Variety is reporting that Seth MacFarlane's animated series Family Guy is back in production at Fox, two years after the series was cancelled. There is little in the way of precedent for Family Guy's amazing resurrection--Star Trek came back, but with a new cast and concept. The two major driving forces behind Family Guy's unlikely return from the 'Isle of the Dead TV Series,' are the possibility of syndication and the profitability of DVD sales. The Family Guy First Season DVD sold an amazing 2.2 million units, but profits from DVDs alone are not enough to fuel production of a major animated series, not even with the fees the show will receive from the Cartoon Network, which plans to start showing the new Family Guy episodes in early 2005. The deciding factor behind the revival of the Family Guy was the possibility of off-net syndication, which typically requires that a series have at least 100 episodes (Fox produced 50 episodes in the show's first three seasons). Even with potential DVD profits, Cartoon Network licensing fees, and the potential of syndication, Fox only agreed to resume production if the budget for the show was cut by 10%.
There is a fair amount of Family Guy merchandise available including two DVD collections, posters, t-shirts, and hats. The production of new episodes could stimulate the creation of additional tie-in merchandise.
Futurama, another prematurely cancelled animated series, which follows Family Guy on the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, has also done well on DVD, but Futurama's production costs were even higher than Family Guy's (and it showed on the screen, the animation was much better), making its comeback more unlikely. But if Fox is able to place the new episodes of Family Guy on a broadcast network before they go to cable (as its deal with the Cartoon Network allows) who knows?