Thursday, June 23, 2022
As a massive Star Wars fan, I had been eager to see what would become of this beloved franchise following Walt Disney's purchase from creator George Lucas. So many were skeptical and worried that Disney would turn Star Wars into a cash cow, pumping out product after product with no care for the material. It didn't help that following the purchase, Kathleen Kennedy announced plans to release a new Star Wars movie every year for the foreseeable future. Suddenly that small 1977 classic felt less and less special. Unfortunately, the skeptics have been largely right and Disney has churned out more bad product than good. Star Wars has become more commercialized and saturated than ever, and the stories have suffered with a few rare exceptions. And sadly, Obi-Wan Kenobi's limited series on Disney+ is not one of those exceptions.
In my podcast discussion (which is not spoiler free) with fellow Star Wars nerds Grant and Dan, I told them I was trying very hard to pocket my frustrations with Disney as a company and react to this series on its own. But after 6 episodes, its still so clear to me that Disney would rather churn out product rather than focus on good writing and story telling.
After the divisive nature of the sequel trilogy and the behind the scenes disorganization, Disney lost all of my faith in anything they could possibly do with Star Wars. Failing to ensure the writers and directors of each film coordinated an overarching outline seems like story telling 101. That carelessness is infuriating to this day. But, Disney did something brilliant when they allowed Dave Filoni, a student of George Lucas himself, to properly finish off George's Cartoon Network Clone Wars animated series with a final 6 part tie-in to Revenge of the Sith. It was emotional, impactful, and gave another perspective of the events of Order 66 through the eyes of Anakin Skywalker's former apprentice, Ahsoka Tano.
The Clone Wars was a massive success and gave birth to Disney's relationship with Dave Filoni and his vision for an original story in "The Mandalorian". Partnering with John Favreau, Filoni explored a small story about a Mandalorian taking random bounty jobs - completely disconnected from the Skywalker story (at least until season 2). Fans universally loved Filoni's direction and vision for the property and have hoped he would become the new creative lead for Star Wars as a whole.
To this day, he may have a seat at the table but he is far from calling any shots.
One would think that after the success among fans with Filoni and Favreau, Disney would wisely task them with helming the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi series. This was one of the most anticipated and demanded stories to be told, yet Disney decided to hand it off to a smaller name with Deborah Chow. This decision sealed Kenobi's fate as a lackluster disappointment leaving so much to be desired.
But perhaps its our fault as fans for expecting something so specific that we are setting the series up for failure. Prior to Disney's purchase from Lucas, there were thousands of books, comics, video games, fan fictions, etc. that bled into the known canon and provided a perception of what an aging Kenobi would be up to during his solitude on Tatooine. Disney cataloged all of these stories as "legends" and only sometimes use them as inspiration for story arcs.
The show isn't the worst thing, but it begs the question "why?". What was the purpose of this story? If indeed it was just an excuse to put cool things on the screen, that seems cheap to me. I want emotional weight and connection to the characters I grew up with, not a fun fan fiction story riddled with inconsistencies and plot holes. Nothing about this series added any further depth to Kenobi that I hadn't already assumed. And after the finale, I'm left with more logical questions than I should be left with going into A New Hope.
In our podcast discussion, available June 27th, I express my envy for Dan's sheer love for all things Star Wars because I truly wanted to enjoy this as a fan of these characters and the actors' triumphant return. The last thing I want to do is poo poo on someone's enjoyment of this series because there really are great moments peppered throughout the episodes.
I just take extreme issue with the creative decision making overall and Disney's desire to make money off of this beloved franchise seems to be front and center rather than care for the plot. Trust was broken with their handling of the sequel trilogy and I've unfortunately let that bleed into my viewing of the series I was most excited about.
Heh. At least I can admit that bias?
I don't want Star Wars to go away, I want it to do something new and original. The best thing Disney could do is tell stories during a time completely separate from the Skywalker story. Move on from the horse you've beaten to death and bring some originality back to a galaxy that so needs a new magic spark. Until that happens I will remain indifferent and fatigued with the direction they have gone, and I feel like the asshole in the room when I say this. I love Star Wars, and I look forward to the next convention I can attend with Dan, but so long as Disney focuses on its profits rather than its ability to tell stories - I guess I can trust only in the force and believe a new hope will arise.
Read more at www.thecoganconvo.com
Listen to our reaction to the first 4 episodes of the Disney+ exclusive series Obi-Wan Kenobi and stay tuned for our reaction to the complete series, available on June 27th.
Listen to our podcast "The Cogan Conversation" on all podcast platforms!