Family Guy is back for another season and love it or hate it, they brought out all the bells and whistles for one amazingly cool and satirically ingenious spoof of the original Star Wars movie. This hour long (read 44 minute) episode starts with a short introduction from the Griffin family sitting around their TV together when the power goes out. Peter regales his family with the telling of Star Wars starting, in his words, with the fourth episode. The show then cuts to it’s featured parody which includes nearly every scene remade from the original film and, obviously, incorporates all of the shows characters into characters from the movie. Chris is Luke, Lois is Princess Leah, Peter is Han Solo, Brian is Chewbacca and Stewie is Darth Vader but I don’t want to ruin where you’ll find Meg (here’s a hint, it’s in the Death Star). Perhaps the best casting choice would be Cleveland and Quagmire who play R2-D2 and C-3PO respectively. The personalities of the two really carry over into droids from the movie. R2-D2 sports Cleveland’s voice but all except for the gangster-ish bandana tied around his dome, he is entirely robot. Quagmire is a bit more visually defined, sporting his visage over the robots, but he’s still glazed a shiny bronze and walks in our favorite C-3PO fashion. Moreover, Quagmire is still the pervert we’ve known and loved. At one point after being rescued from the Jawas he brags about scoring with a 90′s printer!
The show takes it biggest leap of all by adding a level of special effects it has never introduced before, namely 3D cell shading in the space and action sequences. This is of course something Futurama came close to perfecting over seven years ago and it looks even better today. Added to the mix are tiny clips actually taken from the movie, namely the exploding Death Star sequence and one or two planet exterior shots. Other exterior shots, that are indeed animated, are also taken straight out of the movie, only now they include some humorous punchline fitting for the likes of MST3000. For example, in an exterior, establishing shot of the Millennium Falcon entering the docking back of the Death Star, it looks just like it was from the movie, only two of the navigators in the distance of the lower right corner are apparently having a silent lovers quarrel. Clips such as this dot their way through the episode just as Lucas’ establishing shots did in the film version.
The writing is clever and the jokes deliver, as it should since the plot outline has been embedded in every fan’s mind since 1977, essentially taking out half the work. The fact that the movie has been spoofed so many other times before in other shows (including the various comedic, side-spun gags from its previous seasons) does not spoiled the end result. Much like South Park and The Simpsons, Family Guy has finally perfected it’s character study and comedic style where nearly any spoof or story should pack in the laughs, so long as the personality of the show remains constant.
The show ends very much in the same way as it began: the family sitting on their living room couch listening to the end of Peter’s story. The final punchline is only worth mentioning as a fan of Robot Chicken and falls pretty flat if you’ve never heard of it or its connection with Seth Green, the voice of Chris Griffin. If this is you, here’s the skinny: Seth Green independently c0-created his own stop-motion animated sketch comedy on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim (consequently in the exact same time slot that saved Family Guy). About three months ago, Robot Chicken had their own Star Wars spoof episode, which in all fairness was just comedic clips involving anything Star Wars, be it outtakes, obsessive fan reactions or just re-using Star Wars sketches they had done in previous episodes. The only likeness it has to this Family Guy episode is the theme (and also most of the actors worked on both projects, including Family Guy creator Seth MacFarland). As a fan of both, and having the Robot Chicken special fresh on my mind, the show concludes with an argument between Peter and Chris (Seth and Chris) on originality and freshness about, funny enough, having a Star Wars episode fresh off the heels of Robot Chicken. Let’s just say Peter pretty much thinks anything on Adult Swim goes more or less unwatched an unloved. In the scope of the show’s lackluster closers, this one is near the top.