Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy: Uncensored Review

Imagine if a season of Family Guy was stripped down from having narrative and resigned to nothing more than the pop-culture cut-scenes it’s become known for. No Peter, Lois, Meg, Stewie, Brian or Chris, just a long random sequence of unrelated comedy bits – that’s Seth MacFarlane’s Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy. Confessing to having gotten the idea from Jackie Gleason’s Cavalcade of Characters (1994), Seth MacFarlane has taken aim at making no sense at all and found wild success in the process. Even while the formula for Family Guy’s cut-scene additions has been parodied and mocked by South Park, MacFarlane went ahead and unabashedly made a feature out of it all. At times it feels like the rejects that Seth couldn’t fit into the show, but considering it’s only about 54 minutes long it doesn’t ask much from the audience in terms of dedication, so why not give it a try?

The format of the production is almost like Robot Chicken but instead of just putting static sequences in between each little segment, MacFarlane actually halts everything and puts in a black and white title card. At first it’s not so obnoxious, but when there’s about three of those every minute, it starts to wear on your patience. It really makes you appreciate Robot Chicken’s “static transition” approach.

Without any linking narrative, the cavalcade marches on with unique sequences and others that recur quite often. The “Sex with…” sequences, perhaps the most numerous of all the repeating concepts, come in packs of five or six. Some of them are jokes so obvious and mundane you wonder how MacFarlane has lasted this long in the world of comedy – but then, there comes that one redeeming “Sex with…” selection that reminds you. Some examples are “Sex with a Midget”, “Sex with a Redneck” and “Sex with a Necrophiliac” – the jokes are more obvious and you know what’s coming, in which case the joke itself is in the title card, seeing it animated is just unnecessary. But then you have that rare occurrence of “Sex with a Sheep” which, while the title just seems horribly crude, makes you laugh out loud at the unexpected execution.

The pop culture references come left and right, though never as genuinely clever as those from the earliest seasons of Family Guy. There are some great moments in this collection. Hearing two police officers discuss the lyrics of “I Shot the Sheriff” is uproariously funny while others are just Seth pushing buttons that have long since ceased to be funny. The most stand-out bit that I still laugh at involves Wily Coyote and his unexpected success in completing his life’s goal: killing the roadrunner. The entire concept has been done before (in Robot Chicken I think) but Seth’s personal touch on it all makes it feel fresh.

The MacFarlane touch can refresh some parts of the mixed content in the cavalcade, but altogether the presentation suffers from too many jokes that we feel like we’ve seen before. It really just feels like 5 episodes of Robot Chicken drawn in the Seth MacFarlane style with less concentration on comic-book/sci-fi culture and more on making fun of random idioms. It’s still funny, but not nearly as funny as 54 minutes of “uncensored” Seth MacFarlane should be.

I’ve noted this countless times before, but animated features on Blu-ray look beautiful. This is obviously truer of animation that has 3D rendering involved, but it still holds truth even with 2D drawings. The colors are vivid and crisp and the whole presentation is positively vibrant. The audio in this case doesn’t get too much of a bump.

Blu-ray Bonus Features

There’s not much to mention here. All we have is a four minute featurette of the “Red Carpet Premiere” of Seth MacFarlane’s Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy wherein people are either praising MacFarlane or telling the camera what they think “cavalcade” means. When it comes to MacFarlane’s turn in front of the camera he gives us a brief explanation of his inspiration for this cavalcade. Beyond that we have three different sets of animation galleries where you can choose to see characters in their rough or finalized stages – not too interesting.

The quality of the bits in MacFarlane’s cavalcade may be wildly varied, but one thing can’t be denied: he has a knack for getting stars to participate in his productions. Amongst the voice acting cast we have Alex Borstein, Gilbert Gottfried, Seth Green, David Fouquette, Phil LaMarr, Mark Henteman, Jane Lynch, Will Sasso and Fred Tatasciore. Not a bad lineup by most accounts.

 

"Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy: Uncensored" is on sale May 12, 2009 and is rated NR. Animation, Comedy. Directed by Greg Colton. Written by Seth MacFarlane, Kevin Biggins, Travis Bowe, Andrew Goldberg, Alex Carter, Ted Jessup, Ted Mulkerin. Starring Fred Tatasciore, Jane Lynch, Phil LaMarr, Seth Green, Seth MacFarlane, Jeff Bergman, Alex Borstein, Gilbert Gottfried, David Fouquette, Will Sasso.

May
16
2009
Lex Walker • Editor

He's a TV junkie with a penchant for watching the same movie six times in one sitting. If you really want to understand him you need to have grown up on Sgt. Bilko, Alien, Jurassic Park and Five Easy Pieces playing in an infinite loop. Recommend something to him - he'll watch it.

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