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Cult fans bring 'The Family Guy' back to TV

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Jay Wilke is among the millions of fans of "Family Guy" who latched on to the animated TV sitcom long after the show had been canceled. "It is simply the funniest show," says Mr. Wilkes, an event planner from Tampa, Fla., who discovered "Family Guy" on DVD and has since signed an online petition to bring the show back to Fox. "I laughed so hard that I literally cried, and I haven't done that in years."

The wildly sophomoric mix of politically incorrect toilet humor and social satire, axed in 2002 after three seasons, became such a hit upon its DVD release that the TV network is doing the unthinkable: Bringing the show back for 35 new episodes.

The show's resurrection can be attributed to a fresh audience that discovered the show through late-night reruns on the Cartoon Network. As a result, "Family Guy: Season One" has sold more than 2.2 million copies, making it the second-bestselling DVD of a TV series (the highest-grossing DVD in that category is a live-action comedy of the basic-cable hit, "Chappelle's Show: Season One").

"This is the first time I've seen something like this happen," says Peter Staddon, executive vice president of Fox Home Entertainment. Mr. Staddon says that the company considered the property "decent," but nothing special. "We were surprised at how insatiable the demand was."

The reason for the DVD's success is that it reached the lucrative market of 18-to 34-year-olds who avidly collect DVDs.

"They love viewing the shows multiple times, having their friends over and showing off their home theaters," says Jamie Hooper, founder of Giant, a new magazine devoted to this particular audience. The self-described 20something Gen X-er says this audience has been overlooked and underappreciated by Hollywood.

The success of these top-selling TV-show DVDs point to a rich, new direction for home entertainment.


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