As you might have read in a column I wrote last week, Disney has dropped its new streaming service Disney + (pronounced Disney Plus) for all to enjoy. And while many people were binging their favorite Disney movies and TV shows right out of the gate, the first thing I watched on the new service was “The Mandalorian.”
The show is the first of the platform’s live-action “Star Wars” series that will be doled out in the coming years. As a massive fan of “Star Wars,” this show is legitimately the only real reason I got Disney + in the first place; everything else on the platform is just a bonus for me. And at two episodes in, I am thrilled with the best piece of “Star Wars” entertainment I have experienced since being a kid.
“The Mandalorian” has me hyped for many reasons. The first is that the show is centering on a group of characters that I love in the “Star Wars” universe, Mandalorians. If you have seen the original movies “The Empire Strikes Back” or “Return of the Jedi,” you are likely already familiar with the most famous Mandalorian in “Star Wars” canon, Boba Fett.
The series does not (as of yet) feature the famous Fett, but centers on a so-far nameless member of another Mandalorian tribe. Much like Fett, the titular character is working as a bounty hunter in the galaxy far, far away. And, also like Fett, the protagonist is donning the iconic Mandalorian armor that Boba is known for, though with a different color scheme.
At only two episodes in, I have found myself watching those episodes on repeat as I search for easter eggs and ponder where the series may be heading. The show takes the best parts of classic spaghetti westerns and old samurai films, and blends them together perfectly in the “Star Wars” universe.
The series is set a few years after the events of “Return of the Jedi.” The Empire is no more, and the galaxy is rebuilding after a long period of tyrannical rule. In this time, the bounty business seems to be good as well, as our main character operates as one of the best bounty hunters in his guild.
Our main character, played by Pedro Paschall (“Game of Thrones,” “Narcos”), is basically a Clint Eastwood in space sort of deal. A man of few words, he accepts a bounty from an off-the books contact known as The Client, who is played by prolific German director Werner Herzog. The Client, who is seemingly a former imperial, tasks our currently no-named protagonist with bringing in a specific bounty, preferably alive, though dead would be acceptable at a lower fee. There are few details on the bounty immediately available, but The Client assures our protagonist it should be short work for a man of his skill.
The payment for the job is a large container of Beskar Steel, the very durable material used by Mandalorians to fashion their trademark armor. With the stage set, our hero heads out to collect his bounty, while meeting some interesting, funny and dangerous characters along the way.
The series so far has had its share of surprises for me, with the bounty target itself shocking myself and other audiences alike (in a good way). That being said, I won’t delve much into the plot so far, but will rather talk about some of the settings and things that the show is doing impeccably well.
So far, “The Mandalorian” has been able to walk the fine line of fan service without going overboard with it. The show does its best to expand subtle things about the “Star Wars” universe that fans such as myself might have been curious about. One example is a big action scene involving a sand crawler, one of the big roving mechanical vehicles used by the Jawas in the “Star Wars” universe. This scene was not only fun, but gave fans a chance to get a deeper and more in-depth look at a bit of the universe that was only ever background in the movies.
And this brings me to the second thing that I love about the show – the fact that it is a live-action “Star Wars” TV series. There have been plenty of cartoons in the past, but this is the first time we are seeing a “Star Wars” universe in live-action without it being confined to a feature film.
This is where the series shows the most promise for me. I am a fan of TV over film because TV allows for the chance to really flesh a story out and explore a world; this isn’t always something easily done in a 2.5-hour movie. The ability for this show and other “Star Wars” shows coming down the pipe to really flesh out this universe and play a long game is very exciting to me. For myself and many other “Star Wars” fans, this is a really big game changer for the “Star Wars” universe. And the series is in good hands, with showrunner Jon Favreau (you know, the guy who directed those popular “Iron Man” movies) steering the ship in a very favorable direction.
It has been a while since I have been this excited about “Star Wars.” As much as I enjoy the new movies, a shuffling of directors and other things make me feel as though Disney really didn’t have a direction in mind for the new movies, just a nostalgia dollar they wanted to cash in. But with the advent of “The Mandalorian” and the promise it brings for quality, live-action series set in this beloved universe, my excitement is yet again piqued.
There have been some rumblings that Favreau’s leadership role in the “Star Wars” realm could go beyond just this show. As far as I am concerned, give the man the keys to the kingdom. Episodes run about 30 minutes a pop, and new episodes are available each Friday. I don’t think I am alone in my love for the series, as production of season two is already underway.