|Family Guy episode|
The poster for "Blue Harvest"
|Episode no.||Season 6
|Directed by||Dominic Polcino|
|Written by||Alec Sulkin
George Lucas (1977 Screenplay)
|Original air date||September 23, 2007|
"Blue Harvest" is the hour-long premiere of the sixth season of the American animated television series Family Guy and the first part of the series' trilogy Laugh It Up, Fuzzball. It originally aired on Fox in the United States on September 23, 2007. The episode is a retelling and parody of the 1977 blockbuster film, Star Wars, recasting the show's characters into Star Wars roles. The plot follows Peter as he retells the story of Star Wars while the electricity is out in their house.
It was written by Alec Sulkin and directed by Dominic Polcino. To produce the installment the staff asked Lucasfilm, the company who owns the rights to the Star Wars franchise, for permission. Blue Harvest guest starred Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Mick Hucknall, Leslie Nielsen, and Rush Limbaugh. The episode also included recurring voice actors Lori Alan, Adam West, Ralph Garman, Danny Smith, John Viener, Steve Callaghan, Kirker Butler, Mark Hentemann, Johnny Brennan, Jon Benjamin, Phil LaMarr, and Wally Wingert. The episode contains various references to popular culture, specifically the Star Wars film series. It was viewed by 10.86 million viewers on its original broadcast and received generally positive reviews from critics.
While the Griffins are watching television, the power goes out and they are left with no other form of entertainment. While they wait for the power to return, Peter decides to retell the story of Star Wars beginning with "Part IV."
A Rebel ship is captured by a Star Destroyer. On the ship are the droids C-3PO (Quagmire), R2-D2 (Cleveland) and the rebel leader Princess Leia (Lois). While the ship is boarded by stormtroopers, Leia tries to send an MPEG to Obi-Wan Kenobi through R2, but encounters so many complications that R2 offers to deliver the message himself. Leia is captured by Darth Vader (Stewie) while R2 and 3PO flee to Tatooine in an escape pod, where they are captured by Jawas.
The droids are sold to a family of moisture farmers, whose nephew Luke Skywalker (Chris) wishes to join the Rebellion and fight the Empire. While cleaning the droids, Luke stumbles upon Leia's message inside R2, who later decides to leave the farm. Luke and C-3PO pursue him but are attacked by Sand People. Luke is knocked out by one of them (Opie) and is found by Obi-Wan Kenobi (Herbert), who takes them to his hut. Leia's message explains that R2 contains the plans to the Death Star, which must be sent to her father on her home planet of Alderaan and asks Obi-Wan to help. Obi-Wan tells Luke that he must learn the ways of The Force and accompany him to Alderaan, and gives him his own lightsaber. Realizing that the Empire must be looking for the droids, Luke returns home to discover that his home has been destroyed and his aunt and uncle killed.
Luke, Obi-Wan, and the droids travel to Mos Eisley to find a pilot to take them to Alderaan. At a local cantina they hire smuggler Han Solo (Peter) and his Wookiee co-pilot Chewbacca (Brian), who agree to take them with their ship, the Millennium Falcon. The group is soon spotted by stormtroopers and they flee into space, evading the pursuing Star Destroyers before jumping into hyperspace. Leia is imprisoned on the Death Star, where commanding officer Grand Moff Tarkin (Adam West) has Alderaan destroyed. The Millennium Falcon exits hyperspace and is captured by the Death Star's tractor beam and brought into its hangar bay. Disguising themselves as stormtroopers, Han and Luke along with Chewbacca set off to rescue the captive Princess while Obi-Wan goes to shut off the tractor beam and R2 and C3PO stay behind. Han, Luke and Chewie rescue Leia, and the four dive into a garbage chute to escape stormtroopers and find a couch in the garbage masher below. The thing beneath the sludge briefly raises its Cyclops-eye head, which is wearing a monocle, beanie, and brown hair (Meg), before quickly disappearing. As they flee the Death Star, Obi-Wan turns off the tractor beam before being confronted by Darth Vader in a lightsaber duel. Vader strikes Obi-Wan down as the others board the Falcon, taking the couch with them.
