FOX’s Family Guy parodies Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, so it is inevitable that a version of Return of the Jedi follows. Last night’s ninth season finale brings “Episode VI: It’s a Trap,” the awaited Jedi knockoff, which is actually already out on DVD, and has been since December. If you’ve seen the original movie, the plot is familiar, if condensed to around forty-four minutes. Luke / Chris (Seth Green) rescues Leia / Lois (Alex Borstein) and Han / Peter (Seth MacFarlane) from Jabba the Hut / Joe (Patrick Warburton). From there, they travel to a planet near the still-under-construction new Death Star. Luke visits his father, Darth Vader / Stewie (MacFarlane), on the thing, and together they defeat the Emperor / Carter (MacFarlane). On the planet below, Han, Leia, Chewbacca / Brian (MacFarlane), and the other rebels take out a shield, so that Lando / Mort (John G. Brennan) can destroy the Death Star. The rebels party with the Ewoks.
While the basic plot does follow the George Lucas movie, what makes Family Guy‘s version different, besides casting familiar characters in the roles, is all of the jokes sandwiched in. For instance, The Emperor and Darth Vader bait Luke by commenting how Seth Green is a terrible actor. For viewers in on the joke that Green voices Chris, it is highly amusing to watch the tension build in Luke / Chris until he erupts. To be fair, after the Jedi parody is complete, the Griffins do have a debate as to whether Seth Green or Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane is a bigger douche. For fans of meta humor, this conversation may be the funniest thing in the entire hour.
Another memorable joke in this episode is a live action sock puppet standing in for the additional creatures added to Jabba’s palace in the special edition of the movie. The Rancor that Luke fights in Jabba’s pit is replaced with conservative talk radio pundit Rush Limbaugh. Meg (Mila Kunis), who is often teased as the most ugly, disliked character on the show, is the Sarlacc monster. Above the Sarlacc pit, there is an extended sequence of characters glancing at each other. On Endor, the stormtroopers use actual bicycles, which upsets Pee Wee Herman when his is stolen.
Apparently Family Guy, despite its extensive cast, has run out of characters to stand in for the Star Wars people, as MacFarlane draws upon his other TV shows in this special. Both Klaus (Dee Bradley Baker) and Roger (MacFarlane) from American Dad! are cast as Admiral Akbar and a Death Star officer, respectively, while Tim the Bear (MacFarlane) from The Cleveland Show is, appropriately, an Ewok, and Rallo (Mike Henry) is Wedge Antilles. It is lucky for MacFarlane that he has other TV shows to draw from, since the Star Wars franchise has so many characters.
At the very end of this episode, the characters avow that they will not be doing the prequel Star Wars films, and Peter says that he thinks The Cleveland Show will be handling them. Is this a joke, or true? Three major characters from The Cleveland Show already appear in the Family Guy Star Wars parodies, but might they be recast for another trilogy of special episodes? It is hard to imagine how the spinoff cast would be appropriate for such a series, but MacFarlane may be daring enough to give it a try. Or it could just be an offhand comment, a slight insult to a sister series.
“Episode VI: It’s a Trap” lives up to the previous two installments. Whether MacFarlane does any more Star Wars parodies or not, he has finished a great feat with humor and excitement. Fans of both Family Guy and Star Wars should be left satisfied.
Family Guy has been picked up for a tenth season, and will return to FOX next fall.