As long as I keep in mind that Episodes I-III don’t really exist, I’m quite the Star Wars fan. I was on the Family Guy wagon starting with its launch. I stayed with the show through a cancellation or two, only falling off my following of late. The minds behind Family Guy thought of the brilliant idea of combining the two Fox legacies with their parody of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope entitled Blue Harvest and Something Something Something Dark Side is their follow-up parody of Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. More after the jump.
Much like the setup of Blue Harvest, Something Something Something Dark Side begins when the Griffith household loses power and Peter (the patriarch) must keep the family entertained. He does so through a cast-centric retelling of The Empire Strikes Back. The story of Empire unfolds with Peter (Seth MacFarlane) reprising his role of Han Solo, Lois (Alex Borstein) as Princess Leia, Chris (Seth Green) as Luke Skywalker, Brian as Chewbacca and Stewie as Darth Vader (both MacFarlane). Meg (Mila Kunis) makes her brief appearance as the monster the Millennium Falcon escapes in the asteroid field.
In terms of funny, the opening scroll, a perfect target for those addressing the Lucas iconography, sets a perfect tone for the episode – snarky and biting the Twentieth Century Fox hand that feeds (and in Family Guy’s case, takes away but then brings back). Other laughs include Darth Stewie accidentally contacting the wrong Luke and even a Family Guy staple like the hurt knee can play well on Hoth. Other Family Guy recurring elements, like the chicken as Boba Fett, are generally unobtrusive. This doesn’t stop them from adding in a needless Family Guy cliché, the musical number. This time it’s a doubled Chris duet on Dagobah. The title itself is an inside joke based on a line from an earlier episode of the show. Cue laughter from those familiar and general head-scratching for those who aren’t. My main issue with this episode is that it doesn’t always stand alone on its own merits, yet it’s marketed to be purchased as such. In terms of humor, it’s a mixed bag. I think current fans of Family Guy will enjoy it, but I don’t think newcomers or those that strayed away over the years will find enough to fully hook them. The episode hits hardest when it doesn’t stray from Star Wars to bring in other pop culture references. Star Wars is a large enough of a pool to pull from. Clearly, the creatives behind this are well-versed in the Lucas verse, noting even Lando’s outfit at the film’s conclusion. More of that and less padding would’ve left me a much happier viewer.
You learn in the audio commentary that Seth Green (co-creator of Robot Chicken) has no problems with Family Guy picking on Robot Chicken’s Star Wars parodies, but if I were the staff at Family Guy, I would hesitate to do so because you don’t see the Detroit Lions criticizing how the Indianapolis Colts play football. In all fairness, though, Family Guy does have to get through the major plot points of the film and are more tied to story because of it.
English 5.1 DTS HD and subtitles in English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, French, Portuguese, Danish, Finnish, Spanish, Norwegian, Swedish, as well as Commentary Subtitles in English, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish.
Commentary by Executive Producers Seth MacFarlane, Mark Hentemann and David A. Goodman, Writer Kirker Butler, Director Dominic Polcino and actor Seth Green. Things learned — This is the last hand drawn episode of Family Guy, the guy who did special effects for Empire Strikes Back also did the effects for Space: 1999 and Mila Kunis is geek-friendly and plays World of Warcraft.
Family Guy Fact-Ups – a pop up video way to watch the episode at times informative and often as snarky as the Family Guy writing it accompanies.
The Dark Side of Poster Art – a snarky look at the creation of the Family Guy cover art with reference to the original Empire Strikes Back poster art. Mick Cassidy (Character Designer), Joe Vaux (Painter), and Roger Kastel (original Empire poster artist).
Animatic Scene-to-Scene with Commentary by Director Dominic Polcino
“Family Guy – Something, Something, Something Dark Side” Table Read — Featuring Acts 1 & 2 — The cast of thousands recorded going through the script.
Sneak Peek of “Family Guy – Episode VI: We Have A Bad Feeling About This” Table Read — A glimpse at the third installment.
Trailers on Startup — Seth MacFarlane’s Cavalcade of Comedy, Family Guy Volume Seven Uncensored, The Marine and The Marine 2, Jennifer’s Body, and Gentlemen Broncos.
Ultimately, I wanted to like Something Something Something Dark Side more than I actually did. I think that Robot Chicken has set the bar high for Star Wars parody work and Dark Side falls just short. This is best when it stays on target. It won’t convert the uninitiated, but it will please current Family Guy fans and there are laughs to be had by all.
Final Grade – B