The Falcon journeys to the Rebel base at Yavin IV, where the Rebels analyze the Death Star plans and find a weakness. Luke joins the assault team while Han collects his reward for the rescue and prepares to leave. The Rebel fighters attack the Death Star but suffer heavy losses during the assault. During his run, Luke hears Obi-Wan's voice telling him to use the Force, and he turns off his targeting computer. Vader appears with his own group of fighters, and is about to fire at Luke's starfighter when Han arrives in the Falcon and attacks Vader and his men, sending Vader's ship off into space. Guided by the Force, Luke fires into the port, destroying the Death Star, and he returns to the Rebel base with his friends to celebrate their victory.
Back at the Griffins' home, Peter wraps up the story as the power comes back on. Everyone thanks Peter for keeping them entertained, although Chris points out that Robot Chicken already told that story.
"Blue Harvest" originally aired on September 23, 2007, as the premiere for the sixth season of Family Guy. The episode was written by Alec Sulkin, who has been with the show since the fourth season. It was directed by series veteran Dominic Polcino, who has been directing for the series since its first season. Series regulars Peter Shin and James Purdum served as supervising directors. The episode's music was composed by Walter Murphy.
Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane explained that the reason they made a parody of Star Wars in particular was because the show's staff members were huge fans of the films. Another reason they chose Star Wars was because Lucasfilm allowed it. MacFarlane stated that creating parodies based on Raiders of the Lost Ark or Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was originally considered, but they assumed they would be unable to gain permission from the owners of those properties (in this case Paramount Pictures). Lucasfilm only gave the show's staff one condition, which was that the characters had to look exactly like they do in the movies.
Clips of the episode were shown to audience members at Star Wars Celebration IV, where a panel was hosted by MacFarlane, Sulkin and Polcino, and executive producer David A. Goodman. The episode was also previewed at the 2007 Comic-Con International.
In addition to the regular cast, actors Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo, musician Mick Hucknall, singer Helen Reddy, and political commentator Rush Limbaugh made guest appearances. Recurring guest voice actors Phil LaMarr, Johnny Brennan, John Benjamin, Lori Alan, Adam West, Ralph Garman, writer Danny Smith, writer John Viener, executive producer Steve Callaghan, Kirker Butler, executive producer Mark Hentemann writer Wally Wingert and Alec Sulkin also made minor appearances in the episode.
"Blue Harvest" contains many references to popular culture, particularly to the Star Wars film series. Most of the episode itself is a retelling of George Lucas' film Star Wars. The episode's name is a reference to the fake working title for the production of Return of the Jedi.
One of the band members that plays at the cantina asks for any song request and then he subtly responds to his own question by saying "play that same song," a reference to the fact that the song being played in the film scene lasts a long time.
When Peter is about to begin telling the story he says that it is about "love and loss, fathers and sons, and the foresight to retain international merchandising rights", a reference to the fact that 20th Century Fox gave those rights to Lucasfilm. During the text scrawl actress Angelina Jolie, her film Gia, and the television channel HBO are mentioned.
One of the Star Destroyers displays a bumper sticker reading "Bush – Cheney" a reference to United States President George W. Bush and Dick Cheney's 2004 re-election campaign. When the Millennium Falcon enters hyperspace, the visual effect is replaced with the intro sequence from Doctor Who, using the version of that sequence from the Tom Baker era. Once Leia is captured, Vader asks her where she hid the Death Star plans, leading her to respond that they are in one of twenty-six briefcases, a reference to the game show Deal or No Deal.
When Luke is watching the sunset, he breaks the fourth wall by introducing Star Wars composer John Williams and the London Symphony Orchestra, who have been scoring the scene, in a parody of a scene from Blazing Saddles featuring Count Basie and his orchestra. Luke then asks the orchestra to play the theme of The People's Court. Later in the episode when Luke finds his uncle and aunt murdered, he also finds that Williams and the entire orchestra have been killed as well; this saddens Luke, since the episode will now have to be scored by composer Danny Elfman. A political commentator on the radio is heard saying that the "liberal galactic media is saying that the planet Hoth is melting", this commentator is voiced by Rush Limbaugh, who also runs a political radio program in which he criticizes what he perceives as the "liberal media".
