Post #3: Droids – Escape Into Terror

Welcome back, we are still in the first arc of the Star Wars cartoon “Droids”. Please read the previous post so you know you are caught up on the plot thus far. While I don’t think the plots of these episodes are complicated enough to require people to understand the arcs, the writers went to the trouble of writing these as a set, so watch them as a set. I’m definitely doing that. This episode originally aired September 14th, 1985 on ABC.

As a child of the 80s, sometimes the plots of cartoons would affect the plot of a future cartoon but as I remember, there was not a lot of effort or focus on “continuity”…this series is definitely doing that. We are back on Kea Moll’s ship (that they escaped on in the “White Witch”) with Thall, Jord, and of course the droids R2-D2 and C-3PO. This is pretty brave again for a Saturday Morning cartoon. Personally, I love continuity and I’m legitimately excited to follow these tiny arcs.


So the episode opens up in space looking at Kea Moll’s ship. R2-D2 and C-3PO are doing some repairs on the outside in the cold harsh vacuum of space. They are mostly complaining to each other about having to do work. In the course of the work, the hyperdrive unit (which is on the outside in this ship) is detached and “floats” away. The team decides to visit Kea’s mother on the planet Annoo to get a new hyperdrive.

Sise Fromm (pictured above) is Tigg Fromm’s father and the head of this gang / cartel building the Trigon-One. It is revealed that Sise Fromm is 900 years old, or at least that’s what Tigg says to him. During their conversation, they explain that they need this satellite (Trigon-One is a satellite) in order to intimidate the other gangs.

Both the human and the droid characters find themselves waiting in line at immigration I guess. Makes for exciting TV. R2-D2 insults a droid that cuts in line so the droid sprays some soot on C-3PO.

Slapstick aside, some goons show up to harass our heroes so they create a distraction and flee.

Next we see the whole gang at a homestead, Kea’s mother’s house we are led to believe. The humans all go to sleep and the droids are put to work vacuuming sand sloths. C-3PO states that he’d rather be cleaning Tauntuans on Hoth….reminder that this is set years before the events of Episode V: Empire Strikes Back. While attempting to clean the sand sloths, C-3PO find a hidden door that leads to a weapons cache.

The droids surmise that their host is part of the rebel alliance. Just then, Thall is attacked in his sleep by some sort of droid.

Thall is gassed and is in bad shape after the attack. Kea deactivates the droid with some sort of pulse. Kea’s mother explains that they have been searching for the Trigon-1 weapon and only Thall and Jord know the location of the gang’s secret base, that’s why everyone is after them. Thall is put to bed to get some rest after his ordeal. C-3PO takes this opportunity to practice a type of martial art. Parroting Kea’s mother when she said “freedom is everybody’s fight.” The name of the martial art is Gravik-nez, in case you were wondering.

The next morning Jord and Kea leave early to sneak aboard Tigg Fromm’s ship back to their secret base, but they are immediately captures. C-3PO, R2-D2 and Thall come to the rescue. In order to get back to the gang’s secret base with a chance of stopping the weapon, Kea and Thall hide inside a shipping container while C-3PO and R2-D2 pretend to be droids working on the crew. The container is loaded onto the ship, which will return to the secret base. There is a meteor storm on the way and all the containers get mixed up. C-3PO is confident he has located the right container.

When the ship arrives at the secret base, home of the Trigon-1, C-3PO shuttles the container off of the ship and informs a gang member that it has to be delivered to the hanger, parts for the satellite. Another droid accidentally drops a heavy machine part on the container and the box is crushed. C-3PO knocks the gang member out of the way. C-3PO also quickly realizes that the crushed container was not the container Thall and Kea were hiding in. In his gratitude, the gang member allows C-3PO to complete the delivery with the other container.

On the way to the hanger, C-3PO realizes that he was given a thermal detonator by Kea before they left. Some slap stick happens and they proceed on their way. Then there is a large battle that begins with the heroes getting out of the container and ends with them stealing the Trigon-One.

Once the Trigon-One is in orbit, some “droid fighters” pursue them but are quickly destroyed by the satellite. Kea immediately suggests that they use this weapon of mass destruction against “the other gangs” but Thall vetoes the idea saying that it is too dangerous.

More slap stick and a laugh to camera, the end.


