Obi-Wan (Disney+)

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Introversion

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Disclaimer: I’m probably not this series’ target audience. I was 16 years old when the original Star Wars hit theaters. I saw it at least seven times in its original theatrical release (might be eight; memories fade). Adored it. And I loved its sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, for its darker turn. But then came Ewoks, and Star Wars started to lose me. Hated the first two prequel films, didn’t bother seeing the third in a theater (skipped through most of it on a rental). Couldn’t get into The Mandalorian (tried twice). I’ve seen the sequel trilogy of films, and I don’t know why. The only recent Star-Wars-branded production I’ve seen and actually enjoyed is Rogue One.

So I didn’t really expect to like the first two episodes of the new Obi-Wan series, and I didn’t. No surprise. What I didn’t expect was how mediocre it is. I mean, Disney-money backed this!?

First stumble for me: If you start episode one with a literal clipshow montage from the prequel films, one or more things are true:
  • you‘ve hired the world’s laziest writers
  • you believe your audience collectively has the recall of a turnip
  • your producers never saw any Star Wars films and needed a TL;DR or they couldn’t understand what they were in charge of
Second obvious problem: Ewan McGregor. He’s an excellent actor. For me, his performance as a younger and less grizzled Obi-Wan was one of the very few saving graces of the first two awful prequel films. Here, in this series, he’s IMO just wasted in this role. He’s not given much to work with, in terms of plot or dialogue. He’s interesting to watch just sitting looking crushed and sad, and in that he feels more authentic than any of the other cardboard characters that trot around like scenery props in this series, but not because he’s written any better. It’s like hanging an actual Faberge egg on an artificial Christmas tree, surrounded by tinsel and plastic. One wonders whether a mistake was made, or whether the tree-hangers don’t recognize Faberge as different?

Third problem: The dialogue. Midway through the second episode, I started quoting what characters were going to say in advance of them saying it. I probably got it 80% correct, even down to the phrasing. Lazy, lazy, lazy. Apparently, I could write for Disney? Where muh money, mouse peeps!?

Fourth problem: Mediocre action. And look, I’m as empty-headed as your average consumer of streaming services, sometimes I just wanna watch people kick ass and blow shit up. Am I not entertained!? In this series, no, sadly. Very very little actually happens. And when the plot is briefly slapped awake, it never once had me believing that I was watching something real, something authentic.

If you’ve ever gone to a Disney theme park and watched one of their live-action “thrillers” on a stage, you know that you’re never immersed in the action in the same way as a good film — you know you’re watching stunts, performed by actors, carefully (or sometimes lazily) choreographed on a stage, and you’re just watching to fill that hour between that last Big Ride and the next Big Ride in your day’s plans. You’re not watching Indiana Jones, you’re watching Indiana Jones: An Experience.

Yeah, that’s what action scenes in this series feel like. It never once feels authentic. It never once feels like there’s real stakes for the people being chased or pawed at or pew-pewed at. The soundtrack often tries hard to fill you with anticipation and tension, but it lies. It’s the sugar in that souless store-brand pastry that dissolves like floury cotton-candy between your teeth — no substitute for a decently baked goodie.

Well, maybe this series will shake itself free of all those problems and find its stride, but I won’t be watching. It’s not aimed at me, and I’m not actually sure who it is aimed at? But I do wonder: Did this need to be made? And with a talented actor and all those mouse bucks, why couldn’t it be made well?
 

lizmonster

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The action sequences were shockingly bad. We had overhead shots of adults chasing a 10-year-old girl, and the actors were walk-running after her and clumsily dodging non-obstacles, like a high-school theater troupe being told "Okay, it needs to take you five full seconds to get across this stage, so please act like these giant cardboard trees are actual impediments."

With apologies to high school theater troupes, which would have at least made it fun to watch.

Seriously. There are thousands of ways to make a chase scene like that work. Have the child's smallness work for her, allowing her egress through doorways or down sewers or through tunnels that are too narrow for the adults. Have her disappear into a crowd, or go big-eyed and gain the sympathy of some street vendor. Hell, it's Leia - have her use the Force, in a little-girl nascent way. Nice Easter egg for your audience, too.

But no, they chose clunky and unrealistic.

I'm actually mad at them for that.
 

Cobalt Jade

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This sounds exactly like the sort of thing I need to watch while crocheting a dog sweater. Non-involving eye candy while doing something else. Bring it on! Why can't there be more shows like this?
 

