3/29/2017 0 Comments
Star Wars. It’s everywhere at the moment and I love it! And what with the release of Rogue One, it got me thinking about the last time a Star Wars project was announced, that was set before the events of Episode 4.
For a short while we seemed to have no Star Wars. The nineties saw the classics get re-mastered and have weird scenes added. The noughties saw the rise and fall of the prequels and for a while, that was it. No one wanted to touch this property. It meant working with mad ol’ George Lucas and besides, nothing could ever capture the magic of that first trilogy. So, in the darkness, the galaxy of Star Wars lay, until it seemed a small rebellion was forming. Only this rebellion wasn’t in a galaxy far, far away...it was in Orlando, at the 6th semi-annual Star Wars celebration. A four day event that celebrates all things Star Wars, and somewhere betwixt all its autograph signings, photo-ops and droid races, there was a meeting being held.
The “Super-Secret Star Wars Panel with Todd, Seth, and Matt.” was written on the time sheets for all the attendees that day. With no idea what it was about or who these guys were people flocked in curiosity. At the strike of the clock the audience were greeted with none other than Todd Grimes, Matthew Senreich and Seth Green. The co-creators of the stop motion, animated sketch show ‘ROBOT CHICKEN’. But why were they here? Why, to announce that Star Wars was coming back, but to the small screen as a new television series called STAR WARS DETOURS. Watch the trailer the guests were treated to, below:
A project that had been in the pipeline for several years was to debut some of its first footage to the crowd of this panel, and thanks to the backing of Lucasfilm and George himself coming on to show his support, the crowd lapped it up. Receiving praise and positive reviews, we were all told that there were 26 completed episodes and 13 more in production for us all to feast on over the next few years, once a network is found that can air them...and then, nothing. Like Alderaan, a once vast and prosperous world was gone in a flash. But where and why?
It all comes down to the simple fact that George, less than two months after announcing STAR WARS DETOURS, ended up brokering a $4 billion deal with Disney to sell Lucasfilm, and Disney just simply didn’t have the same vision for the future as George had had with the Robot Chicken boys. It was in March of the following year, StarWars.com published a post called “A New Direction for Lucasfilm Animation,” announcing the end of the popular Clone Wars animated series and postponing the release of Detours until “a later date.” And with that, the series was done before it ever began.
But how did this all come about? Was Lucas that flaky? Was it ever meant to be aired? Rewind a few years and initially George had no future movies in his pipeline, he had always said there was a third trilogy but after the critical feedback he got from the prequels, his confidence in them was dampened somewhat. So George decided to go in another direction, a direction that many other film makers before him had forged with George’s creation. He was to use Star Wars as a comedy parody and make that the cornerstone of his new venture, that he titled ‘Squishies’. Mel Brooks had done it with SPACEBALLS and Kevin Smith bases a lot of what Jay and Silent Bob do around weed and Star Wars. If it could work for them, why not George Lucas himself?
Lucas had seen Robot Chicken and it’s frequent sketches that involved making fun of Star Wars, and he liked it. Whilst the media and Star Wars fans would have you picture an Emperor Palpatine character running Lucasfilm, what you actually had was a man who could laugh at himself and his own franchise. Upon meeting him and running through both their ideas for the series, Brendan Hay (the chief writer) would go on to say that Lucas wanted to have the most fun possible with this project, urging them to find new ways to poke fun at the franchise. His biggest inspirations were progammes like Little Britain, Looney Tunes and Charlie Chaplain. If you watch the trailer for DETOURS above, and then watch the first 5 minutes of this 'BEST OF ROBOT CHICKEN STAR WARS' compilation, you can see the similarities.
But with Seth and the boys at the helm, a distorted look at the main characters was soon to arise with Darth Vader, Han and Chewy all showing up. Not to mention some original voice actors coming back to lend their vocal talents like Antony Daniels (C-3PO), Ahmed Best (Jar Jar Binks) and Billy Dee Williams (Lando). A new title STAR WARS DETOURS was slapped on these computer animated sketches and the ball was really rolling now. George himself contributed a lot of jokes and sketches, joining in the fun with the Robot Chicken lads. The problem was that when he wasn’t in the studio with them, he was meeting with Disney to sign over Lucasfilm and its current projects.
But from what we can tell, he genuinely thought that the projects he was leaving would continue. That STAR WARS DETOURS was so close to being aired, that it was a sure thing. That Disney would promote his final project before they move on with their own phase of films and stories. The problem was Lucas had no idea how serious Disney was to take the franchise. When you watch the prequels and then watch The Force Awakens and Rogue One, there is a very distinct difference in tone. George had Jar Jar making poo jokes for God's sake. This is no longer a franchise that wants to poke fun at itself. This is the emperor, sat atop his throne, taking himself extremely seriously.
Back to 2013 and a lot of Star Wars fans had began asking what was happening with STAR WARS DETOURS. It was a question often dodged, before finally a post on their official website stated:
“Detours was conceived and produced before we decided to move forward with the new Star Wars trilogy, and in the wake of that decision, Lucasfilm has reconsidered whether launching an animated comedy prior to the launch of Episode VII makes sense.”
And with that, STAR WARS DETOURS was lowered into carbonite and sent back to George Luca’s palace. Will we ever see it? Probably not. Not only are Disney not allowing it to be shown but with every film they bring out, it becomes slightly less relevant. More and more characters are being added to the STAR WARS universe, intertwined throughout all 3 trilogies and Disney have ripped away a large part of Star Wars canon and called it ‘Star Wars Legend’. Seth Green himself has said, “I think our window was very brief. We made sense for the franchise at a certain time”. Now STAR WARS DETOURS resides in the George’s own private cinema, for his eyes only. Perhaps to entertain any guests he has over.
Leave a Reply.
Follow JB on twitter @Projub