In praise of Star Wars Rebels

I'm changing the name of this blog, and #WeWantLeia is why

I spoil it for Siri

Guest Post: How I came back to Star Wars action figures by YASWB

Beatrice and I watch Star Wars together

[Review] William Shakespeare's Star Wars by Ian Doescher 

Star Wars oil painting exhibit "Sandstorm" opens

Breakneck boredom: an old time Star Wars fan's thoughts on Star Trek Into Darkness

They put me on the news to talk about Star Wars

More from Steve Sansweet on Star Wars and gay marriage

Carmine Infantio has died

I can die happy: I've been interviewed by Dungeons & Dragons

Star Wars Episode 7: All My Children?

What JJ Abrams needs to really succeed with Star Wars 7

Star Wars: The Old Republic is gay--on one planet at least

Tongal and Pringles bring us DYI desecration of Star Wars

Reminiscences about West End Games' Star Wars Roleplaying Game

Here's the biggest Star Wars news of 2012

Stephen Quinn interviews me about Star Wars on CBC Vancouver

Star Wars: modern myth or global franchise?

Parents turn child's 1st birthday into extended Lucasfilm/Hasbro advert

Me reading from A Long Time Ago

Highlights and lowlights of the upcoming Star Wars Celebration VI

Grown men (mostly) dressed up as Lando Calrissian

Beggar's Canyon Toys offer Star Wars toy "restoration" service

Blog's t-shirts banned by Zazzle

Will the real David Prowse please stand up?

LaserSaber: Unlicensed, dangerous and yours for only $99

Is this the future of Star Wars?

Is Star Wars link bait?

Dissent not tolerated at the Prequel Appreciation Society

TSOT discovers its nemesis

Comme des idiots: Star Wars teams up with poncy fashion house

US Christian activist attacks SWTOR for being gay

Yodaphone--the latest product pitch from Star Wars Inc.

Attention tortoise-fanciers: do you like Star Wars?

History of Star Wars as related by a bot

Is Star Wars a travesty of science fiction?

Luke Skywalker and company on the Muppet Show

Yoda now shilling instant soup in Japan

Commander who?

$6000 for a toy you can't even play with

Star Wars underwear

Retro Star Wars decor in my son's bedroom

Phantom Menace 3D: Now With Plot

Star Wars and disco: the forgotten love affair

Will Muschamp: What a guy!

Oi, fanboy: grow up! A reply to Darren Franich


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Entries in prequels (8)


In praise of Star Wars Rebels

I decided to set aside my skepticism of all things Star Wars produced after 1983 and give Star Wars Rebels a try. I had watched the trailer and a few other previews online and was attracted to the Ralph-McQuarrie-inspired art and the apparent lack of any references to the dreaded (and dreadful) prequels. So I signed up for a season's pass on iTunes and watched the first episode with the kids (Beatrice and Zach, six-and-a-half and four). We've been watching one episode a week ever since. 

I'm amazed at how right Star Wars Rebels is. The characters are terrific. Zeb is a wonderful mix of strong and smart, gruff and gentle. He's possibly my favourite character. Sabine and Hera, while a little underdeveloped so far, are promising female leads in a universe that has always been too short on them--something that bothers me a lot more now that I have a daughter than it did seven+ years ago. Chopper is a genuinely new take on a droid (unless he's not--I've never watched Clone Wars so I don't know what I've missed, but he seems fresh and original to me). 

But most intriguing to me are Kanan, billed as the cowboy Jedi, and Ezra, his accidental protegé. Watching how the show's writers have drawn these two characters, I feel like I'm finally seeing what I had hoped for from the prequels: a coming-of-age story mixed with a Jedi take on the buddy flick. Kanan and Ezra's complex relationship, in which annoyance and admiration are mutual and frequently simultaneous, is what Obi-Wan and Anakin's could and should have been. Utterly unlike the prequels, the age difference here is perfect: Ezra is old enough to be interesting and young enough to be forgivable, while Kanan is old enough to be authoritative and young enough to be in over his head in training a would-be Jedi. Isn't this exactly what the original trilogy led us to believe about Kenobi and Skywalker? It's hard for me not to see the Kanan-Ezra relationship as a gentle rebuke of the prequels, as though the Star Wars Rebels writers are saying to old-time Star Wars fans like me, "This is what could have been".

Perhaps my favourite thing about Star Wars Rebels so far is that it actually feels like Star Wars, by which I of course mean the original trilogy. The stormtroopers look like stormtroopers. The vehicles are familiar, even when they are given novel twists. The settings have the eerily organic quality of McQuarrie's paintings. I feel delightfully at home in this world. 