First shot of this episode felt so much like Star Wars I was grinning ear to ear. A ship in space, what a ship design! Ridley Scott’s “Alien” franchise and Star Wars have the best ship designs in my opinion. They are functional and practical without a lot of thought going into aesthetic design. Don’t get me wrong, I also love Star Trek but I don’t think that’s what space ships will look like. Also the fact that they are out there repairing the ship…definitely gives the galaxy that used feel that everyone is always pointing out. They have to fix it to make it work. Everything breaks down, it needs constant repair.

Other design elements that feel very Star Wars, the Trigon One weapon, it looks like one section of a shield generator but upside down. It’s familiar design, and that’s comforting.

This is the debut in a Star Wars cartoon of the “I’ve got a bad feeling about this” and it is spoken by C-3PO. What could be more Star Wars than that?

This episode also introduces the concept of the Rebel Alliance. I alluded to this in my previous post, but Kea Moll is a rebel spy…from a family of rebel agents as her mother’s house is a secret weapons cache or something. Still, this episode isn’t about Rebels versus Empire. This is more “vacuum of power” stuff where the rebels in this sector are still fighting with Fromm’s criminal cartel, specifically trying to prevent them from getting a large advantage in weaponry.

Again, the design of the prototypical rebel is definitely here.


So we are still in the non-canon cartoons so there isn’t a whole lot here to talk about. It is, again, cool that this is a continuation of the previous episode “The White Witch” and I have to assume that we are all headed to the Boonta Classic races at the end of this little arc. We learn more about the universe at this time, it is before “A New Hope” but the Rebel Alliance is already a thing. C-3PO said he’d rather “be feeding tauntauns on Hoth” than vacuuming sand sloths.

It is random, throw away comment but it is fun, even though this is all occurring theoretically years before C-3PO ever goes to Echo Base on Hoth…I’ll allow it. The design, again, of the sand sloths is also cool. Star Wars universally does animals well.


We are only two episodes in and this show has done a ton of universe building. Maybe I just enjoy continuity too much but right now I feel like this plot deserves a lot of attention. The pacing issues I complained about in the last episode aren’t as bad here, the transitions are better, it is all better honestly.


Episode 3 of “Droids” and the third episode in the Trigon arc entitled, “The Trigon Unleashed”…so it appears we aren’t quite done with Thall and the gang just yet. Soon we will have a short post specifically about the design of Tigg Fromm, I find that character pretty interesting.

I have some more free time lately so I’m hoping to update this blog more regularly. At least I’m having fun watching and writing no matter the pace. What did you like or dislike about this episode, arc, or series? Leave a comment below. Thanks.

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Post #2: Droids – The White Witch

So even though this isn’t technically post #2, it is the second post concerning a cartoon episode or short. This is how I will number the posts, annoying I know, sorry. The rest of the posts are trivia or ranting, they are not canonical.

So this is the first episode of Droids that ever aired, “The White Witch.” I have to say, the name was pretty provocative. Spoiler alert, in future cartoons there are witches in Star Wars, having never seen this episode, I wondered if there was going to be a witch in it or what the plot was. Well, it was about a car / speeder called the White Witch. I guess in a way that confirms that there are witches in the universe, so that by itself is pretty cool.

This episode aired all the way back in September of 1985. The writing credit goes to Peter Sauder, who apparently wrote for every cartoon you remember in the 80s.

This is also, outside of the cartoon short covered in the previous post, our introduction to cartoons in the Star Wars universe and our introduction to droids. As stated previously, this takes place at an undefined period of time that would fall somewhere between “Revenge of the Sith” and “A New Hope” in the current (2017) Star Wars timeline, but this is not “canon” so its placement is not really an issue.


So the episode opens up with quite the backstory, a smuggler dumps his cargo with R2-D2 and C-3PO on a random planet, Ingo is the name. C-3PO narrates that they were lost in a game of chance. The tension is high as C-3PO immediately thinks R2-D2 died in the process. Of course, he didn’t die and they are on their way to….wherever. C-3PO wants to be rescued and find a new master.

After a while, a land-speeder comes by and C-3PO tries to charm his way aboard. The pilot and his friend in another land-speeder are interested in “the R2 unit.” The two humans reveal themselves to be Jord Dusat and Thall Joben. They scoop up the droids and take them back to their shop. That is they race back to the shop…cause they are racers.

