When Family Guy released Blue Harvest, Seth MacFarlane’s spoof of Episode IV : A New Hope, it was hailed as one of the funniest episode to date. It took the Griffith family and transposed the characters to the Star Wars universe, Peter as Han Solo, Brian as Chewbacca, Cleveland as R2-D2 and best of all, Stewie as Darth Vadar. It was rich pickings for the writers and it played on all the in Family Guy jokes and whilst adding their own spin to an affectionate retelling the original story. It was funny, it was different and it was damned enjoyable.
Disappointingly, ‘Something, something, something Dark Side’ doesn’t hit same the heights that ‘Blue Harvest’ originally did. It follows the same formula with its reverent retelling of ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ interweaved with Star Wars fandom and wry, sarcastic humour. But unlike its source material, this sequel doesn’t come close to the outshining its predecessor.
Firstly, one of the major appeals of Blue Harvest was obviously who got to play which parts. Unfortunately with the majority of the characters already cast the role reprising had absolutely no novelty and left a humorous void that is never completely addressed – albeit with the one exception being Joe Swanson as the Imperial Drone that was deliciously fantastic.
Secondly there was an glaring lack of material for this episode. In some places there is some genuinely memorable laughs to be had, but in many others the in-jokes or American specific references (like the Juicy Fruit ads for instance) will simply not resonant as well. Other less than stellar moments are the times when Peter makes poor references to the narrative and plot that just comes across as lazy, ineffectual and simply out of place; or when Peter tells Lois to ‘Fuck Off’ when he’s being frozen, something that was bereft of either humour or context.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some great moments to be had and if you’re anything of a Family Guy fan then it certainly deserves a viewing. What this bodes for the next episode ‘We Have a Bad Feeling about This’ is something else entirely, what I can say is that I think the title is rather apt…