- "A long time ago, but somehow in the future..."
- ―Opening narration
"Blue Harvest" is the hour-long first episode of the sixth season of the FOX series Family Guy, which originally aired on September 23, 2007. It is the first part of The Laugh It Up Fuzzball Trilogy, a trio of episodes retelling and parodying the original trilogy with the show's characters recast into specific roles. This specific episode is a retelling of Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. The episode's title comes from Blue Harvest: Horror Beyond Imagination, which was the working title for Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi used to attempt to film inconspicuously and avoid media attention.
The episode drew 10.7 million viewers, and earned the highest Nielsen rating of any Family Guy episode since the show returned to air in 2005, making it the second most-watched episode in the series, behind "North by North Quahog," which drew 11.9 million.
While the Griffins are watching a golf tournament, the power goes out. To entertain the family, Peter decides to tell the story of Star Wars, beginning with Episode IV. The rest of the episode is set in the Star Wars universe, with the characters from Family Guy cast as Star Wars characters.
The story starts with the line "A long time ago, but somehow in the future," then the opening crawl rolls above, before showing the Tantive IV being chased by the Star Destroyer Devastator over Tatooine, exactly imitating the sequence in the original film (the only difference being a "Bush/Cheney" bumper sticker on the Star Destroyer). On the rebel ship, Leia (Lois) tries to send a holographic message, along with the plans to the Death Star, to Obi-Wan Kenobi through R2-D2 (Cleveland). With the encountering complications in trying to do so, R2 decides to bring the message to Obi-Wan himself. Leia is captured by Imperial Stormtroopers and taken to Darth Vader (Stewie), while R2 and C-3PO (Quagmire) escape to Tatooine via escape pod. They are, as in the film, captured by Jawas, one of them being Mort, and then sold to Owen and Beru Whitesun Lars (Carter and Barbara Pewterschmidt).
Luke (Chris), Owen and Beru's nephew, desires to join the rebellion to fight the empire and listen to John Williams's Star Wars music. While fixing up R2, Luke stumbles upon Leia's message. The next day, R2-D2 escapes, causing Luke and C-3PO to go out after him. Along the way, they are attacked by a Tusken Raider (Opie), but are rescued by Obi-Wan Kenobi (Herbert). Obi-Wan takes them back to his hut, where Luke shows him the holographic message (within the message is a hint to Herbert's pedophilia; continual hints of this are dropped throughout the episode). Obi-Wan gives Luke his father's lightsaber. Luke returns home to find his township having been destroyed by Imperial Stormtroopers, and his aunt and uncle dead. John Williams is also dead; and he is replaced by Danny Elfman, who Luke proceeds to kill with his lightsaber.
On board the Death Star, Vader learns that the station has one vulnerability: the thermal exhaust port (added by the architect for aesthetic purposes). After a lengthy debate during which he force chokes Admiral Motti, Vader orders that the hole be boarded up, after getting cost estimates. Later, Grand Moff Tarkin (Adam West) decides to test the Death Star's "planet blower-upper gun" on Leia's home planet of Alderaan. However, unlike in the original movie, it was hinted that he had doubts on going through with the plan.
At the Mos Eisley spaceport, Obi-Wan, Luke and the droids meet Han Solo (Peter) and Chewbacca (Brian), who agree to transport them to Alderaan on their spaceship, the Millennium Falcon, in order to get the Death Star plans to Leia's father. They jump to lightspeed, in which Han remarks that "Hyperspace is creepy!," and travel through hyperspace (shown as the first Fourth Doctor title sequence of Doctor Who). The crew soon arrive to Alderaan, only to find it destroyed (having been destroyed by the Death Star into the video game Asteroids). They are captured by the Death Star's tractor beam, and pulled in. Using compartments to surprise Imperial stormtroopers and donning their armor as disguises, Han and Luke escape to a command room to wait while Obi-Wan attempts to disable the tractor beam himself.
