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20th Century Fox presents

Family Guy: Blue Harvest (2007)

"A long time ago, but somehow in the future... It is a period of civil war and renegade paragraphs floating through space..."- Opening crawl

Stars: Seth MacFarlane, Alex Borstein, Seth Green, Mila Kunis
Other Stars: Mike Henry, Lori Alan, John G. Brennan, Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Phil LaMarr, Rush Limbaugh, Leslie Nielsen, Adam West
Director: Dominic Polcino

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (typical Family Guy humor
Run Time: 00h:47m:30s
Release Date: 2008-01-15
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ BA-A- B


DVD Review

Fox's animated hit Family Guy has always been less about coherent storytelling and more about cute asides and pop culture references; every episode could be subtitled "Remember the time I referenced that commercial from the early '80s?" Most of the time, these references aren't so much jokes as loving recreations; if you don't know who The Noid is, seeing him isn't going to make you laugh. As the series has aged, the plots get thinner and the segues last longer, and those who assumed the show would eventually turned into nothing more than one long pop culture reference were finally proven right with the recent season premiere, Family Guy: Blue Harvest, or "Remember the time we animated a shot-for-shot remake of Star Wars?"

When the power goes out in Quahog, Peter decides to pass the evening telling the story ofStar Wars Episode IV. In intimate detail. Quagmire and Cleveland are C-3PO and R2-D2. Lois is Princess Leia. Chris is Luke, setting up some weird, incestuous vibes just as disturbing as the brother/sister thing in the movie. Peter is Han Solo; Brian the dog is, of course, Chewbacca. And who better to play the evil Sith Lord Darth Vader than Stewie, a baby evil enough to go right ahead and make the obvious joke about "sith" in his diapers?

Like every joke on this show, knowledge of the source material is paramount, but Blue Harvest takes things to ridiculous lengths. Even understanding the title requires an extensive mastery of trilogy trivia (it was the code name during shooting for Return of the Jedi) (yes, I knew that without looking it up, shut up). It's odd, because the episode actually does a better job than any other at actually telling a story, but the caveat is, if you don't get the references, this particular 47-minute cutaway won't be very funny. Gags about the lack of railings on the Death Star, bits that point out plot holes or gaps in logic in the movie, subtle changes to dialogue some of us, and I am not necessarily speaking about myself here, have had memorized since age 10—not of it is that particularly amusing except to those who know the source material backwards and forwards.

Is that a bad thing? I don't know. I think worse than the fact that it isn't funny to outsiders is the fact that it isn't a particularly inspired parody, period. As with every regular episode, for as many jokes that work (a Rush Limbaugh-esque political commentator broadcasting on Luke's landspeeder), there are two that don't (the decision to cast the series' resident pedophile as Obi-Wan Kenobi). But it sure does look pretty—the animation recreates the movie in intricate detail, from the creatively-aparted character models to the near carbon-copy action sequences, which are close enough matches to look like they were drawn right over the original footage. The sound is just as good, with the original John Williams score as faithfully rendered as the blasts from the Millennium Falcon.

Star Wars has long been a target of the writers' gags on Family Guy, and this one-off hasn't gotten it our of their systems—the sequel, Something, Something, Something Dark Side is currently in production.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Sadly, this episode wasn't altered to make use of the widescreen format. That said, the original full frame version looks great, with bright colors, crisp lines, and a last of digital artifacts.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The 5.1 audio is more lively than you might expect. It's not quite the mix you'd get from a theatrically-released space epic, but the front soundstage is wide with good directional and panning effects and clear dialogue, and the surrounds frequently support the orchestral and carry ambient sound effects.

Audio Transfer Grade: A- 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 10 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 TV Spots/Teasers
1 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by creator Seth MacFarlane, director David Polcino, and crew
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: There are a lot of extras to try to justify charging so much for a single episode, starting with a chatty commentary from Seth MacFarlane, director David Polcino, and various members of the crew. They split their time between pointing out there favorite jokes, praising the admittedly excellent animation, and talking about how the episode came together.

Once in a Limetime: The Making of Blue Harvest is an interesting 19-minute piece that explores how the animators adapted Star Wars to fit the Family Guy universe and includes a look at the creative process and rough animatics of the action sequences.

A Conversation with George is a 12-minute chat between MacFarlance and Mr. Lucas himself. George shows a surprising sense of humor as he answers questions about Star Wars and Family Guy and een humors Seth's attempt at John Williams Name That Tune.

If you like animatics, you can watch the entire episode in that format. Star Wars Clip Show is a nine-minute collection of the series' trilogy references to date. There's also a promo and a few easy-to-find Easter eggs that preview the sequel, Something, Something, Something Dark Side.

Extras Grade: B

Final Comments

The ultimate Family Guy aside, Blue Harvest is one big Star Wars in-joke. If you haven't seen the original trilogy a thousand times, you probably won't get most of the jokes. And you wouldn't find them funny anyway. Putting it out as a separate DVD might seem a dubious marketing gimmick, and the price is pretty high for one episode, but there's a good batch of supplements.

Joel Cunningham 2008-01-31