Star Wars: Droids (1985 – 1986)

mungo_auren

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.

overall

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.

affiliate links

 

Advertisements

Another Star Wars Blog: Star Wars Animation

Looking out into the world of the internet, what I realized is that there is almost no content that deals with the most successful and important movie franchise ever, George Lucas’s Star Wars movie franchise.

Upon closer examination, oh my God, thereĀ are millions of webpages and blogs, YouTube and Reddit channels dedicated to this franchise. So what could I possibly offer to add to the great heap of Star Wars analysis, fan fiction, anger, etc. that already exists? Maybe nothing.

I grew up Star Wars, it was a constant in my life for the first decade of my existence. And while I grew up in the original trilogy era, I was at the midnight show for the Phantom Menace and saw all the prequel trilogy in the theaters on opening day. I have my own issues with the prequels but I think if you divorce yourself from your expectations and increase your tolerance for the beginning of CGI and the slapstick nature of Episode 1, there is some good Star Wars there. I completely understand the position many of my contemporaries take on the prequels, I just don’t share that sentiment.

I currently own all 7 episodic movie and look forward to the video release of “Rogue One” on home disk. I enjoy the comics, the new novels, and other sources of Star Wars media. I play Star Wars with the 3.75″ action figures with my two young sons almost daily. We have quite the collection with several hundred figures obtained over the past several years, but they are toys and are treated like toys. I make little dioramas and play-set for them to use in their own extended universe where Ahsoka is friends with Snaggletooth…who is apparently a Jedi according to the 2 year old. Perhaps some of that will make it into this blog as well.

But no dioramas for now. Right now I want to focus on an aspect of Star Wars media that, while it has had somewhat of a renaissance as of late, has largely been neglected and ignored both by Lucasfilm and by fans. This blog is going to be an in depth exploration of ALL Star Wars cartoons produced by Lucasfilms. We will explore them for production style and value, impact on the Star Wars universe, morals (if present), placement in the Star Wars timeline, supporting matierals (anything referenced by the cartoons), and anything else I can think of. We are going to go on this journey in chronological order and we are going to look at everything I can find.

We are going to start at the beginning…the much maligned Star Wars Holiday Special cartoon short.

So I hope that now that you’ve found this blog you’ll stay with me through the Holiday Special, through Droid and Ewoks…Through the Clone Wars (Tartakovsky’s) and then the other Clone Wars where we will adopt a slightly different format for ease of writing and plot, and then Rebels. At the time of this post, Rebels is still in the middle of the third season with a fourth season confirmed. If there is another cartoon after Rebels, we will also cover that, but currently this new cartoon is only a rumor. If Ezra ends up being Snoke, we don’t know that yet. (Will he?….maybe?)

So onto the first post, where we will watch the Holiday Special and summarize the cartoon within the piece and discuss how it fits into the greater Star Wars universe.