Family Guy: Partial Terms of Endearment
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The jokes stretch from here to maternity in the hilariously offensive Family Guy episode you couldn’t see on television! Now legal to own (but just barely), Family Guy: Partial Terms of Endearment is a freakin’ poignant tale of what happens when Lois agrees to become a surrogate mother for an infertile couple against Peter’s wishes. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry… it’s your choice!
- Amazon Sales Rank: #1061 in DVD
- Brand: Fox
- Released on: 2010-09-28
- Rating: Unrated
- Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
- Number of discs: 1
- Formats: AC-3, Animated, Color, Dolby, DVD, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
- Original language: English
- Subtitled in: English, French, Spanish
- Dimensions: .22 pounds
- Running time: 111 minutes
Produced but not yet broadcast (don't hold your breath), this Family Guy episode is all "A" story--as in abortion. Lois (Alex Borstein giving one of her best performances) agrees to become a surrogate mother, but when the prospective parents die in a car accident (laughing yet?), she must decide whether or not to keep the baby. Both sides of the abortion question are articulated, but if you are pro-laugh, the real debate is whether this episode is funny. Not so much, really, although some of the random gags provide some welcome diversion from the hot-button topic. The audio commentary featuring Seth MacFarlane, Borstein, director Joseph Lee, and writer Danny Smith provides little insight into the episode's creation. Adhering to the comedy rule of three, the episode can be viewed in two other versions included as bonus features. One is an animatic that does feature some alternate jokes, and the other is a live table read that is enhanced by the audience's "oh no they didn't" reaction to some of the edgier gags ("It's not as bad as you think," MacFarlane assures them at the outset). This disc also includes the 2009 keep-MacFarlane-happy prime-time special, "Family Guy Presents: Seth and Alex's Almost Live Comedy Show," during which Marlee Matlin interrupts Borstein's impression of her singing Lady Gaga's "Poker Face." While Partial Terms is not one of Family Guy's shining half-hours, this DVD at least offers fans the right to choose… whether or not to watch. --Donald Liebenson
A good DVD but not what you may expect
This is ONE episode of Family Guy. The feature run time is 23 minutes. As for the episode itself, it's obvious why it was banned from TV, though it was much more mild than the press surrounding this episode would have you believe. While it does have its share of laughs, I found it pretty average. The episode surrounds Lois agreeing to be a surrogate for an old friend from college.
Where this DVD becomes worth a look is the bonus features. "Seth & Alex's Almost Live Comedy Show" - the controversial 30 minute special that aired on Fox November 2009. I missed it and had been looking everywhere for it, so it's great they included it in the DVD. You also get a feature length (all 23 minutes!) commentary from Seth, Alex, Danny Smith, and Joseph Lee, and a very entertaining live table reading from the cast.
Fans of the show will enjoy this DVD, but it honestly probably should have all been included on a box set.
Should have been a season set extra, never a standalone purchase
It's one thing when Family Guy releases episode anthologies or direct-to-DVD movies as their own products, but when they have the gall to put out a single "uncensored" episode for $10 when you could be buying it for $.99 off iTunes - you have to wonder just how inappropriate it must be for a $9 mark-up and all the packaging that goes with. Surely it had to be released on DVD because it includes some deep insights into the episode's creation, or some startling revelation about the censorship ruling that got it pulled. But no, the offerings on the disc are paltry and the episode itself quite tepid by Family Guy standards. By the end of it all, it's not really clear why it was banned or why the release warranted its own DVD and not just inclusion as an extra in a season set.
An old friend of Lois (Alex Borstein) pops up, compliments the wonderful family unit the Griffins have become and eventually propositions Lois to carry their child to term, as for whatever reason the friend is unable. Caught up in the beauty of bringing a child to a family that can't have one on their own, Lois accepts without any formal agreement from Peter (Seth MacFarlane), which leads him to act like a child and do crazy things as he's wont to do.
What made this episode so bad they pulled it from airing? Was there a point when an egg getting lampooned in an animated depiction of abortion was the cutting edge of Family Guy's pushing of the envelope? Or slightly too far? If an episode like this goes too far for network television censors, it makes you wonder what the show would become if moved to a cable channel like Cartoon Network during Adult Swim. How far would the line get pushed back to the boundaries of indecency if they didn't have to worry about something as small as an abortion joke getting it pulled?
But as it stands, Family Guy is still on Fox (and going strong if their commissioning one show after another from Seth MacFarlane is any indication of success). It's still on Fox and now its jokes have become the curse of its own formula. The shock tactics that launched it during the initial seasons and made it a hit with younger audiences wore thin and now the show resorts to over-the-top shenanigans and ridiculously politically incorrect comedy which is funny because you can see how hard the writers are trying to make the show cutting edge and not because they're still making ribald stabs at the very popular culture that holds them aloft. In short, Family Guy tries too hard to shock audiences, and whether or not this episode was actually pulled or Fox just wanted some more DVD revenues off the show, it definitely isn't so politically incorrect that it warrants the DVD treatment it got here.
Wait a few months and it's a solid bet that the arbitrary "moral standards" that got this episode "censored" will have been stretched a little further and there'll be a special night where they hype the showing of the episode they could never show before.
DVD Bonus Features
In an effort to legitimize the release of this episode as being unique and worthy of a DVD purchase, there's a basic and less than interesting audio commentary, a basic animatic, a table read (which isn't actually special, as these happen all the time), and Seth and Alex's comedy bit.
There's no reason to purchase this DVD, but more importantly it should never have been released as its own entity.
Did you know abortion caused 9/11?
Ever since it first aired, "Family Guy" has pushed the limits of good taste, and often succeeded wildly in doing so. For the most part Fox has allowed them to do and get away with quite a lot, but occasionally the show has gone farther than the network will allow. The last time it happened was with the largely non-offensive "When You Wish Upon a Wienstien". The most recent is with this story, "Partial Terms of Endearment".
The plot centers around an old college friend of Lois' who wants to have a baby. She and her husband have tried time and again to have one, and just haven't been successful. So they ask if Lois would be willing to act as a surrogate. She agrees and then they die. Lois debates whether or not to have an abortion and hilarity ensues!
Now this isn't the best or funniest "Family Guy" episode ever made, but it is a very good episode, and one that I feel should have probably aired with a disclaimer in front. There's not really much here that's terribly offensive, but there's a lot that's very funny (especially Peter's belief that Lois' friend wants a threesome with him and Lois).
I understand why people have a problem with there being only one episode on this disc, but that episode does have commentary. Plus you get many extras, including some downloadable songs, an animatic (should you care about such things), and "Family Guy Presents: Seth and Alex's Almost Live Comedy Show". While it would've been nice to see a couple other episodes thrown onto here, I don't feel ripped-off or cheated by what I got.
Bottom line: if you like the show, you'll like this DVD.