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STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
RUNNING TIME: 54 Minutes
- Audio Commentary with Executive Producers Seth MacFarlane, Mark Hentemann and David A Goodman, Writer Kirker Butler, Director Dominic Polcino, and Seth Green
- Family Guy Fact Ups
- The Dark Side Of Poster Art
- Something Something Dark Side Table Read
- Sneak Peek of Family Guy: We Have A Bad Feeling About This Table Read
1. Family Guy
2. Add Star Wars
3. Stretch a half hour of jokes into 60 minutes
Once again, the power to the Griffin home goes out, and Peter once again regales us all with tales from long long ago in galaxies far, far away.
T is for Tourniquet. That’s good enough for now.
I still get a kick out of Family Guy. I haven’t enjoyed an episode in its entirety in two, maybe three years, but individual gags still have the ability to make me laugh, hard and uncontrollably. It’s fine as background noise and little else these days. But one or two random moments on a half hour show is not nearly enough to justify its existence, especially while Robot Chicken does the random, pop culture humor better in a shorter time limit, and Seth MacFarlane’s own American Dad has gotten a better handle on story in recent seasons.
In a way, pairing this show up with Star Wars is a perfect mix. Two extremely popular things that generally don’t deserve the endless adoration they have, but are still enjoyable as long as you remember what it is, and willingly choose not to pay too much attention to the fine details. All that matters in the end is that particular episode’s humor accuracy rating. As far as these Star Wars parodies go, Blue Harvest‘s was fairly low in the end (it kinda tops out with John Williams’ orchestra at the Binary Sunset and never reaches that high point again); Something Something Dark Side fares better, though not by much.
Into exile I must go. Bootleg Iron Man DVDs I must sell.
The problem these specials run into is that while Robot Chicken can do pretty much whatever the hell it wants with the Star Wars universe, Family Guy is stuck recreating the films verbatim, and the result tends to be just uninspired riffing on the movie as it plays. It’s equivalent to just watching the films in a frat house common room, without the benefit of one shitty Corona too many as a convenient clunker joke scapegoat. It basically does crude drawings on cellophane on top of the film, as opposed to the Deviant Art project something like this should be to even have a shot at hilarious.
There are bright spots, for what it’s worth. The special is bookended with a couple of genuinely funny fourth wall-breaking jabs at Fox and Robot Chicken which should’ve been the tone for the whole. The always awesome H. Jon Benjamin shows up as Yoda, and while there’s overreliance on his old video store dialogues, the guy does deadpan humor with the best of them. Seth Green is spectacular as always. For all my gripes about the guy as an artist, as a voice actor, MacFarlane has a way with his more conversational jokes to make them sing. Also, even with this being an uncensored DVD, the show uses their F-bombs wisely. And yes, there are even –GASP–a couple of smartass jabs at Star Wars that work, in particular the faulty logic of the Hoth escape, and a bit of trivia about Lando’s clothes that even I never noticed as many times as I’ve watched the actual film. The rest of the special, however, is entirely hit or miss, with far more miss than there should be.
Then again, I suppose one could cop out and say it’s hard to lampoon a nearly perfect film. In which case, Family Guy shouldn’t be the show doing parodies of it to begin with.
Trooper 86 would feel pretty good about his college experience on Tattooine until he found the “Go Home Clone” sign with the Rebel Alliance seal in his dorm.
The Commentary is breezy, conversational, and very often funnier than what’s onscreen. It’s also quite the display of pure Star Wars nerdery, especially on behalf of Seth Green, who even knows the answer to the joke about Lando’s clothes near the end of the special, but that’s expected. Probably the best tidbit in the track is Seths MacFarlane and Green talking about their experiences meeting Lucas, and possibly the best and simplest explanation for the prequels’ existence no documentary will ever really portray.
Family Guy Factups is a trivia track that’s somewhat redundant at times with the info from the commentary, but on its own terms, it’s chuckle worthy. The Dark Side Of Poster Art has a miserably unfunny framing device of poster artist Joe Vaux doing a Blair Witch style video diary as he draws the Family Guy version of the ESB poster, but the featurette is saved by an interview with the original artist, Roger Kastel, explaining how the original poster came about to begin with, which is the kind of thing that one would think should make it to the Blu Ray box set when it happens (HINT, HINT, NUDGE, NUDGE, LUCASFILM). The Animatic featurette is what it says it is, really, with the same unnecessary explanation of what an animatic is that always crops up on these things.
Eventually, Lucas would just stop trying to keep continuity with Palpatine’s makeup.
The real stars of the set are the table reads. I still don’t understand why footage of these things isn’t a standard for animated films and shows. They’re always fascinating, it allows one to match faces to voices better than the featurettes usually, and it’s always great to hear the jokes that come about on the spur of the moment that don’t make it to the screen. And I repeat: Seth MacFarlane’s a fantastic voice performer. It’s actually a good collection of features most of the show’s fanbase will never touch.