Who would have thought I would have gotten so much personal heat and venom for actually admitting I liked something? But of course, I did admit liking a different take on the Star Wars universe, so there's my first fault. Above is the first trailer and clips for a new potential (emphasis on potential) Star Wars CGI animated series called Star Wars Detours, annouced today at Star Wars Celebration VI in Orlando (just down the road from me as I write this really). Set in the ever mystical period of between Episodes III and IV, the land where writers can do basically anything they want with all the characters everyone knows from both the prequels and original series, Star Wars Detours, created by Robot Chicken creators Seth Green and Matt Senreich, is a comedic take on on the question "What do the Star Wars characters do in their every day lives?". Of course, the immediate reaction from fans was, and is, fervent flames and hatred, not an unheard of reaction and for many reasons justified. Even blogs that I really rather respect for their entertainment and media reporting blogged it with the, in my opinion, geek-bating headline "'Star Wars: Detours' Trailer, The Animated 21st Century 'Star Wars Christmas Special'". Ouch. See, I wholeheartedly disagree with that.
The "Star Wars Christmas Special" gets it's legacy of despise because it's so uproariously bad in it's production value, premise, and performance. "Star Wars: Detours" doesn't seem to have any of that. The animation seems solid, the vocal performances very good, and the writing is very tight. It seems be a very honest and loving attempt to have the audacity to try and the Star Wars universe funny. Not funny in "Look how bad this is" but funny in poking fun in itself. It's a kid/tween friendly version of the Robot Chicken or Family Guy Star Wars Specials, with, as it seems, more than enough humor for the adult fans who know the series inside and out. Look at the first man on the creator list. Seth Green. This man is a Star Wars fanatic on par with most anyone who adores the series. I have a feeling he's not going to intentionally make something to "destroy" something he loves. He's going to poke fun at it, maybe, but not completely rip out it's soul. There was also a really good article on IGN breaking down the panel announcement and also the other people involved, along with some other clips. Seeing they were at the panel, everyone's just focusing on Seth Green and Matt Senreich, but the writing team for this series is solid. Given they both created Robot Chicken, it seems rather obvious to say that a lot of the Robot Chicken writing staff (Dan Milano, Tom Root, Zeb Wels, Doug Goldstein, Breckin Meyer and Kevin Shinick) are a part of this, but also included in the writing team are:
- David Goodman (Family Guy writer/producer, writer for Futurama ep "Where No Fan Has Gone Before" [good] and both Fred movies [everyone makes mistakes...wait, there were 2 Fred movies? Oh God...])
- Michael Price (Simpsons executive producer/writer since 2004, c0-executive producer for Disney's Teacher's Pet, writer/producer for The PJs [Anyone but me remember that show?], one episode of Ahhh! Real Monsters and one episode of Homeboys in Outer Space [again, everyone makes mistakes])
- Jane Espenson (Writer/Producer for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galatica, Caprica, Dollhouse, Torchwood: Miracle Day, Once Upon a Time and Warehouse 13. I tried to find a joke one and couldn't.)
- Various members of the writing crews of Spongebob, Normal Show, The Venture Bros. and Pinky & the Brain.
The voice cast is also really solid with Zachary Levi playing a new character "Biff Tarkin" (Grand Moff Tarkin's son), Breckin Meyer and Donald Faison as Stormtroopers, Dee Bradly Baker reprising his role as the Clone Troopers (who dislike the new Stormtroopers) with probably a billion other roles of every man, woman, and creature because Dee Bradly Baker is a voice over boss (I'm a Voice Over actor nerd. Years of cartoons...), Billy Dee Williams (yes, he's playing Lando), Ahmed Best (Yes, he's reprising Jar-Jar), Seth MacFarlane (yes, he's reprising The Emperor), Catherine Tabor, Joel McHale, Jennifer Hale (Yes, FemShep is now in Star Wars), Cree Summer, Nat Faxon, and as the surprise voice announcement, as it seems series regular roles for 'Weird' Al Yankovic and Felicia Day.
So yes, there's a lot of good potential in this. Was I hesitant to watch the trailer? Oh heck yes. Did I cringe when I hit play? Yep. Did I like what I saw? I did. Was every joke a home run? Nope. Would I have cut out the dancing bit at the end? Oh heck yeah. Star Wars Kinect still hurts. But did it make me laugh? Yeah, it did. It reminds me of two things. One: Last year at Star Wars Celebration V, Disney did a special event and show at Disney's Hollywood Studios blending their Indiana Jones Stunt Show Spectacular (formal name) with the Star Wars universe in "Indiana Jones and the Jedi Temple of Doom". It was another attempt, an official attempt at that, of making fun of the Star Wars universe:
(Thanks to Orlando Attractions Magazine for the awesome video. And yes, that really is George Lucas in the beginning and oh look, Seth Green's there too...hmmmmm....) Also, and this may be just me, but I got a lot of Star Wars/Monkey Island feel out of this. It may be that the visual look reminds me of Escape from Monkey Island. Sidenote: I got to admit, I don't like the chibi/giant head, hair, and features visual style very much. Just not my cup of tea. But the writing and delivery reminded me of Monkey Island for some reason, which is always a good thing.
So I know the instinct is to kneejerk. But give it time and a shot. I want to say, "It's for kids", but that's too much of an excuse. So is Phineas and Ferb but there's a ton of adults who watch it too, wither they have kids or not (and for good reason). I think this could fit in that world. There is no official series release date outside of "maybe 2013" and no network attachment currently. It's a concept. Again, a concept I like. Though I've gotten a lot of this already, tell me what you think? Is this an abomination that makes the Holiday Specials and Prequels look good, as many are claiming, or does this look pretty good, as I'm saying? I want to know. But please. Please don't kill me.