Hanging over the entire series is the knowledge that, by the time of the Episode IV era (said to be five years in the future) the only Jedi left in the galaxy are Obi-Wan and Yoda. What this means for the arc of Star Wars Rebels is brutally clear: Kanan and Ezra must die. The grim inevitability of their deaths brings an unexpected poignancy to the show. For the moment, I want Star Wars Rebels to go on and on. But eventually it has to end, and the ending must be harsh. I pray the show doesn't flinch from the impending tragedy. Judging by the perfect-pitch storytelling we've seen so far, it won't. In that case the best of Star Wars Rebels is yet to come.


Honest Trailers attacks Attack of the Clones

"Ewan A Bad Movie" indeed.


Denial is the only reasonable reaction

Pearls Before Swine by Stephan Pastis

Cartoonist Stephan Pastis (@stephanpastis) nails it. Go check out his comic, Pearls Before Swine.

Go Comics: Pearls Before Swine by Stephan Pastis


Tongal and Pringles bring us DYI desecration of Star Wars

Something horrible-looking called Tongal is behind the latest Star Wars/[enter product name here] tie-in, where [enter product name here] = Pringles potato chips. 

Tongal gives people small amounts of money in exchange for their product-themed, crowd-sourced, social, viral, [enter other marketing buzzwords here] videos. As Tongal explains:

Launch a Tongal project and unlock new creative possibilities for your business through our unique process that will turn your core consumers into co-creators and let you discover a world of new creative talent capable of bringing new energy and inspiration to your brand.

A recent example of a Tongal campaign comes from this tweet: 

How exciting. Tongal's latest campaign is The Force for Fun, in which Pringles and prequels join forces to debase the Star Wars franchise further. Here's how Tongal explains it:  

Star Wars isn’t just a movie franchise: it’s a living, breathing, pop culture phenomenon, with a rich history and a limitless future.  Whatever you call it: if it entices fully-grown adults to dress up like Wookiees and wait in day-long lines wrapped around city blocks, its power can’t be doubted. 

(Fairly accurate so far.) 

Since the first movie made the historic breakthrough in 1977, Star Wars has influenced our language, technology, and even our collective view of the universe.

Now again in the Fall of 2013, you’ll be (for real) ducking blaster bolts and Lightsaber blows from Yoda and Lord Vader himself when Star Wars returns to the big screen with back-to-back releases of Episode II: Attack of the Clones, and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith in breathtaking 3D!

For real?  

And grab a snack! Who can ever forget the irresistible taste experience when you first popped the lid on some Pringles? Remember how you admired each crisp’s curved symmetry, and finally crunched down on their flavor-filled deliciousness?! More world-shaking than: You’re your father!  And before you knew it, you were reaching for another. We know: the flavor Force is strong.  We know that these are the crisps you’re looking for. We know:  Pringles are a galaxy of goodness...

I can honestly say I have no recollection whatsoever of the first time I opened a can of Pringles. Nor do I recall admiring the potato chip's curves. And I'm pretty sure the line is, "I am your father!".  

Pringles has always prided itself on being a fun, wide-open-to-the-universe brand.  And why not? Pringles has always made snacking more playful, tasty, authentic, and unexpected.  Even a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.... 


So for Star Wars: Episodes II and III in 3D big debut: we want YOU to remind people how delicious Pringles really are.   And we want you to tie-in the world’s most iconic snack food with the biggest entertainment property in the universe.  

Pringles: bigger than grammar. 

And we have a new challenge for you -- because this time, we want you to really dig in...and make some ART.

Art? Really? Actually, no. Here's what Tongal really wants you to make

--Key Marketing Messages:

  • Pringles provide an irresistible taste experience and are bursting with flavor. 

  • For a limited time only, Star Wars returns to the big screen with back-to-back releases of Episode II: Attack of the Clones; and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith in breathtaking 3D.  This special cinematic event offers the original, awe-inspiring experience of watching Star Wars in 3D on the big screen in surround sound in a communal time with your friends and family. We are giving fans and movie goers the opportunity to see and relive the thrilling story of a once great Jedi Knight, Anakin Skywalker, in his dark turn into one of the most well-known villains of all time- Darth Vader, in a whole new way. 

--Executional Mandatories:  

• Put Pringles at the center of the drama and portray both brands in a positive light.

• Inspire interest and excitement for the theatrical releases of Star Wars: Episodes II and II in 3D by including Star Wars iconography from Episodes II and III, Star Wars characters and music to promote the two movie event.

--Star Wars Branding Guidelines:

 • Primary character focus is on Yoda and Darth Vader.

