Evil Fire Breathing Dragon Lady and I have been in a bit of a disagreement lately concerning the launch of Disney+, and by extension, the Mandalorian. Given that the new streaming service is practically bursting at the seams with nerd and geek content, I’ve been adamant that I want to get it. She, on the other hand… Well, I believe her exact words were, “I’m not paying for another damned streaming service.”
My son (I don’t have a clever nickname for him so I’ll just call him Mr. I-Mean-I-Guess until I come up with something better) ended up being the pressure valve that released some of the tension. As an adult with a full-time job, he has his own Hulu account, and added Disney+ to his account. So, EFBDL and I don’t have to pay for it. For now.
Mr. I-Mean-I-Guess is as big a nerd and geek as I am. Yes, I raised him well. So, when the Mandalorian was announced, he was all over it. And after seeing the first couple trailers, his and my excitement only grew.
So we watched the first episode last night (which they’re calling chapters).
First, for those who haven’t seen it or haven’t subscribed to Disney+, they’re dropping one chapter at a time in a more traditional television-style release format. So after a little nudging, we convinced EFBDL to watch the first ep. I’ll try not to get spoilery in my commentary, but be warned, some may crop up.
One of the first questions I had was when the show takes place in the Star Wars timeline. I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to say, that it seems to come sometime after the fall of The Empire, but before the rise of the First Order. This comes in about maybe a quarter into the show in two parts. One in a discussion about money and secondly when we see some old-school (read New Hope through Return) Storm Troopers. Their armors look tired and worn and filthy. They clearly had not been to an imperial barracks in some time.
Also, one of the first things I noticed was that production quality on this show is damn near movie quality. I only had two little issues. One was the make up for Nick Nolte’s Kuill character. The facial mask for the character felt a little dated in that it looked pretty stiff. It didn’t move well when he spoke. I’m not sure there’s any way around that without CG, which can be expensive and sometimes look odd.
The only other issue was actually a CG shot of Pedro Pascal’s Mandalorian and Kuill riding away on the strange “blurrg” creatures. It just looked a little choppy and unnatural. Though the creatures themselves looked pretty good, it was just that one weird clip.
Other than that, I felt like I was watching a Star Wars movie.
The Mandalorian himself is a complete mystery. Well, like 93% a mystery. There are some moments where we get some flashbacks. For the first ten minutes, he barely talks at all. Which, in these circumstances, is amusing in regard to other people’s reactions. As the chapter progresses, we get those flashbacks as well as some touches of Mandalorian culture that give some rich world building that is outside of anything we’ve got from the movies.
I’m not sure how many of the other characters will be repeating. I will say, one of my favorites almost certainly won’t be returning, and that’s Brian Posehn’s Speeder Pilot. I love most things this man is in, because he’s so fun and adorably nerdy. However, I’d love to see him return, either as a series of clones scattered across the galaxy rim or whatever.
Ships and Aliens
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One of the things that is always so interesting about Star Wars, to me anyway, is the ships and aliens. While Star Trek has a good, stable number of ship and a few aliens, it’s just never that diverse. Star Wars, on the other hand, conveys a galaxy teeming with a wide range of life and incredibly different styles of ship designs. And while we do only get a few ship in this first chapter, there’s a decent range of aliens.
As for the ships, I’ll let Twitter’s @spaceshipsporn tell all about that. I’ve rolled up their thread on the show so far, but head over and give them some love for all the tremendous work they do on various scifi spaceship lore.
Whole I haven’t found an account on Twitter that does aliens like @spaceshipsporn (An aliens version of that name could be very problematic), I did find someone who’s made a compendium of aliens on the show. And they say they’ll keep it updated. You can find that post here: https://alienanthology.wordpress.com/2019/11/13/preliminary-species-compendium-the-mandalorian/
But here’s a few highlights…
The Kubaz. This being is noted from A New Hope as the one who dropped the dime on Luke and Obiwan in Mos Eisley. He has the long, trunk-like nose and makes a squeaking sound when he talks. In the Mandalorian, he’s a simple ferryman, though I could easily see him letting slip who his clients are to someone with the right number of credits.
The Ugnaught. I’ve already mentioned Nick Nolte’s Kuill character. Ugnaughts first appeared in The Empire Strikes Back as the odd little guys salvaging the droids in cloud city who place keepaway with Chewie using C3PO’s head. This time around, our on-screen Ugnaught is far less obnoxious. Out of all of the non-humans, he has one of the largest roles. He appears to be a simple desert hermit who’s trying to return a bit of peace and quiet to his neighborhood. But who knows what his real motivations are.
The Mythrol. This is a new species that hasn’t appeared in Star Wars lore before, I believe. Blue skin with some amphibious traits. Apparently they have glands that are valuable, making them prey to unsavory types, and can hold their…ahem…biological waste for quite a long time.
Kowakian Monkey-Lizard. I can’t go without mentioning this one. This is the obnoxious little creature that was Jabba the Hutt’s pet. It’s amusing to see this creature again, even if it is in as a street food.
Unnamed Species. So, this one is more of a tease. Only because you don’t see it until the end and saying who/what it is is HUGE. In fact, just having this thing in the show, from a lore perspective, is REALLY huge. Needless to say, it’s small and adorable. In fact, I think this is the ONE big thing that makes EFBDL want to see more.
As far as the story goes, it’s definitely piqued my interest. I was worried we were going to get a bounty-hunt-of-the-week show that could get boring and repetitive, but they’ve chosen to go in what I think is a more interesting and long-form storytelling route. We may still get some of that, after all a bounty hunter still has to pay the bills, but the situation our Mandalorian friend has found himself in is way too big to fit in just one or two chapters.
Overall, the show is really good. There’s really good action and the acting is top notch. With Disney as the backers, I’m sure we can expect the production quality to stay high. This feels like solid Star Wars, leaning on the style of A New Hope. It’s been described as a space western, and to some extent that is true. Everything feels gritty and used, and not everyone has the most top-notch technology. The people are tired and don’t have a lot of morals. This story focuses more on the Underworld than on the grander conflicts between the Jedi and Sith or the Rebellion and Empire.
This is exactly the kind of show I was hoping for, and I can’t wait for Chapter 2 next week.
So… is The Mandalorian enough to get Disney+? On its own? No. Not sure any one show is enough to embark on a monthly payment scheme. However, the fact that Disney+ comes with a virtuliteral ton of other content, hell yes. (Oh, and that’s a new word I just made up. It’s a thing, just accept it.) Between this and the Marvel shows, absolutely. And if you have kids, you now have a nearly unlimited bucket of kid-friendly content. Not that I’m advocating you to use the TV as a babysitter. I mean, unless you want them to come out like me.