10. THUMB WARS: THE PHANTOM CUTICLE
By now, Steve Oedekerk’s “Thumbnation” series is old hat (or old thimble), but when Thumb Wars premiered on UPN back in May of 1999 — a day before The Phantom Menace came out, no less — the concept was just weird and innovative enough to be amusing. In case you can’t tell from the description, the film follows the basic plot of A New Hope, only with thumbs dressed up as the characters. Oedekerk gets a surprising amount of comedic mileage out of finger-based parody (who even knew there was such a thing?), throwing in nice touches like the Chewbacca counterpart having a claw on his head instead of a regular thumbnail.
09. HARDWARE WARS
Simply put, this list wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Hardware Wars. Released a little over a year after 1977’s A New Hope, the fake movie trailer has the distinction of being the very first Star Wars parody, an art form that has since become a cottage industry in itself. It’s not the most focused thing in the world — even the central idea of space battles being fought with household appliances never goes all the way — but it does have a certain infectious glee to it, especially in the way Luke Skywalker stand-in Fluke Starbucker “gee-willickers” his way through 13 minutes of unrestrained silliness. Creator Ernie Fosselius also recast Chewbacca as a Cookie Monster knockoff named Chewchilla the Wookie Monster, making you wonder if he’s indirectly responsible for Frank Oz’s involvement in the trilogy.
08. MUPPET BABIES – “GONZO’S VIDEO SHOW”
The Jim Henson Company has a long, complex history with George Lucas’ most famous franchise, so much that you could make a separate list made up entirely of Muppets Star Wars parodies. But until last year (more on that in a bit), the only one that satirized one of the films in its entirety came not from C-3PO and R2-D2’s cameo on Sesame Street or the cast’s appearance on The Muppet Show. No, the most comprehensive Muppets Star Wars spoof actually occurred in the first season of Muppet Babies, when Gonzo shoots his own version of the film. Given the series’ penchant for mixing animation with live-action clips, it’s one of the few parodies to use actual footage from the movie and gets the casting just about perfect: Kermit as Luke Skywalker (make that “Skyhopper”), Piggy as Princess Leia, Skeeter and Scooter as the droids, Rowlf as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Fozzie as Chewbacca, and Animal as Darth Vader. The only major characters missing are Grand Moff Tarkin and Han Solo, the latter of which would be portrayed by Gonzo himself in a later episode. Still, that never felt quite right. He’s more of a Vader, if anything.
07. THAT ’70s SHOW – “A NEW HOPE”
Where every other entry on this list stays relegated to space, the 20th episode of That ’70s Show moves the Star Wars action to Milwaukee for a distinctly suburban take on George Lucas’ opus. Writers Joshua Sternin and Jeffrey Ventimilia manage to squeeze a little metafiction in there, too, as the half hour starts with Eric Foreman and his friends on their way to see — and soon become obsessed with — A New Hope. Following the film, Eric discovers that the Dark Side lurks in Kenosha as well, mainly in the form of a golden-haired snob named David Milbank who’s going after Donna. After a dream sequence where the cast inhabits various roles from the movie (Kelso wants Han Solo but gets Chewbacca), the Vader connection becomes even more literal when, after discovering David’s dad is going to put Red out of a job, Eric socks him in the nose. David’s hand goes to his face, his breathing becomes labored, and he’s suddenly a Midwestern version of the Sith Lord. Thus, That ’70s Show becomes the rare Star Wars parody that manages to comment on seeing the film while also poking fun of the film itself.
06. “WEIRD AL” YANKOVIC – “THE SAGA BEGINS”
A long time ago, in a galaxy where Wikipedia plot summaries didn’t yet exist, the best way to learn what happened in Episode I without actually having to watch Episode I was to listen to “The Saga Begins”. Set to the tune of Don McLean’s “American Pie”, “Weird Al” Yankovic’s epic parody hits all the major story points of the film and then some, as seen from Obi-Wan’s point of view. Needless to say, it’s a superior product to its source material. Jar Jar Binks suddenly becomes a lot more tolerable when he’s only mentioned in one lyric, and the death of Qui-Gon Jinn hits hard when described over the same chords that soundtrack The Day the Music Died.