R2 and 3PO escape to a command room to wait, while Obi-Wan goes to disable the tractor beam, after singing "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" as a farewell to Luke in a production number backed by several stormtroopers, while Luke, Han and Chewbacca go to rescue Leia. The three find Leia, and they escape the Stormtroopers though a garbage chute into a garbage compactor. After a dianoga (Meg) appears briefly, the walls of the compactor begin to close in on them. They are inadvertently saved when a stoned 3PO leans against the shutoff switch in the control room. Before getting out, Han and Chewbacca insist on taking with them a sofa they found inside the compactor.
Obi-Wan is confronted by Vader, who comments on a restraining order against Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan's lightsaber falls limp until he sees Luke. At this point, Obi-Wan is beheaded by Vader as the other characters escape, with the tractor beam now disabled. They successfully fight off an attacking "Thai" fighter squadron and escape to the rebel base on Yavin 4.
The rebels assemble for the battle, sending Red Squadron, consisting of several cultural references that use the word "Red," such as Redd Foxx and Red October to attack the Death Star. Most of the battle unfolds just as it does in the film, although there are a few differences. Jek Tono Porkins crashes into the Death Star's surface when his fighter cannot support his own weight in flight. Only one trench run is made by Luke and Redd Foxx, the latter of which is hit by Vader in his fighter, and destroyed after exclaiming his trademark "I'm coming, Elizabeth!" phrase. Obi-Wan's voice tells Luke to use the force. Han and Chewie, inside the Falcon, who have replaced the front seats with the new sofa, save Luke from Vader at the last minute. Luke fires a missile into the exhaust port, and the Death Star explodes.
Back in the Family Guy universe, just after Peter wraps up the story, the power comes back on. Everyone thanks Peter for keeping them entertained, though Chris points out that the Star Wars episode of Robot Chicken beat him to it, a discussion in which Peter denigrates that show. Chris, insulted, calls Peter a "jerk," and leaves frustrated. (This is sort of an inside joke: Chris is voiced by Seth Green, who is also a creator and executive producer of Robot Chicken. Seth MacFarlane, who voices Peter, has done appearances on the show as well.) Peter starts humming the theme to Star Wars, and the episode ends with Star Wars–themed credits set to the Family Guy musical theme.
At the 2007 Comic Con International convention, a series of clips was shown at a panel for Family Guy from the season premiere episode, showing the Family Guy characters as Star Wars characters. The episode aired on September 23, 2007 with some slight changes from the clips shown at Comic Con. Parts of this episode were shown at Celebration IV, at which Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane was a special guest, and again at Comic-Con International 2007 The episode was officially endorsed by Lucasfilm, who, MacFarlane said, were extremely helpful when the Family Guy crew wanted to parody their works. Even George Lucas himself is Family Guy fan, as revealed in his conversation with MacFarlane on the DVD, where he claims to have TiVoed every single episode without buying the DVDs. He said it was the only TV show he watches besides Jackass.
Rush Limbaugh makes a cameo as the Tatooine radio pundit and the voice of one of the X-wing fighters. Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo reprise their roles from National Lampoon's Vacation as Clark and Ellen Griswold. Mick Hucknall of Simply Red and Helen Reddy also provide their own voices.
The episode garnered an overall Nielsen rating of 10.7 viewers. It scored a 5.5 among the 18-49 demographic, a 17% increase from the previous year's season premiere, and a 13 percent audience share. Viewership increased in the second half hour, and it was the highest-rated non-sports broadcast on its air night, beating out a Desperate Housewives clip show and the season premiere of Cold Case, which attracted more viewers but had a lower share.
Critically, the Associated Press's Frazier Moore called it "a dead-on homage that hilariously picks apart Star Wars, along with much of real life." 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. Jon Caraminica of the Los Angeles Times felt it worked by playing to the show's strength, its cutaway gags, by being "almost entirely an aside." He wondered if the Robot Chicken conversation at the end was "a note of self-doubt, maybe, masking as self-awareness."
