Both Family Guy and Robot Chicken have been releasing George Lucas backed Star Wars parody episodes over the past few years. Robot Chicken has released three episodes, simply titled Episodes I, II, and III. Family Guy has also released three episodes, titled Blue Harvest, Something, Something, Something Dark Side, and It's a Trap! Between the creators of the two shows there has been a healthy rivalry to outdo each other in creating the funniest Star Wars episode. So, who has won?
The approach of the two shows is completely different. Robot Chicken approaches it in its traditional sketch format. They jump freely across all six movies. One minute you're with JarJar trying to sell auto insurance, the next moment you're with Luke and Vader in a father-son dance competition. Alternately, Family Guy takes one movie at a time and literally retells the movie with startling faithfulness, taking pains to recreate exact camera angles and framing.
I found that in almost every regard, Family Guy beat Robot Chicken. You would think hopping freely around all six movies, Robot Chicken would be able to cherry-pick the best gags but quite a few of them are simply absurd and fall short of being funny. In all of the Robot Chicken Star Wars episodes only had one laugh-out-loud moment for me (it involved a jedi dropping a lightsaber on a starship). I actually found the Star Wars episodes to be less funny than a typical Robot Chicken. It's almost like they were trying too hard.
Family Guy's Star Wars episodes have a knack for integrating Family Guy conventions into the Star Wars story. There are jokes that work on so many levels, for Star Wars fans, Family Guy fans and as a social commentary. From episode to episode there are running gags that you look for (What's Meg going to be in this episode?). I found myself laughing out loud regularly and, in typical Family Guy fashion, uttering a shocked, "Oh my gosh!" at the irreverent humor ("You can't say that word! That's OUR word!") They manage to lampoon and celebrate Star Wars at the same time. I felt as if it's okay for them to make fun of Star Wars because it is so evident that they love Star Wars so much. I enjoyed these episodes more than your typical Family Guy episode. The Family Guy creative team truly reached its pinnacle with the Star Wars episodes.
So the winner? Family Guy in round one. And two. And three. They have beaten Robot Chicken in every imaginable way on this one. If you haven't checked out the Family Guy Star Wars episodes, sell your Robot Chicken collection on ebay so you can BUY, not Netflix, BUY these bad boys. You'll want to keep pulling them down off of your shelf time and time again.