Yesterday, Lucasfilm issued a press release revealing plans for an unusual new "Star Wars" TV series. Building on the success of high-profile parodies from the "Family Guy" and "Robot Chicken" crews, the Lucas camp is planning a sitcom series based on the famous galaxy far, far away. "Chicken" creators Seth Green and Matthew Senreich will be "creatively involved"; the show will also feature the writing talents of Brendan Hay ("Frank TV") and direction from Todd Grimes ("Back at the Barnyard").
Lucasfilm promises a "playful and irreverent" tone, something that will likely find parallels with the "Star Wars" treatments seen in the two themed "Chicken" specials. Green summed it up very well in a statement, with a description that could apply equally to both the plans for this coming series and the tone of his previous parodies: "The Star Wars universe is so dense and rich; it’s crazy to think that there aren’t normal, mundane everyday problems in a world so well-defined," he said. "What do these characters do when they're not overthrowing the Empire?"
I'm not going to address the fan implications here. I've laid out my views on present-day Lucasfilm very clearly on this blog. I might not agree with every decision that's made, but I get the intent. Instead, I'm going to consider a few directions a project like this might spin off in.
The obvious place to start is with what everyone already knows: the six movies. The thing is, "Robot Chicken" has already mined this realm pretty thoroughly. If the showrunners don't want to be perceived as just a spin-off to previous TV parodies, they're going to have to expand the universe in some way.
Even the most hardened fan has to admit that the prequel trilogy is flawed in some fundamental ways. The unfolding story and how it leads into George Lucas' original trilogy -- primarily, the fall of Anakin Skywalker -- is great, but a lot of the surrounding bits have rightfully drawn the ire of fans. This series is being positioned as a sitcom, not a parody, but there's still plenty of room in there to poke fun at the franchise's wrong turns, from Jar Jar Binks to Jabba the Hutt's vacillating taste in music.
A Different World
Working within the established canon is one thing. But focusing stories on Luke, Leia and other familiar characters isn't going to cut it if the order of the day is sitcom over parody. If Green and his partners are serious about wanting to explore the "mundane, everyday problems" faced by those living in the "Star Wars" universe, their best bet is to build a story around a group of characters not central to the films and approach major events in the canonical universe from their particular point of view.
Fixed Vs. Rotating Cast This is probably the biggest obstacle the creators will face. Do they create a series built around a set character or group of characters, or does is fall more in the vein of a sketch comedy series, to better allow for a broad cross-section of the universe to be seen? The mention of a sitcom in the press release suggests the latter, but that leaves the question of how we'll see the larger galaxy through that lens. Perhaps the story will revolve around a Holonews network?
What do you think? Are you excited by this idea? Enraged? Why? Which notes do you think a "Star Wars" themed comedy series will need to hit in order to please fans "of all ages," as the press release states?