This one’s been nagging at me all month. I know it shouldn’t matter to me, but it does. The current state of the Star Wars franchise, is schizophrenia. Too may projects and products. Uneven scripting, uneven tone, uneven quality. Terrific acting talent and special effects going to utter waste. An entire literary arm of the canon all but abandoned. Is it Lucas’s fault? Kathleen Kennedy’s fault? Hell, is it our fault for continuing to invest in this stuff when it has been letting us down more often than not?
I am old enough to remember when Star Wars comprised just three motion pictures, the novelizations of same, and a tiny handful of literary add-ons such as the Brian Daley books about Han Solo, as well as the Lando Calrissian books by L. Neil Smith. At that time, the whole of the Star Wars franchise could be taken in one intellectual bite. You didn’t have to devote many hundreds of hours to pouring over games, dozens and dozens of tie-in books, several spin-off television series, prequels, sequels, etc. The original three films formed a coherent core, and what little extra franchise storytelling there was, kept fairly close to home plate.
But that was almost 40 years ago. Since then, a host of authors, producers, directors, script doctors, script fixers, and assorted other Good Idea Fairies™ have all plunged their fingers into the franchise pie. With the result being that Star Wars in 2022 is trying to go in many different directions at once, and precious little of it is what I’d call genuinely memorable. Unlike the original films at their finest, when pre-Jedi Luke bit off more than he could chew in the belly of Cloud City, not much about the current effort glues itself instantly and permanently to one’s multiversal landscape. Too much new stuff not only isn’t written very well, it’s altering or overwriting what’s been previously released — at a disturbing pace.
Such that I am not sure anything will be left of “original canon” before too long.
And so I hang my head and conclude — as I’ve concluded with the Star Trek franchise — that the best, worthiest parts of Star Wars happened long ago, and I ought to not invest any more time in what’s being currently put out.
Yes, I did try with Kenobi. Because I like Ewan in that part, and I really wanted it to be a quality miniseries. But they turned it into a Punky Brewster Leia escapade, with bumbling old Ben tagging along in dull-witted fashion, behaving nothing at all like the actual Kenobi would behave, and Darth Vader too, and it was Moses Ingram’s bad luck to get trapped in a bad script that abused her abilities to the same degree it abused others’ abilities. Such that I tuned out by the third episode, and never looked back.
Honestly, this is what happens when you allow too many people to come play in your universe, and nobody really has any singular vision for the thing, nor the control to enforce it. Even Lucas didn’t have any good ideas, beyond the first film, and relied on others to fill in the gaps. Until it gradually got to be just too much, and now we’ve got a crazyhouse property that is wretchedly inconsistent with itself, mistakes stupidity and sillyness for “fan service,” and deliberately attacks the fandom, using actors as defensive pinatas, the instant any fan dares to complain that the latest, greatest product isn’t up to par.
I don’t know how this gets fixed. And at my age, I am prepared to just let it all sail to Byzantium, assuming that the core I knew in my youth is still the core, and much else is apocrypha. Some of it well-intended. Some of it even coming close to rekindling the magic I felt when I was a kid. But still second-level compared to New Hope, Empire, and Jedi. A three-act space opera in the truest, most loving sense of the phrase. Timeless. Rather unparalleled in popular entertainment. With such a long afterglow that it is still making (diminishing) billions for its rights-holders.