So I finally got to watch the show after a looot of hassle, and here’s my thoughts on the show so far.
(PS. Geoblocking is such a bizarre thing. For the past couple of weeks I’ve basically been in Fry meme mode, and I can’t wait until whenever they decide to arbitrarily launch Disney+ in Scandinavia so that I can watch it, and a lot of the other stuff there, properly.)
I think Lucasfilm has finally understood that the best way to make SW content is to do it the same way Lucas originally did it; e.g. take inspiration from westerns, samurai films, WWII films, etc. as opposed to simply imitating SW itself. Imitating previous SW films just ends up feeling like a copy of a copy, but RO (IMO) worked so well because it borrowed heavily from WWII stories (as the OT did). And by toning down the western feel, and ditching the samurai stuff it managed to feel different from the OT while still feeling like it belong in the same world. Likewise I like that the Mandalorian is borrowing from the same sources, but emphasizing some of them and toning down others in order to create its own unique feel.
I also like that the show has embraced some of the more absurd elements of the OT and never wasted time explaining stuff. I get why the fobs annoy some people, and even I scratched my head watching ep. 3 for the first time, but I’ve come to see it as being very much in line with the OT before every little detail had to be explained by some source book or online article. SW-tech was always very fantasy like and never got any proper explanations, so I don’t really need an explanation for how the fobs work, though I’m sure they’ll come up with a clever excuse at some point. I especially liked the alien with the flute in the first scene. Again, it doesn’t make sense in a sci-fi-sense that a flute summons a speeder, but it has a nice fantasy feel to it and it adds that sense of mystery and wonder that made the OT and very early EU material so unique.
I see that some people have complained about the slow pace and lack of continuing narrative, and I personally say “thank goodness” for that. I’m probably part of a tiny minority when it comes to series, but I personally have no patience for modern narratives like GOT. It’s just too damn long for me and I loose interest quickly, and a show that takes it time and gives us “slice of life” narratives in the SW universe is just what I personally wanted. I’m glad there’s an overarching story, but I’m also glad it doesn’t take up every single minute of the series. I also think the pacing is a pretty perfect blend of fast and slow. When stuff happens it’s fast and exciting, but when it slows down it takes on a very 70’s movie type of pacing that I really miss in modern movies and series.
The more I think about the overall structure of the show I realize that it’s very inspired by Filoni’s Clone Wars series, which in turn is very inspired by old movie serials like Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers (which is obviously appropriate for SW). I admittedly haven’t watched a lot of these old serials, but the ones that I have seen reminded me a lot of CW and Mandalorian in that they had a main plot stretched over several smaller and unrelated mini-adventures.
Episode 2 is so far my favourite episode. It was simple, took its time, and managed to tell a story with minimal dialogue and focused more on visual storytelling. I honestly didn’t expect anything from this series to be so well directed, and although the rest of it has been well directed it has been more straight forward storytelling. Both of the episodes directed by Rick Famuyiwa have been my favourite so far. The others directors, especially Deborah Chow have done a good job, but Famuyiwa’s episodes just really stand out to me, especially visually.
There are some quirks that weirded me out overall, though its mostly nitpicking. To me, and probably a lot of SW fans, anything OT-related feels off if it deviates from the 70’s/80’s style and feel that we associate with the original films and some times a few characters in the series felt “off”. The blue alien in ep. 1 and especially the waitress in ep. 4 felt weird, but I usually manage to ignore these minor gripes when I watched the episodes again. I don’t think all the actors involved quite get that oddly specific style that OT-era SW works best in, though I’m actually surprised by how well its worked out overall.
I really like the music as well. It was a bit jarring for the first 10 minutes or so because its so different from the John Williams classic style we’re used to, but the more I listen to it it comes off as a homage to a lot of 70’s TV shows, but with some more modern elements added to it. I’m pretty sure there are sections inspired from Rocky, the Star Trek movies, and I even think I heard a few Battlestar Galactica inspired moments in there as well. The more modern bits gave me a Blade Runner 2049 vibe. There are some moments that are a bit too on the nose, especially in ep. 4, but it never bothered me.
Overall though I’m really enjoying this show and I’m really looking forward to both the Obi-Wan series and especially the Kassian Andor focused show.