Family Guy - the TV Series Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Family Guy - the TV Series

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It seems today, that all you see,
is violence in movies and sex on tv.
But where are those good ol' fashioned values,
On which we used to rely?

Lucky there's a family guy.
Lucky there's a man who positively can do,
All the things that make us Laugh and cry.
He's a family guy!

Family Guy is a US cartoon series created by Seth MacFarlane - a more surreal version of The Simpsons, with quick-fire gags and preposterous plots. At the time of writing there have been three series of the show, with Fox recently agreeing to make a fourth.

The Family

The show follows the life of the Griffin Family who live at 31 Spooner Street, Quahog, Rhode Island. The family is made up of the parents, two teenagers, a talking baby, and a talking dog.

Peter (Seth MacFarlane)

Peter is the main character in the series. The father of the family (aged 42), he is a little slow at taking in new information and is known for making rash decisions. His favourite pastime is watching television and he resists doing anything with the family that will drag him away from it. He used to work at a toy factory before it closed down and now works as a fisherman.

Lois (Alex Borstein)

Born into a wealthy family, Lois gave up any chance she had of inheriting the family millions when she married Peter. Now aged 40, she is a housewife who teaches piano on the side. Perhaps the sanest of the family, she is also interested in the finer things in life, such as art. She spends most of her time during the day at home talking to the dog, Brian. She has also become the target of many of baby Stewie's plans to kill her.

Meg (Mila Kunis/Lacy Chabert)

Meg is the 16-year-old daughter of Peter and Lois. Her goal in life is one day to become popular. With no friends at school (and an extremely embarrassing family), Meg desperately wishes for these years to be over. She can do great bird-whistles.

Chris (Seth Green)

Chris is Peter and Lois's 13-year-old son. He takes after his father in most respects (especially in his love of food), but he is always trying to strengthen his relationship with Peter. He is a gifted artist and someday hopes to make a living through painting. His greatest fear is the evil monkey that lives in his closet.

Stewie (Seth MacFarlane)

Stewie is a one-year-old baby who has developed the ability to talk, read, and plan his mother's demise. The most intelligent member of the family, Stewie has decided to use his talents to achieve world domination. Still, for now he would be happy with just killing Lois. Nobody in the family takes Stewie's threats seriously and believe his highly advanced mind-control technology to be nothing more than a toy. He has recently been showing homosexual tendencies.

Brian (Seth MacFarlane)

Brian is the average family dog (despite the fact that he can talk). Accepted as a member of the family, Brian is Peter's best friend. Unfortunately for him, he has fallen in love with Lois, a woman he can never get. He and Stewie are always at odds with one another as he is the only one who seems to be able to understand Stewie's villainous intent. Brian is always fighting for dog rights.


Quahog is the town where the family live. Situated in Rhode Island, it is full of crazy characters and places.

Francis Griffin (Colm Meaney): Peter's father. He's a strict, hard working Catholic. He loves Peter, but doesn't actually like him.

Carter (Seth MacFarlane) and Barbara (Alex Borstein) Pewterschmidt: Lois's wealthy Parents. They don't like Peter and would prefer it if Lois were to leave him for someone with money.

Glen Quagmire (Seth MacFarlane): The Griffins' womanising next-door neighbour. He has the amazing ability to turn anything that anybody says into an inuendo and has a secret obsession with Lois.

Cleveland (Mike Henry): A friend of Peter. He's married with a son. He runs a delicatessen.

Lorretta (Alex Borstein): Cleveland's wife.

Cleveland Jr (Mike Henry): Cleveland and Lorretta's son. He gets distracted easily.

Joe Swanson (Patrick Warburton): Friend of Peter. He's a police officer who is handicapped from the waist down.

Bonnie Swanson (Jennifer Tilly): Joe's wife. She is constantly pregnant.

Kevin Swanson (Seth MacFarlane/Jon Cryer): Joe and Bonnie's son. He's very determined about everything he does.

Mort Goldman (John G Brennan): The local pharmacist and friend of Peter.

Muriel Goldman (Nicole Sullivan): Mort's wife.

Neil Goldman (Seth Green): Mort and Muriel's son. He has a crush on Meg.

Diane Simmons (Lori Alan) and Tom Tucker (Seth MacFarlane): Local news anchors.

