The Mandalorian: Why The Star Wars Universe Works Best on Television
It's hard to have a Star Wars project that hasn't run into controversy in the Disney era. Sure, the animated shows in The Clone Wars, Rebels, Resistance, and Forces of Destiny are considered niche by comparison to the live-action counterparts, which are largely on film. With The Mandalorian being the franchise's first foray into weekly television for Disney+ and in light of the conglomerate's decision to heavily expand into the franchise with Ahsoka, Rangers of the New Republic, and the already upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi limited series, here are my top five reasons why the Pedro Pascal-starred series has continued to thrive.
Lighter on Controversy
So what's the biggest conniption fit Star Wars fans had against the series? It's likely the voracious appetite of it's resident Jedi, Grogu, formerly named The Child and unofficially, Baby Yoda. It's a humanoid that has animal characteristics and carnivores eat meat and in the case of the disenfranchised, Frog Lady's eggs. Aside from the fact it's a work of fiction and the alien creatures don't actually exist, many were outraged about what toddlers do: put random things into their mouths. They're also hungry fuckers. In case you didn't get the memo: THIS IS A SPACE FANTASY AND THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS FOUNDLING BABY FORMULA! So aside from that, everything from the characters it introduces and reintroduces has largely been met with welcome arms and not for a moment distracting.
Previous Canon Characters Don't Take Over
If there's one thing, I can say the show is carefully treading is not overly relying on nostalgia and when it does, it treats the audience with respect where you don't have to know the fan-favorite to understand his/her motivation. Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) and Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) are featured in the Dave Filoni animated shows with the latter being the focus of TCW. So far they're both one-off characters. Will we see them again? Signs don't seem to point to it within the season. Will we see them in the next one? Who knows and who cares?
Okay, playing with familiar sandbox characters and creating fanboy/girl moments is an added bonus to playing in that galaxy and those we might know could be bumped into along the way. The series' on its own is strong with its core and recurring characters in Din (Pascal), Greef (Carl Weathers), and Cara (Gina Carano). The latter two are only sometimes involved. It's still just Din and Grogu on their adventures. So, if you're pissed we're seeing Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) for more than one episode, then tough titty! Creator Jon Favreau and director Robert Rodriguez did more for the character than the previous canon did combined.
No Over-Reliance on Space Wizards
The Jedi in The Mandalorian largely self-contained with Grogu expending himself to sometimes do awesome things and the episode where Ahsoka kicked a bunch of ass. Other than that, the series has been mostly been free of influence from these space wizards of the Jedi and the Sith. Without the two forces taking away from everything else, The Mandalorian becomes a far more grounded story where if you have to be careful AF since it's unlikely a superhero will save you. Din is an everyman and an empathetic character. He's all about honor and duty while serving his trade. The sheer simplicity of following his credo and having something to protect turned out to be the perfect combination for quality television. Also, you'll have Ahsoka Tano for all your space wizarding needs when it comes out.
Story Stretches Organically
Who knew rotating directors can keep the show fresh? When you look at the multiple hands that have access to the creativity cookie jar, it's astonishing the greatness achieved. I mean Bryce Dallas Howard already showed the directing prowess and then some of her father Ron Howard. Favreau's assembled literally a dream team that also includes Filoni, Rodriguez, Rick Famuyiwa, Deborah Chow, Taika Waititi, and Peyton Reed. Weathers' episode in "The Seige" certainly didn't miss a beat either. Do you also know what the advantage of having Star Wars spread throughout a season of TV? You're not rushed or forced to make compromises when telling your story. Just think, if George Lucas' prequels were allowed to stretch out over the course of seasons?
Actual Loose Ends Tied
When you think of leftover characters or questions you wanted to ask "Whatever happened?" The Mandalorian has you covered. Just from the presence of the Easter Eggs, viewership on TCW skyrocketed with interest in the darksaber and Bo-Katan as well as new fans getting a chance to acclimate themselves to Ahsoka. The darksaber and Bo-Katan also carried into Rebels. You can add me into one of many Star Wars fans not getting the appeal of Boba Fett aside from his Beskar armor. For me, all I could think of is he was just the bounty hunter who tracked the Millennium Falcon in Empire Strikes Back (1980) and got Mr. Magoo'ed by Han Solo (Harrison Ford) in Return of the Jedi (1983) to the Sarlacc pit. When the character was reintroduced in Attack of the Clones (2002), he didn't add anything to the plot other than just be a glorified Easter Egg.
His episode in The Clone Wars pre-armor was also largely forgettable. For once, I'm actually looking forward to hearing how the hell Boba escaped the Sarlacc pit in the new Disney canon. One thing I think is feasible for a third or fourth season is possible more backstory with Rey's parents. While they're introduced to in The Rise of Skywalker, we had no idea what they did during the time before they were discovered. Not to sound bleak, but given the way cinemas are today and Disney's latest push, television could just be the ideal future for the franchise.