• Make sure that the creative is fully integrated- This video should only work with the involvement of a Star Wars character…  If the Star Wars character could be removed and replaced with another character then the creative is not integrated.

• Do not put real world characters into the Star Wars universe, but Star Wars characters can enter into the real world. 

• Should be easily accessible for all. Viewers shouldn’t need a deep understanding of the Star Wars universe to understand the idea.

• Have fun with the Star Wars brand but don’t make fun of it or its fans.

• Star Wars character should not be directly touching, holding or talking about a branded product (i.e. Pringles).  Use of The Force to influence products is ok.  It is also ok for a character to carry non-branded/generic products, embellishments and accessories that cannot be seen as an endorsement.  

• Examples:

 • OK:R2-D2 handing a napkin to a person to wipe their mouth after enjoying some Pringles.

 • OK: Yoda using The Force to make some Pringles cans fly off a shelf at retail.

 • Not OK: Yoda saying “The Force is strong with Pringles.”

 • Not OK: Darth Vader holding and then eating from a can of Pringles.

• Character modifications should be in keeping with the tone of the film and should stay within the scope of the character’s true nature and personality, as well as support the brand equity and maintain the integrity of the film and the franchise.


--Pringles Branding Guidelines:

 • Handling of Mr P: He is a logo, not a living mascot.  He can be used in a static fashion but not as a living character. 

  • Crisps: The crisps can be actual photography or illustrations.  Their most defining visual characteristic is their fun hyperbolic parabloid shape (also known as the double saddle).  They are fair game in play (duckbill, etc) with people or without people.  They can be used within scenes (see the Sour Cream & Onion can diving scene for inspiration) or as flying objects forming shapes and patterns.

 • The eating of Crisps: Pringles should be enjoyed in a social, fun setting, not solo. Also, like most things Pringles are best enjoyed in moderation.  They should not be eaten in a giant stack and or beyond a serving size. 

  • Color: Pringles Signature color is red, but Pringles cans are available in a wide spectrum of colors.  The two other most popular colors/flavors are Green for Sour Cream and Onion or Yellow/Orange for Cheddar Cheese.

 • Tonality: Pringles are high energy, fun and playful.  Think: Ellen DeGeneres on her show.

  • Key Brand Attribute: Irresistible Taste Experience. Eating a Pringle is different from a eating a regular chip. There is an experience people associate with the unique can and crisp.  Everyone has their own way of popping the seal, pulling a stack, and snacking on a few. Nothing else is like a Pringle.


  • Key Historical references: Music and Energy.  Historically, Pringles advertising has brought the brand and the eating experience to life through song and movement (with catchy lines like “once you pop you can’t stop”).  That line has been retired (so please do not use it), but the irresistible experience remains true.  There is something magnetic, shareable and fun about eating Pringles.

--Target Audience:  Adults 18-49, particularly those that have a past affinity for the Pringles brand and are open to rediscovering it.

--Tone:  Fun, clever while maintaining the Star Wars brand’s spirit of epic adventure.

So we can all look forward to a fun, clever, crowd-sourced, Ellen DeGeneres-style Pringles/Star Wars commercial in which Yoda and Vader use the Force to manipulate (but not touch or eat) potato chips in 3D. Coming soon to a galaxy near you.


Dissent not tolerated at the Prequel Appreciation Society

Quite sensible, actuallyHaving recently discovered this blog's nemesis, I occasionally wander over to have a look. Ha ha, no I don't. But it came up on my Google news feed so I decided to make another visit.

The Star Wars Prequel Appreciation Society blog was already a little funny, with its elaborate limitation of liability and uninfectious enthusiasm ("If you can’t imagine Star Wars without Padmé and her handmaidens, Coruscant, padawans, clonetroopers, butt-kicking Yoda, Darth Maul, the Jedi Council, podraces, Qui-Gon Jinn, Count Dooku, Watto, Naboo, General Grievous, Ahsoka Tano, or even good ol’ Jar Jar, then this site is your Club Med. Celebrate all that rocks about Episodes I-III and The Clone Wars!!"). 

The SWPAS has just got a bit stranger with the addition of "RULES OF THE HOUSE". It appears that the Society's webmaster is cracking down on dissenting opinions about the merits of The Phantom Menace and whatever the other two are called. From the Rules:

This site is about one thing and it’s about celebrating the Star Wars prequels and the saga as a whole. In order to accomplish this goal, please keep these rules–created by endless Senate committees–in mind:

1. No bashing or excessive criticism of the films.

This includes but is not limited to the quality of performances, writing, direction, story, etc.. If you don’t like the movies or want to use this as a soapbox for your gripes, this site is NOT for you. Gripe away on your own site or where they allow it; don’t do it here. No insults directed at the cast either.

