Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fun with DVDs: Gorging on “The Guy”!

Hmmm… Maybe I should reword that title!

It’s really about how I’m choosing to watch FAMILY GUY on DVD. If you’re the type that gets so into a song, when playing a CD in your car, that you play it over-and-over until you get it out of your system, you’ll understand what follows. If not, come back in a day or two, and I’ll discuss something more interesting.

FAMILY GUY Volume 6 was released October 21, 2008, and due to its being released on the same day as LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION Volume 6 and THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. THE COMPLETE SERIES, I’ve barely scratched the surface on it – or any of them for that matter.

But, FAMILY GUY, in particular, is configured in such a way that (if you’re REALLY into it – like that hypothetical “car CD song”) you can find yourself watching the same episode THREE TIMES in a row. Here’s how…

A topic for another time (…and we WILL get to it!) is that, for a TV DVD set where I’m very familiar with the property, I tend to watch favorite episodes first – then go back and sit through the rest as time and inclination allows.

So, in the case of
FAMILY GUY Volume 6, I went immediately forMeet the Quagmires”, a hilarious “time-traveling-reality-changing-genre-spoof” where Peter Griffin travels back to 1984, inadvertently undoes his marriage to Lois and, in the process (...depending on one's point of view, of course), improves the World immeasurably!

(Pictured above is the Disc Menu that includes “Meet the Quagmires”)

Yes, it’s the good old “alter-the-past-and-you-alter-the-future” thing! Back to the Future did it… so did Star Trek, The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror, Freakazoid, and even the final two issues of Disney Comics’ MICKEY MOUSE ADVENTURES in 1991, to name but a few. ...And I love it every time! So, there!

Meet the Quagmires”, as with every episode on the set, can be viewed in three modes:
(1) “DVD Uncensored” (the default), (2) “Original Television Episode”, and (3) DVD Version with Optional Audio Commentary.

My MO is to watch each episode (and I’ve done a few this way by now) in the order of 2-1-3!

My feeling is that “Original Television Episode” mode should be the DEFAULT (as that’s how everyone has seen it, then “DVD Uncensored” to compare it with the original (…additional or omitted things stand out much better if viewed in this order), and finally with Optional Audio Commentary, to learn the “juicy insider secrets” and hear the participants continually laugh at their own brilliant wit. So, here we go…

“Original Television Episode”: Just as good, if not even funnier, than it was originally. And there are no commercials, “Bug” logos, pop-up-ads, and (in tribute to the 1984 setting of the episode) we get an “Eighties Remix” of the FAMILY GUY theme song… over end credits that you can actually read!

“DVD Uncensored”: Milder, more TV-Friendly words are occasionally replaced with stronger words throughout. Brian the Dog’s startled and already salacious reaction to seeing an 18-year-old Lois circa 1984 is replaced by an even more salacious line. An ADDITIONAL GAG is TACKED ON to the end of a scene where a “Prototypical-Eighties-Guy” picks a fight with Brian. It was a laugh-out-loud gag for me… but I can see why it didn’t make the TV Cut.

Again, the only way to really gauge the extent of the differences is to watch the TV version first, followed by the DVD version. When run back-to-back, you’ll notice clearly how much (or, in some cases, how little) has changed.

These examples are typical of the “DVD Uncensored” episodes, and it makes me wonder if at least SOME of this is actually produced with the specific purpose of creating alternate DVD versions of FAMILY GUY episodes, rather than being left off for the usual reason of Network Standards and Practices.

“Optional Audio Commentary”: Members of the cast and crew complement one another in a gigantic love-fest (as is almost always the case with multiple member commentaries) and regale us with tales of “When Production Goes Wrong”.

There are “music clearance issues” such as the band Debarge turning them down on the use of some authentic eighties music.

Also “copyright issues”, in that the JETSONS cameo in the episode was used with permission from Warner Bros. but was mandated to be COMPLETELY REDRAWN in an almost unnoticeable recreation of the original style – rather than reuse old, existing footage that is the exclusive property of WB. TV series geeks like me just eat this stuff up!

The Jetsons, as redrawn for FAMILY GUY!

Aside: One of more of the participants didn’t even know that Warner Bros. now owns Hanna-Barbera and so owns THE JETSONS. So much for animation folks knowing their own (even recent) history.

So, as has now become my practice, I’ve watched (or will watch) each episode of the set THREE WAYS in succession, thus gorging myself on FAMILY GUY!

…There are worse ways to go!

FAMILY GUY Volume 6... Crack it open and experience a "Three-Way Episode Experience" of your own! Tell 'em Brian and Stewie sent you!

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