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Do or Do Not, There Is No Try – Ranking Disney’s Star Wars Series

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April 30, 2024
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When the House of Mouse purchased Star Wars in 2012 (to the tune of $4.05 billion dollars) there were concerns among the fan base that Disney would begin pumping the IP out frivolously in an attempt to recoup that investment quickly, to the detriment of the source material. These sorts of cash grabs are not a novel concept in the world of big business, and some of those concerns were warranted. Despite some failures not worth setting our hair on fire about, there have been some excellent diamonds in that rough.

The Mandalorian - 10/10

Pros: Strong writing, compelling characters

Cons: Occasional slog and loss of direction

Set five years after the fall of the Empire in "Return of the Jedi," this series follows Din Djarin, a bounty hunter from the Mandalorian culture, as he navigates the outer edges of the lawless galaxy. The series shifts focus when Din is tasked with capturing a mysterious and force-sensitive ‘child’, affectionately known as Grogu (or Baby Yoda, due to his being the same species as the famed Master Jedi), but instead becomes his protector. Their journey explores themes of identity, redemption, and the broader impact of the Empire's fall, all while introducing new characters and revisiting familiar places within the Star Wars universe.

This show, which began in 2019, became a cultural touchstone so quickly it is almost miraculous. There was the beginning of the pandemic to help ensure viewers would give it a shot, but more importantly it was good. The writing, the acting, the attention to detail were all phenomenal. Rather than trying to copy what had gone before, The Mandalorian took existing elements and expanded them in a fantastic way.

Ahsoka 9/10

Pros: Stunning battles, continuation of previous stories

Cons: Ahsoka seems weaker than in other stories, villains seem overpowered

Centered around Ahsoka Tano, a former Jedi Knight turned wandering vigilante, this series continues her journey following her appearance in "The Mandalorian.” Rosario Dawson stars as Ahsoka, exploring her quest to find the evil Grand Admiral Thrawn, and possibly locate the missing Ezra Bridger, a young Jedi last seen in "Rebels." The series dives deeper into the lore of the Star Wars universe, focusing on Ahsoka’s unique perspective and her struggle to uphold her values in a galaxy in turmoil.

From engaging bad guys to deep lore connections, this show was very well done. Initially a little meandering, once the plot found its tracks the show took off, giving us excellent lightsaber battles, mystery and intrigue, and a cast dedicated to really filling the shoes they stepped in to. There are some who make some protestations over a few areas, but why be that critical when the Halo TV series exists? When Master Chief isn’t your coolest character you’ve lost a step, and Dawson’s Ahsoka never disappointed.

Andor 8/10

Pros: Strong cast, high stakes story

Cons: Much less action than other shows

Exploring the backstory of Cassian Andor, a key character from the 2016 film "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," this series is set five years before the events of the film and delves into Cassian’s evolution from a disillusioned thief to a committed rebel fighter. It provides a deeper look into the complexities of the Galactic Empire, showcasing the formative years of the Rebellion against its tyranny. "Andor" stands out for its gritty tone and focuses on the moral ambiguities of rebellion.

Diego Luna absolutely crushes this darker toned storyline. Once again, the cast is acting their hearts out, and rarely did I consider a performance insincere… But there was a lack of focus at times that was jarring. Separate sections of this series seemed to be developed without a lot of work put into the transitions between, which force the viewer to mentally shift gears without a clutch. Andor is still an excellent show but be prepared if you’re a ‘one episode and I’m going to bed’ kind of person.

Kenobi 7.9/10

Pros: Gut wrenching plot

Cons: Lagged between high points

The "Kenobi" series focuses on Obi-Wan Kenobi's life approximately ten years after the events of "Revenge of the Sith." Living in exile on Tatooine, Kenobi watches over a young Luke Skywalker while grappling with the fall of the Jedi Order and the rise of the Galactic Empire. The series deepens Kenobi's character, exploring themes of redemption and hope. He faces threats from the Empire and the lingering presence of his former apprentice, Darth Vader, culminating in a dramatic confrontation between them. The series bridges the gap between the prequel and original trilogies, enriching Kenobi’s narrative arc.

To start with, Ewan McGregor has always been an exceptional Kenobi, and while I have some gripes with this series, that remains true. Gripes is honestly the wrong word… It can be boring. Despite having one of the best Darth Vader lightsaber battles ever filmed, a lot of this series drags between events. This may be a stylistic choice, showing us the long crawl of time where Ewan McGregor Kenobi transitions to Alec Guiness Kenobi, and if that was the case then mission accomplished. Still, this one is a slow burn with a killer payoff.

What About the Others?

There are a lot to be sure, but these are the highlights. Whichever shows are your favorite, make some room for the rest, the universe rarely lets you down. My editor will likely have words with me for not including the cartoon shows, which I have on good authority are excellent, but I’m still working my way through the backlog. Whichever property you start with first, keep this in mind; George Lucas was a crap editor. He admitted as much himself, stating that his then wife Marcia Lou Lucas was the glue that made the original trilogy work. So let your mind go blank, grab some popcorn, and pick something.

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