Mandalorian – a Spoiler-Free TPS Review!
Having just binge-watched all 8 episodes of The Mandalorian, I can definitely say that if you’re a Star Wars fan or looking for a pretty cool space-faring action series to get stuck into, this should be right up your street.
I was worried about mentions in reviews of ‘fan service’, which can be a good or a bad thing in branded settings like Star Wars, Pixar, etc., but the little bits of that I saw weren’t in your face and were definitely noticeable for longtime fans, but not so hidden that you’ll need three extra viewings and a nerd checklist to catch everything.
The series had Jon Favreau as the showrunner/main guy in charge, which was cool to see. I first saw him in Swingers, he went on to act in many movies and direct tons of shows and movies including Elf, some of the Iron Man movies and produce lots of (Disney-owned) Marvel movies including The Avengers, Iron Man 3 and more. So it was nice to see someone in charge whose career I’d kind of followed along on his path. Also – serious geek cred! It’s a bit like hearing how the start of The Witcher is really into his single player PC games (and look out for a review post on that show soon, as well!).
So, this being just a general hobby blog, I won’t go into excrutiating detail on every episode or anything like that, there’s plenty of other reviews that can do that.
For me, the coolest thing about The Mandalorian is that the series shows different facets of ‘life in the Star Wars universe’ that you just don’t see if you only watch the main 9 movies. It’s also a grittier, dustier view of the sort of lives and characters that are generally background characters. That skinny robot that was in the back of a scene in the original trilogy, that you only got the name of (IG-88) when the toy figure came out? Well, now you can see how a robot like that fights in a laser battle (and it’s pretty awesome). Those little pale guys on the Death Star that nearly destroyed C-3PO – the ugnaughts? Now you get to see how they actually talk and interact with humans. That sweet armor that Boba Fett wears? There’s a whole backstory to every piece of armor, and especially of his people, which is one of the deeper dives of the whole series.
There is plenty of that sort of thing. What happened to the Imperial Stormtroopers and their leaders after the battle on Endor’s moon? What is the culture of Boba Fett’s people? Does he ever take off his helmet? Do other Mandalorians have crazy weapon gizmos and rocket packs? Do former Rebels have nicknames for their former enemies? Yup, all of this is answered.
So if this is what you call ‘fan service’, there’s plenty of that. I just call it ‘extra background’! And I think it’s great to have that kind of thing. It might be buried in a visual encyclopedia that came out when one of the movies was released, or it could be mentioned in a novelization, but fitting it into a proper TV series puts it front and center in a much more interesting way.
Another thing I really enjoyed about the show was that it doesn’t really hold back on the grittiness of the setting. Yes, when people and creatures die there’s no blood (this is a Disney+ show, after all – kids will be watching) but there are tons of people and creatures that die. There’s gambling, drinking and hints of plenty of other more salacious things (did you get the hint about Salacious Crumb there? There’s something in the show for Crumb-spotters too!).
If you’ve seen Rogue One, The Mandalorian has much of that same feel to things. It’s ‘dark’ in a 1950s war movie sort of way. People die, but there are no gory scenes or cursing. Of course, Rogue One and The Mandalorian are different stories and set in different times, but when you hear ‘Many Bothans died to give us this information’ in the original trilogy, then you SEE the Bothans dying, and how they got that information to the Rebels, it means so much more. In The Mandalorian, you see so much more about how various facets of life in the Star Wars galaxy, after the Empire was defeated (for the first of many times).
So in case you didn’t get the gist of the post… yes, it’s a thumbs up from me, for sure! It’s definitely a series that’s best to sit down and watch – don’t have it on in the background while you’re painting or building models.