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A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Leonard Norwitz

Family Guy: Something, Something, Something Dark Side [Blu-ray]

 

(Dominic Polcino, 2009)

 

 

 

 

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

Studio:

Theatrical: Fox TV

Blu-ray: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

 

Disc:

Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 0:54:43.079

Disc Size: 36,235,418,283 bytes

Episode Size: 13,866,306,816 bytes

Video Bitrate: 31.60 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: December 22nd, 2009

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1 matted to 1.78

Resolution: 1080i / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

 

Audio:

Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, none

 

Extras:

• Commentary by Exec Producers Seth MacFarlane, Mark Hentemann & David Goodman, Writer Kirker Butler, Director Dom Polcino, and Actor Seth Green

• The Dark Side of Poster Art – in HD (9:15)

• Animatic comparisons with optional commentary by the director – in HD (6:35)

• Table Read – in HD (49:25)

• Sneak Peak Table Read of

• Family Guy Fact-Ups Trivia Track

• Digital Copy Disc

 

 

The Film: 5
It is entirely possible you are unacquainted with Fox's animated TV series, Family Guy. Well, you could think of it as a sort of Flintstones meets Married With Children, or Family Guy is to The Simpsons as The Three Stooges is to Monty Python, or beer & pizza is to wine & cheese. Family Guy indulges in the sort of humor that as college sophomores we thought was clever and bodacious, but which we are admonished to put behind us once we become "adults." Or not.

The title of the extended episode on this disc says it all: "Something, Something, Something Dark Side". I mean, if you find that funny you are going to love this series, and this episode in particular. You will also find the 50-minute table read smart and slyly anti-establishment, since the camera pretty much maintains a single position covering all 15 personnel at the table plus another 20 sitting and standing behind them for the entire segment. Are you laughing? If yes, buy this video and you will love it. Guaranteed.

Need I say more? Well, I suppose I must. The gist of this episode is this: Taking advantage of a power outage, Peter tells his family a story which he titles "The Empire Strikes Back" and for which the animators provide a series of recognizable frames and set pieces from the original Lucas film (with Fox's blessing, it seems – which may very well be the funniest aspect of this show) but with Griffen family members in key roles. From there it's satire all the way with occasional asides away from the Lucas story just to keep things lively. The screencaps tell the visual story, and the writing does manage a few clever bits – my favorite being a recurring argument about window cleaning between Darth Vadar (here he's even shorter than Rick Moranis, if such were possible) and the cleaning lady. This is quite droll, as much for what it doesn't say as what it does.


 

Image: 8/9   NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale. The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

Solid color animated cells, like we get in Futurama, should be a piece of cake. It's just color and lines, after all – right? So why do the colors on this Blu-ray look so thin? Or maybe they're just thin in comparison to Futurama. Yeah, that must be it. Blowing up the image the 100" – it's not like we start to see pixels, it's just that the thinness starts to get boring, and I would have thought subtle color works against this show. On the other hand, this is not Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, and there are no digital transfer issues: no noise, no jaggies.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: 7/8
The image may be two-dimensional but the audio mix isn't. Surrounds are engaged fully and properly for laser fights between spaceships, explosions are a blast, if not force, music is brilliant (take that, George!), dialogue is crisp.

 

Operations: 5
I think it's official: chapters and extra features now require searching one at a time instead of laid out in a table of contents. I still can't figure out why this is thought to be useful.

 

Extras: 6
I checked in with the commentary while watching the feature with subtitles, and found this to be a funnier and denser way to enjoy the movie. The Trivia Track handles both Family Guy and Star Wars factoids. The Table Read takes us pretty much through the episode, during which the camera hardly movies over a room full of some 35 people so it may be hard to distinguish faces at first. The Dark Side of Poster Art considers the art work for the video box. The Extra Features are presented in HD.

 

 

Bottom line: 6
Difference in funny bones aside, my main complaint about this release is value: one episode, barely an hour. Extra features are useful and pertinent – though I wonder how one can actually watch the 50-minute table read. Picture quality is good, if a little lightly saturated. Audio is more effective than you might expect from a series like this, but entirely appropriate for the medium.

Leonard Norwitz
December 30th, 2009

 

 

 

 

 

About the Reviewer: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.


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