Along the way, they cross over into the “restricted zone” where a couple of automated explosives begin a pursuit of the land-speeders. The two human characters are completely unaware that they have crossed this line. At this time, it is revealed that the two men are being spied on by a female character, but no details are revealed. Jord’s landspeeder is destroyed by one of the explosives but Jord is not hurt, he ejects at the last moment. C-3PO is approached by some automated droid, which is quickly destroyed by the woman in hiding (although C-3PO thinks he destroyed it).

Tig Fromm makes his first appearance, revealing that he was behind the attack on the land-speeders. There is a lot going on with Fromm, but it is almost all happening off screen at this point. There’s some sort of weapon and the “other gangs” don’t know about it…hopefully that will all be explained later. The name of the weapon is the Trigon One, pictured below. There is no explanation as to what the weapon does or why they are hiding it.

We meet back up with Jord and Thall in the shop, a sci-fi car repair shop where they are tinkering on some speeders. This is the setting where we are introduced to the titular “White Witch”….which is another speeder. A passion project for the crew. The conflict (or one of them) is that they have to get the White Witch off of the planet to the speeder races.

Thall leaves the shop with C-3PO and R2-D2 and it appears they are being followed. Next, it cuts back into the shop where Jord is attacked by “muscle droids.” After realizing he’s been followed, Thall returns to the shop to check on Jord, but Jord is gone. This is the moment where the woman spy, Kea Moll, reveals herself. She claims she needs a mechanic. Thall goes outside to investigate some movement detected by R2-D2 and is surrounded by droids. He is about to be captured when the White Witch shows up piloted by Kea Moll and R2-D2 to save the day. They all speed off into the night.

Tig Fromm was controlling the droids that attacked Jord and Thall, even though the droids were modest in their effectiveness. He wants to capture the two characters, because they stumbled upon Tig’s secret base and Tig assumes that they will reveal his secret weapon.

Kea Moll takes Thall to Tig’s secret base, she has apparently been spying on Tig this entire time. She tells Thall that Jord must be inside somewhere. R2-D2 infiltrates the base (off camera) and downloads some information from the computer before escaping again. Using the map of the compound R2-D2 downloaded, Thall makes a plan to rescue Jord by flying through the underground caverns into the base. He asks C-3PO for the odds and he says “about 700,000 to 1″…so again, never tell me the odds.

We then go inside the base where Tig and Jord are having a chat about what’s going on. Jord is afraid of Tig’s dad, apparently a big mob boss but his son thinks building droids and deploying technology is the way to go to better serve the underworld. It is accidentally revealed that he wants to use droids to take over the other gangs (Jabba the Hutt’s name was dropped in the list of gangs).

Thall, Kea, C-3PO and R2-D2 in the White Witch end up at some sort of gate blocking the way into the compound. But Thall has a lightsaber (left behind by someone who hired him to work on their speeder…) and he cuts through the door. C-3PO and Kea are left at the control station while Thall and R2-D2 continue ahead. C-3PO is supposed to help Thall arrive by redirecting traffic in the tunnels around his path, how he is supposed to do this is never explained. C-3PO gets in a fight with some other maintenance droid, which adds to the tension because he’s suppose to help Thall at this time. During the fight, C-3PO has a nice call back trying to tell the story of the time he destroyed the droid earlier in the episode, this is the third time he refers to this incident in the episode.

So eventually, Thall in the White Witch breaks through an elevator door and into the base, near Jord, who quickly hops in the speeder and escapes. The White Witch powers through more obstacles and droids, dodging lasers and escaping. C-3PO deceives more droids by pretending to capture Kea as a distraction. The team makes their way to the hanger and they lower the ramp, to come into contact with “cruisers.” Cruisers are attack droids that hover in space somehow. The team decides if they can active the automated explosives that chased them in the beginning of the episode, those would destroy the cruisers. So C-3PO reactivates the sentinel droids so the defense system gets activated as well.

During the friendly fire portion of the episode where the droids are firing other droids, the White Witch escapes by outrunning the defenses. The White Witch and the passengers all end up back at some space cruiser that was parked nearby, assuming it was Kea’s. Tig Fromm’s base is left in ruins from the battle, I assume, it isn’t explained.