References to various mediaEdit
Star Wars filmsEdit
A notable reference to Star Wars is the actual soundtrack that plays in the background. Besides that, there are several references of the film's score throughout the episode: Luke acknowledges John Williams and the London Symphony Orchestra (who are, after their deaths in the stormtrooper attack, replaced with Danny Elfman's orchestra—to the dismay of Luke, who beheads Elfman with his lightsaber). Han "da da"s along with the soundtrack while in battle with the TIE fighters. Also, a muzak version of "The Imperial March" is heard in the elevator. A similar scene with a live orchestra in the shot occurred in the Mel Brooks film Blazing Saddles with Count Basie.
In place of the traditional starting words of the Star Wars movies, "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away," the beginning words of the parody are, "A long time ago, but somehow in the future."
The episode occasionally problematizes the events of A New Hope. Most notably, Luke questions whether Han is correct in using parsecs as a measure of time rather than distance, and Han's minimal maneuvers when escaping Tatooine. When Luke exclaims "I got him!" during the TIE fighter attack upon the Millennium Falcon, Han responds with "Great, kid, don't get penisy!," in reference to Han's response in the original movie, "Don't get cocky!" Han shoots Greedo first as well, but without provocation.
Some other scenes call attention to seemingly obvious details the characters miss. Luke wonders if the Obi-Wan Kenobi of Leia's message could be the same as the "Old Obi-Wan Kenobi" he is aware of. As the Falcon approaches the Death Star, Luke says, "Maybe we should head for that small moon that's clearly a small moon and not anything else."
Han also remarks that he is the only actor whose career wasn't destroyed by the movie when first meeting Luke. While Harrison Ford (who portrayed Han in the films) would later star in the successful Indiana Jones franchise, Mark Hamill turned to voice acting after Return of the Jedi and Carrie Fisher's next major role would not come until When Harry Met Sally... in 1989. In the DVD commentary, Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane said that Mark Hamill was asked to be a part of it, but was offended by that line.
"Blue Harvest" also directly parodies Star Wars with aspects of popular culture: when the Millennium Falcon makes the jump to hyperspace, Han comments that hyperspace "always looks freaky," before cutting to the view from the cockpit, which is of the first Fourth Doctor opening sequence of Doctor Who complete with audio. The film also adds members to the Red Squadron in the Battle of Yavin, in order: Red Buttons, Redd Foxx, Big Red, Red October, Helen Reddy, and Simply Red.
Another, lesser-known parody happens when Red Squadron attacks the Death Star in the Battle of Yavin. As one of the ships hits the Death Star, it cuts to the inside of the space station, where various stormtroopers are injured. As this happens, the Wilhelm scream is briefly heard. This scream is found in all of the Star Wars films and is almost a "trademark" sound used by the sound editor, Ben Burtt.
There are some references to other films in the series. Limbaugh as the radio talk-show host refers to both Hoth and Lando Calrissian, neither of which is introduced until The Empire Strikes Back, and Watto from Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace runs into the lightsaber being used as a bug zapper. (Chris also asks "what the Phantom Menace is that guy's problem," referring to R2.) Within the narrative, Beru foreshadows her own death (as well as exactly how and why Luke ended up joining the Rebellion) when she tells Luke he'll join the Rebellion "over [her] burnt carcass."
Consanguinities between the Skywalkers that are not established until the following films are mentioned in this episode. The opening crawl mentions Vader's being the father of both Luke (revealed in The Empire Strikes Back) and Leia (revealed in Return of the Jedi), and Beru repeats Vader's relation to Luke in the episode.
While making the attack run in the trench of the Death Star, Vader says, "I have you now, young Skywalker." In the original A New Hope, Vader was unaware Red Five was a Skywalker.
- Lightsabers are used on Tatooine as bug zappers, and one draws Watto's attention.
- Luke realizes that a parsec is a unit of distance, not time.
- Han shoots Greedo first, without provocation.
- Dr. Cornelius Evazan and Ponda Baba back off from Luke due to common sense.