Jake Tucker (Seth MacFarlane): Son of Tom Tucker. He has the unusual property of an upside-down face.

Tricia Takanawa (Alex Borstein): Reporter for local news.

Mr Weed (Carlos Alazraqui): Peter's former boss, now deceased. Possibly homosexual. His first name was Bermudagrass.

Dr Hartman (Seth MacFarlane): Quahog's main doctor (despite the fact that he's not very good).

Dr Kaplan (Sam Waterston): Brian's psychiatrist.

Horace (John G Brennan): The barman at 'The Drunken Clam' (the bar where Peter and his friends hang out).

Connie Demico (Lisa Wilhoit/Fairuza Balk): The most popular girl at Meg's school.

Adam West (Adam West): Adam West, the star of Batman, plays himself as the mayor of Quahog. He's slightly gone in the head and has an overly large opinion of himself.

Evil Monkey (Danny Smith): The evil monkey that lives in Chris's closet.

God (Seth MacFarlane): The creator of the universe.

Death (Adam Carolla\Norm MacDonald): The destroyer of souls and prince of darkness. Lives with his mother.

What sets it apart?

A cartoon show about a fat man and his family who go on crazy adventures; this sounds just like a rip-off of the Simpsons - surely? Wrong. The two shows are very different in style. Family Guy is more surreal, more ridiculous, and has a lot more adult jokes.

One of the hallmarks of Family Guy is the flashback scenes. These scenes can go on for over three minutes, and don't have anything to do with the plot. One of the most famous is the one and-a-half minute chicken scene in which Peter and a giant chicken get in a fight which takes place on the roof of trucks, while hanging onto the under-carriage of a helicopter, all while they're falling 600 feet to the ground. This was all because the chicken gave him a bad coupon.

Another hallmark is the twisted television programmes that they watch. These are actual real-life shows that have been altered in strange ways - for instance, an episode of the Brady Bunch, where the older brother is put in the snake pit for smoking, and his sister is put in the chamber of fire for telling on him.

History of the Show

Family Guy was created by Seth MacFarlane (then 24). Produced by Fox, it was first shown on 31 January, 1999, immediately after the SuperBowl. The first episode 'Death has a Shadow' got the highest ratings that the show ever received and got good reviews from critics, claiming 'Family Guy is what you'd get if you put Hank Hill, Homer Simpson, and Cartman in a blender!' Viewer ratings for the first series remained good, and it seemed that the show had a bright future ahead of it.

By the time of the second series the programme began running into difficulties. Seth MacFarlane's ex-headmaster began to protest against the show. He managed to get many advertisers to join the protest, and after two episodes the show was taken off the air. It returned several months later, but was given an irregular time-slot and Fox began to censor some of the more controversial bits. As a result, viewer ratings for the show declined. In the summer of 2000 Fox cancelled the programme.

Internet campaigns managed to convince Fox to do a U-turn, and they un-cancelled the show. A third series was produced and began to show on Fox in July of 2001. The Family Guy team were optimistic that the show would be a success. However, Fox gave the show an irregular time-slot again, and viewer ratings fell to their lowest. In January 2002, Fox again decided to officially cancel the show; this time (they thought) for good.

Still, the fans stayed on. Refusing to accept the cancellation of their favourite programme, the fan sites on the Internet united and began to protest against Fox. Demonstrations were held outside the studios. Some hard-line protesters refused to watch Fox, or even to use any of the products advertised on the stations1. Still, Fox refused to budge.

Then came a change of fortunes for the cancelled show. Cartoon Network began to show re-runs. The show soon became the station's highest-rated show with adult audiences and began to break station records. Fox then decided to release every episode2 of the show on DVD. The two box-sets broke even more records and became the best-selling television DVDs of 2003 in America. Two years after the show was cancelled, Family Guy was more popular than ever. Fox began to show an interest in the show once more. Rumours soon spread about a Family Guy DVD film. However, in January 2004 Fox instead announced the return of the show with a fourth series due on Fox in June 2005. This is the first time that a TV show will be un-cancelled by the same network who first broadcasted it based purely on DVD sales.

Further Reading

1How they knew what was being advertised on Fox while not watching it, we'll never know.2Including 'When You Wish Upon a Weinstein' which had been deemed too offensive for TV.

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