Obi-Wan sings a rendition of "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" from the film Dirty Dancing, in case he never sees Luke again. In a fight with a group of TIE fighters, Luke asks the origins behind their name; the following scene then shows that the pilots are from Thailand. Leslie Nielsen's character from the movie Airplane! wishes Han good luck during their encounter with the TIE fighters. When seeking how to destroy the Death Star, the rebels look at an instructional video hosted by basketball player Magic Johnson. Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo's characters from the National Lampoon's Vacation films appear driving by the Death Star. Chris, who is voiced by Seth Green, points out that Robot Chicken already did a Star Wars parody (Green is the creator of Robot Chicken).
It is also noted Han Solo's reward doesn't consist of money but rather various novelties including a Netflix gift card, Cracker Barrel cheese, a bottle of jellybeans, a mini teddy bear and a lightsaber cheese knife.
In its original broadcast on September 23, 2007, "Blue Harvest" was viewed by 10.86 million viewers. The episode acquired a 5.5 Nielsen rating, the audience measurement systems developed to determine the audience size and composition of television programming in the United States, in the 18–49 demographic.
Reviews of this episode were generally positive. Common Sense Media gave the episode three out of five stars, calling it a "ribald but often hilarious satire of fantasy favorite". Brad Trechak of TV Squad also praised "Blue Harvest", stating that it "was a fun episode to watch"; he thought that "MacFarlane kept to the story pretty well, and there were enough corny jokes to make it amusing". Ahsan Haque from IGN gave it a score of seven out of ten, criticizing the selection of Herbert as Obi-Wan, but did say that the other choices were "spot-on"; he ended his review by stating, "as a tribute to Star Wars, this episode succeeds, but you can't help but wish that there was a bit more to it, considering the nature of the source material". In a later review of the season as a whole, Haque said that the episode was "generally entertaining, but certainly wasn't as great as it could have been". Daniel Fienberg of Zap2it also gave it a positive review although he stated that it was released soon after Robot Chicken's Star Wars special and it fared worse because of it.
Newsday's Diane Werts rendered a more mixed verdict, saying the episode "veer[s] wildly from bull's-eye satire to gotta-fill-time-now exposition", and was not as enjoyable for non-Star Wars fans. Robin Pierson of The TV Critic also gave it a mixed review, criticizing the writers for using the character of Herbert and the episode's musical moment which he called an "un-amusing waste of time", although he did praise the way that the episode satirized the Star Wars universe; he ended his review by saying that "Chances are the more you like Star Wars, the more you will enjoy this. For those of us who know Family Guy better than Star Wars, there is plenty of bad material here to remind us that nothing much has changed". He gave the episode sixty-five out of a possible one-hundred.
The Parents Television Council, a group that has been a frequent critic of Family Guy, criticized the episode for a perceived frequent use of sexual dialogue, enough for the episode to have an "S" content descriptor for sexual content (the episode was rated TV-14-DLV on Fox).
The episode was released on January 15, 2008 for DVD and on August 7, 2012 for Blu-ray in Region 1. It was issued on January 21, 2008 for DVD in Region 2, and on February 6, 2008 DVD and on August 24, 2011 for Blu-ray in Region 4. "Blue Harvest" was also released as part of the "Laugh It Up, Fuzzball: The Family Guy Trilogy" which was released on December 21, 2010 for DVD and on December 21, 2010 for Blu-ray in Region 1. It was issued on December 27, 2010 for both DVD and Blu-ray in Region 2. Its release date in Region 4 was December 22, 2010 for DVD and January 12, 2011 for Blu-ray.
"Something, Something, Something, Dark Side", which parodies The Empire Strikes Back, and "It's a Trap!", which parodies Return of the Jedi, originally were released direct-to-video on December 22, 2009 and December 21, 2010 then later aired on Fox May 23, 2010 (season eight, episode 20) and May 22, 2011 (season nine, episode 18) respectively.
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