2. No bashing or excessive criticism of George Lucas and his family.

This includes but is not limited to referring to him as “greedy,” “a hack,” “a lousy director,” etc. or cutting comments on his appearance, his family, or anything personal.

3. Commenters must be polite and civil.

There is to be no flaming, trolling, baiting, insults, excessive nitpicking, contrarianism, and all-around smarta–ery directed at other commenters or the webmiss. Save it for Sheldon and the Comic Book Guy.

The origin of these new rules is explained in a post by the moderator from late February:

I started SWPAS because I wanted to help the Star Wars prequels. I wanted to do that because I’ve always been about helping the saga overall. I wanted a place for likeminded people to gather and have it be something different from the cauldron of ugly I’ve found just about everywhere Star Wars is discussed. There’s a reason why I no longer associate with fan groups in real life; I’m sick of being on the defensive even among other “fans.” Especially among other fans.

So please understand I don’t want to be on the defensive about the prequels, the people associated with them, or Star Wars itself here.

Things got a little heated in an exchange with a commenter last night and let me just say, I did not mean to hurt anyone’s feelings and I apologize if I did. Sometimes, after a long stressful day I don’t handle things the best way.

That said, I think that in order to keep things low maintenance, I’m going to have to draw up some explicit rules for posting here, posting on the Facebook page, and for submissions so that we’re all on the same page and everyone understands what the expectations are for this site. I’ll let you know when they’re done.

My first reaction on reading all this was to laugh. A lot. My second reaction was about the same. The third time round, however, I started feeling a little sorry for the poor blogger whose Society is under siege by trolls--right-thinking trolls but trolls all the same. 

I then found myself warming up to the unnamed SWPAS blogger even more upon reading his (her?) post about Simon Pegg taking a role on the Clone Wars cartoon. The post, dramatically entitled Betrayal, is actually not far from my own reaction on learning that Mr. Pegg, the noted prequel-hater, had signed on to voice Dengar on the cartoon. I wouldn't go so far as to say, as the blogger does, "It’s obvious Pegg himself has no integrity", but it is a bit incongruous to say the least. And I couldn't help but laugh in agreement when I read, "What’s next, Clone Wars crew? Bringing in fellow prequel hater Patton Oswalt for another episode? How about inviting the Red Letter Media guy to guest direct?" 

Ah, the Star Wars Prequel Appreciation Society. It's good to have a nemesis.

The Star Wars Prequel Appreciation Society


Hmm, what movies are opening this weekend?

Let's see (courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes): 



Woody Harrelson, Sigourney Weaver, Robin Wright, Ned Beatty

Los Angeles, 1999 - Officer Dave Brown (Harrelson) is a Vietnam vet and a Rampart Precinct cop, dedicated to doing "the people's dirty work" and asserting his own code of justice, often blurring the lines between right and wrong to maintain his… More

Robert Wieckiewicz, Benno Fürmann, Agnieszka Grochowska, Maria Schrader

From acclaimed director Agnieszka Holland, In Darkness is based on a true story. Leopold Socha, a sewer worker and petty thief in Lvov, a Nazi occupied city in Poland, one day encounters a group of Jews trying to escape the liquidation of the ghetto.… More

Limara Meneses, Eman Xor Oña, Mario Guerra, Lenny Mandel

Cuba, 1948. Chico is a young piano player with big dreams. Rita is a beautiful singer with an extraordinary voice. Music and desire unite them as they chase their dreams and each other from Havana to New York to Paris, Hollywood and Las Vegas. With… More

János Derzsi, Erika Bók, Mihály Kormos, Ricsi

On January 3, 1889 in Turin, Italy, Friedrich Nietzsche steps out of the doorway of number six, Via Carlo Albert. Not far from him, a cab driver is having trouble with a stubborn horse. The horse refuses to move, whereupon the driver loses his… More

Zak Van Winkle, Jeremy Parrish, David Neevel, Victoria Maurette

The legend of Kung FU Joe explodes onto the screen as a mysterious Mad Scientist tries to take over the world with the help of an army of hunchbacks! When Shaft is not available then the local neighborhood must to turn to another legend - the Brother… More

Lots of great choices! I'm not missing anything important, am I?


Raise your children right with This Sort Of Thing t-shirts and onesies

This Sort Of Thing is taking the plunge into the dubious world of online t-shirt sales. First up are designs aimed straight at your infant children. Get them off to a good start with clothing that tells the world you remember a time when Star Wars movies were not crap.

Daddy says the prequels suck

Daddy knows best. Start your child off right with this unambiguous message of hope and peace.

