- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 2, 2005

DVD’s new ‘Family’

When news leaked that the minds behind Fox’s “Family Guy” were making a straight-to-video feature, the show’s fans probably expected an all-out assault on the censors.

After all, this is the show where a cartoon character’s buttocks had to be trimmed to suit FCC regulations.

Surely, it’s payback time, right?

Yet the just-released “Family Guy Presents Stewie Griffin — The Untold Story” doesn’t take the lowest of roads.

Nor does it expand one iota beyond the show’s fan base.

We rejoin the Griffith family as a reluctant Stewie (voiced by show creator Seth McFarlane) is about to take swimming lessons. A near-death accident of his own doing causes him to reconsider his Machiavellian ways, but only for the time it might take for a commercial break. What endures is a nagging curiosity about his real father, since he assumes family patriarch Peter is too much of a clod to produce such a genius.

One day, Stewie glances a person on a news show who looks like an adult version of himself. Surely, that must be his real father, he cries before hitting the road to find the man with Brian the dog in tow.

The feature barrels forth with the expected pop culture bits, including a dead-on tribute to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

“Family Guy Presents Stewie Griffin — The Untold Story” doesn’t advance the television version’s animation an inch and plenty of the jokes fall flat. On the other hand, “Story” doesn’t feel bloated and manages more witty snippets than the average Adam Sandler farce.

Mediocre ‘Martha’

“Martha,” the new daytime talker from the prim and proper ex-con, is the highest drawing new chatfest since “Dr. Phil’s” 2002 bow. Miss Stewart’s show also improved time periods during its first week of shows in mid-September in 18 of the nation’s top 20 markets, according to figures supplied by “Martha.”

Yet the season of Martha isn’t all impeccably appointed good news. Her show’s ratings rank less than established talkers like “Ellen,” “Maury” and “Montel Williams,” and while the show should get plenty of time to grow, one would think audience curiosity alone would have given her beefier stats.

Plus, her nighttime “Apprentice” on NBC stumbled out of the gate. Last week, a repeat of ABC’s “Lost” clobbered Miss Stewart’s version of Donald Trump’s reality smash.

Perhaps her handlers overestimated the sympathy she gained after her prison stint for fibbing to investigators.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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