The Mandalorian, the largest original TV series on Disney+’s launch roster passes one simple test. It’s cool. It is cool. The robots, spaceships, and monsters are all cool. The landscapes: Whoa. Interspecies bar fights: Crackin’. This show was very expensive. cost $15m (PS12.9m for each episode). Although it doesn’t guarantee a continuous stream of memorable gags, the first two episodes show that Disney has that.
If you’ve been self-isolating in a desert moon on an arid planet, then we’re now in the Star Wars universe. It is located temporally between the Return of the Jedi and the first of JJAbrams sequels, Force Awakens. The evil empire is just five years away from the present. The outer reaches are chaotic and lawless.
The bounty hunter is the main character. He hides behind a helmet that doesn’t reveal his face, much like Boba Fett in The Empire Strikes Back. This is the show’s ceiling: Pedro Pascal, the main actor, has limited dialogue and movement. The Mandalorian is a show and a character that isn’t particularly charming. Pascal plays an emotionally ascetic merchant. This show isn’t meant to be charming. It’s meant to be cool.
Two things are made clear by the Mandalorian’s brief preamble, in which he dispatches a whole saloon of miscreants to capture a chatty creature he was paid to arrest. This is a western. Pascal is a master at movement and dialogue. While he is a tough guy, he can also be a shrewd and creative thinker. He is Robocop. Clint Eastwood is him. He is Ryan Gosling, in Drive. He’s not playing around and neither is the series. A job that is way out of line takes our man to a secret bunker populated with black-and-white stormtroopers. It feels like entering a 50s Paris underground club and being surrounded by uniformed Nazis. There is also Werner Herzog.
Herzog’s casting as the Client, an imposing – and indeed imperial-looking – iceman for which you don’t want to work, Bingeable TV Shows that The Mandalorian doesn’t mind taking a risk, no matter how high-stakes every creative decision made under Star Wars. This is Herzog’s first win, and Nick Nolte replaces him as Mandalorian’s foil. He plays the role of Kuiil, the vapor farmer Kuiil who is a dignified, jowly survivor of the empire’s jackboot. His catchphrase, “I have spoken”, gives him the air of a septuagenarian history teacher. He effortlessly maintains control of the class. Nolte then hands the baton over to Taika wait, an IG-11-level pedant of a droid whose hips rotate 360 degrees and who constantly threatens to self-destruct if he and Mandy find themselves in a Butch Cassidy predicament.
Jon Favreau is the showrunner and writer of all this. He was Monica’s cage fighter boyfriend in Friends and the guy who played Swingers and Chef. However, he is also the director of Iron Man 2, Iron Man 2, and remakes of The Jungle Book and The Lion King. He is a reliable leader of an entertainment company, but he doesn’t fear breaking it. You can’t tell if a joke is coming or a huge set-piece, but you will know which one is going to be successful.
The Mandalorian’s greatest creation and the twist in episode one were the first to be shared on social media. This was since Disney+ and this show launched in the US in November. Fans immediately gave the Child the name Baby Yoda. It turns out that the child is the illegal quarry. The bounty hunter must look after the baby of a 50-year-old child (species age at different rates). Favreau’s innovative effects technology is yet another example of Favreau creating something simple, but deeply satisfying.
Episode two is devoted entirely to the Mandalorian rescuing himself from a gaggle-thieving Jawas. We see a bit of what an adorable, big-eared toddler Yoda can do, as the Force returns us to Star Wars folklore and the Force rejoins. This is not a problem the show can ignore.
The ideal TV spinoff should bow to its parent franchise, then take off on its own, not worrying about whether die-hards will follow. They will, in this instance: The Mandalorian is just too cool not to.