I’m not like most Family Guy fans. I don’t mind saying the series sucks when it sucks. So when the 150th episode just aired and I was devastated at how dreadful it was, it was hard to hear every one of my friends trying to defend it. But as much of a roller coaster as the past 2 seasons have been, Family Guy remains a TV show filled with wit and sometimes even charm.
When Blue Harvest, the first of the Star Wars parodies, aired in 2007 it impressed audiences, and even received an Emmy nomination. Now, we have Something, Something, Something, Dark Side, which aired May 23rd and is now out on DVD. Hit the jump for my review.
Star Wars is great. I don’t think that anyone can doubt how fantastic The Empire Strikes Back is. Family Guy though is still a wild card. The show can be great and it can be terrible, and the odd thing is it’s never consistent in that way. But I can say that Something, Something, Something, Dark Side ends up being a winning combination of simple homage and cleverly blatant satire that the show is known for.
Of course in any comedy the only thing that really matters is how many times you laughed, and if that’s the only criteria then I’d say this glorified episode gets a nice stamp of approval. While consistently bringing the laughs, it wasn’t without its slump. Any of the Yoda scenes ended up just being too distant, like the movie jokes felt disconnected from the whole of the humor. Which isn’t an uncommon criticism of the show you could say but it feels overly prominent.
The other great flaw of Something, Something, Something, Dark Side, and the Star Wars parodies in general, is that characters remain so close to their characters in the regular show that it becomes hard to handle those the ones you don’t like. I’ll speak bluntly here: Chris is the worst character on Family Guy. He just is, his voice is annoying, and as a character I would NEVER buy him as Luke Skywalker. Put more Meg in. That’s right, I said it. Put more Meg in.
Even so, the show delivers on all Blue Harvest had set it up for. The transition from Stewie being pure evil to being homosexual has been one of the funniest things to watch in the series and it fits in perfectly with his role as Darth Vader. Peter is well utilized while Brian’s Chewbacca is never used to his fullest potential (not that Chewy was in the movies either but…).
In many ways Something, Something, Something, Dark Side represents a step in a different direction for the Family Guy franchise. Spoken simply as an observation (and not as a slight towards the show) Family Guy has bridged from making fun of pop culture, to making fun of Family Guy. Many of the gags in the latest episode/DVD release seem to strictly poke fun at how regular some of the bits have gotten. I’ll reference the tripping and scraping the knee bit, where characters fall and just lie moaning for some time. Louis falling and doing it I buy, Peter falling and doing it I buy, but when a giant AT-AT falls and does it, I can’t help but wonder if Seth MacFarlane is intentionally making fun of the series as a whole.
And if you’re wondering how this is a DVD review, that’s a great question. It seems like a pretty blatant hustle to put it out on DVD and then just release it as a regular episode but what do I know. The DVD does have some cool making of features including a cool piece on how the animation is sketched out, and a nice audio commentary with MacFarlane and company. Not at all worth the price when you consider the show is online on Hulu right now but…who knows. Regardless of how you watch it, you won’t be disappointed. The show is filled with a lot of great bits of comedic genius.