Family Guy Presents: Something, Something, Something, Dark Side Collector's SetOverview -
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...
More like last year, on the season premiere of 'Family Guy' and soon after again on DVD, Seth MacFarlane took it to 'Star Wars,' recreating the classic original film using his cash cow characters. 'Blue Harvest' (which was the fake working title for 'Return of the Jedi,' a fact that will be forgotten due to 'Family Guy') went on to become a fan favorite, and rather than just leave it at one and done, the 'Family Guy' crew return to the now familiar stomping grounds and pillage the best 'Star Wars' film made: 'The Empire Strikes Back,' before running even that into the ground.
Sound harsh? Not to me. Some would consider the idea of remaking 'Casablanca' an egregious sin, and in my eyes, even daring to remake 'Empire' in any form or fashion is the same. You can make fun of 'A New Hope' all you want, it changed cinema, that's fine. But keep your damn dirty paws off my 'Empire!'
For the second go round, titled 'Something, Something, Something Dark Side,' the Griffin family again are in the middle of a power outage, and resort to telling stories. This time, Luke Skywalker (Chris) is fighting the Empire with his Rebellion friends, including Leia (Lois), Chewbacca (Brian), and Han Solo (Peter), who now wants to be called Carlos Spicyweiner. After saving the Rebellion from an Imperial trap on Hoth, Luke separates from the group, along with trusty droid R2-D2 (Cleveland) to pursue training from a Jedi master by the name of Yoda (Carl), while his friends and C-3PO (Quagmire) are left to outsmart the Empire and the evil Darth Vader (Stewie) in the bucket of bolts known as the Millenium Falcon. Safe haven at Cloud City/Bespin isn't as safe as it seems, as Lando Calrissian (Mort) hosts a whole heap of trouble for the rebels, with Vader and bounty hunter Boba Fett (Giant Chicken) waiting for their prey...
'Dark Side' has its moments, but if it had any pride, it would use its lightsaber and commit seppuku. It has to be repeated: the joke isn't as funny the second time its heard. MacFarlane doesn't have enough material for yucks here, and many of the gags and cutaways (and references, constant, constant references) fall flat on their faces.
Sure, I loved the crawl, and the change of the blue font words that precede it (and I promise, since that's one of the best gags in the show, I won't spoil it), and I enjoyed the use of the Cookie Monster for the Wampa, or the AT-AT (or for non-fans, walker) gags, but most of the program is one big in-joke for 'Family Guy' fans (with a few of the show's more notable gags popping up here). Some jokes are flat painful, like the 'Real World' moment with Han/Peter, and I can't imagine they'll hold up or find humor in repeat viewings, nor can I see anyone getting a laugh at the 'American Idol' moment. It's. Not. Funny. It never was, or will be.
Low blow racism jokes pop up, showing that the high road can never be taken, meanwhile the obvious jokes aren't even touched. The Vader/Luke revelation scene, by far the most famous moment of the entire saga, is wasted, utterly wasted. We're talking about a scene that could have a brutal Oedipal twist, considering the character relationships, but instead, one of the lamer idiosyncratic dialogue bits pops up. Worst of all, this episode is "uncensored," meaning the line isn't toed to great comic effect, with obscenities muttered at the least opportune and fitting of moments.
There are other bothersome moments of the show, which show a lack of foresight of any kind (or you could attribute it to a cash grab sequel, you pick), such as the race twisting of Mort, from white nerd to black, to play Lando. There is a black character in the show (who now has his own show!), yet he's a droid, due to his role in 'Blue Harvest.' Why not just reassign the character, as ungraceful as that would be, it would make more sense than what is presented here.
It's obvious that MacFarlane and crew have seen their share of 'Star Wars' over the years, but let's be frank: 'Robot Chicken' did it better. Way better. Dolph Lundgren and Tom Selleck may not appear in your version of 'Star Wars,' but they appear here, perhaps as two of the better moments in the show. Think about that. The highlight of your spoof is a clip of Dolph Lundgren. That means it's about time to pack it up and save face...oh wait, never mind. There's a third 'Family Guy' 'Star Wars' spoof coming. Joy...
After reviewing 'Seth McFarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy,' I had nothing but pensiveness when sitting down to 'Something, Something, Something Dark Side.' It can't be helped, considering that the shows share the same creative team. However, while 'Cavalcade' looks terrible, 'Dark Side' is actually a pleasant view, with an AVC MPEG-4 1080p encode in the 1.33:1 ratio that seems to show off all the good, and does a decent job of keeping the negative elements out of the main focus.
Colors are amazingly bold and crisp, while thin character outlines remain constant, never disappearing or changing in thickness. Black levels are perfectly deep, while detail (what little detail there is, honestly) is quite nice.
