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Friday, 19 June 2020

Star Wars: The Mandalorian - Season 1 Review

The week on Sci-Fi Adventures... is going to be the last week for a while I'm afraid. I'll be writing about video games on Super Adventures instead for the next two months so that hopefully I don't go insane. But before that I'm going to be sharing my thoughts about season one of The Mandalorian, the very first live action Star Wars TV series!

Man, it took them bloody long enough. Star Trek made the jump from live action series to movies 13 years after it first premiered, but it took Star Wars 42 years to do the opposite! On the other end of the scale, Doctor Who and Firefly hit cinemas just 3 years after their first episodes aired, which is the same amount of time that Stargate took to evolve into a TV franchise. Even Lost in Space beats Star Wars, as it got a movie after 33 years (then jumped back to TV 20 years later). Plus if you count TV movies, Babylon 5 progressed from pilot movie to series after just a year, Battlestar Galactica got a film after 29 years, and Red Dwarf actually got its promised movie after 32 years. Okay I'm done now.

Wait, Indiana Jones (11 years). Sorry, now I'm done.

The reason a Star Wars series took so long to get made is that they were waiting for the technology to make it possible to produce on a TV schedule and budget. George Lucas actually had something like 40-50 scripts for a show called Star Wars: Underworld (from writers like DS9/BSG's Ronald D. Moore), which was planned to be produced in the late 2000s, but it just wasn't time yet. Lucasfilm apparently took some of the story concepts and ideas and put them into things like Rebels, Rogue One and Solo instead. It turns out the technology they needed was a set made of giant LED walls featuring a resolution high enough for them to be used for both lighting and as the backdrop, with the scenery rendered in real time using Unreal Engine 4 so that the parallax is always correct from the camera's point of view. But they've got that now, so it's cool.

Anyway, I wrote these reviews right after watching the episodes so if I sound like I don't know what's coming next, that's because I actually didn't at the time. There'll be SPOILERS here for the whole first season and maybe a few of the movies, so I recommend you stop reading here if that's going to be a problem.

Here's a guide to my highly scientific review scores that I use sometimes when I'm reviewing a bunch of episodes together:

10The scale doesn't actually go to 10.
9Afterwards I thought 'That was one of the best episodes of anything ever'. Even though it maybe wasn't.
8A really great episode, or a good ep with moments of genius.
7A solid decent episode. Sure I hoped it'd be better, but I can definitely live with this.
6Either a good episode with a few problems, or a boring episode with something that impressed me.
5On the borderline of losing my interest.
4I was definitely listening to it... as I scribbled pictures on my notepad.
3I wasn't really paying attention past a certain point to be honest.
2Really not my thing.
1Legendarily terrible.

The Mandalorian - Season One
1-01 Chapter One

After the Rebel victory at the end of Return of the Jedi, the Mandalorian gets a special bounty from an Imperial Warlord to recover a 50 year old Baby Yoda. He has a short team up with a droid but their partnership is terminated over a disagreement about the bounty being dead or alive.
The Mandalorian's pretty good actually, its first episode anyway. It's very space-western without going full Firefly.

Though it was a bit weird seeing the Star Wars universe realised with a sub $200 million budget. I mean the episode clearly cost a fortune to make, with all the extras, props and CGI, but it felt a little like a fan film shot at a theme park. Everywhere the Mandalorian went there was another reference to the films, like the Return of the Jedi door scanner and Salacious Crumb's cousin getting cooked for dinner, and I was waiting for the twist that it was really a commercial for Galaxy's Edge. Not that I'm going to complain about the world being authentic to the movies... even if I'm not sure they've said what world this is set on yet. Any of them.

The episode covered a decent amount of ground, as the Mandalorian visited an ice planet, a dry planet and a bounty hunter planet, each looking fantastic for television (and nothing like a canyon in LA or a Canadian forest). Imagine if Star Trek: Discovery could actually visit strange new worlds like this! His ship looked pretty great as well. They apparently filmed a real physical model for some scenes, though I couldn't tell which, partly because I was trying not to think too hard about how the series was made. I didn't want to see through the illusion and ruin it for myself.

I couldn't help wonder how they did IG-11 though, as his robotic motion was so authentically jerky; he was fantastic. That whole shootout sequence was fantastic in fact, with him spinning around like... like a murder bot. Real shame he had to be put down, but I can't fault the Mandalorian's choice. The question is whether the bounty hunter's going to hand the baby over to Imperial Werner Herzog and his secret Stormtroopers or give it to someone else to raise. Maybe Kuiil, he seemed like a decent guy.

The characters were great by the way, with the Mandalorian, Werner Herzog and Kuiil all making a strong impression. It was nice to see Carl Weathers show up as well. But this was definitely The Mandalorian's story from start to finish, and it was a decent introduction to the character. We've learned that he was orphaned during an attack, but not who attacked them. We know he's very competent but fallible (especially when he has to deal with an animal). We know he's not the type who makes quips, but he's not entirely one-note. And we know that one of his shoulders is considerably shinier now. I already like the guy! Great start!

