January 22, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 62  

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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Family Guy’s back?

Shukvision
Mark Polishuk

Opinions Editor

For fans of Family Guy, your favourite show is not quite ready to be visited by Death (a.k.a. Norm Macdonald).

Fox is currently talking with the show’s creator Seth Macfarlane about producing new episodes that will either be released straight to DVD or perhaps even aired once again during Fox’s prime time schedule. The bottom line is that by 2005, Family Guy will be back in some form or another.

What’s the reason behind Fox’s Mr. Burns-esque change of heart? DVD sales. The 50 original FG episodes are one of the highest-selling TV shows on the market, as diehard fans are jumping at the chance to support their favourite show and new audiences are being hooked by reruns on the Cartoon Network. The show is even starting to rival Seinfeld and The Simpsons in terms of quotability.

This sort of revival is unprecedented. Fans have “saved” shows before through letter-writing or Internet petitions, though it’s usually a case of a show having its cancellation postponed for another season. Star Trek is probably the most famous example, since the goofy little sci-fi show went on to spawn a whole franchise of movies, TV shows, books and fake plastic ears.

In Family Guy’s case, however, the show has been off the air for nearly two full years. Fox has put their promotional muscle behind any number of crappy shows in that time, but in the end, their hottest property is still the cartoon about the zany family with the psychotic baby.

The moral of the story? People will pay to watch quality television. Crappy but high-rated shows like Home Improvement or Full House have yet to be released, simply because who in God’s name would spend $50 on 12 hours worth of Dave Coulier’s Bullwinkle impression?

Only an elite few mainstream shows (i.e. The Simpsons, 24, Friends) are compulsively-watchable enough to be DVD hits. The majority of TV shows on DVD are cult favourites like Firefly or The Tick, since fans see the DVDs as their last chance to enjoy their beloved programs. HBO shows such as The Sopranos and Curb Your Enthusiasm are also popular, since not everyone can afford premium cable, and wants to see what the hype is all about.

So I’ll tell you what, Mr. Network Programmer Who Eats At The Olive Garden. If you keep making quality programming, we, the viewing public, will buy the season sets of your shows on DVD. We might watch your stupid reality shows the first (and only) time they air, but it’s good ol’ fashioned scripted programming that can not only be a hit on a prime time schedule and in syndication, but also can reap some of that sweet DVD moolah after its goes off the air.

It’s just a case of basic capitalism; Adam Smith and the invisible hand and all that. To quote Peter Griffin, isn’t “bribe” just another word for “love?”

 

 

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