The comic book permeates all levels of popular culture. This sporadic feature reviews some recent examples from the world of digital video discs (compatible with DVD-ROM and Blu-ray-enabled computers and home entertainment centers) and also includes a recommended sequential-art reading list to extend the multimedia adventures.
Family Guy: It’s a Trap! (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, not rated, $29.99) Television’s most dysfunctional family returns for a third time to a galaxy far, far away to skewer another “Star Wars” movie.
This time it’s “Return of the Jedi,” and despite enough juicy source material for even a third-grader to mock the mighty Skywalker clan, Seth MacFarlane and his sophomoric band of quahog-loving cohorts come up short.
Maybe it’s because I have seen just about every permutation of the gags Mr. McFarlane’s group has up its collective sleeve during the near-decade of “Family Guy‘s” television run.
The humor is a stretch (shooting at the band “Power Station” to destroy the Death Star, and Rush Limbaugh as a Rancor, ughh).
In the uncensored version on the Blu-ray format, Peter Griffin stars as Han Solo; his wife, Lois, as Princess Leia; son Chris as Luke Skywalker; baby Stewie as Darth Vader; and Brian the dog as Chewbacca.
The fairly precise collection of story highlights from the Jedi script is compacted into an hourlong episode. The stars of the show are the nicely animated spaceships, space battles and locations revealed in high definition.
However, fans will smile at surprise appearances by Meg Griffin as the Sarlaac and characters from other McFarlane shows popping up, such as “American Dad’s” fish Roger as Admiral Ackbar and “The Cleveland Show’s” Tim the Bear as the Ewok, Wickett.
I’ll admit to chuckling at the high-speed chase in the forest of Endor performed on bicycles, appearances by the real Ted Knight and Conway Twitty, and Peter’s exposed buttocks popping out of their carbonite tomb.
Suffice to report, men still wearing “Chewie” T-shirts and who are fascinated by the humorous complications of flatulence, sophomoric double entendres and profanity might embrace “It’s a Trap.”
For the record, I’m a much bigger fan of the biting “Star Wars” parodies pulled off by Seth Green and his “Robot Chicken” posse.
Best extras: I think the fact that Mr. MacFarlane walks out midway through the optional commentary track (while the others, including director Peter Shin, continue on) pretty much sums up his commitment to the project.
For extras, I would stick with watching four members of the production staff play a 30-minute round of Star Wars: Trivial Pursuit. Yeah, it’s sometimes like watching paint dry yet somehow intriguing (like appreciating a car fire) and occasionally humorous, especially as the players lament how this is the “worst DVD extra ever.” Yes, we all agree.
Animation fans also will want to check out the select segments of the cartoon in its raw storyboard/animatic form.
Read all about it: The defunct Devil’s Due Publishing offered three 48-page volumes of “Family Guy” sequential-art stories in 2006. Find a well-stocked online comics supplier to purchase Book 1: 100 Ways to Kill Lois, Book 2: Peter Griffin’s Guide to Parenting, and Book 3: Books Don’t Taste Very Good ($6.95 each).