As the ship pulls away from the planet (just realized I have no idea what planet this is), Jord takes credit for the adventures in the episode and figuring out a way to get the White Witch to the races, the Boonta speeder race.

The episode closes with some witty banter between our titular droids.



This is the section where I discuss if I think the episode “holds up” as a piece of Star Wars media. Basically, does it make me think of Star Wars and is there anything in the production that makes it feel dated or poorly constructed and executed.

Like I stated above, this is the first episode of this series and probably the first cartoon many people saw that took place in the Star Wars universe, this is a relatively important piece of literature as a first impression. Interestingly, this episode doesn’t deal with the usual tropes that Star Wars had up until this point. This isn’t about the rebellion or the empire, this isn’t about the Jedi or the Sith, the light side or the dark side. These concepts aren’t even mentioned in this episode. Sure, Kea seems like she’s a rebellion spy or at least a spy for someone but that concept isn’t even approached here.

This is more about that THIRD RAIL that Star Wars always has, from the beginning, the crime dimension. Sure the movies are basically Luke versus Vader, or the Empire versus the Rebellion, but what about thieves, smugglers, and bounty hunters. The universe is a big place and a lot of characters don’t care who’s in charge, as long as they get paid. This added level provides an amazing amount of depth to this universe. It is refreshing that they were brave enough to not touch the big picture stuff and give us this smaller story about a couple of friends who accidentally find a secret base of some mob boss.

So does it hold up? These are difficult concepts to apply here. First, this episode is not canon, this is at best some alternative timeline for these characters…but there is a lot here that is appropriate for Star Wars.

I’ll discuss the production itself. It looks like a cheap old cartoon. The plot moves at an illogical pace, often skipping important details or having characters speak unnecessarily to telegraph to the audience a point. In small doses that could be OK, however it is done a lot. The look of the cartoon is very 1980s Saturday morning, maybe a slight step up, not a large step though.

Now, the plot….it’s not a terrible plot. It definitely drops you into the middle of a story which is what Star Wars does. The first thing in “A New Hope” is a battle happening…with very little explanation. Starting out with a large unexplained backstory…yeah that’s fine. The plot of floating from situation to situation is also very Star Wars….will of the force stuff (or is it Whills?). Seriously though, this universe feels like Star Wars…there are aliens, people trying to make their way (struggling) through life, a rebel spy, everyone working their own agenda. The goal in general is mutual apathy between Thall and Tig, but they cross each other’s paths and it has to be resolved.

The pace of the episode is where I find it most lacking. This episode flies so quickly that it is hard to follow the simple plot. It really is. The production from an editing point of view is pretty rough, weird cuts, odd lighting, odd music queues, the whole thing could have used a better touch.

Overall, it is worth the watch, if for nothing else for what comes later.


So I have a theory that many of the names and ideas from the prequels (that come more than a decade later) are in these cartoons. This episode has a few references that are interesting. First, the race they are trying to get to is called “Boonta Classic.” So in this case, Boonta is referring to a planet, named after a Hutt. The Hutt ascended to a God in the Hutt religion after doing something (trust me, we will talk about this Hutt in the future). Boonta might sound familiar to you, as in Boonta Eve Classic, the podrace in “The Phantom Menace”. So this reference to a race called the Boonta Classic in this episode is called back years later in “The Phantom Menace”.

Kea Moll is a white human woman with brown hair, just like all heroines in Star Wars, so that feels familiar.

I think these early cartoons should be viewed as bottle episodes, stories contained within themselves. There isn’t a whole lot here to analyze, just some interesting new aliens, a new location, and perhaps a reference to a movie that won’t come out for another 14 years.


I liked this episode. I had to watch it about 10 times to do the write up the way I wanted but even after all those times I was still finding new things to enjoy and write about. It’s not complicated but it gives fans two of the best characters, shows them interacting in a completely random setting. We get some exploration of the universe and almost a “To Be Continued” ending on this episode. All and all, this is a great start to this series.


Next, we continue the saga of the White Witch and this cast of characters in the next episode, “Escape into Terror.” It is nice to see a story line carry over a few episodes, a little revolutionary in its day, especially for a kid’s show.

I hope you join me in the upcoming episodes while we follow what happens to Jord, Thall, Kea, C-3PO, and R2-D2 as this arc of the show is drawn to an end.

If you have any suggestions or corrections, please leave a comment below.

