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Family Guy: Something, Something, Something Dark Side (2009)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 12/22/2009

All Ratings out of
Show: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 12/23/2009

Am I a Family Guy fan? Sure, why not? I watch the show on a regular basis and I have all of the DVDs. However, I'm not a Family Guy fanatic and I can freely admit that the show isn't perfect. Most episodes are very hit-or-miss and it's reached the point that I'm pleased if I get two good laughs out of a show. And not to accuse those behind Family Guy of being lazy, but they certainly seem to bring their A-game when it comes to the Star Wars spoofs. Last year's Blue Harvest was a hilarious send-up of Star Wars and now Seth MacFarlane and co. are back to skewer The Empire Strikes Back. Will it be as funny?

Instead of simply making fun of Star Wars in general, Family Guy: Something, Something, Something Dark Side is a satire of The Empire Strikes Back and closely follows the storyline of that film. As the show opens, the story picks up not long after the events of Star Wars. Luke Skywalker (Chris Griffin, voiced by Seth Green), Han Solo (Peter Griffin, voiced by MacFarlane), Princess Leia (Lois Griffin, voiced by Alex Borstein) and C-3PO (Quagmire, voiced by MacFarlane) has fled to the ice planet Hoth to avoid the Empire and Darth Vader (Stewie, voiced by MacFarlane). When the Empire invades Hoth, the Rebels fight back. Following this, Han, Leia, and C-3P0 take off for deep space, while Luke and R2-D2 (Cleveland, voiced by Mike Henry) head for the Dagoba system. Once there, Luke meets Yoda (Carl, voiced by H. Jon Benjamin), a Jedi-master who will teach Luke about the ways of The Force. While Luke trains, his friends find themselves running into trouble with the Empire.

From the inception, it's been clear that the folks behind Family Guy are obsessed with Star Wars and bizarre asides which reference the films have become a staple of the show. These jokes have often taken characters or situations from the Star Wars universe and placed them in our world. It would have been very easy for them to take a similar approach when attacking these Star Wars specials (or they could have gone the route of Spaceballs and simply spoofed Star Wars by placing it in a different story). However, they decided to do something different.

Family Guy: Something, Something, Something Dark Side condenses the story of The Empire Strikes Back to a little less than an hour, but is still able to hit all of the film's high notes. The jokes fall into two categories. While still sticking to the main story, some introduce new ideas, such as the maid, Consuela, hassling Darth Vader or a guy with a bag of ice on Hoth. Some of these are quite funny, especially the Consuela scenes. Along these same lines, some of the jokes take ideas from the film and skew them somewhat. For example, here, as in the film, Darth Vader wants to convert people to the "Dark Side", but in this satire, this plays on the idea that Stewie is a closeted homosexual.

The other jokes gently poke fun at The Empire Strikes Back itself. Whether they are pointing out how ice and electricity don't mix, how some weapons resemble body parts, or how space is too big to randomly run into others, these jokes are actually funnier than some of the more standard attempts at humor. Star Wars has become such an untouchable part of our culture, so it's interesting to see Family Guy pointing out silly or simply wrong items from the film. The best joke comes at the end, and is accompanied by a "Seriously, go back and watch the movie" note from Brian.

All of this begs the question, "Do I need to have seen The Empire Strikes Back to enjoy this show?" And the answer to this is "Yes." I can only assume that you could appreciate some of the humor here, but those truly familiar with the original film will find tons to love here. Yes, a lot of it is very silly in the typical Family Guy fashion, but it's also funny as well. Fans of both Star Wars and Family Guy will find something to love here.

Family Guy: Something, Something, Something Dark Side loses a hand on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The show is framed at 1.33:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look fantastic, most notably primary tones. The image is never overly dark or bright. The animation looks great and we don't see any stuttering or blurry lines. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are quite good and as on the show, the audio does a great job of accenting off-screen audio coming from the right or left channels. The surround sound effects are good, especially when a spaceship zooms by. The effects are well-placed and accurately reflect the on-screen activity. The subwoofer effects add oomph to the action scenes.

The Family Guy: Something, Something, Something Dark Side Blu-ray Disc contains a few extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Executive Producers Seth MacFarlane, Mark Hentemann and David A. Goodman, Writer Kirker Butler, Director Dominic Polcino, and actor Seth Green. The show can also be watched with "Family Guy Fact Ups", which provides pop-up trivia on the screen. Unfortunately, the very first one contains a typo. "The Dark Side of Poster Art" (9 minutes) has painter Joe Vaux, who works on the show, and character designer Mick Cassidy describing the work behind the cover art. There is also a comment from the painter of the original The Empire Strikes Back art. We get a series of "Animatics" (7 minutes) which are shown side-by-side with the finished product, and are accompanied by commentary from Director Polcino. "Family Guy: Something, Something, Something Dark Side Table Read - Featuring Acts 1 & 2" (49 minutes) allows us to see the cast and creative team effectively rehearsing the show. Unfortunately, it's hard to hear the speakers at times. "Sneak Peek of Family Guy - Episode VI: We Have a Bad Feeling About This Table Read" (2 minutes) answers the question, "Are they doing Return of the Jedi?"

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long