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Family Guy: Blue Harvest (2007)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 1/15/2008

All Ratings out of
Extras: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/5/2008

I'm occasionally asked if I'm a Star Wars fan, and the easy answer is, "Not really." Star Wars premiered when I was 7-years old, and at the time, I loved it and I also loved The Empire Strikes Back. However, my interest soon waned and watching the movies today, I don't think that the movies are very good. But, they are a part of my childhood and an important touchstone for my generation, so I'm very familiar with the Star Wars culture. Thus, I was interested to see what Seth MacFarlane and his crew would do with the franchise in their spoof, Family Guy: Blue Harvest.

As Family Guy: Blue Harvest opens, the Griffin family, Peter (voiced by Seth MacFarlane), Lois (voiced by Alex Borstein), Peter (voiced by Seth Green), Meg (voiced by Mila Kunis), Stewie (voiced by Seth MacFarlane), and Brian (voiced by Seth MacFarlane), are watching TV when the power goes out. They decide to entertain themselves by telling stories, and Peter volunteers to tell the story of Star Wars.

As the story opens, a small spaceship is overtaken by an immense one. We see Princess Leia (Lois) captured by Darth Vader (Stewie). Two droids, C3PO (Quagmire, voiced by Seth MacFarlane) and R2-D2 (Cleveland, voiced by Mike Henry), escape from the ship and land on a desert planet. They soon meet a young man named Luke Skywalker (Chris), and R2 leads them to an old man named Obi Wan Kenobi (Herbert, voiced by Mike Henry). Obi Wan hears Princess Leia's message, and they travel to Mos Eisley to find a spaceship. There, they meet Han Solo (Peter) and his sidekick, Chewbacca (Brian). The group travels into space and find themselves on the Death Star, a space-station controlled by The Empire. Our heroes then attempt to rescue the Princess and stop Darth Vader.

As Family Guy and Star Wars are both popular series which have a cult following, this special seems like it would be a dream come true for obsessive geek type fans. And in many ways, it is. Fans of Family Guy will love how the familiar characters are morphed into the iconic Star Wars favorites. And there are many references to the show which only those who watch the series will get. (I can only imagine that casual viewers won't know who Herbert is.)

However, the spotlight here is truly on Star Wars. The Family Guy crew responsible for this special are obsessed with the movie and the amount of care and work which went into this really shows. You may have to know Family Guy to get some of the jokes, but only those who are extremely familiar with Star Wars will get every joke here. So, as it turns out, even those who have never seen a single episode of Family Guy, but are knowledgeable of Star Wars will get a kick out of this.

It's this meticulous level of work which makes Family Guy: Blue Harvest work. It's not only clear that the filmmakers are familiar with Star Wars, but that they combed the film looking for small moments which would make great jokes. They turned this classic movie on its ear by inserting the trademarked Family Guy humor where scatological references run amok and characters argue over irrelevant things. They then took the humor a step further. After receiving Lucasfilm's blessing to spoof Star Wars on the show, the Family Guy crew have deconstructed the movie and they point out little errors or flaws in logic from the film. A great example of this comes with the title card, which reads, "A long, long time ago...yet somehow in the future."

I'm a fan of Family Guy and I know that other fans of the show will disagree with the following statement: Family Guy: Blue Harvest may be the best episode of the show to date. While I like the show, it does have a tendency to wander and to be weird for the sake of being weird. This special remains very focus on lovingly skewering Star Wars and the result is some quality writing. Fans of Family Guy will like this, while fans of Star Wars will love this. (Unless you're the overly sensitive nerdlinger type. After all, it is just a movie.) And fans of Robot Chicken will enjoy the last minute of the show.

Family Guy: Blue Harvest jumps to light-speed on DVD courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The show is presented in its original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio. The transfer looks good, as the image is sharp and clear. The colors look fantastic, most notably the blues. The black backgrounds in the space sequences are very true. I did not some wavy lines around the characters (especially their eyes), but this could be due to the fact that I was watching a preview disc. The DVD has a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. I watched this when it was originally broadcast and I don't remember any great sound, but the audio here is fantastic. The opening scenes shows off a diverse amount of stereo, surround, and subwoofer effects. Any of the space battle sequences have lasers going through the speakers and a nice bass response during the explosions. No offense, but I didn't expect this level of audio quality from this title.

The Family Guy: Blue Harvest DVD contains a nice assortment of extras. For starters, the cut included here runs a bit longer than the one which was featured on the television broadcast. We start with an AUDIO COMMENTARY by Seth MacFarlane, Patrick Clark, Mike Elias, David Goodman, Josephe Lee, Dominic Polcino, Danny Smith, Alec Sulkin, and Kara Vallow. This is a very fun commentary as this group jokes constantly while making the show. They talk about getting permission from Lucas for the special and how certain gags were developed. They point out the moments which are exclusive to this cut. They also thrown in some awkward conversations about each other and one about drug use. "A Conversation with George" (12 minutes), has MacFarlane interviewing Star Wars creator George Lucas. While Lucas claims that he watches Family Guy, they don't talk about Blue Harvest, but instead MacFarlane questions Lucas about his films and his view on his career. "Once in a Lifetime: The Making of Blue Harvest" (19 minutes) has the show's creators talking about the genesis of the project and the characters. We hear how the Family Guy crew are all huge Star Wars fans. The storyboards show some shots which aren't in the finished show. We learn that they are working on The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. The "Animatic Version" (41 minutes) contains the entire rough cut of the show in animated storyboard form. Some jokes are different here. The "Family Guy Star Wars Clip Show" (10 minutes) is a series of clips from Family Guy which spoof Star Wars...and there are a lot of them.

Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long