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Star Wars: Droids – Theme Song

A very 80 and very cool display of various droids in this universe as the title card for the series.

A quick post about the theme song, I’m not going to comment on the theme song every time, so I thought I would just get out in front of it because…it is sort of amazing. It is in the style of sort of a synth-rock song, moderate tempo, and it was written by Copeland of “The Police”…yes, those “The Police”…Sting’s band, although he doesn’t appear to have been involved with this song. Here are the lyrics.

Steppin’ softly in a danger zone
No weapon in my hand
It’s just this brain, designed by man
It’s got me in trouble again
In trouble again
I put my life in jeopardy
In the service of my friends
I wouldn’t care but it’s a dangerous affair
Cause I’m in trouble again, trouble again
In trouble, in trouble, in trouble

It isn’t a great song but it takes me back to the days of 80s theme songs like “Perfect Strangers” where a song is trying to tell a story but in 45 seconds or whatever. And a famous rock band made this song. Or at least members of a famous rock band made this song. This was in the period where “The Police” were “breaking up” and Copeland had an alternative track to his career composing for TV and movies…this was one of his projects.

screenshot-2017-02-28-at-11-46-56-pm screenshot-2017-02-28-at-11-47-14-pm

Here are some screenshots from the opening sequence. Like all great opening sequences, it is comprised of clips from the show with text displaying relevant information about the actors or characters. In this show, Anthony Daniels and R2-D2 (sorry Kenny) get top billing, makes sense.


And in case you weren’t aware, this is a George Lucas joint. Thanks George. You’re the greatest (no sarcasm intended).

One last thought. I think part of why I decided to write this post is that it’s a theme song on a Star Wars show…that’s pretty jarring coming from Star Wars in the modern era. I watch everything and this might be the only property (well this and Ewoks) that has a theme song. Everything else has amazing orchestral arrangements by (or in the style of) John Williams. So to here “In trouble again” in this style of music…pretty interesting, at least to me.

So just a quick post today, about a theme song written by a member of “The Police” in 1985…starring R2-D2 as himself.

Next up, “The White Witch.”


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Star Wars: Droids (1985 – 1986)


I remember Saturday morning cartoons. I watched a lot of TV as a kid and cartoons were of course a staple of my TV viewing. I watched He-Man, Thundercats, Inspector Gadget, Smurfs / Snorks if my siblings wanted to, Heithcliff, Jetsons, Spiderman and his Amazing Friends….I watched a lot of TV. I don’t recall seeing these Star Wars cartoons in their original run, so watching this series is like discovering new Star Wars for me, similar to the time I finally watched the old Star Trek cartoons…hard to believe that something I love so much has secret content I’ve never experienced, but here it is.

Since I don’t recall seeing these, I assume that some of you, even as hardcore as you are in this Universe, these early cartoons might be new to you as well. I thought I would start out with a quick introductory blog about my overall thoughts about this series in particular.

There are basically 14 episodes to this series, 13 episodes that aired on Saturday mornings and then a TV special “finale” I suppose called “The Great Heap” which ended the series. The series takes place before the events of Episode IV: A New Hope. I’ve been doing research on this series and I see this time as being described between Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Episode IV: A New Hope. I want to be clear that these episodes aired shortly after the Episode VI: Return of the Jedi left theaters. The prequel trilogy did not exist except for some vague notions in the back of George Lucas’s mind. I find it highly inaccurate or misleading to call the period between Episode III and IV, it is before Episode IV. I like this distinction because…these cartoons are NOT canon. Like so much material and Ewok movies, this series was thrown into the Great Heap of “LEGENDS” content. Doesn’t make them less interesting though, at least not less interesting to me.

are these prequel experiments?

So, I don’t want to get into it too much here, but I did watch some of these cartoons before I wrote this post, the initial post. And they do take place before “A New Hope” / “Star Wars” / “Episode 4” and there are several things in them that feel like, or seem to be out of the prequel movies (Episodes 1 – 3). Clearly when developing the movies, Lucas and others used some of the characters in these cartoons as inspiration or just flat out copied the people, places and ideas from these cartoons. To me, that makes them more interesting and in a way makes the prequels more interesting as well. I’m not a prequel hater, I don’t love them but I don’t hate them. I’m sure I’ll end up saying that a thousand more times before this blog is “done” but I don’t hate them, far from it. Seeing characters and hearing names from the prequel trilogy in these cartoons definitely makes me appreciate them more.

