'Family Guy' season finale: Shouldn't the worst movie of the original 'Star Wars' trilogy make the best spoof?

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Image Credit: FOX

In the opening crawl of Family Guy‘s third Star Wars spoof, Seth MacFarlane openly admits his fatigue in having to give us a Return of the Jedi parody. Even though there’s a lot of good stuff in “It’s a Trap!,” the writers aren’t entirely joking when they tell us to lower our expectations — it’s clear from the early scenes (Rush Limbaugh as the Rancor … eh) that this episode feels a bit more dutiful and less exuberant than “Blue Harvest” and “Something, Something, Something Dark Side.”

You could say that Lucas and co. of the original movies were experiencing the same kind of fatigue by the time Jedi rolled around. Most Star Wars fanatics, including myself, will say that the third installment is the weakest of the original trilogy — but it’s also the one I’ve seen the most times. It’s just so watchable. The Empire Strikes Back artfully got through most of the dark parts of the saga, so there was room in the conclusion to play around and take some curious missteps: There’s that weird Twi’lek burlesque show in Jabba’s lair that seems to go on forever (especially in the Special Edition); the uncomfortable issue of Luke and Leia’s familial relationship; the new Death Star with all the old design flaws; and, of course, the oft-maligned Ewoks, who look too much like my little cousin in a bear costume on Halloween to take seriously.

It seems like the camp factor would make Jedi especially ripe for parody, but the episode was a bit too filler-heavy to take advantage of all the opportunities. The self-referential banter about Family Guy‘s two Seths (MacFarlane and Green) was cutesy and went on far too long (at least EW got a shout-out out of it!), and I would rather have gotten more of Jabba’s freaky entourage than the lengthy passing of knowing glances over the Sarlacc (Meg Griffin), although that sequence produced a great Caddyshack cutaway. Still, there were some hidden gems here. Family Guy‘s Star Wars episodes work best when they point out the small but oddly memorable moments from the movies that any superfan will remember (the Lambda-Class Imperial Shuttle real does land like a dainty butterfly) and when they ask the burning questions (umm, what happened to Leia while she was chained to Jabba all that time?). I love that there’s always a Wilhelm scream. Also, there was some inspired casting that tapped all corners of the MacFarlane universe: Carter Pewterschmidt killed it as Emperor Palpatine, Klaus of American Dad was brilliant as internet sensation Admiral Ackbar, and Tim from The Cleveland Show was the obvious choice for Wicket the head Ewok. As usual, the location and spacecraft art is spot-on — somehow, the Star Wars galaxy is more believable in cartoon form than in the CGI of the prequel trilogy.

So the finale had its hit-or-miss moments but was generally pretty enjoyable, which is what I’d say about this entire season as a whole. It’s been popular to rag on Family Guy for a while now, but for every clunker this season — the blah “Foreign Affairs,” the execrable “German Guy” — there’s been inventive high concept (“The Big Bang Theory”) and funny-but-true commentary (“Brian Writes a Bestseller”).

Has Family Guy lost its edge, or will you keep watching? What did you think of the finale? And would you watch if Family Guy spoofed Phantom Menace (who would play Jar Jar)?

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  • Jon

    I think the lamest part is that this came out six months ago and they just throw it on TV as the finale.

    • Ian

      Same thing they did with Something, Something, Something, Dark Side.

    • Jason

      I agree- this was cool for anyone that hadn’t seen it. However, I think most FG fans already saw it.

    • Captain

      This is exactly what I was going to say. At least Blue Harvest aired before they released it on DVD. I hate it when they take something they released months ago and just air it as the season finale for no reason (Untold Story of Stewie anyone?) Any major FG fan has already seen it so it can’t mean big ratings for them. I purposely didn’t by It’s a Trap cause I knew it would be on TV in a few months.

  • Peter

    These are the only FGs I watch.

  • Helo

    Family Guy = unfunny Simpsons ripoff for morons

    • Matt

      Yup, distilled down to only the cruelest jokes.

    • Big Walt

      Even if you view it as a ripoff, at it’s best it was still funny.

    • JP Siul

      Helo is Simpsons ripoff

    • Daniel

      So glad you’re into recycling … old whiny critiques.

    • piper

      and its much more peverted

  • The Dude

    Once upon a time this was a decent show (and, in some rare moments, an excellent show). Same thing with “American Dad!” (which was critically under-rated after it’s weak first season). But now it seems MacFarlane and co. are running on fumes…they sometimes work out a good episode, but they pale in comparison to the best of the earlier seasons. Honestly, it may be time for MacFarlane to take a step back, take a break, maybe re-evaluate where he wants this show to go, because right now it’s stuck in gear.

    • Bob

      Sorry, it’s onward and upward with The Flintstones! Can’t wait to see how he ruins that classic. Please, no cut-aways!

      • JP Siul

        sorry, but the motion picture did it

    • Captain

      Atleast it took 15/16 years for the Simpsons to become crap. It didn’t even take 10 years for FG to go downhill.

  • Grumpster

    I think the interesting thing is that I watched this MONTHS ago off an easily found internet site. That said, it didn’t keep me from watching it again. There goes the director theories of lost profit opportunity.

    • Grumpster

      Oh..and they didn’t censor out the F* this or F* that either in the download.

  • WatchesEverything

    I wasn’t feeling the original soundtrack as much as in the first two installments… it was there, but it felt kind of buried.

    Thinking back, the funniest gag for me last night was the droids being greeted at Jabba’s front door by the mexican housekeeperbot. Loved the references to the jarring Special Edition changes, too. Was it great? No. But it was good. I might have dialed back the self-referencial humor a bit, it was both distracting and detracting. Glad we finally got to see it, though.

  • RorySparrow

    I thought German guy was pretty funny. The fight scene was screamIngly funny

  • Michael

    I though they would of meantion how Hala Slo was suppose to die

  • Michael Ellis

    Sorry, the FG SW episodes are weak compared to the other Seth’s Robot Chicken parodies.

    • Daniel

      Save this discussion for when the power comes back on. *wink

  • DUH

    family guy hasn’t been able to recapture it’s glory from the first 4 seasons. i can only imagine how funny the show would be if the jokes weren’t spread across 3 different shows.

    • shark jumper

      My thought’s exactly, Duh. I really miss having Cleveland on FG. The Cleveland Show is my least favorite Seth show, and Cleveland was my favorite character. I wish they would cancel the Cleveland show and bring him home to FG. I think both shows have suffered from the spin off.

    • Trix

      Wonderful extianaplon of facts available here.

  • Mark

    I bought it in 2010 on DVD, read the crawl & agreed completely. ROTJ will be my final FG DVD & the last new FG I’ll watch- I’m glad the writers agree.

  • Ian

    I think everyone’s asking WAY too much of Family Guy just by asking for it to be funny.

    It hasn’t been that for the past 3 or 4 seasons now.

  • DavidJ

    I don’t know WHAT the hell you guys are talking about. I catch both old and new episodes of FG all the time, and find the show to be just as edgy and hilarious as ever.

    • chris

      i agree David. one thing i noticed with all the critics is not one of them has their own show, or three on FOX

  • Kit

    I agree it’s not that funny anymore and while it can be very witty, FG is mostly just gross.

  • redector

    That Hitchcock spoof a couple years ago was stupid, unfunny, and just boring.

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