This weekend is the premiere of the new movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens, so to mark the occasion, I thought that I’d look back at one of my favorite sketches from the first Robot Chicken Star Wars Special, back when Robot Chicken was still funny. This sketch falls into the “I wish I wrote that” category. Seth MacFarlane’s voicing of emperor Palpatine is hilarious.
All of the hype surrounding the imminent premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens caused me to remember this ad from a year or two ago. This is the 2nd (I believe) spot from LEGO’s “Build Together” campaign with the father/son road trip (because apparently, mothers and daughters don’t bond, play with Legos or go on road trips. So LEGO is strictly a guy thing now? Wuuuuut?). Anyways, this particular spot focuses on the Star Wars franchise. Check it out:
Yes, that’s George Lowe as the announcer there, and that’s awesome. Despite this, however, I have a couple of nitpicks about this ad. Yeah, I know that I shouldn’t be over thinking a toy commercial, but the fact that Darth Vader is there and not being the bad guy is nothing short of bizarro. Darth Vader is the dark lord of the Sith and Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca and the droids (but not Princess Leia, because girls are icky and they’d contaminate the RV with their cooties) are part of the rebel alliance determined to bring down the empire. They wouldn’t be hanging out as such. Again, yeah, I know this is just a toy commercial and as such, nothing that happens in it is in any way canon to the movie universe, but Darth Vader hanging out with the rest of the Star Wars crew like he’s just one of the gang is just weird. It’d be like seeing the Shredder chillaxing with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or He-Man and Skeletor hanging out and acting like bros; it’s just plain odd.
As for the commercial’s punchline where the kid asks his father if they can keep Chewbacca as a pet…
Today we’re forcing you to remember The Ewoks/Droids Adventure Hour, a Saturday morning cartoon series based on the popular Star Wars franchise, but taking place after Return of the Jedi, which aired on ABC from 1985 through 1987. It was that special time when the Star Wars movies had ended but George Lucas realized he could still milk this cash cow for all its’ worth by shilling it out to every other possible media (including a goshawful fighting game), SatAM included. So this is sort of both a Toons & Tunes as well as a Cartoon Couch, since most of our contemporaries have forgotten this series existed.
I won’t be doing full reviews on either show, since what I remember of both the Ewoks and Droids cartoons respectively, is that they were each a bit boring. Honestly, the best things about both shows were their opening theme songs. First up, the theme from Ewoks. This show was basically one of the many “cute, cuddly creatures living together in a community forest setting” cartoons created in the wake of NBC’s Smurfs, only set in the Star Wars universe. Give a listen:
Great, now I’m going to be hearing “E-E-E-E-Ewoks” in my head for the rest of the day. Still catchy, though.
Next up, the Droids opening. Droids was the more traditionally Star Wars-ey of the 2 shows, with R2-D2 and C3PO passing through various human masters and encountering sci-fi adventures along the way (just no appearances by any of the human characters from the movies, they’d want money for the use of their likenesses, after all) Unlike Ewoks, which boasted a single stand-alone story in each episode, the Droids episodes were each mini-serials, with the stories contained within 3 or 4-part sagas, but each ep still being a self-contained story with no cliffhanger endings. And again, the opening theme was the best thing about the show.
Droids was the slightly more ambitious of the 2 toons, so not surprisingly it was gone after a single season. The following year, only Ewoks returned as a stand-alone series entitled All-New Ewoks, with–drag!–an entirely different theme song:
Granted, this 2nd opening is more indicative of the sort of thing the Ewoks would perform (heck, it’s very similar to the some the ‘Woks were jamming to at the end of Return of the Jedi–which I’m sure was the idea), but I still like the first theme better. I don’t know much about Star Wars, but I know what earworms I like.
Neither Ewoks nor Droids set the world on fire, but trust me, there are worse Star Wars cartoons out there. Much worse.
The recent Star Wars animated series Star Wars: Rebels which is currently airing on Disney X-D brought another animated series back into my memory: Star Wars Detours, an unreleased American computer-animated comic science fiction television series produced by Lucasfilm Animation in collaboration with Robot Chicken creators Seth Green and Matthew Senreich. When asked if the series would have any action in it, Seth Green responded with “No more than the average Looney Tunes or Tom & Jerry!” I like that response. Star Wars Detours was announced at Star Wars Celebration VI in summer 2012. In March 2013, Lucasfilm postponed Detours while they reconsidered whether releasing a comedy series prior to the sequels “makes sense”. That September, Green said 39 episodes had been completed, with 62 additional scripts finished.
I should be covering this show on “Peeks” since it hasn’t made it’s debut yet. However, the series was produced prior to Disney’s purchasing LucasFilm in 2012, which postponed Detours’ premiere back until ??? All that we have of Star Wars Detours are previews and trailers which have been floating around on YouTube. Here’s one of them:
Naturally, because Detours was created and produced by Seth Green and Matt Senreich, I got a serious Robot Chicken vibe from watching this, even though this series was CG animated rather than being stop motion animated. It would have been interesting to see just how long this series could have milked the comedic take on Star Wars, especially since Detours was G-rated, unlike the TV-MA rated Robot Chicken. Naturally, upon learning of Detours creation, there came the usual whining and rating by hardcore Star Wars fans that a comedic take on Star Wars “Will ruin my memories of the original!!!!” Uh, no it won’t because that’s not how memories work. The original Star Wars movies aren’t going to disappear just because new ones are being made. The new ones will still be on DVD and on television. You’ll still be able to see them whenever you want to.
No it hasn’t. If you cease to love the original and it’s now not as special to you just because of a reboot that you don’t have to see anyway, then it can’t have mattered that much to you in the first place.
As for the query of how much sense a Star Wars comedy series before the sequels would have made, I must ask; How much sense did it make for Star Wars: The Clone Wars to have 3 seasons of events between Episodes 2 and 3? And I honestly have no idea when in the franchise’s timeline that Star Wars: Rebels is supposed to take place in. And it’s not like Detours would have been canon anyway. Just because a show is on, that doesn’t mean that you have to watch it.
It’s too bad that Star Wars Detours may never see the light of day now that Disney owns LucasFilm. While nothing that I saw on the trailers made me laugh out loud, I still would welcome a comedic take on the franchise, if it’s funny and well written, but then, I’m not a huge Star Wars fan to begin with, so I’m easy.
Yes, this is yet another Christmas themed video. I can hear your collective groans, but ’tis the season, so deal with it.
This little ditty manages to be fun, sweet and quirky without getting overly sappy or sentimental like many holiday songs tend to do. The CGI is a tad primitive and the singing is a smidge flat, but to be fair this was the early 2000’s and the singer, Kirsty Dawson, was only 16 at the time and this was her first time performing in a recording studio. Anyways, George Lucas himself apparently liked the short, since he hand picked it as the winner of a Star Wars fan film contest. Enjoy Christmas Tauntauns.