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Family Guy: Blue Harvest
voice cast: Seth MacFarlane, Seth Green, Alex Borstein, and Mila Kunis

director: Dominic Polcino

46 minutes (15) 2007
20th Century Fox DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by J.C. Hartley
When a power cut takes out the TV, and the family have laughed off Brian the talking dog's suggestion that they light candles and read, Peter Griffin recounts the story of Star Wars; remarkably faithfully and in less time than it took George Lucas. 'Blue Harvest' was of course the secret working title for The Return Of The Jedi. In the commendable extras package Lucas cracks the best joke of all, claiming not to spend any time re-watching the Star Wars movies; so how did he do all that re-editing? When he tells Family Guy writer and voice artist Seth MacFarlane that he has 'moved on' from Star Wars, by working on the Clone Wars animated series, we fell off the sofa laughing in our house, I can tell you.

For the uninitiated, Family Guy is a ruder and less sentimental version of The Simpsons with which it shares some history. Simpsons creator Matt Groening complains that Family Guy is just a ruder and less sentimental version of his creation, and You Tube evidence suggests MacFarlane and his writers are not averse to pinching jokes from its older and more venerable network-mate. Neither series is as vulgar or taboo breaking as South Park, which takes pot shots at both while conceding that The Simpsons probably 'did it first'.

An 'Introduction to Family Guy' does just that, presenting Peter Griffin, his wife Lois, their naïve son Chris, their despotic articulate two-year old Stewie, terminally ridiculed and ignored daughter Meg, and Brian the sophisticated talking dog. All the characters from A New Hope are played by the family and their friends, Peter is Han, Chris is Luke, Lois is Leia, Brian plays Chewbacca, and Stewie inevitably is an underused Darth Vader. The only controversial casting is having the ageing neighbourhood paedophile Herbert as Obi-Wan.

Family Guy is very funny and is probably a lot funnier in its usual run than in this double-episode affectionate spoof. That said there are some good jokes, mostly featuring imperial stormtroopers, and as is expected in animation, and in pretty much everything else nowadays, movie references abound. The actual shot for shot authenticity between A New Hope and this version is a source of early delight before you pretty much take it for granted. The intentions of the creative team are confirmed in the making-of feature.

The extras include commentary, a conversation between Seth MacFarlane and George Lucas in which the latter reveals the breadth of his outside interests, the introduction to Family Guy, the making-of feature, deleted scenes the early animated print, and a teaser trailer. There is a gag reel featuring Star Wars references from other episodes; the satire being somewhat reduced by the information that due to the close links between the Fox network and Lucasfilm these gags were always run past Lucas' people for approval. There is also a complete Family Guy bonus episode North By North Quahog, which by a circuitous root becomes a parody of Hitchcock's classic thriller.

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