There is little question the Family Guy parodies of Star Wars are helped immensely by the availability of the source audio. John Williams score, the laser sound effects, explosions, and the Tie Fighter screech are intact, adding that sweeping sense of nostalgia while putting these episodes in a familiar light. Warming up an audience is easy when you can put the familiar text scroll on screen with the proper music and not just a knock-off.
While the gags vary in their ability to put a smile on your face, Something, Something Darkside is brilliant in its ability to spot the flaws of the original series. The animation catches the darkened window of space above Vader inside the Star Destroyer, turning it into a joke. The shot looking up as the Millenium Falcon barrels towards the screen with Tie’s chasing furiously replicates the shadows on the bottom of Star Destroyers perfectly. Dialogue is also precise, questioning why Lando is wearing Han’s clothes in the final frames of Cloud City.
Darkside has its own generated laughs, including a hilarious Empire training video, complete with a picnic as a Stormtrooper and his wife sit on Alderran, stating they should take a picture because they won’t see it again. Luke’s training on Dagobah with Yoda is spliced with scenes from Rocky IV, and again with accurate music.
Not everything works as intended, including the AT-AT wearing Crocs which is a total misfire along with the Juicy Fruit commercial, but Darkside knows its limits. The brisk running time never lets this slow down or get old, and even if they elicit groans instead of laughs, the great jokes far outweigh the letdowns.
Fox’s 1080i AVC transfer is generally flawless. The flat, solid colors provide little room for error. With the exception of Cloud City’s sky, which shows some notable banding, there are no other compression problems to note. Colors are bright, and contrast is high. The blacks of space are superb.
Lines are generally crisp with few aliasing errors. The biggest problems occur in the distance with the detailed ships that break down into a digital mess when they exist in the background. The image shows no anomalies in terms of ringing or edge enhancement.
The footage of Rocky IV, despite being cropped into the 4×3 frame with the rest of the episode, looks superb. Ivan Drago offers up some significant high fidelity detail, including defined pores and glistening sweat.
A DTS-HD effort tried to push some heavy audio but falls flat. Bass is disappointing, the various explosions flat and dull. When the AT-AT falls over from the tow cable, it hits the ground with a minimal thud. The bombs dropping on the asteroid after the evasion lack punch.
John William’s score is entirely stereo driven, never leaving those two channels. Surround tracking is exceptional, keeping Tie Fighters moving front to back effectively. Extensive use of positional dialogue is captured perfectly, keeping the intended effect.
Extras begin with a crowded commentary, led by Seth McFarlane, followed by producers Mark Hentemann & David Goodman, director Dominic Polcino, writer Kirker Butler, and actor Seth Green. Family Guy Fact-ups is a pop-up trivia track that never has a dull moment, popping up insanely fast factoids, sometimes about the show, other times about completely random things.
The Darkside of Poster Art looks at the creation of the parody cover art for this release, along with discussion of the actual Empire poster as well. A table read runs for 50-minutes, covering only the first two acts. Polcino provides a commentary over some animatics, and a sneak peek at the third parody is done at a table read, providing a little over two minutes of insight.
Note: Any interlacing on these screens is part of the capture process, and is not visible during general viewing.