Episode 19 - It's a Trap
27 September 2011
Synopsis: During a blackout Peter tells the family the story of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. All the characters of Family Guy reprise their roles in the Star Wars universe and are joined by Joe (Jabba the Hut), Roger and Klaus from American Dad (Moff Jerjerrod and Admiral Ackbar) and Tim and Rallo from The Cleveland Show (Wicket the Ewok and Nien Numb). An hour long episode.
The Good: This final parody of the Star Wars trilogy was the most enjoyable from my point of view. That may be because I remember Jedi more clearly than the other two but I also thought there was more strict parody and less random pop culture gags.
Perhaps what aided the parody is the lower opinion that Jedi is held in by fans. The episode was filled with digs at the cutesy Ewoks with Peter mocking their apparent ability to braid Leia's hair, having them butcher the storm troopers after the battle and showing Wicket eating the corpse of his dead friend. The chase scenes on Endor were completed using mountain bikes to mock the exaggerated explosions which their crashes caused. At one point Peter even makes some storm troopers dig their own graves to make the proceedings seem darker.
There was plenty more where that came from throughout the episode. Twice they mock the lack of women in the story including having Lois say "I don't like her" when she sees Mon Mothma. Leia also points out that "I didn't get raped" when Luke sees her bikinied up as Jabba's prisoner. There was plenty of mocking at the Sarlacc pit scene with the endless nodding, Peter shooing Lando repeatedly and Jabba's language including phrases like "Mila Kunis." We also got an amusing shot of one of the many desert scene changes where a small frog continues a joke about the Hispanic maid from earlier. Yoda's final words get an amusing send-up as he keeps calling Luke's name even though he is standing right over him. Over on the Death Star a random Storm Trooper is out of place in the massed ranks and runs campily into place saying "Sorry sorry!" Finally as the story wraps up Chris cuts Stewie's arm off to which the latter responds "You got a good hand guy right?" Then the writers smartly and amusingly cut right through the emotional goodbye between father and son by having Chris accidentally snap Stewie's neck when taking off his helmet.
The more Family Guy style humour was pretty strong too. The Emperors arrival is greeted by Jeremy (a kid in a wheelchair) "from the programme" as Darth explains and they both awkwardly deal with this corporate responsibility. Then during the Rebel Alliance meeting one guy says to another "You know what I find hilarious...Bathins." Mon Mothma then explains about the many Bathins that died to "bring us this information" leading to a predictably awkward "ooooh." Sadly I also found "Han Jobs" to be an amusing side gag. It doesn't take sophistication to be a TV critic. Even the few seconds of Conway Twitty with a Vader helmet on was bearable.
The "casting" was once more very good with American Dad and Cleveland Show characters parachuted in to fill the remaining roles and Jo being a good Jabba. Klaus was the perfect choice to play Admiral Ackbar what with him looking just like a fish and all.
Finally we actually had some enjoyable continuity with Seth MacFarlane and Seth Green teasing one another both in the story and out of it. The use of the actors playing each character to support the others position was fun and credit to MacFarlane for letting actual digs at his laziness be taken.
Flashback ratio (good-medium-bad): N\A
The Bad: I wouldn't say anything was awful. Obviously your taste will vary and this is definitely an occasion where I suspect the number of decent jokes will outweigh the number of flat ones for the majority of viewers. I didn't find Rush Limbaugh as Rancor particularly funny. Nor Stewie fretting over a lawsuit in the middle of his fight with Chris. Some jokes just cut too much against the grain of the plot. I guess there were a lot of Seth Green jokes too where perhaps more actual parody could have been.
Best Joke: I don't pretend that this was the best joke in the episode but given it's been so long since I saw Jedi I will leave it to real fans to debate that one. The gag that made me laugh was when Chris found Leia's hat on Endor and tossed it to Peter. Peter missed it and it fell to the floor and he exclaimed "Ah, I suck." It's moments like that where Family Guy's true genius exists - exploiting something which happens everyday in real life that would never ever happen on TV.
The Bottom Line: It wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if Family Guy just parodied other movies from now on. The show's characters are so disfigured at this point that their own plots aren't worth watching. But put them to work on a pre-existing story and suddenly they become fun again. However it is worth giving credit to the Family Guy team who painstakingly recreated so many of the scenes with excellent animation. The use of the original music also makes a huge difference but even without that I think these parodies would please any fan of Star Wars and still have enough else to them to make me happy.
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