Review: Fox's 'Family Guy' takes on 'Star Wars'

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Twice as much of a good thing may be twice as long as it needs to be.

That's one lesson to be found in this weekend's double-length "Family Guy" parody of "Star Wars." The extra time gives this loving spoof the chance to attack every little angle of George Lucas' beloved space epic. Which is great if you're a fanboy/girl who loves every little angle of George Lucas' beloved space epic. But admiration for series creator Seth MacFarlane's send-up detail is not quite the same as enjoying his show for its own sake, at least not for those of us less intensely attached to the subject being spoofed.

Of course, lessons are the last thing we expect from "Family Guy," which inexorably insults and offends because that's its DNA. Before the "Star Wars" tale kicks in - as told by dad Peter when a power failure foils the family's tube-viewing - there's a vulgar golf-coverage riff about how many balls can fit in a certain person's mouth. And after the Lucas lampoon does get going, one of that space epic's most upright heroes quickly exhibits the qualities of a child molester.

That take doesn't add up to much, though, and neither does the episode as a whole, veering wildly from bull's-eye satire to gotta-fill-time-now exposition. If you're retelling "Star Wars," you have to cover the whole blasted thing, start to finish, whether you've got a trenchant twist on each scene or not.

Some can be shrewd. Peter introduces his tale as "a story of love and loss, fathers and sons, and the foresight to retain international merchandising rights." Too bad none of that gets followed up on. But knocking "Family Guy" for being scattershot is like calling "Lost" confounding. It's sort of the raison d'etre. You're better off savoring each riff singly, whether it's Princess Leia/Lois' fumbling with computer technology, or dwarf Vader - yes, the black-robed baddie is embodied by bloodthirsty babe Stewie - suddenly finding himself playing "Deal or No Deal."

Targets fly past faster than the Millennium Falcon, from Bush-Cheney bumper stickers to Kabbalah trendiness. We get John Williams' orchestral movie scores and "People's Court" theme music. Plus Rush Limbaugh, Leslie Nielsen, Magic Johnson, Redd Foxx and Tom Baker's "Doctor Who." Even the Asteroids arcade game and TV's "Robot Chicken." Too often, though, "Family Guy" kills time by assessing the Los Angeles real estate market (talk about an inside joke) or Han Solo attempting to take home a scavenged sofa.

We have to be content with reminding ourselves how Peter had introduced himself as the Harrison Ford character: "the only actor whose career isn't destroyed by this movie." If this "Family Guy" double-shot gives the mind plenty of time to wander, at least we've got something sharp to muse on.

FAMILY GUY. The Griffins retell "Star Wars," as only this bleeped-up animated family can. Hour-long season premiere Sunday 9-10 p.m. on Fox/5.

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