It's no secret that there's been an unholy alliance between Seth McFarlane's Family Guy camp and the usually humorless drones over at LucasFilm. Where other series have been threatened with lawsuits for even hinting at characters contained in the Star Wars universe, the animated Fox sitcom has explored everything about the Skywalker saga, from Sand People choirs to overdone Darth Vadar vamps. For the premiere of its sixth season, Guy decided to take on the cinematic stalwart, offering a two-part spoof of all things Episode IV. Sadly, this lame lampoon makes Spaceballs look like a work of uninhibited brilliance.
When the power goes off in their home, the Griffin clan ask dad Peter to regale them with a story (the talking dog Brian had suggested they all read). What he offers is a note for note ripoff of the original Star Wars film, with various figures from the Family Guy universe filling the roles from the 1977 blockbuster. Horny neighbor Glen Quagmire is C-3PO, deli owner Cleveland Brown in R2D2, megalomaniacal baby Stewie is evil Darth Vadar, Quahog mayor Adam West is Grand Moff Tarkin, mom Lois is Princess Leia, and son Chris is Luke Skywalker. With Peter playing Han Solo, Brian as Chewbacca, and old pervert Herbert as Obi-Wan, we get all the sci-fi operatics -- stolen plans, the daring rescue by our heroes, and the last act stand-off against the Death Star.
As a show that regularly fails to fulfill its promise on a weekly basis, it's no surprise then that Blue Harvest (taken from a production ruse used during the making of The Return of the Jedi) represents the most simplistic satirizing of Wars ever. Mel Brooks may have made the Lucas franchise farcical by lowering his usual satiric standards to the rim of ridiculous toilet humor, but this painfully unfunny take on the material is totally devoid of cleverness. Instead of going for the throat, taking the original to task for the many unoriginal ideas floating around its narrative, it all but avoids biting the hand that's offering exclusive licensing permission.
In its place are the standard Guy riffs -- Peter is a dope, Chris is clumsy and stupid, Quagmire is oversexed, etc. Even when the script attempts to take on classic Wars world moments (the confrontation with Greedo, Han's improvised communiqué during the Death Star prison break), they offer nothing new or inventive. Indeed, McFarlane's idea of a clever quip is to have Luke and his posse pose like Cab Calloway during the mandatory musical homage that's become the stale sitcom's raison d'etre. Even the inclusion of pedophile Herbert brings little of substance to the storyline. We get hints of how Obi-Wan's crimes have been covered up by an embarrassed rebellion, but the lack of follow-through foils the potential laughs.
In fact, if taking the easy way out were a sign of genius, Family Guy would be Stephen Hawking. Obviously, the series hoped the cooperation coup with Lucas would generate fan interest, if little else. Unfortunately, cast member Seth Green (he voices son Chris) beat it to the punchline when his Adult Swim series Robot Chicken delivered its own, far funnier Star Wars parody several weeks before. Said situation is actually a topic of debate near the end of Blue Harvest, Peter arguing that, no matter who was first, Green's stop motion satires can't compare to his wacky domain. For once, the fat man's got it right. Chicken's version of Wars was witty and irreverent. Blue Harvest is nothing more than a big hunk of bantha podo.