For those unfamiliar with the show, it focuses on the Griffin family, residents of Quahog, Rhode Island. Peter (creator Seth MacFarlane) is the heavy-drinking father who works in a toy factory, Lois (Alex Borstein of "Mad TV") is the mother and general voice of reason, Meg (Mila Kunis of "That 70's Show", replacing Lacey Chabert) is the insecure daughter, Chris (Seth Green) the chubby and dim-witted son, Brian (MacFarlane) is the alcoholic dog who talks and Stewie (creator Seth MacFarlane earned an Emmy for his voice work on the character) is the diabolical baby who is bent on world domination.
"Family Guy" may not have won in the ratings each week, but the series gained a devoted cult audience. Every week, the show turned pop culture on its head, offering twisted and laugh-out-loud spoofs of "Tron", "The Truman Show", "The Brady Bunch", "Willy Wonka" and "Dawson's Creek", among many others. Most episodes smoothly tied in as many of several of these hits at the entertainment industry. Still, despite a growing number of fans, the show went off the air after several time slot changes and long breaks eventually resulted in the show being cancelled.
When the series became an enormous hit on DVD (the first sets were the biggest TV-on-DVD hits the year of their release), "Family Guy" was resurrected, to the delight of fans. Is the reborn "Family Guy" the same as it always was? Maybe not, as the first season of the show's return seems somewhat less envelope-pushing in comparison to the first run of the series. Still, while stricter regulations appear to have kept a bit of a lid on the show's language and humor, the series continues to entertain and capture a sizable audience.
"Partial Terms of Endearment" is not the first "banned" episode of the series (see also: "Wish Upon a Weinstein") and it won't likely be the last. Marketed as a banned episode - complete with "paper wrapper" cover - the episode sees Peter and Lois confronted with an "offer" from an old classmate of Lois. Obviously, Peter thinks that the classmate is offering something utterly different, but he eventually finds out that the classmate and her husband want Lois to act as their surrogate because they can't have a child (Brian: "She's doing something wonderful for a couple who can't have their own children and are too egotistical to adopt.") Lois chooses to go forward with it, much to Peter's dismay. However, when something happens, Lois and Peter have to make a difficult choice - the episode does provide a brief discussion of abortion, but goes for an abrupt ending that is supposed to be funny, but seems like more a lack of real ideas on how to wrap it up.
There's not a great deal of story to the episode, but the gags that aren't on-topic to the main story (Stewie as pool hustler, special cat olympics, a few of the best Meg bits in ages, a surprising other life form living in the Griffin house) are some of the funnier ones in the show's recent history - they're both a bit more willing to offend and/or clever. The core of the episode is a bit iffy, but the gag-driven wrapper around the core is consistently funny and jokes come a bit faster than other recent episodes. Overall, this controversial episode (and the episode runs 23-minutes) isn't one of the show's very best, but a bunch of the gags that aren't on the main story are very funny.
VIDEO: "Family Guy: Partial Terms of Endearment" is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The picture quality is good, although there's the occasional issue. Sharpness and detail remained satisfactory, as the rather low-tech animation appeared about as good as it can likely look here. The picture does offer the show's bright color palette well, as colors remained vivid and well-saturated throughout. No instances of edge enhancement appeared, but a couple of slight instances of artifacting were seen. The jagged line issue that was seen in some of the earlier seasons is not spotted here.
SOUND: The show's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is included here in English only. The show's dialogue remains crisp and forward throughout, with the surrounds providing some reinforcement for music and occasional sound effects. Audio quality is superb, as sound effects remained clear (and occasionally punchy) throughout.
EXTRAS: Commentary (which is overall a tad quieter than usual, but there are some hysterical moments) from creator Seth McFarlane and the other members of the cast, a live read of the episode, the animatic for the episode, 9 downloadable songs and "The Seth and Alex Almost Live Comedy Show", a Fox special starring McFarlane and Borstein. The special has its moments (although a Marlee Matlin bit is cringe-worthy and goes on and on - although watch for McFarlane in the background about to fall over laughing), but is otherwise an example at McFarlane starting to spread himself too thin (or pushing himself too far, or however you would like to describe it.)
Final Thoughts: "Partial Terms of Endearment" isn't one of the best episodes of the series, but many of the off-story gags get a strong laugh. The DVD offers fine audio/video quality, as well as a nice set of supplements.
The Film B