- Luke comments on the amazing orchestra, and chops off the replacement conductor's head (Danny Elfman) after John Williams dies in the stormtrooper attack on the Lars homestead.
- Luke points out that Han's maneuvers are little more than just "listing lazily to the left."
- Death Star laser technicians realize the lack of a rail at their station.
- The tractor beam text is in English, as seen in the original version.
- Elevator music based on "The Imperial March" is heard on the Death Star's turbolifts.
- When Luke shoots at stormtroopers after Obi-Wan's death, the camera cuts to the stormtroopers with Vader-Stewie in the background, with a blue lightsaber instead of his red one. The second time the camera cuts back, the lightsaber is red. This is a reference to an error made in the original release of Star Wars, where Vader's lightsaber was uncolored.
- Jek Tono Porkins is too heavy for his ship and plummets into the Death Star.
- A majority of Red Squadron is replaced with a series of name puns, such as Red Button, Red Foxx, Big Red, and Red October (with its own flying submarine). Biggs Darklighter is also replaced in his death scene with Red Foxx.
- After the story, Peter and Chris argue about how Robot Chicken beat Family Guy to the punch with a Star Wars episode. Finally, after Peter (played by Seth MacFarlane, creator of Family Guy) comments that he is not a fan of Robot Chicken, Chris (played by Seth Green, co-creator of Robot Chicken) runs away screaming "You know, Dad, you're a real jerk!"
- Many shots and scenes in the episode matched exactly the same angles as Episode IV, even including the familiar wipes between scenes. Many of those shots resemble those in the original 1977 version of the movie more than any of its later editions (such as a close view of Ben Kenobi's hut rather than a more distant one or the X-wings approaching the Death Star in line rather than scattered).
Other cultural referencesEdit
"Blue Harvest," like many other Family Guy, episodes, makes frequent use of cultural references for humor. The Star Wars universe is the source of many of these, but there are many to other films and television shows as well.
The episode also makes references to the show itself, the obvious being the Family Guy characters reposed into Star Wars characters (while retaining their own character traits). The Evil Monkey, Bender B. Rodriguez, Roger and Hayley Smith (the latter two from American Dad!, also created and produced by Seth MacFarlane) are seen in the cantina. This episode is the second Family Guy episode that does not feature the usual frequent cutaway gags, the first being "Family Guy Viewer Mail 1." The only use of the cutaway in the episode is a brief segment where Obi-Wan introduces Luke to the lightsaber and says that "everyone in the neighborhood has one," with a cutaway to a cameo scene with Watto from The Phantom Menace.
Other intertextual cultural referencesEdit
Intertextual references include background appearances by characters from other animated series (for example, in the cantina, Bender from Futurama, Jon McGuirk from Home Movies, and Roger from American Dad!). Prominent among the films referenced besides the other Star Wars episodes is Airplane!, the source of two gags. First, during the TIE fighter attack, the episode uses a sound bite from the film: Dr. Rumack (voiced by Leslie Nielsen) enters Han's pod and says, "I just want to tell you both good luck. We're all counting on you." Later, when the Death Star is under attack, C-3PO jiggles Leia's belly and says "And Leia's getting l-a-a-arger!" after the line "The Death Star is getting closer," which references the lines "The fog's getting thicker!/And Leon's getting l-a-a-arger!" Besides the Dirty Dancing–inspired musical number, the other 1980s films prominently alluded to are the National Lampoon's Vacation series, when the Griswold family drives by the final battle (with Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo reprising their roles), The Breakfast Club, when General Jan Dodonna asks if anyone has any questions, to which John Bender asks, "Does Barry Mannilow know you raid his wardrobe?"; and The Blues Brothers, when they sneak out of the Millennium Falcon to the rhythm of Minnie the Moocher. Television shows alluded to besides Deal or No Deal include Sanford and Son (Foxx dies saying "I'm comin', Elizabeth!" after he is shot down, as he often did when playing Fred Sanford). R2-D2 refers to contemporary music twice in the episode: once when requesting C-3PO to "put on some Tatooine, Wind and Fire," and again when asking "what am I? R-2Pac?" after being shot in a fly-by shooting. When Leia explains to Luke how Obi Wan might go to hell, she references a controversy among Christian groups about not seeing the Force well. The argument between Peter and Chris about Robot Chicken's earlier Star Wars parody features two regular cast members of Robot Chicken: Seth Green, co-creator of the show, and Seth MacFarlane, who voiced Palpatine in the Robot Chicken special.
