You know it seems today that all you see is violence in movies and sex on TV, then in 1999, after a few short animations Fox, funded the first pilot for the show we have come to know and absolutely love. We got more violence, we got more sex, all rolled into characters where the leading man is stubbier than Homer Simpson and the leading lady hotter than Marge.
In 2007 the Family Guy team brought us the incredible Blue Harvest, originally the production title for Return of the Jedi. Not knowing that this elongated episode would be so well received not only by the viewing public but by the upper echelons of LucasFilm itself, MacFarlane used this as the title of his Star Wars parody; he admits if he had known then that he would be making at least a further two of these episodes then he would have saved this title for Jedi. However all that's history.
After a long wait we're now faced with the second instalment, the imaginatively titled The Something Something Something Dark Side, MacFarlane's rip on The Empire Strikes Back. Now there can't be a single nerf herder this side of the Alderaan who hasn't seen the movie or at least knows what it's about. After all let's face it Lucas has forced it upon us so many times, so there's little point in going into the whole plot thing. Let's just say that as Blue Harvest squeezed the entire New Hope into its run time, The Something Something Something Dark Side compresses the entire Empire Strikes back into its meagre 54 minutes.
Reprising their roles as Han Solo (or Carlos Spicy Weiner as he prefers to be known), Princess Leia, Luke, Darth Vader, C-3PO and R2D2 are Peter, Lois, Chris, Stewie, Quagmire, and Cleveland respectively. Poor old Meg whose only part in the Blue Harvest was the garbage eating dianoga has a similar part to play here and I don't think I would be spilling any beans when I say that her only appearance here is as the space slug exogorth. Who knows, perhaps her talents lie in Jabba's palace, after all there are many creatures there who might well suit her little pink hat. Of course there are a number of new characters required and these large shoes are filled by a coloured Mort Goldman as the only black man in the galaxy, Lando Calrissian, Chris' boss, Carl, as the all knowing Yoda, Carter Pewterschmidt as the Evil Emperor and of course who else but Peter's arch enemy Ernie, The Giant Chicken, as Boba Fett. If MacFarlane ever decides to parody the first three films then are all clones going to be chickens? Joe makes a very brief appearance as the probe droid and fits superbly into his all too short a role.
Everything that you would want and expect from a parody of one your childhood favourite films is represented here and credit must go to Seth MacFarlane, writer Kirker Butler and the animation team themselves. The opening includes the top down, sweeping shot of Luke on his tauntan, progressing to the ground battle with armoured robotic camels, the escape through the asteroids (and observing excellent attention to detail even the pilot is animated as the first T.I.E. craft explodes on hitting an spiralling asteroid), Luke's training on Dagobah, the Millennium Falcon sweeping into Cloud City on Bespin, the duel between father and son and the eventual ending on the medical frigate. It's an absolute joy to watch.
On route there are the usual tangents which our characters embark upon, Han decides to go skiing on Hoth with the Juicy Fruit chewers from the Eighties, the Empire continues to be populated with effeminate guys, Chris meets lost travellers on his way to Dagobah, Darth's cleaning lady makes a brief appearance and it seems that Stormtroopers are allowed extra circular work one, having his own cookie business.
It is the attention to detail though which must be commended. That detail was more than apparent in the earlier Blue Harvest and it has continued here unabated. Watch the extras, which I highly recommend, and you'll understand just how much these people know about the whole Star Wars universe. Originally Death, who often pops up in Family Guy, was going to play the part of the evil Emperor however it was finally decided that Lois' father Carter Pewterschmidt should play this part. Other deviations from the original script include the aforementioned lost traveller in place of Chris and R2 listening to a reading of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Some will agree with these choices and some won't. Personally I wish they had used Death and think the Raiders reference a much better joke than what it was eventually replaced with.
Some of the dialogue is lifted from the original Empire script, John Williams' score is extensively used and some original scenes roto-scoped into the cartoon environment, all combine to make this particular edition of Family Guy fit seamlessly into the Star Wars people love; fans of that original trilogy need fear nothing here! Like Blue Harvest MacFarlane treats the source material with a great deal of respect; as a fan he would do little else.
I had wished for an uncovering of Darth's head as he's in his meditation chamber and perhaps the scene where C-3PO is blasted as he examines the Ugnaught's reprocessing plant, however they are not to be; there's only so much compression you can do after all; in saying that I enjoyed this as I did the earlier Blue Harvest. This and Blue Harvest before it continue to be the best parody of Star Wars ever seen and I for one look forward to the next instalment. Highly recommended.
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