Between 2005, and 2007, George Lucas announced a few things he was working on. One was that he was planning on re-releasing Star Wars when the system he called ‘Blue Light’ Laser was sufficiently advanced to enable high definition digital discs to replace DVD as the next generation of home cinema. These prototype discs were designed to remain in their plastic cases rather than using them merely as storage for the media. This eventually became the Blu Ray technology we now enjoy.
Another Lucas reveal was his intention to create 100 episodes of a TV show, set in the Star Wars universe. This was planned to be of equal quality to the movies, but at that time was too expensive to bring about. That project eventually became The Clone Wars, and went on to win a number of awards including four Emmys. Years went by and the idea was floated from time to time, of revisiting the live action series concept, until it was confirmed in November 2017 that Disney were indeed committing to bring George’s vision to the screen. And so, two years later, The Mandalorian has arrived to the delight of everyone who has seen it.*
Boba Fett was envisoned as a Star Wars stand-in for the cowboys of George’s youth, and drew on the popular Clint Eastwood movies of the time, both for his overall look and his ‘man of few words’ character. The western styling of the Mandalorians was continued with the introduction of Jango Fett in Episode Two: Attack Of The Clones. Jango, a simple man making his way in the universe, a description that seems to belong to someone riding into a dusty town to be confronted by the Sheriff, rather than a meddling Jedi in the clinical hallways of Kamino. Jango, and to a lesser degree Boba, came equipped with western style weaponry including gleaming six shooters (Westar-34’s), or a cradled shotgun style blaster, and both used a wrist mounted Lasso to really hammer home the metaphor.
The Mandalorian is himself, at this time, a man with no name . Throughout the first episode we follow the introductory adventure of the title character, through a suitably western styled frontier town slice of the galaxy. All the borrowed motifs that George draped his Mando’s in are present and correct, but in a way that fits with what we have seen before so that we know (and feel) we are watching an extension of Georges vision, and not some slick fan fic, or other derivative western in space such as Whedon’s ill fated Firefly. There are canteens and barfights, Spanish style villas and rodeo references, and people being shot from rooftops, but all flawlessly matched up with Rogue One, A New Hope, or The Phantom Menace to take its place as truly Star Wars.
The many people working on this show under Kennedy, Chiang, Filoni and Favreau have created characters and costumes, sets and locations that not only look the part, but also fill out the 30 year post Jedi period prior to The Force Awakens. Taking place approximately five years after The Battle of Endor, The Empire is in decline. The Imperial remnant is skulking about and the New Republic is busy restoring order to the galaxy. In this time, the Bounty Hunters guild is understandably busy. The Mandalorian displays a variety of skills in this first episode, dubbed ‘Chapter One’ and easily gets more done in one forty minute show than Boba and Jango combined.
There is plenty of action, and it is delivered in a way that younger kids can enjoy, but there is also some meaty violence subtly framed to keep the adults entertained without being too on the nose. Aside from action, The Mandalorian expands the lore and tradition of Mandalorians as a people, as well as some brief glimpses of the Mando’s origin yet to be told. Further praise is deserved for the music of Ludwig Göransson, producer of Childish Gambino’s mega hit, This is America. Throughout the show the music delivers tribal themes supporting the Mando culture that has evolved in Clone Wars and Legends, as well as hints of cowboy movie, and more modern styles to give a fresh yet familiar soundtrack. I’m particularly fond of the brass fanfare of the final credits, which I find myself thinking is the main characters theme, much like Luke’s association with The Force Theme, from A New Hope.
I really enjoyed this first episode a great deal. Action, humour, and loads and loads of good Star Warsyness. I’m completely sold on this show, and can’t wait to see where this wandering Mando goes next. The Mandalorian is proof that not only is the force with us, but George Lucas, in one way or another, continues to inspire and guide the Star Wars galaxy.
D23 Mandalorian Poster and Trailer reveals.
Celebration Chicago Reveals and Full panel
*At the time of writing I have seen many reviews, social media posts, and comments praising the show, not one negative. YouTube will probably have some along shortly, as usual, to troll for clicks.