I thought it was about time to write something about the new Star Wars stuff I’ve been watching on Disney Plus and what better time than on May the 4th? For once I will try and make this post spoiler free.
The law-abiding Star Wars fans in the UK had to wait for the launch of Disney Plus to see The Mandalorian and even then it was being drip-fed to them despite the show having concluded in the US. It was difficult therefore to avoid spoilers and certainly the social media frenzy around ‘baby Yoda’. Is that a spoiler? Nah… No wonder that so many people were pirating the show.
The show is by far the best thing to watch in terms of the Star Wars TV shows available on Disney Plus. The story is set after the fall of the Empire (as depicted in Return of the Jedi) and before the emergence of the First Order (in The Force Awakens). So the aforementioned ‘baby Yoda’ obviously isn’t Yoda but a creature of the same unnamed race as everyone’s favourite green goblin.
The series follows the story of a lone bounty hunter, played by Game of Thrones and Narcos actor Pedro Pascal, Netflix’s very own Burt Reynolds. Like Clint Eastwood’s famous cowboy character he is a man(dalorian) with no name (for most of the show) and indeed no face (for most of the show) since it is against the code he follows to ever take off his helmet. Mando, as he’s nicknamed by some, operates on the edge of the galaxy far far away from the authority of the New Republic and the warlord dregs of the old Empire.
The special effects are out of this world and if I didn’t know better from watching lots of making of clips on YouTube (and there’s the new making of series to enjoy – see later) I’d swear they had a huge budget and had travelled to lots of really sweet-ass locations to shoot. Production values are way high and I enjoyed every episode more than The Rise of Skywalker which also landed on the streaming channel today.
There are numerous connections to other parts of the canon and a real treat for fans of the animated show Rebels in the final shot of the final episode which stars Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul‘s evil chicken man Giancarlo Esposito. There are lots of other great actors spread among the show which was mostly written by creator Jon Favreau with credit also to George Lucas and his padawan Dave Filoni (obviously) along with a couple of others.
The role of director was shared out between Deborah Chow (Better Call Saul, Mr Robot, American Gods), that Filoni guy again, Jurassic World star Bryce Dallas Howard, Rick Famuyiwa (who also helped write) and Favreau’s MCU pal Taika Waititi (What We Do In The Shadows, Thor: Ragnarok) who it was announced today will be directing a new Star Wars movie. Yay! The quality of writing, direction, production, props, effects and music shines through in buckets. The show deserves all the plaudits it’s getting and I’m sure will encourage Disney to pump money into other TV shows in the future – I for one cannot wait for Ewan McGregor to reprise his role as Obi Wan.
Since it is not currently available in the UK I have had to resort to using a VPN to get access to Star Wars: Resistance on Disney Plus. I don’t have a bad feeling about doing so as I know that sooner or later it will be made available and I’m paying Disney a monthly subscription anyhow. It was one of the reasons I signed up for Disney Plus and so I was a little disgruntled that it was available on launch in the UK.
Resistance is set in the small amount of time three decades after the Return of Jedi and about 6 months before The Force Awakens. It is not my favourite time period in the canon to be brutally honest – I prefer R2 units to ball droids and Jedi to force users, and the absence of any lightsabers is a shame. Some of the characters from The Force Awakens make short appearances but this is mainly a standalone story about Kazuda Xiono, a pilot and trainee mechanic who is recruited by the Resistance to live on a large space station called the Colossus (which gets a few seconds of screen time in the final space battle of The Rise of Skywalker) to spy on the growing threat of the First Order.
I’ve binge-watched the two seasons (apparently it’s been canned by Disney) and while it did help to explain some of how the First Order rises to power under the nose of the New Republic (established after the fall of The Empire) a lot of the episodes left me repeating to myself ‘it’s a kid’s show, it’s a kid’s show…’ and gritting my teeth. it’s a little to slapstick for me although I was impressed by the animation.
Along with The Mandalorian, Stars Wars: The Clone Wars final season was a big reason to sign up. I have been a big fan since it’s inception and even forked out for the ‘Lost Episodes’ DVD set via a German import (now available on Amazon Video) which was compiled when the show got canned. Thankfully, Disney decided that, like Emperor Palpatine, it deserved a resurrection. Of course we know that Rex, Maul and Ashoka Tano survive whatever is thrown at them in this show because they pop up again in Rebels, but fans desperately needed to see the missing connective tissue between the shows.
I found the first few episodes in the final season rather unexciting and then things slowly started picking up in the quartet of episodes featuring the Martez sisters along with Ashoka. By the time Ashoka meets up with old friends Anakin Skywalker and Obi Wan I was hooked and eager to see each episode. This is where the UK and the US seemed to be synchronised and so the final episode dropped onto our screens quite fittingly today.
The last episode was as powerful as the penultimate episode and while it was like watching Titanic, since we knew who survived and who didn’t, it was more about how they survived than if. Also as it turns out the episode had other similarities to Titanic which I won’t go into here for fear of breaching my promise to avoid spoilers.
So what to look forward to next before we hopefully finally see Ashoka Tano for the first time in a live action production – there’s some pretty much confirmed rumours that Rosario Dawson will be playing her in season 2 of The Mandalorian? (I guess she might pop up in the Obi Wan show too). Well there’s a new documentary series called Disney Gallery and the first of a set of episodes dedicated to the making of The Mandalorian dropped today. So no guesses what I’m off to do after I click the ‘Publish…’ button on this post….
Don’t forget the force will be with you…. always 🙂
PS: Happy birthday Doug if you’re reading this!