Introversion

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We had overhead shots of adults chasing a 10-year-old girl, and the actors were walk-running after her and clumsily dodging non-obstacles, like a high-school theater troupe being told "Okay, it needs to take you five full seconds to get across this stage, so please act like these giant cardboard trees are actual impediments."
I’ve read theorizing online that Disney is aiming this show at a young audience, like pre-teens young, and thus we get a ten-year-old princess Leia acting all smart-alecky & cute in multiple dangerous settings when she should realistically be terrified, because the stakes for her are low because 1) we all know she won’t die or be scarred physically or emotionally and 2) It’s For The Kids.

Maybe. But if you really want that, then make the show about her, with everyone else incidental to her story. Don’t call it Obi-Wan, call it Leia or Young Leia or The Princess Chronicles or whatever.

It’s possible what we got instead is the kind of mega-corp dysfunction that results from trying to satisfy too many chiefs. “Make it about Obi-Wan. Fans like him. But be sure we get young Luke and young Leia screentime. And make it a little dark, but not too dark. Also cute. Because marketing needs to sell toys. And make it family-friendly. But edgy. Kill some bad guys. But keep it bloodless. And make sure we know they were bad, so they deserved it.”
 

RichardGarfinkle

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Disclaimer: I’m probably not this series’ target audience. I was 16 years old when the original Star Wars hit theaters. I saw it at least seven times in its original theatrical release (might be eight; memories fade). Adored it. And I loved its sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, for its darker turn. But then came Ewoks, and Star Wars started to lose me. Hated the first two prequel films, didn’t bother seeing the third in a theater (skipped through most of it on a rental). Couldn’t get into The Mandalorian (tried twice). I’ve seen the sequel trilogy of films, and I don’t know why. The only recent Star-Wars-branded production I’ve seen and actually enjoyed is Rogue One.

So I didn’t really expect to like the first two episodes of the new Obi-Wan series, and I didn’t. No surprise. What I didn’t expect was how mediocre it is. I mean, Disney-money backed this!?

First stumble for me: If you start episode one with a literal clipshow montage from the prequel films, one or more things are true:
  • you‘ve hired the world’s laziest writers
  • you believe your audience collectively has the recall of a turnip
  • your producers never saw any Star Wars films and needed a TL;DR or they couldn’t understand what they were in charge of
Second obvious problem: Ewan McGregor. He’s an excellent actor. For me, his performance as a younger and less grizzled Obi-Wan was one of the very few saving graces of the first two awful prequel films. Here, in this series, he’s IMO just wasted in this role. He’s not given much to work with, in terms of plot or dialogue. He’s interesting to watch just sitting looking crushed and sad, and in that he feels more authentic than any of the other cardboard characters that trot around like scenery props in this series, but not because he’s written any better. It’s like hanging an actual Faberge egg on an artificial Christmas tree, surrounded by tinsel and plastic. One wonders whether a mistake was made, or whether the tree-hangers don’t recognize Faberge as different?

Third problem: The dialogue. Midway through the second episode, I started quoting what characters were going to say in advance of them saying it. I probably got it 80% correct, even down to the phrasing. Lazy, lazy, lazy. Apparently, I could write for Disney? Where muh money, mouse peeps!?

Fourth problem: Mediocre action. And look, I’m as empty-headed as your average consumer of streaming services, sometimes I just wanna watch people kick ass and blow shit up. Am I not entertained!? In this series, no, sadly. Very very little actually happens. And when the plot is briefly slapped awake, it never once had me believing that I was watching something real, something authentic.

If you’ve ever gone to a Disney theme park and watched one of their live-action “thrillers” on a stage, you know that you’re never immersed in the action in the same way as a good film — you know you’re watching stunts, performed by actors, carefully (or sometimes lazily) choreographed on a stage, and you’re just watching to fill that hour between that last Big Ride and the next Big Ride in your day’s plans. You’re not watching Indiana Jones, you’re watching Indiana Jones: An Experience.

Yeah, that’s what action scenes in this series feel like. It never once feels authentic. It never once feels like there’s real stakes for the people being chased or pawed at or pew-pewed at. The soundtrack often tries hard to fill you with anticipation and tension, but it lies. It’s the sugar in that souless store-brand pastry that dissolves like floury cotton-candy between your teeth — no substitute for a decently baked goodie.

Well, maybe this series will shake itself free of all those problems and find its stride, but I won’t be watching. It’s not aimed at me, and I’m not actually sure who it is aimed at? But I do wonder: Did this need to be made? And with a talented actor and all those mouse bucks, why couldn’t it be made well?

