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DVD Review: Family Guy Presents – Something, Something, Something, Dark Side

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For the past eight seasons various episodes of Family Guy have contained numerous references to the Star Wars saga.  In 2008 "Blue Harvest" aired as a Star Wars: A New Hope parody/homage; the show was Family Guy’s highest rated episode to date.  With full approval from Lucasfilm and the maker himself, George Lucas, Family Guy set out to do an Empire Strikes Back parody entitled "Something, Something, Something, Dark Side," which is a reference to a gag in another Family Guy episode.

Plans were to have the episode be the season finale for season seven, and then there were plans to have it be the season eight premiere, but instead it was released on DVD since the "Blue Harvest" DVD did so well. In addition to having Peter return as Han Solo, Lois as Princess Leia, Chris as Luke Skywalker, Quagmire and Cleveland  as C-3PO and R2-D2, and Stewie as Darth Vader, we get Mort Goldman as Lando, Peter’s nemesis the giant chicken as Boba Fett, and Chris’s boss Carl as Yoda.

"Dark Side" follows the plot of Empire in a condensed form with the usual pop references and gags we’ve come to look forward to from the show. Since it’s a direct to DVD release the language is raunchier than usual. If you let your kids normally watch Family Guy, you might want to think twice about letting them see this release.

Once again the love the Family Guy cast and crew has for Star Wars shines; however it’s not as good as "Blue Harvest" for several reasons. First and foremost, the source material is the darkest of the original trilogy and so there’s not as much to parody.  While "Blue Harvest" was the first time Family Guy was able to do a full episode devoted to Star Wars, the truth is we’ve seen much of this before in the 30+ years since Star Wars came out. In fact several of the jokes used in "Dark Side" have been used previously by McFarlane’s co-star Seth Green in his Robot Chicken Star Wars parodies. Then there are the new additions to the character lineup. Mort isn’t really funny as Lando and in the commentary it’s mentioned that a character from The Cleveland Show should have been used instead of just turning Mort black (as that show was in development for some time and they knew which character they could draw from), and what’s really not funny is Carl as Yoda.

That said, it’s still enjoyable to watch and Stewie as Darth Vader is the highlight of the episode, if Blue Harvest was a “10” then Dark Side is an “8.5” and that pains me to say it since Empire Strikes Back is my favorite of the original trilogy but I have to be honest that it’s not as good as the original.  However it’s still better than 99% of the parodies out there and I’ve already watched it a half-dozen times and plan to watch it again and again and should add this worthy follow-up to your collection.

The extras for Family Guy: Something, Something, Something, Dark Side include a commentary with Seth McFarlane, Seth Green, writer Kirk Butler, director Dominic Polcino, and producers Mark Hentemann and David A. Goodman. The commentary is very lively and fun to listen to. The group clearly enjoy working together and it comes across in the commentary. They discuss the episode, scenes that didn’t make it into the episode, alternate takes of scenes, and more.

“Family Guy Fact-Ups” is similar to VH-1’s Pop-Up Video. This featurette has pop-up trivia about Star Wars, Family Guy, and anything else they could throw in. Fun fact: Seth McFarlane voiced 25 characters for "Darkside." There is some repetition between this and the commentary, and most of the facts are already known to fans of Family Guy and Star Wars, but it’s still fun to watch.

“Animatic  Scene-to- Scene with Commentary by Director Dominic Polcino” is a feature in which Polciono takes a look at seven scenes starting with the rough pencil renderings used in the preliminary concept and compares them to the final animated scene.

“The Dark Side of Poster Art” starts with a photo diary with painter Joe Vaux and then turns into an interview with Vaux and character designer Mick Cassidy. The duo talk about the process of creating the poster for the release, comparing it to its Empire Strikes Back inspiration, and includes an interview with Empire poster creator Roger Kastel himself as he talks about the original poster and his thoughts on the Family Guy homage.

There are two table reads included. The first is the “Family Guy: Something, Something, Something Dark Side Table Read.” We first saw a two- to three-minute sneak peek of "Dark Side" as an Easter egg on the "Blue Harvest" disc. This time we get the first two acts of "Dark Side" which runs for about 50 minutes. There are scenes that didn’t make the final cuts, alternate lines, and more. It’s also fun to see/hear McFarlane switch between characters.

The second table read is “Family Guy – Episode VI: We Have a Bad Feeling About This Table Read (sneak peek).” Just like on "Blue Harvest," this is a brief table read of the next Star Wars parody. There are some spoilers in the featurette, so don’t watch this until after you’ve seen "Dark Side."

"Something, Something, Something, Dark Side" continues the love that the Family Guy team has for the original Star Wars trilogy and I can’t wait to see how they lampoon the Ewoks in the Jedi parody when it comes out.

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