‘Family Guy’: Something, Something Star Wars
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Poor “Cleveland Show.” It spent the whole year establishing itself, separating itself from older brother “Family Guy,” and after what I would consider a successful first season, the finale falls on the same night as the grand finale of “Lost.” Everyone glued to ABC so they’ll be able to go into the office Monday and complain about not getting any answers. (I loved it, but I’m so glad I don’t have to write that Show Tracker.)
Whenever you get around to watching it off your DVR, “The Cleveland Show” managed a nice little wrap-up to its inaugural season. It started off with the feeling of a chapter being closed, as the Tubbs/Brown family sat down for the reading of Loretta’s will. Cleveland’s cheating ex-wife was a connection to a previous life, when Cleveland was just a member of Peter Griffin’s entourage and Cleveland Jr. was skinny and hyperactive. Reading her will is a nice way for Cleveland to put Quahog in the past and make Stoolbend the future.
In her will, Loretta leaves all the money she took from Cleveland in their divorce and her life insurance policy to Cleveland Jr. along with the specific instructions that Cleveland never learn how much money it includes and Cleveland Jr. not give any of it to his father. I’m surprised there wasn’t any mention of having to spend the night in a haunted house.
At the same time, Cleveland’s parents show up to announce they’re moving back into their old house and getting remarried. Cleveland’s not very happy with the idea. His father Freight Train has repeatedly cheated on his mother with waffle house waitresses and JetBlue flight attendants. Freight Train asks Cleveland to be his best man, only to replace him with Donna’s first husband Robert and then not even show up for the wedding, earning himself a girly-slap beat-down from Cleveland until he changes his mind.
The wedding was a nice opportunity to bring back so many of the characters introduced in “Cleveland’s” first season. Plus we got the difficulties of going to a strip club with a bear who doesn’t wear pants, way too many details about Cookie and Freight Train’s sex life, and Rallo’s James Brown walk down the aisle. Overall a strong finish to an impressive first season of “The Cleveland Show.” I’ll be happy to see it back next season.
Then for the season finale of “Family Guy,” we get “Something, Something, Something Darkside,” the “Empire Strikes Back” parody. The DVD version has been available since December, and I remember being unimpressed when I first watched the follow- up to “Blue Harvest.” Can’t remember why. I thoroughly enjoyed it this second time around.
I won’t bother recapping the plot. Even the episode itself admits the audience should know what’s going on in the opening crawl (they used the space for a $58,000 dancing elephant). Instead, I’ll just hit the highs and lows of the hourlong special.
Casting – “Family Guy” used up most of its main cast for the characters in the original “Star Wars,” so they had to get a little more creative for “Empire.” For the most part, it worked beautifully. Mort filled the role of Lando, Carter Pewterschmidt played the Emperor, and Joe appeared as a scout droid. I loved H. John Benjamin as Yoda and poor Meg once again stuck as an unspeaking creature. Oh, yeah, and you can’t forget the Chicken as Boba Fett. I think the only casting I thought could have been better would be the Cookie Monster as the Yeti-thing. There had to be someone in “Family Guy” history that could have worked there. Even if it was the mentally handicapped horse.
Call outs – My favorite jokes in “Something, Something” generally came from observations about “Empire” itself: R2 noting that wires nailed to ice probably isn’t all that safe, Han’s heaving breathing for his “smelled bad on the outside” line, Han’s response to Leia’s “I love you,” the slow-paced light saber battles, and the note on Lando’s wardrobe at the end of the movie. It is easy to tell the writers have seen “Empire” at least a million times.
Cuts vs. Keeps – There were a lot of jokes that had to be edited out of the DVD version for the sake of time or content. I agreed with most choices, but the one joke that made me laugh loudest (involving Space Pie) didn’t make it into the broadcast version. Breaks my heart to lose that bit but keep the elderly comedians in the show or Luke singing with his own decapitated head. If you liked the episode and haven’t seen the DVD version, you should at least NetFlix it. You also get swearing and a better version of the joke after Luke gets his new android hand.
Great Lines – “Oh, I won’t miss you.” “Is there someone from the military we can talk to? A man, perhaps.” “Ah, Jim. Robot Camels.” “Meanwhile at the Legion of Doom.” The entire process of Han figuring out the cave isn’t a cave. “You gonna attack them! That’s what you sound like.” “I know. I have the force, too, you know.” “Have we ever hit anybody with these guns?” And the “Back to the Future II” ending.
Animation Domination – So much of the animation in “Something, Something” was spectacular. The entire battle on Hoth particularly. I think it’s time that Seth MacFarlane and his minions should make an animated movie. My recommendation would be to find a script that’s completely serious, almost to the point of heavy-handed drama, and then rewrite it as a parody. That’s how “Zero Hour” became “Airplane!” Get to work on that, “Family Guy” crew. You have all summer.
Oh, and don’t forget my normal categories:
Obscurest reference – I’m going to pick Chris calling for Tom Selleck while hanging beneath Cloud City. I’m pretty sure that film clip came from “Her Alibi.” Is it more obscure that they picked that clip or that I knew where it was from?
Through lines – “The Cleveland Show” was a smorgasbord of “Family Guy” call-outs tonight. First was the mention of all the crazy jobs Peter had to take in order to pay the wrongful death settlement for Loretta that Cleveland Jr. said weren’t as funny as they would have been two years ago. Then Robert called Rallo “black Stewie.” But the biggest crossover was Peter and Quagmire showing up at the wedding for Cleveland’s parents. They, too, seemed pretty happy with Cleveland’s first season, and it’s nice to get the reminder of why Quagmire can’t have his own show.
-- Andrew Hanson
Images: Fox Television
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