Pop Rocks

Pop Rocks: That'll Do, George

If you're one of those wondering what the delay is with the planned live-action Star Wars TV show, wonder no longer:

George Lucas has said that he has 50 hours worth of a new Star Wars TV series ready, but is waiting for a new technological breakthrough before it can be shot. The creator and director of the hit franchise said he had two seasons of the show planned out, but at this stage it is not financially viable to make them.
He said the series is "awaiting a different type of technology we can use so it's economically feasible to shoot the shows." Though he did not elaborate on what the nature of this technology would be, he said it was "just a very, very difficult process."

Lucas claimed that while TV budgets are one-tenth of those in cinema, the ability to make a credible TV show at such lower costs does not yet exist.

Last year he announced that the planned series had been put on hold. It is believed that it would take place between the events of Revenge Of The Sith and A New Hope.

I'm not sure if you noticed, but Lucas basically slagged off every sci-fi TV show produced to this point with his "credible TV show" crack. The implication, for anyone who hasn't understood the man's agenda for going on 15 years now, being that any science fiction series not using the very bestest technology will be unconvincing to fans. Which will come as a surprise to anyone who enjoyed the William Hartnell Doctor Who series, Space: 1999, or even the latest Battlestar Galactica, for that matter.

Will the show ever happen? No telling. Should it happen? That's another issue altogether.

Obviously Star Wars isn't going away anytime soon. In addition to the video games and books, the animated Clone Wars series on Cartoon Network still pulls in around 2 million viewers an episode. The prequels, atrocious as they were, grossed over $2.4 billion worldwide. The audience for adventures taking place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away is still formidable.

I myself have a...complicated history with the franchise. I was 8 in 1977 and eventually saw the original upwards of 100 times, I owned most of the toys (up until Jedi, when I mercifully became interested in girls), and while I dutifully went to see the Special Editions and the prequels, it soon became apparent not all Lucas' dogs were barking.

Because like the song says, nothing will ever be enough for this guy. "Waiting for a new technological breakthrough" is just another excuse to keep screwing around with his baby to reach some unattainable ideal of cinematic perfection.

Or Lucas' version of it, at least.

Clone Wars works, to the extent it does, because Lucas doesn't write it. I know, I know, he came up with and scripted Star Wars. He's also been more or less completely free of studio oversight since Empire, and the declining quality of the movies from Jedi on proves this is a Bad Thing.

What's almost more frustrating, from a fan's perspective, is that there are better alternatives for storylines than the 19 years between Sith and A New Hope, which really seems like an excuse to cast a bunch of hot 20-somethings to play Han, Lando, and Bria Thara. There's some interesting extended universe stuff going down during this period (Michael Reeves' "Coruscant Nights" trilogy, either of the two Han Solo series), but Lucas has never shown any interest in filming stories he hasn't written.

More's the pity, because there's plenty of good material out there: Shadows of the Empire? Timothy Zahn's Thrawn trilogy? How about a series based on the Rogue Squadron books? Or an adaptation of the Knights of the Old Republic video game?

The beauty of any of those, from Lucas's standpoint, is Lucasfilm already owns the rights. Fine, it may be of minor import to a bazillionaire, but it can't merely be ego keeping him from taking a stab at these, can it?

Sure it can. If you can stomach it, go check out the "making of" documentary on the Phantom Menance DVD. Watch the faces of the guys around Lucas as he talks about the character Jar Jar Binks. You can almost hear the tendons in their neck locking into place as they struggle not to laugh out loud. But do they say anything? Does anyone say, "Gee George, that sounds fucking horrible?" Of course not, because nobody in the Lucasfilm camp has had the balls to point out Lucas' bad ideas since 1980, I don't care what Rick McCallum says.

At this point, it's impossible to say what magical combination of virtual reality, holographic projection, and Smell-O-Vision Lucas will deem sufficient to bring the epic tale of how Ben Kenobi hid on Tattooine for 19 years* to the small screen (or how he manages to age 30 years in that time). However, two things are certain: 1) if Lucas is writing it, it'll be nigh impossible to watch, and 2) all us nerds are going to sit through it anyway.

*Seriously though...he's "hiding" on Darth Vader's home planet and doesn't even change his last name? Did the Pakistani intelligence service have something to do with this?

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar