Announcing May the 4th: Spin-Offs and Parodies

When Disney bought Lucasfilm back in late 2012 (has it really been almost a year and a half?), they announced that they were planning on releasing one Star Wars film per year. That means that in addition to the traditionally numbered Episodes, there would be a spate of character- centric spin-off films.

The reaction was…mixed at best. Many felt that this would create oversaturation for the franchise. Others felt that it would seriously dilute the mythos and take away from the story of the Saga proper. Even those who would like to see where they go with this are weary of how it’s handled.

While I understand and even agree with some of these attitudes, everyone is talking like this is the first time a Star Wars spinoff film was even a thought. How quickly we forget.

Which is why I am returning to a weekly format for one month only, in order to bring you a continuation of my Saga reviews from last May. Announcing: May the 4th Episode II – Spin-Offs and Parodies.

Like before, I will give you both my honest opinions and my attempts at objective criticism (operative word being “attempts”) for the reviews, to give you a somewhat different point of view from the norm. The catch here is that while I was very familiar with the Saga and watched it over and over throughout my life before writing the reviews (and even then I needed to watch each film again before I wrote on them), most of these I haven’t seen for a very long time – and some I’ve never seen at all!

In this respect, it’s going to be a bit more difficult to keep some of the public opinion away from my mind as I watch these. Nevertheless, I’m going to keep as open a mind as possible and, again, give you my honest reactions.

I’m sticking with long-form films and specials here, so the ongoing TV series (such as Droids and the various Clone Wars iterations save one) will not be covered this year. The schedule will be as follows:

May 1st: The Star Wars Holiday Special

The first and perhaps most infamous spin-off that even George Lucas wishes never happened. Still, I will keep an open mind and give you my honest reactions.

May 8th: The Ewok Adventures

I haven’t seen these made-for-TV movies since I was three years old, so this will be interesting to revisit. As I stated before, I have no qualms with the Ewoks as they appear in Return of the Jedi. We’ll see how they stack up.

May 15th: Spaceballs

The first of the true parodies, and by one of my other favorite filmmakers: Mel Brooks. It will be interesting to use this as a case study into just how a general audience perceives the Saga up to that point.

May 22nd: The Clone Wars (2008)

The one exception to the Clone Wars stories as mentioned above (though I will talk a little bit about what came before and after). The pilot for the series that George Lucas thought was good enough to be cut together and released theatrically. How right was he? We’ll find out!

May 29th: Family Guy – Laugh It Up, Fuzzball Trilogy/Robot Chicken Star Wars Episodes I-III

I’m putting these parodies together because A) There are only five Thursdays in May, and B) Because they manage to have very similar sensibilities (even sharing writers and voice actors) while having very different takes on the Saga as a whole that will be interesting to compare. As of this writing, I’ve seen the Robot Chicken specials many times, though I’ve only seen “Blue Harvest”/”Something Something Dark Side” once or twice and still haven’t seen “It’s a Trap”. So this will be an interesting exercise.

Now with the Ewok pictures and the Family Guy/Robot Chicken specials, you may worry I’m spreading myself too thin to do the individual pieces justice. Please don’t. I’m still dedicated to bringing you all the quality you’ve come to expect.

The versions I’m working with are:

  • Holiday/Ewoks – Whatever I can find online
  • Spaceballs/Clone Wars/ Chicken – Standard DVD editions
  • Family Guy – Blu-Ray (will have to take screengrabs from the internet)

See you next week, and May the Force be with you all!

For more of Adam’s articles click here.

Adam lives with his wife in Providence, Rhode Island USA (a wife who was gracious enough to allow “Across the Stars” as their wedding processional). Adam plays World of Warcraft, writes and manages the self-indulgent blog “Nilbog’s Storybook Land”, and attempts (often in vain) to complete his novel. He secretly hopes that the production of the new Star Wars films will lead to open auditions.