I will endeavor in the Droids posts to point out the instances I’ve identified where that’s happening, where there is “contamination” between non-canon cartoons and the prequel (or sequel) trilogy. I heard a rumor once that Lucas just had notebooks of ideas he would sketch out and when he needed a name, he’d just go to the book. The rumor was about the name Mace Windu. The rumor stated that Mace Windu was a name Lucas came up with around the time of Empire but held onto it for 20 years until he could hang the name on Samuel L. Jackson’s character in Episode I. I don’t know if the story is true but I like it and choose to believe it. These episodes definitely share that “DNA” of coming out of the proverbial notebook of George Lucas. They may look like cheaply produced cartoons of the 1980s but they feel like Star Wars to me.

the toys

I’m not going to go into it here, I want to write a more thorough post about the toy-line for this show in a stand alone post, but this show was in the waning days of the Lucasfilms / Kenner toy insanity and of course they made figures for this series. The figures were not popular at the time and now they are some of the most expensive figures you can buy, truly ridiculous prices. I don’t own any of these toys but if I win the lottery, I suppose I might get a few…anyway, you can’t really talk about Star Wars without mentioning toys, more on that later.


So what’s the plan? I’m going to watch the episodes in order and post an article summarizing each one. SPOILER ALERT. It is an old cartoon, just go watch it. I will look for themes, people, places, phrases common to Star Wars lore or other media. When possible I will connect the activities to the larger universe and discuss any interesting trivia or plot points I like. This cartoon has mini-arcs in it, so I may even summarize how the arcs go together.

Overall, I just hope to better understand Star Wars by a granular examination of these early, largely forgotten pieces of art. I hope you enjoy the analysis and will watch and remember these properties with me.

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Post #1: Star Wars Holiday Special Cartoon Short

boba-fett-cartoon1So if this is the first post you’ve found on this blog, please go back and read the introduction post that explains what this blog is (hopefully) going to be all about.

The task for this post is to discuss the very first cartoon ever made by Lucasfilm in the Star Wars universe.

The Star wars holiday special

We can’t discuss the cartoon embedded in The Star Wars Holiday Special without a brief introduction to the holiday special itself. I don’t want to talk too much about the holiday special because I may want to post about it specifically in the future. But I will talk about it here briefly since I assume many of you have never seen the holiday special. In all honesty, I’ve never seen the thing all the way through in one sitting before undertaking this project. Lucas himself said, “If I had the time and a sledgehammer, I would track down every copy of that show and smash it.” I guess we all have things in our lives that we aren’t proud of. Much like the movie Howard the Duck, I assume drugs were consumed during the writing, filming and production of this special. Nevertheless, it is almost universally agreed upon that the cartoon short stuck in the middle is the single bright spot of this blight.


The holiday special was only aired once, on CBS on Friday, November 17th, 1978, at 8 p.m. After seeing the final result on television and hearing the fan reaction, Lucasfilm (George Lucas himself) forbade future broadcasts of The Star Wars Holiday Special and never allowed an official VHS or DVD release. When cast members are asked about it, they frequently deny it exists (as Harrison Ford did on a Conan appearance in 2005). Unfortunately for Lucas, he might have been the first victim of the permanent memory of mass culture and with the invention of the internet … you can get almost anything ever made. It is digital, it is forever.

So the Holiday Special has a plot, of sorts. It is a 1970s style variety show with a series of novelty acts (comedians, acrobats…and so on) with a wrap around plot of an Imperial occupation of Kashyyyk focused on Chewie’s family … apparently Chewie has a family. The members of the family are Chewie’s father Attichitcuk (Itchy), Chewie’s wife Mallatobuck (Malla), and Chewie’s son Lumpawarrump (Lumpy). The format is basically the Wookiee family watching TV and other entertainment shows while the Imperial officers hang out waiting for Chewbacca and Han Solo to show up for Life Day celebrations. So this special isn’t “canon” in the Disney sense of the word “canon.” Like most Star Wars materials produced before the Disney purchase of Lucasfilm, this is in the trash heap of “LEGENDS” materials. Still worth a look though.

