Family Guy has had its ups and downs, having been cancelled at one point before being reinstated and now seemingly having its feet firmly planted at Fox. Relentlessly and remorselessly rude and politically incorrect, it continues to be the antithesis of The Simpsons, to which it has at times been most often (but most inaccurately) compared. Although The Simpsons has its own strong vein of off-kilter and unconventional humour, it is never this sweary, never this violent, never this misogynistic and certainly never features an octogenarian paedophile as a key character.
Season 11 is where we now find ourselves and the well-worn but certainly not tedious formula is very much in place. A seemingly innocuous jumping off point for a surreal or spectacular adventure, laced throughout with asides, flash-backs and assorted digs at the afflicted and famous. The fourteen episodes spread across these three discs are all reasonably solid, with little that really stands out, but nothing that really embarrasses the cast and crew either.
The double-length Christmas special, “Road to the North Pole” features a trip by Brian and Stewie to see Santa (Stewie wants to kill him), resulting in an unexpectedly uncynical denouement which proves as surprising as it does affecting. Other strong episodes include a Hallowe’en special and The Big Bang Theory, where a time-travelling Stewie inadvertently creates the universe and must repair the damage caused by his marauding nemesis, Bertram. There are some great laughs to be had at times in these episodes, but many of the gags have become predictable, the main characters in danger of becoming caricatures of themselves.
Such minor grievances are inevitable with a show as long-running as this one and if nothing else, Seth MacFarlane should be commended for keeping new stories coming through. If you’re a fan, you’ll no doubt find a lot to enjoy. If you aren’t, this is unlikely to win you over. Family Guy Season 11 is available to buy on DVD from 7th November 2011 and you can grab it here.