The first episode of The Mandalorian shows that Star Wars can work on the small screen

Star Wars is always strongly inspired by classical westerns. But that has never been as open as it is The Mandalorian, the first live TV series for the franchise and the tent for the brand new Disney + streaming service. In addition to a few animated TV shows aimed at children, Star Wars has been largely a brand that flourished on the big screen – the original films have practically invented the modern concept of a blockbuster – but can it make the leap to a prestigious TV drama?

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With just one episode, it's hard to tell if Disney has succeeded, but one thing is clear: The Mandalorian started well, and it is perhaps the best evidence so far that the Star Wars universe can lead to good, engaging content that is not packaged for children or dependent on the appearance of Luke Skywalker.

The first episode does a lot of hard work to get viewers used to part of the Star Wars universe that feels both familiar and new. There is the eponymous Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal), a bounty hunter, no different from the fans' favorite Boba Fett from the movies. The Mandalorian is largely a clean slate; he is usually quiet, always masked, but very good at what he does: hunt bail hunters and sometimes smugglers for money.


Photo: Lucasfilm / Disney

We get a crash course on how the premium hunting system works, complete with the Bounty Hunters Guild – a long-standing one Star Wars concept – taken very literally as a real union of bounty hunters. There are labor disputes over customers who refuse to pay guild rates. It is perhaps the most reliable thing that happens in the episode. We also get a hint about the current state of the Milky Way after the destruction of the second Death Star and the fall of the empire. It seems that there are no imperial credits nowadays.

So far, there have been very few open references to the films. different Rogue One and Solo (the first wave of spin-off films, which sometimes felt stifling in their desire to explain and refer to the main saga), The Mandalorian feels more like his own thing. There are plenty of it Star Wars Attributes, of course – Droids and Stormtroopers and people frozen in carbonite abound – but the show feels less dependent on name-leaving events and fan-service cameos than elements from the past. The heavily western atmosphere suggests that Disney learns from its blockbuster Marvel franchise, which has enjoyed enormous success by dropping the MCU formula and characters into different genres. Just like how Captain America: The Winter Soldier is designed in the vein classic spy movies or the Antman films are modeled after super hero robberies, The Mandalorian proudly carries its influences. It is possible that this will change and the spirit of Darth Vader will appear in episode 3, flying the Millennium Falcon with Luke Skywalker. But for now the show seems to be much more comfortable in itself than previous titles.


Photo: Lucasfilm / Disney

We also get the basic configuration for the rest of the series. After a successful run of smaller premium-hunting performances, Greef Carga, Carl Weathers' local guild representative, brings the Mandalorian into contact with a mysterious client (Werner Herzog & # 39; s unnamed but clearly Empire-affiliated villain) who has a much more difficult premium offers on behalf of his employee, Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi). The reward? Beskar, or Mandaloric iron, an incredibly rare substance used to make genuine Mandalorian armor that can ward off famous blasters and even light sword attacks. It goes without saying that things are not going smoothly.

different Star Wars past heroes, including the charming Han Solo by Harrison Ford, Mandalorian by Pedro Pascal is more a quiet lone gunslinger, in the spirit of Clint Eastwood, only speaking when needed. There is not very much depth, although there is a clear picture of the "heart of gold", despite its grim appeal. (At some point, he donates part of his income to support orphans.) There is also a required tragic background story that will no doubt be explored in future episodes. Pascal does a good job despite the limitations of the masked role, and plays the role with cool efficiency.

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The show looks fantastic; Disney clearly has not saved any costs. Everything from the CGI for the spaceships and blasters to the extensive sets and costumes feels right at home with the giant blockbusters that have formed the franchise so far.

The big question remains whether The Mandalorian can maintain this momentum for the rest of the season and beyond. (The series has already been updated for a second season.) The eight episodes of the first season are almost as long as a whole Star Wars trilogy of films, making the show one of the biggest chunks of the constantly evolving live action Star Wars canon.


Photo: Lucasfilm / Disney

Combined with the poor reception of previous spin-off attempts that undoubtedly weigh heavily on Disney & # 39; s thoughts, along with the upcoming end of the more reliable Skywalker Saga films with The Rise of Skywalker, coming out in December, The Mandalorian must be more than just a good show. It must bear the whole Star Wars franchise ahead and also offers a reason for millions to pay a monthly price for Disney +.

The best comparison I can think of is that of 2017 Star Trek: Discovery, which had to take a long-term sci-fi franchise to a new era in the same way, while the main incentive was to subscribe to an otherwise heavy catalog streaming service. Two years later it is safe to say that DiscoveryThe experiment was a success on those points. CBS All Access is still going well and the brand has been revived with a whole series of new shows and spin-offs in the making.

The Mandalorian might not be the next one Game of Thrones, and Disney + may not succeed as a service. But what's up to now is good Star Wars TV program, a program that takes over existing knowledge and setting and expands in a new and exciting way. For now that is more than enough reason to look.


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Photo: Lucasfilm / Disney

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