So you can calibrate yourself to my level of Star Wars nerdiness, I also celebrate “Life Day.” I decided this year to make life day cloaks for my kids’ Wookiee action figures. So … this is a thing I do now.

img_5671 img_5670 img_5669

As Chewie’s family and the imperial officers stand around waiting for the heroes to walk into the trap, Lumpy (the son) watches a cartoon program starring his father and Han Solo on a mission for the rebellion. It is not clear from the “in universe” context of the show whether or not there is a TV show starring these characters or if Lumpy is watching something that actually happened in their universe on the television. I guess I’ll leave the interpretation up to you. Perhaps something we can discuss if there is ever a post about the Holiday Special alone in the future.

the cartoon short inside the holiday special

As I described above, the cartoon short is one of the shows Lumpy watches while the Imperials are occupying his house waiting for his dad (Chewbacca) and Han Solo to show up to celebrate Life Day. The cartoon is approximately 10 minutes long and has a commercial break in the middle where we briefly cut back to Lumpy looking nervous for the characters in the show (also changing the channel and pretending like he’s not watching the TV so the Imperials don’t know what he’s doing — for an unknown unexplained reason).

plot summary

So there is a plot to this short, and the 5 word summary is “the introduction of Boba Fett.” This cartoon is the first time almost anyone saw Boba Fett (more on that below). The cartoon starts with a voice-over from Captain Kasan (sp? this character isn’t in the version of the script I consulted, version 4) giving a background on the mission. Basically, Han Solo and Chewbacca were on a mission to retrieve a talisman that the empire wants. C-3PO describes the talisman and being able to make things invisible, then throws a meaningless insult at R2-D2 about how that would be an improvement. For some reason, that is never explained, the rebel base cannot make contact with the Millennium Falcon when it drops out of hyperspace. They can get a visual and see that Chewbacca is flying but Han is tied up in back upside down hanging from the ceiling of the ship. There is some tension when the base reports that the Falcon will impact the base and that everyone is in trouble … but then the Falcon just flies by and keeps going.


Luke, C-3PO and R2-D2 pursue the Falcon in a Y-wing fighter (pretty cool) and the Millennium Falcon fires on them, missing. Luke figures it’s a warning shot since Chewie is a better shot than that. Both the Falcon and the Y-wing crash on a moon in the Panna (or Pana, both spellings present in the script) system. It is not clear why the Falcon crashes on the moon. The moon appears to be made of mostly water, purple water. The ships inflate bladders to buoy up the ships.


Luke and C-3PO puzzle about their situation when some sort of dinosaur shows up to eat their Y-wing. Luke detaches a portion of it (didn’t know they could do that) and Boba Fett shoots the dinosaur with some oddly shaped form / energy weapon. Luke and Boba Fett run down the plot of the episode up until this point and Luke feeds something to the dinosaur. Boba Fett tells him, “You are foolish to waste your kindness on this dumb creature, no lower life-form is worth going hungry for.” Then they discuss hating the empire and decide to follow him to the crash site of the Falcon.


Luke rushes onto the Falcon where Chewie is holding the talisman and looking … dazed? Luke immediately falls over after seeing the talisman and Chewie throws it into the ship’s reactor. Boba Fett captures Chewbacca in a rope and C-3PO tries to reason with them. Turns out the talisman is contaminated with some kind of sleeping virus that causes humans to fall asleep and maybe makes Wookiees groggy? Once asleep the humans have to hang upside down to push the blood into their heads.


Boba Fett reveals that the sleeping virus is actually a biological weapon used by the empire and that a cure can be readily purchased in the town. So Boba Fett and Chewbacca head into town to purchase the cure. While in town, Boba Fett contacts Darth Vader on a videophone after telling Chewbacca to hold back and hide in an alley. Boba Fett informs Vader everything is going according to plan. (This is where the commercial break is in the Holiday Special).


When we return from commercial, C-3PO and R2-D2 somehow see the conversation between Boba Fett and Darth Vader on the videophone. I guess it wasn’t a secure connection. The plan is to get the rebels to take Boba Fett to the secret base. Darth Vader says, “I see why they call you the best bounty hunter in the galaxy.”


