When it was originally on: 2019-now
Original network: Disney+
Where you can stream it now: Disney+
Had I seen it before: No. But I’ve seen a lot of Baby Yoda memes. I’ve also seen all 11 of the theatrically released Star Wars movies, but have no familiarity with things like Clone Wars and Rebels and all that nonsense.
What IMDb says: The travels of a lone bounty hunter in the outer reaches of the galaxy, far from the authority of the New Republic.
Why I picked it: Disney+ is one of streaming’s two new kids on the block (the other being Apple TV+) and it’s possibly the first to pose any kind of serious threat to Netflix. In the name of having diversity among streaming originals, I needed one from Disney+, and there really was no other choice worth considering.
What make this even more interesting is that Disney+ has enough content that it doesn’t REALLY need to rely on original, streaming-exclusive content to the extent that other platforms do. What content they do have is often based on existing IP such as Star Wars or High School Musical. As more and more series come from existing IP (I literally just reviewed Picard yesterday), Disney+ has a huge potential to be a big player in that.
What I liked: I love how this show seems relatively detached from the rest of the Star Wars world. The franchise can sometimes be a bit heavy handed with its references to fan favorite lore, in an annoying wink-wink-nudge-nudge kind of way. It was really nice to not have to deal with any of that, and I admire Then Mandalorian’s commitment to building new story and character within the Star Wars universe without relying too heavily on what came before.
The show also does a really good job of “showing, not telling.” I don’t need the show to explain to me that The Mandalorian is a bounty hunter. I just need to watch him freeze people in carbonite and then negotiate trades for the people/future kills. I know this seems relatively simple, but a lot of pilots rely too heavily on dialog for this kind of exposition and The Mandalorian makes action-based exposition look easy.
Also Baby Yoda is cute. But ya’all already knew that.
What I didn’t like: Unfortunately the Mandalorian doesn’t do anything remotely likable until the last 30 seconds of the pilot. I spent most of this pilot saying “okay. . . but who am I supposed to be rooting for?” The Mandalorian is a bounty hunter, and it seems like a pretty damn good one. We watch him hunt for bounty. But at no point did I find the Mandalorian exceptionally likable nor did I find the people he was hunting particularly disdainful. I was just watching, wondering to myself what the whole damn point is.
The pilot DOES flip this script at the very end but that’s my whole point: it’s the very end. I either needed the Mandalorian to do SOMETHING that would render him likable and sympathetic before he spares Baby Yoda’s life, or I needed this moment of sparing Baby Yoda to somehow happen sooner, and then maybe we get a little more action and adventure as the Mandalorian tries to take Baby Yoda someplace safer.
Do I want to watch Ep. 2: Yes. This is one of those pilots that ends right as it’s about to get good. So while I can’t say I was terribly invested in it, I definitely want to see at least one more episode before I give up on it.