Starring: The disembodied voices of some Americans, plenty of excellent visual gags and one-liners and a bunch of rejected plots from The Simpsons.
Story: This is an animated sitcom about the Griffin family - fat, oafish dad (Peter), hard-working, well-to-do mum (Lois), insecure teenage daughter (Meg), idiot teenage son (Chris), evil genius baby (Stewie) and their talking, Martini-drinking dog (Brian). They live in the suburbs in an obscure part of New England. Each episode is a separate scenario with no ongoing story. And, yes, it is a bit like The Simpsons.
Comments: This show is still in production despite having been cancelled twice. Having now watched a few of the early episodes, I can see both why it got canned but also why plenty of people bought the DVDs and brought about its resurrection. Family Guy has moments where it is hilarious but they leap out unexpectedly in the midst of something which is patently a wannabe of The Simpsons, except wackier and not as clever. Since there are already about a million episodes of The Simpsons, a knock-off isn't going to get anyone excited. It is funny, though. Basically, it's the kind of thing you wouldn't turn on specially but that's a real score if you're flicking channels while sitting up late with a grouchy baby.
The best bits are always the brief flash-back and 'what if' scenes that pop up frequently, introduced by lines such as, "I'm not so sure that's a good idea, remember the last time I did the laundry..." These provide nearly all the laugh-out-loud moments. (Some of the references are overly American, however, and some are out-of-date now).
In contrast, the actual story-lines affirming that lazy, idiot dads are really heroes can be tedious. We've seen it all before. Family Guy is far better when things revolve around Stewie's plans for world domination. With luck, later episodes feature more of Brian and Stewie while making the other characters a little more memorable.
That said, watching an episode of Family Guy is a better way to spend twenty minutes last thing at night than hunting around on Teletext for something interesting because you can't be bothered to go to bed. Just remember not to end up doing the Teletext thing as well... It's never pleasant waking up up on the sofa at half-seven in the morning with a small child sitting on your head playing Mario Kart.
Conclusion: I'll rent the second disc at some point but I'm in no great rush. It might even be better just going straight to season four and seeing if the show ever really finds its feet. If you're desperate for some American comedy, try My Name is Earl first - it's consistently funnier and more interesting. Or you could just set your Sky+ box to record repeats of The Simpsons. That will keep you busy for awhile.
Jokes about President Clinton: Some.
Brilliant comic characters: Two.
Generic comic characters: The rest.
Similarity to The Simpsons: Obvious.
Chances of a Family Guy fanboy slagging me for daring to suggest any similarity to The Simpsons whatsoever: High.