the longer leg is the opposite one to the higher shoulder – don’t ask, even I don’t know). I only have one ‘curve’. In short, I am lopsided. But only slightly!
4) I love Starbucks far more than I probably should, but I HATE the taste of coffee. It’s all about the chai tea lattes, hazelnut/mint hot chocolates and lemon frappacinos, trust me! If only they did raspberry and peach iced teas like Costa…
5) Some of the people I remember most fondly from my past are people that, for whatever reason, I NEVER speak to anymore. I regret that, but I can’t change it.
6) When I was a kid and my parents wouldn’t let me get a dog, I invented five imaginary pets. Fogey was an Old English Sheepdog, Charley was a Chocolate Labrador and Carrie was a West Highland Terrier. I also ‘had’ a cat called Snickers and a horse called Paden. Small wonder I grew up to do a degree in Creative Writing.
7) My dream job growing up was working as a voice actor for Disney. I used to get a magazine called Disney Adventures that talked about the process of character design and picking people to voice them etc, and I thought it seemed like such a fun thing to do. (Incidentally, Seth MacFarlane’s dream job as a child was to work as an animator for Disney, so in a parallel universe we may have met that way and I’d be dating him as we speak. If only…)
8 ) I am allergic to Ibuprofen. My eyebrow swells up if I take it, like Quasimodo. Again, don’t ask. And please, don’t drop Ibuprofen in my tea just to see if this is true.
9) I can say “Hello, how are you?”, “Fine thanks and you?” and count from 1 to 13 in Russian. I lived in Moscow for 10 months.
10) The first time I ever did my own makeup, I went WAAAY overboard, with huge Avril Lavigne esque eyeliner, blue eyeshadow and lashings of lip gloss. I toned it down the next day (lost the eyeshadow and lippy completely, thank goodness) and have worn the same style every day ever since. I still love my eyeliner, but it’s subtle; I look more like a girl and less like a panda.
11) I actually secretly love the rain. I grew up in Alberta, where it rained like three times a year, so there’s still something special about it in my mind. I love the way the world smells after a good downpour, and, so long as I’m heading home rather than out, there is nothing better than splashing through a good drizzle and just getting drenched.
12) One of the search terms that someone has used to find their way to this website was “Laura+patricia+nude”. Flattered as I am, dream on, whoever you are!
13) I keep my Jane Austen novels on the shelf next to my Family Guy DVDs. I love them both, and it makes me smile every time I see them, as I imagine decades of literary worshippers rolling over in their graves at the juxtaposition!
I hope you all learned something from that; it took me far longer to compile that list then I would like to admit! And I hope all you student bloggers come on over and join the SBA. ‘Til next time guys!
Anyone who knows me knows I am an obsessive Family Guy fan. So it will come as no surprise to them that I have had this item on pre-order since May. Or that I am about to sing the praises of Seth Macfarlane once again.
If you have not yet discovered that the bird is the word, I highly recommend this DVD set. Remember that this was a show that was historically cancelled and then resurrected by DVD sales, and spend your money generously.
In return, you’ll get 13 new episodes, including plenty of gags and sequences cut from TV; with “all the poops and farts and nudity intact”, as Peter would put it. There are also, for the hardcore nerds like me, commentaries on each episode, deleted scenes, and even a behind the scenes tour of the production offices which will make wannabe sitcom writers drool in envy!
Season 8 really offers nothing new, just more of the same characters and laughs you know and love.
To read the rest of this review, go to Unbored!
I am about to do something I thought I would never do – bash the genius of Seth MacFarlane! (I justify this in my head by arguing that technically The Cleveland Show is actually very little to do with Seth, and is more the brainchild of Mike Henry; Seth is only implicated by involvement and association, rather than being the creator of the show.) But I am indeed about to do it, so brace yourselves folks!
The much talked about Cleveland Show finally comes to the UK on E4 this week. I have to confess that I cheated and watched the first five episodes of Season 1 on the internet a while ago, so I know what’s coming. And I have to say that I wasn’t much impressed.
Aside from the first five minutes of the Pilot (which was television gold, and included the cast of Family Guy and Cleveland’s farewell to them all), The Cleveland Show just didn’t do anything for me.