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"Blue Harvest" is the season premiere of the sixth season of the FOX series Family Guy, which originally aired on September 23, 2007. It consists of two production codes (5ACX16 and 5ACX22) as the initial episode (5ACX16) was not long enough to air all the material.
The episode is the first part of a planned series of episodes retelling and parodying the original trilogy with the show's characters recast into specific roles; this episode is a retelling of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.  For this purpose, and for the first time in the history of Family Guy, this episode is an hour long (with commercials).
This 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 garned 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 Part IV. The rest of the episode is then cut to the Star Wars universe, where the characters from the Family Guy universe are reenacted into Star Wars characters.
The story starts with the line "A long time ago, but somehow in the future". Then the opening crawl rolls 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 by 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 & Barbara Pewterschmidt).
Luke (Chris), Owen & Beru's nephew, desires to join the rebellion to fight the empire and listening to John Williams' 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 & uncle dead. John Williams is also dead; he is replaced by Danny Elfman (who Luke kills with his lightsaber).
On the Death Star, Vader learns that the station has one vulnerability: the exhaust port (added by the architect for aesthetic purposes). After a lengthy debate, 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 light speed("Lightspeed 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 lured 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.
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 light saber falls limp until he sees Luke. At this point, Obi-Wan is beheaded by Vader as the other characters escape (with the tractor beam off). They successfully fight off attacking "Thai" fighters and escape to the rebel base on Yavin 4.
The rebels assemble for the battle, sending Red Squadron, comprised 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 Porkins crashes into the Death Star 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 (they 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.
(In order of appearance)
|Written By||Alec Sulkin|
|Directed by||Dominic Polcino|
|Assistant Director||Joseph Lee|
|Executive Producer||Seth MacFarlane|
|Co-executive Producer||Steve Callaghan|
|Animation Producer||Shannon Smith|
|Production Designer||Salene Weatherwax|
|Music By||John Williams|
|Performed By||The London Symphony Orchestra|
|Production Supervisor||Patrick Welborn|
|Art Department||Kevin Hanley
|Sound Department||Jim Fitzpatrick
|Visual Effects||Bernard Mendiburu|
|Animation Department||Matt Barrios
Peter R. Brown
|Music Department||Patrick S. Clark
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 approved the episode since he happens to be a 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. It's also the only TV show he watches in addition to episodes of 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."
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 das 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".
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, a common source of debate among fans, 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 Rogue 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 ship 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, both of which are not 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 joined 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. In the opening crawl, both Vader's relation to Luke as father (revealed in The Empire Strikes Back) and Leia as sister (revealed in Return of the Jedi) are both mentioned, and Vader's relation to Luke is repeated by Beru to Luke later in the episode.
While making the attack run in the trench of the Death Star, Vader mentions "I have you now, young Skywalker." This revelation about Red 5 being a Skywalker was never made in the original 'A New Hope' by Vader.
The episode's title comes from the code name used during the production of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.
"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.
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 soundbite 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.
With the episode's ratings success, a sequel episode entitled "Something, Something, Something Dark Side" is in production and is expected to parody The Empire Strikes Back Fox Television has released a special DVD of "Blue Harvest" on January 15, 2008 in both regular and special editions. Extras include 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 has been 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. Also, every copy of the DVD includes 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 have received multiple complaints that the 'Fox Digital Copy' of "Blue Harvest" fails to transfer properly to iTunes. Apple seems to have resolved the issue..
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."