Pew pew

Any Star Wars fan old enough to have both children and a job will remember his "pew pew" days with fondness. Relive your childhood through your children--isn't that why you had them?

So go buy dozens of these insightful and artistic creations right away. At $2 profit a pop I'll have paid off my student loans in no time.

Zazzle: This Sort Of Thing shop


The enfeeblement of Darth Vader

Former US vice-president, torture afficianado and rotten hunter Dick Cheney has recently said (not for the first time) that he likes, and is even honoured by, the nickname "Darth Cheney" given to him by some opponents. 

This is, of course, just a bit of politicking by a politician. But it illustrates a phenomenon that is starting to drive me nuts. Ever since the prequels, or at least since the last of them, Darth Vader has been moving in the popular imagination from what he really was--a genocidal maniac who experienced a rather unconvincing last-minute change of heart--into some sort of hero.

I doubt whether comparisons to Darth Vader would have been so readily embraced by a politician in 1977, 1980, 1983 or even 1999. In the course of the original three films we see Darth Vader torture a princess, participate (at least as an accessory) in the complete destruction of an entire planet, murder an old man (although Kenobi admittedly let him do it), sufficate several underlings (usually to death), torture a man without even asking him any questions, cut off his own son's hand, cavort around the galaxy in transports bearing names like "Death Star" and "Star Destroyer", and repeatedly do things he consciously knows to be wrong in the name of "the power of the Dark Side of the Force". He is about as bad as a movie villain gets in a film that can legally be shown to a six-year-old.

How, then, has Darth Vader now become an acceptable, and even adorable, way for Germans (of all people) to sell Volkswagens to the world?

The answer cannot lie in the last fifteen minutes of Return of the Jedi alone. It is all very nice that Luke finally got to see his father's pale and scary face before he died. But what would have happened had he not died? What would Luke have done with him after dragging him onto that imperial shuttle? He could hardly take him to Endor for the Ewok barbeque. "Hey everyone, this is my dad. He's been blowing up planets and trying to kill you for years, but it's cool, he's good now. Could someone get him a beer?" If the rebels were saints, they would arrest him and put him on trial for genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes against just about every other species in the galaxy. More likely the film would end rather like it did--with Vader's body burning, but alive.

Vader's death-bed confession was the least convincing part of the original trilogy. (A close second was Obi-Wan's explanation to Luke that he had not really lied about his father, he had in fact told him the truth "from a certain point of view". Dicky-Wan Kenobi might be as appropriate a nickname for the former vice-president and his WMD-imagining pals in the Bush Jr White House.) Had Joseph Stalin shown affection for a long-lost child in the last 30 minutes of his life, he would still have fully deserved to go down in history as a murderous thug. But at least Lucas did not dwell on this implausible bit of happyendingism: the final scene between Luke and Vader, which is admittedly dramatic and even somewhat touching, ends quickly enough not to give the viewer time to start questioning whether it makes any sense.

Then come the prequels. Now Lucas tells us the entire concept of Star Wars from the very begining was that it would tell the tale of Darth Vader's fall and redemption. Of all the many mistakes one can find in the prequel trilogy, this is pre-eminent. The prequels should not have revolved around Anakin Skywalker. The tragic hero of the prequels ought to have been Obi-Wan Kenobi--an immensely talented but arrogant young man who allows his ambition and self-confidence to delude him into taking on as a pupil a younger man (not a five-year-old, not a teenager) whom he was incapable of properly preparing for the demands of life as a jedi. Kenobi's vanity not only ruins the life of Anakin Skywalker--whose flawed training from Kenobi proves wholly inadequate to the task of controlling his immense innate powers--but leads directly to the fall of the entire republic and the coming of the Galactic Empire.

I did not invent that storyline. George Lucas did. It is what he told us happened between Obi-Wan and Anakin in the original trilogy. But then he decided he wanted Liam Neeson.

The rest of the story is too drearily familiar to state in any detail. The prequels are awful and Vader is recast as an object of pity. Nobody capable of tying his own shoes is persuaded by this, but there are enough children and morons in the world to make it almost true. And Lucas is more than happy to encourage woolly thinking about Darth Vader, partly in a desperate bid to depict the prequels as having actually had some sort of satisfactory plot, but mostly because Asian electronic companies will pay him large licensing fees to use Vader's likeness on telephones and Vader's voice on GPS navigation systems.

In short, the Dark Side is looking sunnier, and more banal, all the time. Dick Cheney is right: Darth has become a compliment. 

Fox Nation: Cheney: Honored to be Compared to Darth Vader

Cheney: Being Darth Vader not so bad