Boba Fett and Chewbacca leave the city to go back to the ship. They are pursued by some Stormtroopers. Boba Fett fires above their heads but Chewie takes the gun and destroys the pursuers. They make it back to the ship and Luke and Han awake after getting the serum. Han then refers to the virus as the talisman virus. Luke invites Boba Fett to come with them (presumably to the Rebel base) but R2-D2 and C-3PO explain that they intercepted a message between Boba Fett and Darth Vader. And C-3PO describes Boba Fett as Darth Vader’s “right hand man.”


Boba Fett rockets off and Han says, “Trust a droid to get to the bottom of things.” Luke immediately recovers from his humiliation. C-3PO points out that it was Chewbacca that never trusted Boba Fett. When asked what set him off, Chewbacca replies (as translated by C-3PO), “He just didn’t smell right …” Everyone laughs as the Falcon flies off into the sunset.


does it look like star wars? Does it feel like star wars?

This cartoon has two HUGE things going for it in my opinion, well two and a half. First, it is 100% the original cast doing the voice-overs. It may look weird, it may not have much of a plot, the pacing is incredibly frustrating and the animation looks dated (like Wizards era animation) but it SOUNDS like Star Wars. The other huge thing, the soundtrack is just adapted John Williams music from Episode IV. That music is so iconic to me, it really played well in this piece.

The whole thing with the talisman also feels like Star Wars, a magical item that they have to get before the bad guys do. It’s a shame it never pays off in the end but at least the plot device seems reasonable. And once they are in the city, they are surrounded by a yellow submarine-esque pile of unique looking aliens that could best be expressed in animated form rather than a rubber mask form.

So for as clunky as it seems, I definitely get “Star Wars” vibes from this. It’s the story of this short that ultimately lets us down. It is probably the thing that they spent the least amount of time on.

how does this affect the greater universe?

It’s Boba Fett. This is the first appearance of Boba Fett! OK nerds, I know that Boba Fett first appeared in the San Anselmo Country Fair parade on September 24th, 1978 … so a couple of weeks before this debuted. Duwayne Dunham wore the armor for that event, so not Jeremy Bulloch quite yet. But this is the first IN UNIVERSE appearance of Boba Fett, unless the parade is canon at the time; I suppose it could be. This cartoon isn’t canon anymore than that parade is, at least according to the “new canon” Disney has established through Pablo’s story group. It is a state of humanity where we can argue levels of continuity to a completely fictional universe, but we do. And it matters.


So even though this isn’t canon, we can still ask, “Is this the same Boba Fett that we all saw in Empire?” Seems pretty close. He’s a henchman for Vader, he’s a bounty hunter and has the cold pragmatism he displays in Empire as well. His design is pretty well fleshed out at this point. The color scheme is much more like Jango Fett than Boba Fett at this point but that’s easy enough to change. There are a few moments in this that are pretty telling from a character point-of-view.

The early appearance of this character in promotional materials while Star Wars was still in theaters makes me think that this character was more thought out for Empire than just about anything else, or they had a mask and a costume they could send out for promotional events they could easily cast. Probably both.

So in the new continuity, Boba Fett’s first appearance is in Episode IV thanks to the special editions … or I guess if you watch them in order of number, it is as a child in Episode II.

final thoughts

This is the section where I’m going to discuss if the media “held up” to today’s standards of content and production. One of the amazing things about Star Wars (Episode 4: A New Hope or whatever you want to call it) is that the movie doesn’t feel dated the way a lot of films end up being. The story is so classical, so fundamental, it’s Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey told in space.

So does this cartoon hold up or is it completely dated? It definitely looks dated from a production stand point. The animation, as discussed above, is in a style that just isn’t used now. It ignores basic story continuity and the editing is … rough.

Last thought, I do love the toys. Having kids has re-ignited my love for the action figures and surprisingly (or maybe not) this cartoon is supported by a toy, a single toy as far as I can tell. The Boba Fett with the fork weapon he uses in the short (pictured below). So if you want to get 100% of the figures from this 10 minute cartoon, you only have to buy one figure, pictured below.


what’s next?

What’s next? Next is the short-lived Saturday morning cartoon, Droids starring C-3PO and R2-D2. There are 14 episodes total and it ran in 1985 and 1986. The character designs for C-3PO and R2-D2 were used from this short, so CONTINUITY! (at least for design). I personally can’t wait. After going through these cartoons, there is a lot of interesting stuff. I also may revisit The Star Wars Holiday Special in a future post where I talk about it specifically since it has some cartoon-related context.

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