- 10 February 2010
- By John Howell
In the history of cinema it's hard to top the utter disappointment felt when watching George Lucas' follow ups to the original Star Wars movies. From the horror of Jar Jar Binks (a completely humourless animated character introduced in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace) to the victory of special effects over substance, the style and sense of wonder present in the original three movies was nowhere to be found. With this level of disappointment, it's great to read an interview inTotal Film Magazine where George Lucas reveals that he wants his new live action Star Wars TV series to be more like the original movies."It's kind of likeEpisode IV — it's funny and there's action, but it's [a] lot more talky. It's more of what I would call a soap opera with a bunch of personal dramas in it. It's not really based on action-adventure films from the '30s — it's actually more based on film noir movies from the '40s!"
If by "more talky" he means more plot, depth and a more compelling narrative, I'm all for it. Even better was a quote from the show's producer Rick McCallum on the Star Wars Blog:
"It’s a much darker, much more character-based series, much more adult, and we’re hoping that it will go on for up to 400 episodes," he said.
In 2007, McCallum also said that the new TV show is "something that can go on for years and years. One of the ideas is that we’ll have multiple series going on in about two or three years' time."
More adult and more character focused (and darker without being silly!) is certainly what's needed to overcome the problems of the last three Star Wars movies. I'm aware that they made a great deal of money, but I can't imagine ever watching them again - even if they are released as special editions and converted to 3D. Imagine Jar Jar Binks in 3D! It’s too horrible to contemplate. If they really do make 400 episodes though, it will be hard to sustain the writing quality. Excellent TV series such as Lost, Fringe and Heroes struggle to avoid cliché and poor plotting and they are nowhere near the 400 episode mark.
According to io9 (via Wookiepedia and The Celebrity Cafe) the new Star Wars TV show takes place in the "dark times" between the last prequel Star Wars EpisodeIII: Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, when most of the Jedi and anti-emperor politicians were hunted down and killed. Apparently it will be a gritty and dark series, which will star minor characters, including Boba Fett, C-3PO, and the Emperor Palpatine.
MTV recently revealed that the action will follow the Rebel Alliance as it slowly gains strength against the Empire, and as he did with the animated Clone Wars series, Lucas will write and produce an entire year’s worth of episodes before looking for a cable channel to air them.
When asked what he thought about the new Star Wars TV show by The Huffington Post, Mark Hamill, the actor who played the iconic role of Luke Skywalker in the original three Star Wars movies, appears to agree that George Lucas lost his way in the last three movies and that a TV series is a "positive step" forward:
"They're going to really have to rely on good scripts rather than making it some special effects extravaganza," Hamill said. "... he kind of got caught up in making it bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger until you're just exploding with special effects all over the screen like some fireworks display. And to me, I think it's more important to make the audience care about the characters. And I think with an hour script for TV, he might be able to reboot in a way that's positive."
When asked whether he would make an appearance in the new show he added:
"I don't think it's set in the time frame. I don't know what the time frame is. My guess would be, if Luke appears, they'd want him younger. [Laughs] So they'd get a different actor. I really don't know."
Way back in 2005, the BBC reported that Lucas will write and produce the first season and then "hand it off from there", while remaining executive producer and general overseer throughout the rest of the series. The style they are aiming for is apparently similar to Lucas’ Young Indiana Jones TV series.
There is no fixed release date for the show, but it's expected sometime in 2011 or 2012 (with the end of 2010 no longer a possibility). According to MTV, casting for the series is currently underway.
Let’s hope the new Star Wars TV series, the first Star Wars spin off featuring live actors, makes up for the sins of the George Lucas follow up movies. I can’t live with another Jar Jar Binks or a young Anakin Skywalker in a futuristic racing vehicle (with sequences that look surprisingly like Xbox or PS3 computer games!). The sacrifices George Lucas appears to have made for the sake of blatant merchandising are disturbing.
Interestingly, speaking of Jar Jar, I came across an old Los Angeles Times article recently that reported that even some of the Lucasfilm team who worked on Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace had doubts about Jar Jar Binks and recognised he would alienate audiences. Phantom's visual effects supervisor Rob Coleman told a seminar that he brought his concerns to George Lucas, who told him that he had designed Jar Jar to appeal to small children. "I only had one audience member to please and that was George Lucas," Coleman said. "If he was happy with what we were doing with Jar Jar, then I was happy."
Apologies to fans of the last three Star Wars movies, but they just don’t do it for me at all. Even making allowances for being younger and more impressionable when I watched the originals, the contrast is too stark.Remember the love story between Anakin and Padme? It was a frightening thing. Please George, save me from the memories of that walking talking animated buffoon, the one and hopefully only Jar Jar Binks. Erase the nightmare. Let your live action Star Wars TV show be a compelling new chapter in a series that has lost its way but deserves to rise from the ashes.
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