Several scenes were cut from all televised airings of the episode mainly due to time restraints, but they are available on the uncut DVD version of the episode.
- When the golf tournament announcers are hitting on Phil Mickelson's wife, one announcer tells the other "You'd pork her for a week and then get tired of her," with the word "pork," a sexual innuendo, censored on the FOX version of the episode.
- After one of the rebels asks the others, "What if they come in a different door?" ("they" referring to Stormtroopers), a conversation ensues between the small group relating to where they'd break in.
- When Luke/Chris, Obi-Wan/Herbert and the droids first arrive in Mos Eisley, they are forced to wait in line before entering the cantina. They are able to enter when Obi-Wan/Herbert uses a Jedi mind trick on the bouncer (a Stormtrooper in a sleeveless shirt), saying he's a friend of Dave Navarro's.
- Before Luke/Chris and Obi-Wan/Herbert meet Han/Peter, C-3PO/Quagmire and R2-D2/Cleveland hide themselves from Stormtroopers, who try to lure them out of hiding by offering them with a giant check from Publisher's Clearing House.
- In the scene where Vader/Stewie admits he made a "Darth doody," he goes on to say a few more Star Wars poop jokes such as "I 'sithed' my pants," and "My diaper's gone over to the dark side" ("Y'know I've got pages of this. I can go on").
- After Alderaan is destroyed, the Channel 5 news crew appear as Death Star newscasters broadcasting the news of the planet's destruction, with them reporting that the Empire had reason to blow it up, stating that Alderaan was hiding weapons of mass destruction (another crack at George W. Bush and comparing his presidency to that of the Empire).
- After Chewbacca/Brian scares away a mouse droid, the droid encounters another mouse droid and tries to tell it what it'd just seen, only to forget about it when the other droid brings up Tyra Banks. The droid also exclaims "Holy shit!," with the word "shit" censored on the televised episode. These droids are a callback to the Screaming Black Dolphins from the Family Guy episode "I Take Thee, Quagmire." Seth McFarlane found the two voice actors so funny that he brought them back for "Blue Harvest." Fans have thus started to call these characters the "Screaming Black Mouse Droids."
- While disguised as Stormtroopers, Luke/Chris, Han/Peter and Chewbacca/Brian accidentally arrive on the floor of the Death Star that contains the Stormtrooper church, witnessing part of a Stormtrooper wedding procession. Also, the time they spend in the elevator is longer.
- While smoking pot, after R2-D2/Cleveland tells C-3PO/Quagmire he doesn't have to stay in the room they are in, 3PO/Quagmire says, "Thank Christ." On the televised version, he says "Thank God."
- After the Millennium Falcon escapes from the Death Star, Vader/Stewie and Tarkin/West discuss the tracking device that they placed on the ship and how the couch that Han/Peter recovered from the trash compactor in fact belonged to Tarkin/West.
- After watching the training video with Magic Johnson, John Bender appears to taunt the lead officer asking, "Does Barry Manilow know you raid his wardrobe?"
- Before taking part on the attack of the Death Star, Luke/Chris meets up with his friend Biggs Darklighter (played by Joe Swanson) and discovers that, due to an accident while repairing a Y-wing, he is now paralyzed below the legs (an obvious reference to the fact that Joe is paralyzed) and is unable to participate in the attack; he also tells Luke/Chris that he'll be making sandwiches and promises to make one for him when he gets back. In the commentary it was stated that it was funny that this scene got cut out of the original broadcast since the scene this one spoofed also got cut out from the film's original release.
- After R2-D2/Cleveland is shot by Vader/Stewie, he exclaims, "Fuck you, you son of a bitch!" The word "fuck" is censored on all televised airings of the episode.
- After the attack on the Death Star, Luke/Chris returns to the Yavin base, and is greeted enthusiastically by Han/Peter, Leia/Lois, Chewie/Brian, Biggs/Joe, the droids and a cheering crowd of other rebels. Biggs/Joe offers him the sandwich he promised and, upon Luke/Chris accepting it, happily proclaims that he is part of things too. This scene is also the true ending of Peter's story, and a more significant one on that note.
Sequel and DVD releaseEdit
With the episode's ratings success, the sequel episodes "Something, Something, Something, Dark Side" and "It's A Trap" were produced, parodying The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi respectively. Fox Television released "Blue Harvest" on DVD on January 15, 2008 in both regular and special editions. Extras included about four minutes of exclusive DVD material, an uncensored audio track, animatics and commentary by the Family Guy staff, interviews with Seth MacFarlane and George Lucas, a sneak preview to "Something, Something, Something Dark Side" and a table read of it. In addition, the special edition release will come exclusively with collectible packaging, 3-D fight scenes and glasses, a themed T-shirt, trading cards, and brochure which will contain a letter from the show's creator Seth McFarlane, script excerpts, pictures and so on. An official website for the DVD was made with DVD info, games, clips, behind the scenes and more. In an interview with IGN, Seth MacFarlane says they are already done writing the sequel; Seth Green wrote one line of dialogue. Every copy of the DVD included an iTunes digital version, which can be transferred to an iPod, iPhone, or AppleTV but not to other devices because of DRM. As of January 16th, a day after the DVD's release, both Apple and Fox received multiple complaints that the 'Fox Digital Copy' of "Blue Harvest" failed to transfer properly to iTunes.
There are two 'easter eggs' on the main disc: Under the "Features" menu around where Meg's/the Dianoga's head pops up there is the teaser trailer for "Something, Something, Something Dark Side." Under the "Options" menu on the reactor there is the footage of the cast going over the script for the sequel ("Dark Side") to "Blue Harvest."
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Notes and referencesEdit
- ↑ Adalian, Josef (May 29, 2007). 'Family Guy' meets 'Star Wars'. Variety (magazine)|Variety. Retrieved on September 24, 2007.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Gough, Paul (September 24, 2007). Cowboys, Bears beat Sunday's premieres. The Hollywood Reporter.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Fitzgerald, Toni (September 24, 2007). Star power: Fox's 'Family Guy' roars. Media Life. Retrieved on September 25, 2007.
- ↑ The Force is With Family Guy. IGN (May 30, 2007). Retrieved on September 24, 2007.
- ↑ Programming for Saturday July 28. Comic-Con. Retrieved on October 2, 2007.
- ↑ Burton, Bonnie (September 21, 2007). "Family Guy" Creator Reveals Star Wars Cred. Starwars.com. Retrieved on September 21, 2007.
- ↑ RushLimbaugh.com, Friday, September 21, 2007. Retrieved on September 24, 2007.
- ↑ Moore, Frazier (September 23, 2007). TV Lookout: Highlights for Sept. 23-29. Associated Press. Retrieved on September 25, 2007.
- ↑ Werts, Diane (September 21, 2007). Fox's 'Family Guy' takes on 'Star Wars'. Newsday. Retrieved on September 25, 2007.
- ↑ Caraminica, Jon (September 21, 2007). Fox marks the return of 'Family Guy' and 'American Dad!'. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on September 25, 2007.
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 The Griffin Clan Spoofs the First Star Wars Movie - Family Guy Presents: "Blue Harvest". Forbes (November 5, 2007). Retrieved on November 8, 2007.
- ↑ 
- ↑ CanMag.Com. Blue Harvest Blows It. Retrieved on January 16, 2017, 2008.