As much fun as the Star Wars live action films are, there are two things which are more fun. First, obviously, is making die hard Star Wars fans scream at you for your discussion of their precious universe. I try to do this whenever possible. The second is any attempt to transpose the series for television, Most have been, to this point, absolutely hilarious. Sometimes the hilarity is intended, sometimes it’s not (which makes it even more hilarious.)
Here are the top ten attempts to put Star Wars on television, in an ascending order of awesomeness.
10. Ewoks Live Action Movies
In 1984, there was a desire by some yo-yo to strike while the popularity of space teddy bears was at its all-time zenith. So, they scrambled to make The Ewok Adventure. Keep in mind; this was the first time the name “Ewok” was used anywhere save for omnipresent toy commercials. The movies never once said that word.
None of the Star Wars mainstays were in The Ewok Adventures, but at least you were treated to Warwick Davis expanding on the subtleties of dressing up like a plush toy. In the sequel, called The Battle For Endor, you were treated to the only appearance by Wilford Brimley in the Star Wars universe. We suspect that this very movie was the reason why Tom Cruise was so enthusiastic about kicking the literal crud out of him years later in The Firm.
9. The Ewoks Cartoon
Even after Star Wars Episode VI, and two Ewok movies, there were still so many unanswered questions. For instance, how did Warwick achieve the type of status among space tree teddy bears, to be allowed to walk around aimlessly and meet Princesses? The Ewoks cartoon establishes that he had actually done all of this before. Warwick was friends with a Princess Kneesaa, an Ewok Princess of the Bright Tree village.
Statistically, there were more episodes of Ewoks: The Animated Series than Dungeons and Dragons. Cuddle bum adventures knew no real bounds, and Ewoks were gracing Saturday morning screens until 1987. Two live action TV movies, and a couple years of animated episodes, all devoted to a bunch of flippin’ bears. Today’s youth will never understand. All they know these days is “Ewok Apocalypse,” and and throwaway line from Scream 2, sort of mentioning that they blew.
If the Ewoks were the Spongebob Squarepants of the Star Wars universe, then Droids was the moral equivalent of Akira. The series clearly established that the Droids were passed around more than a Thai prostitute willing to love long time for five bucks.
The episodes would generally start with C-3P0 and R2D2 gaining yet another new master. The new master was never in for a good time, as the droids are apparently the Star Wars Universe’s version of the Necronomicon. You are not released from the curse until you get rid of the droids. Then your life can go back to normal. In a more existential way, the series was like Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. The droids were merely passing through as observers, to eventually meet the great Hamlet house which we refer to as the Skywalker family.
7. Star Wars Holiday Special
If not for the Internet, people who remembered the Holiday Special might well be looked upon as crazy. This abomination only aired once, and was never released on VHS. You might as well have been Big Bird arguing that Mr. Snuffleopagus was a real thing. Your psychologist would be all “OK, I understand the whole repressed-anger-due-to-abuse thing, but Bea Arthur in a Star Wars? That just plain crazy!”
But it’s true, it’s damn true. In addition to Bea Arthur, you got the first real view of the Wookie homeworld of Kashyyk, confirmation on whether or not Carrie Fisher was a marvelous soprano, and the first appearance anywhere of Boba Fett. How could you not love this? Especially now that the Internet has proven its existence, and you can now turn around and stick it in that quack psychiatrist’s face.
6. Robot Chicken
Since they spoofed everything else, it was only natural for Robot Chicken to do a spoof of Star Wars. It did a Hell of a job pointing out the absurdities of the Universe, and Palpatine going off on Vader on the phone is classic. Robot Chicken would go back to the well twice more (and not really as effectively as the first time,) but the laugh-a-minute original can best be summed up by Leia and Luke being in bed together saying “This is sooo wrong.”
5. The Clone Wars (2008 – Current)
This would be the current series of The Clone Wars. It gets high marks for being a dramatic series based on the work of Gerry Anderson (who did the classic Thunderbirds puppeteering.) The series also has gotten much better at delving into the Star Wars mythos as the years have gone on.
The original theatrically-released feature may or may not have featured a Hutt who enjoyed being a Huttese drag queen in their spare time. To balance out that potential embarrassment though, it also featured the resurrection of Darth Maul, as well as a ghostly appearance by Qui-Gonn Jinn. More than anything though; how can you not love a series which features R2-D2 in a duel to the death with another astromech droid?
4. Star Wars On Saturday Night Live (1978)
There is actually a little history here. Carrie Fisher was a regular at Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi’s Blues Brothers Club. She was so ingrained in the culture that she married singer Paul Simon (a frequent SNL guest,) and had a cameo in The Blues Brothers movie in 1980. Carrie Fisher was guest host for SNL in 1978, and brought along the Blues Brothers as a musical guest. The result was pure magic in a way that the Star Wars Holiday Special could only really dream of being. Princess Leia had Obi Wan practically using the Force to command her to tell a bad joke. She also had the good fortune of attending a space beach party with Frankie And Annette, double bun and all. And so do we.
3. Family Guy: Blue Harvest
If you watch Something Something Something Dark Side or it’s a Trap, you can kind of tell that Family Guy only really had one Star Wars parody in mind. However, Blue Harvest not only represents the height of Family Guy, but also showcased the best of Star Wars. The moving couch gag was something that could have even worked in Spaceballs. Also, the homosexual overtones of Obi Wan were examined, in addition to Stewie Griffin going against his own family as a baby Darth Vader.
2. Clone Wars (2003)
Star Wars is somehow always better when the people doing it have no idea what is coming up next in the series. Genndy Tartakovsky blended anime influence with short subjects, to take Star Wars into great new directions. The 2003 Cartoon Network Clone Wars series not only influenced the later series, but also possibly the later movies as well.
There were actually three seasons done, and the last season was especially poignant, in that it took great pains to show what a hero Anakin could have been. The movies did not seem to stress how far Anakin truly managed to fall like the Tartakovsky series did. Its almost a shame that Genndy is doing the Popeye movie, as he might have made a great candidate for Episodes VII-IX.
1. Star Wars and the Muppet Show
If you have never seen the Muppet Show episode with the cast of Star Wars, then you have missed out on life. There is a subplot throughout the episode where Luke Skywalker, C3P0, and R2D2 are looking for Chewbacca, while interacting with other Muppet characters. There is also Mark Hamill singing and dancing as if he was a simple guest host, and Chewbacca participates in a dance routine at the end. Also, you can’t beat any episode that had two different “Pigs In Space” segments. Miss Piggy took on Leia duties, and Gonzo was a wonderful Darth Vader. With Disney’s purchase of Star Wars, and the Muppets coming off a hit movie, it would seem that a Muppet Star Wars full-length feature would be a natural.