The following may seem like a laundry list adding up to the "avoid" status, but the issues with the video are hardly as bad as they sound. Color banding pops up from time to time, though never in main characters and their clothing...it's always backgrounds and odd shots to the side that get that weird appearance. There's some noticeable aliasing, particularly in moving shots of aircraft, and a few jaggies here and there. There was a spot with obvious, somewhat serious macroblocking immediately following the shot of Luke throwing the grenade into the AT-AT's shell, while there is an errant line for a few frames around the 9:47 mark to the right of Lois/Leia's head that is kinda hard to miss. Still, the good outweighs the bad here, and this release is like a golden god compared to 'Cavalcade.'
'Family Guy: Something, Something, Something Dark Side' features a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix for the only audio track (save for the commentary), though a fairly nice range of subtitle options are available for foreign viewers. Dialogue is cleanly prioritized through effects and score elements, creating an easy to listen to environment. The John Williams recycled/stolen score hits all channels, though the rears sounded very faint, even when volume levels are bumped to those speakers). There's some nice movement in shots with vehicles moving across screen, and even some light bass moments when the spy probe hits the surface, and with each AT-AT footstep. Soundtrack elements have acceptable bass levels, too, while lightsaber sounds are utterly perfect, in my opinion, with their sounds on impacts and movement through the air sounding just like the classic films. My favorite bit of this track has to be the movement from R2-D2 as he's shot through the Dagobah swamp, while my least favorite has to be the fairly front heavy activity of the program. A solid track, to be sure, just not a great one.
- Audio Commentary - With Seth MacFarlane, Mark Hentemann, David A. Goodman, Kirker Butler, Dominic Polcino, and Seth Green. This track covers the real cost of the elephant, Family Guy vs Cleveland Show politics, the crew's PC opinions on the "Veggie Monster," the use of the term "so fucking retarded," product and program shilling, original gag ideas that didn't work, the "fun" to be had working on these shows, and more. The participants get their giggles watching the show, pointing out what they found funny, but all in all, this track was a bit less than entertaining.
- Family Guy Fact-Ups - Now this is how fact tracks should be: fast and furious, and I'm not referring to the abysmal Vin Diesel/Paul Walker film. This track is full of smarmy comments, fun facts and notes, some of which are funnier than the show they are for. Definitely worth the watch, though each time I played it, it would change the screen resolution to 1080i.
- The Dark Side of Poster Art (HD, 9 min) - A featurette covering the creation of the cover art, from the artist and painter involved, to the original artist for the painting for the post of 'The Empire Strikes Back.' I appreciate the incredibly hard work put into the paintings of this sort, and love them (especially compared to the damn floating head poster design), and the sped up version of the real creation of the poster was compelling. Even the creation/ideas behind the original poster are brought up. A fun featurette, with some creepy topless moments to boot.
- Animatic Scene to Scene (HD, 6 min) - With commentary by Dominic Polcino. The director sits down and discusses the animatic versus the finalized product, with mention of this being the last time 'Family Guy' storyboards were hand drawn. There are only a few shots that get this treatment, but Polcino's insight makes the feature worth watching.
- Table Read (HD, 49 min) - Talk about a crowded room! This feature has the cast doing a dry read of the first two acts of the program, and some alternate jokes are obvious, such as the television program that's originally on the family television before the power shuts off. The differences and cut scenes are interesting, but otherwise this feature can be a bit difficult to sit through.
- Sneak Peek (HD, 2 min) - A look at 'Family Guy - Episode VI: We Have a Bad Feeling About This' Table Read. This feature only covers a scene in Jabba's palace, so it won't be too much of a spoiler for fans, especially considering the changes from these reads to finished product as noted above.
- Pre-Menu Trailers (SD, HD) - Trailers for 'Cavalcade of Comedy,' 'Family Guy: Volume Seven,' 'The Marine II,' 'Jennifer's Body,' and 'Gentlemen Broncos' appear before the main menu. They're all skippable.
As one of the more hardcore fans of 'Star Wars,' I just can't help but feel disappointed, let down, abused, used, and disrespected. For a 'Family Guy' episode, 'Something, Something, Something Dark Side' is a great success. For anything in the 'Star Wars' universe, this is a failure, and yes, I'm including the Christmas Special, George Lucas' harlequin child. The presentation qualities of this disc are solid, and the extras are fun, but it's hard to get around the fact that the program is a letdown.
The Best Buy exclusive version of this release is the way to go, as the added price more than justifies the enclosed goodies, and makes for a much neater present around this time of year, both to give and to get, hence the difference in score and recommendation between the two versions of this release.
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