The Star Wars franchise debuted in 1977, but is only now receiving its very first live-action TV series in the form of The Mandalorian, after a whopping 42 years. Better late than never, I guess.
The question on every Star Wars fan’s mind right now is whether the Disney Plus exclusive is truly worthy of carrying the Star Wars name.
I’ve watched everything in Star Wars canon, including every episode of all the various animated series in the franchise (The Clone Wars, Rebels, Resistance).
That’s why I can tell you that The Mandalorian (so far) definitely looks and feels like a Star Wars property, which is no simple feat.
Dave Filoni, who directed the first episode of The Mandalorian and serves as the series’ executive producer, is one of the most influential figures in Star Wars history. He helmed the Star Wars The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, two animated shows which have contributed so much to the franchise lore and canon.
Along with The Mandalorian showrunner Jon Favreau, (judging from the first episode alone) they have managed to translate the magic of the Star Wars universe into a brand new medium, without sacrificing anything of what makes the franchise so iconic.
In A Galaxy Far, Far Away
As a long-time Star Wars fan, I can appreciate that Filoni and Favreau decided to incorporate both practical effects and CGI in The Mandalorian, thereby keeping the old spirit of the franchise intact.
The Blurrg animals featured in the first episode are proof of this, and I hope we get to see more of that in future episodes.
While I’m not sure what planet the titular Mandalorian is on in the first episode, it reminds me of Tatooine. With desolate desert landscapes and dirty cantinas with thugs, the show captures the grimy and live-in atmosphere of the Original Trilogy (even though it is actually set after Star Wars Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi).
However, a blue character played by Horatio Sanz (who is a bounty caught by the titular Mandalorian) may seem out of place, as well as several other moments and bits of dialogue in the first episode, which might break your immersion. Filoni seems to have brought the franchise’s tendencies of slapstick and low-brow comedy (remember the Ewoks, Jar-Jar Binks, and anything involving the droids) into the show as well.
These didn’t ruin the first episode for me, though I can see how they might turn off some Star Wars fans who were expecting a darker, grittier and more serious take in The Mandalorian.
Short And Sweet
The first episode of The Mandalorian ran at a brisk pace throughout a 40-minute runtime. The first 30 minutes or so is pretty uneventful, but the last 10 minutes is when the best action sequence and big surprise reveal took place.
The relatively-short runtime (compared to other big-budget shows like Star Trek Discovery or Game Of Thrones, with runtimes reaching an hour) ensures that there’s not a boring moment or lull to be found.
By The Fans, For The Fans
The Mandalorian ultimately feels like a TV series that caters mostly to the hardcore Star Wars fans, who want to see more of their beloved franchise being explored and expanded upon.
Casual watchers won’t really care much about the little details and that big reveal at the end of the first episode, which potentially has massive ramifications for the entire franchise going forward.
Just like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, there likely won’t be any lightsabers and much (if any) Jedi stuff in The Mandalorian. If you’re fine with that, you will still find elements to enjoy, such as the spaghetti western nature and high production values of the series.
For my fellow Star Wars fans, this is only just the beginning. A beginning of something truly special, assuming The Mandalorian sticks the landing in its first full season.
FINAL SCORE: 80/100