DVD: Family Guy: Blue Harvest

After years of doing Star Wars references on the hit animated FOX show Family Guy, the production team finally threw caution to the wind and did their own episode devoted exclusively to Star Wars. But instead of doing a half-hearted rip-off, they made a perfect match of the two pop culture phenomena.

Family Guy: Blue Harvest was the uproarious premiere episode of season six, and now it is available in an unrated DVD.

The show opens with the Griffin family watching television. But when the electricity goes out, Peter must entertain the family with a story of his own: a twisted tale of A New Hope with all the roles played by people from the Family Guy universe.

To really get the show, not only do you have to know the Family Guy cast – and understand nuances like old man Herbert’s potentially illegal crush on Chris. You also have to know Star Wars. It’s still funny if you don’t know every beat, every music cue and every line of dialogue from the classic sci fi film, but it helps. It’s clear that the people making the show do.

In some ways, Family Guy: Blue Harvest is a shot-by-shot homage to George Lucas’s 1977 masterpiece. At other points, it diverges into typical Family Guy irreverence and gives us the wonderful pop culture references the show is famous for.

This stand-alone hour-long episode is brilliant, not just because it gives love to Star Wars with such passion and honor, but because it samples so many other aspects of our popular culture, including Doctor Who, the Griswolds, Redd Foxx and even Rush Limbaugh in a hilarious cameo.

Rather than watching your commercial-filled TiVo of the episode if you recorded it this past fall, check out the unrated DVD. There’s not much more in the film itself, except for a couple swear words and some poop jokes from Darth Stewie. But there’s some nice behind-the-scenes features, including a 20-minute making-of documentary, a montage of Star Wars jokes from the rest of the series and an easter egg featuring part of the table read of the upcoming Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi episodes.

The only annoying part of the special features is how much Seth MacFarlane gushes over George Lucas in her 15-minute one-on-one interview. It’s one thing to love the guy’s films, but let’s not love the guy on camera. I’m sure that if I had a chance to interview George Lucas, I’d be less of a little girl…

…well, probably not.

Grade: A

The Upside: Rivals the Robot Chicken as the best contemporary Star Wars homage.

The Downside: Could have used more unrated content – or at least extended scenes – on the DVD.

On the Side: At the end of the show, Peter and Chris Griffin argue about whether Peter’s story was better than the Robot Chicken episode. Chris is voiced by Seth Green, who created and oversees Robot Chicken.

Kevin Carr crawled from the primordial ooze in the early 1970s. He grew up watching movies to the point of irritation for his friends and was a font of useless movie knowledge until he decided to put that knowledge to good use. Now, Kevin is a nationally syndicated critic, heard on dozens of radio stations around the country, and his reviews appear in a variety of online outlets. Kevin is also a proud member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA).

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