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Family Guy - Pre-Election Surprise! Osama bin Laden found...on new Family Guy DVD, that is!

Posted by David Lambert
10/25/2004
 
When Family Guy - Volume 1 was released on DVD (back in April, 2003), the fans rejoiced. Sales went nuts, and a 2nd box set was released five months later, containing the rest of the series. Sales continued to go through the roof, so that even as creator/writer/voice actor Seth MacFarlane worked on his new animated series, American Dad, he was called and asked to put Family Guy back into production for a run of brand-new episodes on both Fox and The Cartoon Network (where re-runs of the show aired to high ratings; another reason for the revival of the series).

But fans DID have a complaint about the first box set, and it was all about an edit to the episode "The Road to Rhode Island." This story originally aired in May 2000, about a year-and-a-half before the tragic events of 9/11. In the episode, Brian goes to pick up Stewie from visiting his grandparents in Palm Springs, and they miss their flight home due to Brian's drunkeness. During their car-stealing, train-hopping, hitch-hiking trip back to Rhode Island, they stop by Austin, TX so that Brian can deal with his mother-abandonment issues (synopsis courtesy of TVTome.com). Stated to be MacFarlane's favorite episode, TVTome says it well when they report that "this episode was cut after the September 11th terrorist attack on the World Trade Center to remove a scene involving Osama Bin Ladin [sic] sneaking weapons aboard an aircraft by copying Stewie's use of singing show-tunes to distract baggage handlers when his weapon-filled suitcases go through the X-Ray machine." The cut version is what was included on the first DVD release, much to the chagrin of completist fans (ourselves included).

Fans heard directly from MacFarlane on the matter when TVShowsOnDVD interviewed him in April '03. There, our own Gord Lacey asked him about this cut:
    I noticed "Road to Rhode Island"...there's some footage missing; an Osama bin Laden joke was cut.

    There was some debate over that. I kinda stayed out of that debate because I didn't really have a strong opinion one way or the other. There are arguments for keeping it in and arguments for taking it out. The argument to keep it in is that's how the show aired and it was broadcast this way and it aired two years before September 11, and so there's a bit of entertainment historical value there. And obviously the argument for taking it out was that because it was one of the biggest tragedies, there was some thought that it might bring down the rest of the episode when that comes up. There was some thought at one point of putting it on separately at the end, and that was really...I guess it was a legal decision that Fox made to leave it out. It's unfortunate in that it's a part of the episode that was produced and was aired and is sort of gone forever, but it's a small loss in the grand scheme of things.

Considering that MacFarlane was scheduled to be ON one of the hijacked flights from that day, it's quite understandable that he has been very torn over the issue of the cuts Fox made. However, fans bemoaned that loss of the original broadcast version of the show, and it has been complained about across the internet loud and long ever since. But MacFarlane and Fox Home Entertainment have been paying attention, and today have announced a remedy to this situation!


Trade magazine Video Business reported today (registration required) that a new DVD is coming in time for the holidays: Family Guy - The Freakin' Sweet Collection arrives in stores on December 14th (the release date isn't "pre-election," but today's surprise announcement surely is!). Here is how VB Editor-In-Chief Scott Hettrick describes this item:
    Disc includes 5 of MacFarlane's favorite episodes from the second and third seasons of Family Guy, including the original, uncensored "Road to Rhode Island" and optional commentary by MacFarlane, diabolical baby Stewie, family dog Brian and other cast and crew members.
.
Commentary by Stewie & Brian? Interesting!...TVTome mentions that "According to an interview with Seth McFarlane on Planet Family Guy, one of the many DVD commentaries cut from the (original) DVD was a commentary on Road to Rhode Island featuring Brian and Stewie. " Maybe this is the one on the new release? We can hope so!

The Video Business article concentrated mainly on the fact that MacFarlane's next series, American Dad, would be heavily promoted on the new DVD release. That show premieres on network television in January, and the single-disc Freakin' Sweet Collection contains a sneak-peek look at American Dad (which VB reports as "centered on an overzealous CIA worker who is head of an odd household that includes a space alien and a goldfish that speaks German"), and talks to MacFarlane about the new 'toon in the process.

List price on Family Guy - The Freakin' Sweet Collection is reported to be $19.99; stay tuned for an official announcement and cover art from Fox. You can buy it now from Amazon.com or Amazon.ca

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