I've just started watching this in the last couple of days. And I found the saving grace of the first episodes was young Leia. Child actors are usually a problem, but this kid is good and evocative of the character she would grow into. Also, there's more than a hint that Leia's insights into people's characters is a force power.

Unfortunately, I found the pacing of the first episode drawn out. They took too long on the dragging the retired warrior out of his miserable existence trope.

Third Sister, I suspect of being one of the younglings we see escaping at the beginning of episode 1, so this series may be about Obi-Wan and her psychologies and developments over the past few years more than anything else.

I found the duel with Vader was effective in a number of ways especially if seen in contrast to the duel we know is coming a decade in the future. Obi-Wan's terror in this duel rather than his later accepting of what is coming and transcendence shows at least the direction of character growth. For his character, this series is, I hope the completion of the arc that turns MacGregor's Obi-Wan into Guinness'

Also, Introversion, the part of your post that I bolded was literally my experience as well. I didn't know we were the same age. 16 years old and seeing Star Wars around 8 or 10 ten times. I diverge at Return of the Jedi. I know this is heresy, but I liked the Ewoks and enjoyed the low tech + home ground advantage versus high tech invader battle.

Anyway, we're halfway through this series, we'll see what comes next.
 

Diana Hignutt

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I continue to enjoy this show, and it has its moments, but, it is really inconsistent in tone and pacing, and has some very questionable writing choices. All that said, there is something special (in a nostalgia kind of way) about a TV show that has: Obi Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker, Bail Organna, and Luke and Leia in it. Heading to the finale next week, and fully expecting a Liam Neeson cameo.
 

davidjgalloway

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Fun posts, thanks all :). I was a "saw Star Wars at age 7 and was hooked" kinda thing, also couldn't believe how wretched the prequels were (though parts of EIII were nicely done). Am the only one in my family who actually likes "The Last Jedi" :), though I still think they ruined ROTJ's happy ending to no good purpose. (They saved the universe!...and then got punished for it.) But this....oh my lord. What caused my wife to just quit was the magic tunnel in #3 that just lets you go anywhere you want (try mapping who went in and out of it?) and the embarrassing spectale of DV flummoxed by a six-foot high fire. Wow. (Esp since we subsequently learn he's strong enough to hold back a starfreighter, why not lift Obi-Wan over the flames to him?)

It does feel a little lazy. And you think again of the crits about the prequels, that clearly having unlimited money doesn't = quality, sometimes limitations can produce amazing work. And there are major limitations here in terms of canon, but somehow it doesn't work. There was no need to rush this, but it seems like basic continuity/common sense is going out the window in places.

I think the comment about audience is on point as well, and I hadn't been thinking that way. Yes, the actor playing Leia is really good, but she's not given a good set of lines or things to do. (In the last episode, having her fix the doors was great, but there was a lot of just fumbling through wires that didn't seem purposeful or very Leia-like, we know this character grows up to ooze confidence and competence, so why not show it more?)

And behind all this is the idea that they have no idea how to tell a story that doesn't involve characters we've already met. "Mandalorian" gets close, and does some things well, but the boring ties to nostalgia get old after a while. ("Book of Boba Fett" was pretty awful.) I love seeing Vader flex as much as the next fan, but it's a GALAXY. Go pick on another family for a change!
 
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NickyRainbow

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You've pretty much summed up my exact sentiment about the show. It's so, so mediocre. My partner and I were watching an episode last night and both had the exact same thought about how predictable everything is. It's almost unsettling!

I really wanted to like it. I love Star Wars, and Obi-Wan's story had the potential to be a really moving one. Ewan McGregor is so likeable generally, and the kid playing Leia is great. But there's just nothing going on. Nobody's doing, saying, or even feeling anything of note. The surrounding characters are either forgettable or silly. The action is cookie-cutter boring. Even visually speaking, I feel like we're all burnt out of looking at the same sandy planets!

It's disappointing, and sort of odd, because Disney has proven they can really knock it out of the park with their new shows. For me, The Mandalorian, Wandavision, Loki and Moon Knight in particular were outstanding, and almost all of them have been well received. This one feels like it was rushed out after ticking the bear minimum number of boxes for the thing to qualify as a story.
 

telford

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Yes, some more mixed opinions to add to my list. It's Star Wars, kinda, so I'll have to give it a go.
Oh my goodness, when will the suits finally realize that the three most important things in a movie, book or tv show are story, story, story.
 
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Diana Hignutt

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Ok, I really enjoyed the finale.

This show was all over the place. But, I thought it stuck the landing and elevated everything else to a degree.

Who knew Hayden Christiansen could act that well?

We cried.
 
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