By : John Latchem | Posted: 14 Dec 2009
Leave it to Seth MacFarlane to describe his excitement over the Blu-ray debut of “Family Guy” in the crudest terms possible.
“It gives me an erection, that’s how exciting it is,” MacFarlane said. “That’s one thing I’ve always said about ‘Family Guy,’ it’s not f**king clear enough.”
The show’s creator hosted a gala party at his Beverly Hills, Calif., home Dec. 12 to celebrate the premiere of Family Guy Presents: Something, Something, Something Dark Side, which 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment releases on DVD and Blu-ray Disc Dec. 22. The special episode of the hit animated series offers a parody of Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back, following a parody of the original “Star Wars” film two years ago.
MacFarlane said a “Family Guy” parody of Return of the Jedi should be ready next year, but fans shouldn’t expect parodies of the “Star Wars” prequel films.
“I’m not as well versed on the newer movies as I am the old ones,” MacFarlane said. “I was a kid when the old ones came out so they hold a special place in my heart.”
The “Family Guy” versions are faithful to the original films, and even use the original John Williams music, thanks to cooperation from “Star Wars” creator George Lucas.
“Lucas gave us the rights,” MacFarlane said. “Lucas agreed to let us do this. And that’s a rare thing. Most legal departments are much more protective.”
Director Dominic Polcino said making the “Star Wars” spoofs goes beyond the usual boundaries of the TV show. Not only are the episodes longer, but making the episodes requires the animators to re-create the special-effects sequences from the original films.
“I learned a lot about filmmaking by emulating all that stuff,” Polcino said. “We study everything frame-by-frame. I try to make it a little cartoonier so it doesn’t look like we rotoscoped it. We want it to be its own thing but also faithful to George Lucas.”
The spoof version recasts familiar “Family Guy” characters into “Star Wars” roles. Most of the characters were established in Blue Harvest, the first “Family Guy” Star Wars parody, but the show’s creative team hadn’t planned on producing additional “Star Wars” parodies, according to Polcino. As such, the show’s token black character, Cleveland, was retranslated into a gangsta version of R2-D2. This created some interesting discussions when deciding which character would be portrayed as Lando.
“They went through a few different versions of that,” Polcino said. “He used to be Magic Johnson or something.”
“We were running out of characters,” MacFarlane said. The team finally decided on Mort, the show’s stereotypical Jewish character.
Extras on the DVD and Blu-ray include commentary, the featurette “The Dark Side of Poster Art,” animatics and pop-up video. The Blu-ray version also includes a digital copy.
The direct-to-video release of Dark Side might represent the first time “Family Guy” can be seen on Blu-ray, but Polcino said fans can expect more high-definition episodes when the show switches to widescreen next season. The show’s spin-off, “The Cleveland Show,” already is presented in HD.
Mike Henry, who voices Cleveland, said he enjoyed revisiting the “Family Guy” version of “Star Wars.”
“I’m a huge ‘Star Wars’ fan, especially the early movies, and it’s just fun,” Henry said. “We get to take these scenes that we’ve loved all of our lives and put a big old gross twist on them. So, it’s a blast.”
Henry noted the irony that just a few years after being canceled, “Family Guy” was not only back, but that MacFarlane now produces three of the four shows on Fox’s Sunday TV line-up.
“It’s a cliché but I think ‘Family Guy’ was ahead of its time,” Henry said. “It’s just perfect for the YouTube generation. It speaks truth. ‘Family Guy’ says things that other shows wouldn’t say, and I think that’s why it’s so successful.”
Actor Seth Green, who voices Chris on “Family Guy,” and thus Luke Skywalker in Dark Side, said he relished the experience of making the spoof. Green is also co-creator of Adult Swim’s “Robot Chicken,” which has produced its own “Star Wars” parody episodes over the years, a fact MacFarlane works into the “Family Guy” scripts.
“I love that he does that,” Green said. “‘Family Guy’ is such a bigger show than our show, but we share a lot of things. He’s always good about promoting it.”
Green’s Robot Chicken: Season 4 DVD set hits shelves Dec. 15 from Warner Home Video.
“It’s pretty awesome,” Green said. “We worked really hard. We like making DVDs and we like watching DVDs too, so we try making cool stuff for them.”
"Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane personally serenaded the hundreds of guests who braved the L.A. winter rains to celebrate the holidays, and a new "Family Guy" Empire Strikes Back parody, in style at his palatial Beverly Hills estate Dec. 12.
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