Tuesday, January 14, 2014

#1,247. Family Guy Presents Blue Harvest (2007)

Directed By: Dominic Polcino, Peter Shin

Starring: Seth MacFarlane, Alex Borstein, Seth Green

Trivia: When originally broadcast, this episode was seen by 10.86 million viewers

Family Guy, an animated half-hour television comedy created by Seth MacFarlane, is one of those shows you either love or you hate. Personally, I love it (though I admit it often stretches the boundaries of good taste). Released during the series’ 6th season, Blue Harvest is an hour-long episode that spoofed 1977’s Star Wars. Featuring some very funny moments, Blue Harvest is an effective satire that, along with the jokes, is also quite respectful of its source material.

When the power goes out while they’re watching television, Peter Griffin (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) passes the time by telling his family the story of Star Wars, with the show’s characters standing in for the original cast. Chris Griffin (Seth Green) plays Luke Skywalker, and his mother, Lois (Alex Borstein), is Princess Leia. Peter himself takes on the part of Han Solo, while the family dog, Brian (also Seth MacFarlane) is Chewbacca. And who better to play Darth Vader than the sinister infant, Stewie Griffin (MacFarlane yet again)? With their friends and neighbors assuming the remaining roles (in this universe, Obi-Wan Kenobi, portrayed by the lecherous Herbert, isn’t so much a Jedi Master as he is a leering pedophile), Blue Harvest presents a condensed version of Star Wars, hitting many of the movie’s high points over the course of its 47-minute run time and doing so in hilarious fashion.

First and foremost, Blue Harvest is a very funny spoof. One of the highlights is a conversation during which Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin (played by the town’s Mayor, who happens to be Adam West) are told about the Death Star’s one weakness: a 2-meter wide exhaust pipe that, if fired on, could potentially blow the entire station to smithereens (Vader asks if they can cover it with a piece of plywood, yet balks at the suggestion they pay to have it fixed, telling his subordinate to instead “get estimates”). My favorite moment occurs during the rescue of Princess Leia, when she, along with Luke, Han and Chewbacca, escapes the enemy by diving into a garbage chute. After being nearly flattened by the compactor, the group pauses to inspect some of the trash around them, which includes a slightly disheveled sofa that Chewbacca says would “look great” in Han’s apartment. This leads to what I consider the show’s single funniest sequence, where Han and Chewbacca, under heavy fire, try to squeeze this sofa into the Millennium Falcon, only to realize it’s not going to fit!

Yet what makes Blue Harvest so entertaining is that it was produced by people who clearly adore the original film. Some images are even presented in the exact way they appear in Star Wars, right down to the camera angle (like the formation of the rebel fighters as they prepare for their attack on the Death Star). Though played for laughs, Blue Harvest is, at the same time, a loving tribute to a classic motion picture, making it a must-see for anyone who considers themselves a Star Wars aficionado.

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