Tuesday, 25 June 2013


Experience STAR WARS - the FAMILY GUY way! All images: FOX.



Reviewed by Scott Weller

The Griffin clan are unleashed in the STAR WARS universe!

In the sixties you were either a BEATLES person or a ROLLING STONES person. The same can be said in the area of humorous animation these days, with legions of fans dedicated to either THE SIMPSONS or FAMILY GUY. For me it was THE SIMPSONS, as I’d never had enough exposure to FAMILY GUY. But now, having seen the latter’s 2007 season opener dedicated to spoofing the first STAR WARS, I plan to have a look at further previous episode box sets.

Darth Vader has plans for the Princess.

With a very nice introduction, especially for the BLUE HARVEST DVD release, to the characters before the episode starts (in case you hadn’t seen the show before), all of the FAMILY GUY regulars effortlessly slip into the familiar parts played by the original actors (i.e. Lois as Leia, Chris as Luke, etc), but obviously with a whole new, and sometimes perverse slant on them. One of the highlights is the very dodgy grandad Herbert, as Obi-Wan, whose directed interest in Luke is a little bit more than casually normal. Believe it or not, the character shines in the episode, but in a much different way, I have to say, than Sir Alec Guinness ever did as Obi-Wan Kenobi (what a shame Sir Alec isn’t alive to have a chuckle at what they did with the character!!). Stalwart Peter Griffin as Han also shines out like a bright star and is terrific-a worthy piece of re-casting- as is Brian the dog as Chewbacca-loved that sofa moment, the scene in the Falcon gun pit, and where Han takes on Greedo in the Cantina.... and he shoots first! Quagmire as Threepio has some very funny innuendo jokes that Anthony Daniels would never have gotten away with! And let’s not forget Cleveland as Artoo-absolutely inspired (loved the scene where he pulls out a handgun and shoots at the TIES). Stewie as Vader has been a fan favourite from the start, but I thought he was a little (no pun intended) under-used here as Vader (plenty more scope for the EMPIRE spoof, I’m sure). But what happened to Meg…well, in a first STAR WARS film that had so few women roles in it anyway, having her as Aunt Beru would seem a little odd. Instead, the writers have given her a great cameo as.... no, I won’t spoilt it for you if you haven’t seen it, but it’s priceless...

On their way to Alderaan...

The writers and artists on this episode truly know, and love, their STAR WARS, and it’s destined to be a classic I’ll always be able to quote a line from it type of icon. The way the story is compressed into the hour is also very well done..yet the humour never slates the movie, and is very affectionate- laughing with us, not at us, at the films legendary scenes and characters. This is comedy homage at its best and warmest. Once past the very long, but belly achingly funny title crawl (Almost as long as Lucas’s original third draft one before being changed by Brian De Palma in early 1977!), involving Angelina Jolie and her red-hot movie GIA, there are comedy moments from this programme that really will live on in my mind forever…the Red X-wing fighter call ins moment was priceless-I really laughed out loud at that scene. As I also did on MAGIC JOHNSON'S TIPS ON ATTACKING THE DEATH STAR...Herbert’s dance moment with the very camp Stormtroopers, to the “I’ve had the time of my life” song from DIRTY DANCING brought happy (or unhappy?) memories of the DONNIE AND MARIE 1977 special hauntingly back-though this was actually far funnier!

Things have gone a bit limp for Obi-Wan!

The comedy moments continue, in the best FAMILY GUY tradition, with John Williams and the London Symphony Orchestra, Denny Elfman, references to other STAR WARS films, as well as other classic film/TV, and a quirky cameo from at least one Prequel character as far as I can see-and there are obviously visual background gags that I haven’t noticed yet that will require further viewing..

The film is beautifully rendered with its universe of characters, the production designs by John Barry, Ralph McQuarrie and Joe Johnston transfer beautifully to this new animated world and the attention to detail by the artists, who must have been beyond thrilled to have worked on this project, clearly shines through (as can be seen in the making of documentary). Just check out the detail in the background art plates on theFalcon, the Death Star corridors and the Cantina-priceless. They even use the scene wipe process and other little tricks that Lucas likes to use in the films.

Our heroes in danger...again!

The attention to details goes beyond the programme itself, and the DVD special features are terrific. The detailed interview with Lucas by FAMILY GUY creator Seth MacFarlane at the ILM facilities in San Francisco is very enjoyable and of a nice length-laid back and amusing, but Lucas looks quite ill and tired during the interview-I have never seen him looking so unwell...hopefully, having seen the episode, we hope he had a nice big smile on his face afterwards. There’s also some fun behind the scenes material, including clips of other STAR WARS related gags in the shows regular episodes, an audio commentary (which reveals that Mark Hamill wasn’t happy with Peter Griffin’s line about only Harrison Ford being the actor to make it successfully from the films), and an Easter Egg.

The DVD box set also comes with some nice gifts- a terrific booklet that shows you some of the great conceptual art, storyboards, and character sketches used for the creation of the episode, a T-shirt that is supposed to be large but is really for someone whose waistline is a little larger than Brad Pitt’s, rather than my own expansive girth sadly, though it’s nice to look at!!, the 3D glasses for the funny but rather pointless clip on the disc, and the lovely TOPPs recreated cards-I always adored those first set blue star background card spines-my favourite and most nostalgic set of the original releases, from when I was a kid doing swaps at school and of course there was that lovely smell of bubble gum that wafted out of the packs when you opened ‘em (but it was always annoying when the card you really wanted tin the pack always had the bubble gum slate actually stuck all over it!)..

So, all in all, a terrific package-a super episode of FAMILY GUY and great extras-what more could you want? Well, more FAMILY GUY STAR WARS episodes for a start. And that’s exactly what we’re gonna get-as their EMPIRE spoof, SOMETHING, SOMETHING, SOMETHING, DARK SIDE, will soon hit the screens (of which there is a brief, very brief, trailer on the DVD). They’ve set the bar with this first spoof. Can they top it? If many people believed EMPIRE did over the first film in 1980, then Seth and his gang have a pretty good chance of doing so for FAMILY GUY as well.... 

AFICIONADO RATING: A “FRICKIN’ SWEET” DVD release. If you haven't already got it, go, go, go get it! 9 out of 10.

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