The Mandalorian (2019)
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I liked the premise and the way it was laid out in the first episode. The 5 episodes following that were ok. Some nice hommages to old samurai and western movies. The way the final two episodes brought it all together though, magnificent.
Took me a while to get into The Mandalorian, but about half-way, once Gina Carano showed up (admittedly after a long string of great guest stars), I was in like Finn (see what I did there?). Everybody goes on and on about it being like a western set in that Galaxy Far Far Away, but it's really more of a samurai narrative, and I'm only sorry they didn't go full Lone Wolf and Cub with it, since that's basically the set-up. With its 8 episodes, they managed to tell some varied stories, and though it all felt rather slim and episodic at first, many characters introduced early on make a return, so all the pieces matter. But even when I was a little ambivalent about it, I still loved the music (I've been known to play the theme on a loop) and those end credits that looked like concept art, were always great. Mando is a success, however, because producer Jon Favreau managed to do what I think all modern (post-Return of the Jedi) Star Wars projects have struggled to do. It's had a veritable impact on pop culture. Baby Yoda is the best example, but "This is the way" and "I have spoken" are two catch phrases I've seen a lot of on social media in the past two months. Nothing in the prequels or new films has managed to do this, except in a derisive way (emo Kylo Ren, for example). At the very least, people should treat themselves to the Taika Waititi-directed finale's teaser opening comedy sequence between two stormtroopers, it's delicious.
Season 2: By the second season of The Mandalorian, we're well on board - is Baby Yoda CUTER somehow? - and it's a good thing too, because in a number of places, it's definitely forcing episodes to act as back-door pilots for the the host of Star Wars shows to come. Could have been problematic in lesser hands, but if you're going to do turn one of the animated Jedi into a live action character for eventual series, you could do worse than make that episode riff on Lady Snowblood. Beautiful aesthetic. Star Wars fans also get characters from the films thrown in, which made the show a must-watch ON THE DAY lest surprises be spoiled. Especially true of the finale which not only made me catch my breath, but kind of made me teary-eyed too. Along the way, plenty of nice gasps. I'd say the one thing that didn't work for me was the Katee Sackhoff subplot which looks like it will bloom in Season 3. Though I loved her in Battlestar Galactica (and the links back and forth between SW and BSG are notable), in this franchise, I find her stiff and boring, which isn't all her fault when she has to spout a lot of Star-Warsy names in the same sentence, only highlighting how silly this universe actually is on that score. Personally, I could have done with more of the frog lady instead.
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