Today I will be reviewing and comparing two Star Wars related products: Family Guy’s affectionate parody and Robot Chicken’s back to back sketch show. I will be reviewing them in the order I watched them yesterday and comparing them at the end.
First up, Family Guy’s Blue Harvest. At 45 minutes long, it’s the closest to a full parody and the longer of the two. It’s basically a scene-by-scene take on the entire first movie, distilled into a 45 minute version of it. The reason I like this one is that it parodies stuff you didn’t notice or care about when you saw A New Hope, and it still manages to come up with original and relevant humour. Of course, as it’s Family Guy, they have a cast of regulars and personalities to draw on for this feature. They made good choices with who to assign what role, as well as having good writing on their side. All round, this is a good piece of work. If you like Star Wars or even love it, I would highly recommend checking this out on dvd. It is fully worth the £5-£10 asking price.
Robot Chicken takes a different angle on Star Wars. It is not a full parody, instead taking the form of short, sharp sketches by necessity. The reason they are short sketches is that they work in stop motion using claymation and action figures, so keeping it short makes it easier and quicker to get the finished product out there. I’m not sure what the point was of ending this one with a musical (The Empire On Ice) but it sure as hell wasn’t funny. There were some classic moments in this 22 minute special (I’m thinking of the Admiral Ackbar cereal, the Reverse Charge collect call and a few more), but not enough to make it worth buying on its own. Having said that, the amount of celebrity voices in this special is damn impressive whichever way you look at it. They got Conan O’ Brien, Donald Faison (Turk from Scrubs), Malcolm McDowell, Mark Hamill and George Lucas, among many others. So, I don’t think this would be worth buying on its own if you just want to see this, but if you like extras, this is your disc. They have three episodes of Adult Swim shows, commentaries, deleted scenes, along with behind the scenes featurettes and trailers. In summary, if you just want the Star Wars special, give the dvd a miss and try to find the clips on YouTube. If you like extras, then this is a good buy.
Now for comparisons. Which do I think is better? Blue Harvest, by far. It’s funnier all round, it’s in a less hit and miss format, and it feels like you get more value for money over the Robot Chicken attempt. While it’s true that the Robot Chicken came first (there’s a reference to this in Blue Harvest), the later contender outdid the first. Robot Chicken feels like it they wrote it primarily for people who have short attention spans and don’t like laughing very much, as it’s not that funny. Both of these are available on dvd for roughly the same price, so if you can only get one, go for the Family Guy version. You’ll laugh longer and harder.