1-02 The Child

The Mandalorian has recovered the Child, but his return trip to [UNNAMED PLANET] is delayed when a group of Jawas take his ship apart. He has to steal an egg from a giant creature to trade for his parts, and only barely manages it with the help of the kid's Force powers.
Holy crap, this TV series...

Television is generally based around people talking. You've got your regular cast and you've got your standing sets, so if you can put the two things together all you need is to give the actors some lines and you've got (relatively) cheap drama. But this episode features a man who barely talks, a Yodababy who never talks and a bunch of Jawas, so not a lot gets said here. It tells its story through its visuals, which is much more of a movie thing, and the way it focuses solely on the bounty hunter and the kid makes it feel extremely cinematic.

I was sold on the main character by the teaser of the first episode, but this doubly sold me on him. The Mandalorian's got a real Indiana Jones thing going on here, as wins through endurance as much he does skill, but he's such a stoic badass that all the crap he goes through seems like an hilarious indignity. It was lucky he had a tiny Force user handy however, or else that space rhino would've been the end of him. Weirdly it doesn't seem like he has any idea about what happened there, so I guess the legend of Luke Skywalker and the Force hasn't made it out this far. In fact it seems like the only legend anyone on this planet cares about is the legend of EGG.

When I first saw the Jawas stripping parts off the Razor Crest I was worried that the episode was about to take a nose dive, but it turns out that I can be extremely wrong about things, as everything about them was amazing (including the Mandalorian trying to set one of them on fire). I was also a bit concerned about the crazy comedy hijinks we'd get out of the Mandalorian having to look after a baby, but the Yodaling was just a cute little Muppet in a floating pram for the most part. In fact it was nice to have him along, taking everything in with his big eyes and shoving frogs into his big mouth.

It did stretch believability that two people could reconstruct a spaceship from a stack of parts out in the wasteland, but hey it's Star Wars! I just hope he gets it checked over by a maintenance crew when he lands. I hope he gets his suit checked out as well, because man that thing got wrecked in this episode. If the goal of this story was to make me sympathise with his quest to assemble a full suit of beskar over the season, then mission successful. I thought he might reassemble the robot as well and keep him as a sidekick, despite his dislike of droids, but it seems like we're done with him. Bit of a shame, but I guess he'd be too expensive to keep around with all the animation they'd need to do.

Overall, this was perhaps the best second episode of a new series that I've ever seen. Or perhaps not, I've seen a lot of TV series. It's got to be right up there though.

1-03 The Sin

The Mandalorian hands over the Child and receives enough beskar to order a new suit made of pure guilt. He decides to rescue the kid but gets in over his head when all the bounty hunters on the planet ambush him, and he has to be bailed out by rocket pack Mandalorians.
The Sin feels a bit like the third part of a pilot episode that establishes the premise for the rest of the show. I figured that Yoda Jr was going to be the McGuffin for the first arc and then the Mandalorian would get back to bounty hunting, but it's starting to seem like they're going to be together for the long haul. I had no clue this the series was going to be a sci-fi Lone Wolf and Cub, but it's a good idea.

I was also a bit surprised that the Mandalorian actually went through with handing the kid over and collected all his beskar in one go, just three episodes in. He went back into the flashback room, watched a clip of battle droids gunning down his parents, and unlocked the complete set of endgame armour. Now he's basically RoboCop, absolute immune to all gunfire until it's getting close to the end of the story. Then he needs to keep his head down, especially if he's extremely outnumbered.

His plan to run away with the bounty was going pretty well until every bounty hunter in the town full of bounty hunters went after him at once. It's the kind of thing that's blindingly obvious in hindsight, but I can't be too hard on the guy as took me by surprise as well. I didn't expect the Mandalorians to come to the rescue either, especially as they gave him shit earlier for taking Imperial money, but man it brought a smile to my face when it happened. They look so goofy and badass with their Rocketeer jetpacks! That's one last bit of equipment he needs to collect at some point by the way.

So far every episode's ended with a big expensive action scene and it's got me wondering how long they're going to keep this up. The slower pace in the first half had me assuming that this was going to be a relatively cheap breather episode to help save money, but then everything kicked off again! Not complaining.

1-04 Sanctuary

The Mandalorian tries to lay low, but the planet he chooses already has a former Rebel shock trooper and a former Imperial AT-ST walker on it, and has to fight alongside one to save villagers from the other one.
The 'hero defends a village' Magnificent Seven trope is pretty common in westerns, space westerns and even space series that aren't westerns. The Orville did one of these episodes a few months back and they called it Sanctuary too! But the The Orville's Sanctuary was one of the best episodes of its season and this Sanctuary... well, it's alright. I didn't really have any complaints about it (except the acting of the farmers who drive up to recruit the Mandalorian), it's just a bundle of clichés with high production values and a lot of sincerity. I feel like it was probably the script that let this one down, which is strange as it's by the same writer as the last three: showrunner Jon Favreau.

In fact the episode's so straightforward I was just waiting for the villager who could shoot straight to reveal that she was a Mandalorian who'd taken her mask off and given it all up, but no she was just really into the Man With No Face. There were a lot of female characters in this story actually, almost like the episode was making up for forgetting them in the first three episodes. The other prominent character was Cara Dune, finally making her appearance in the series, and she was... there, doing stuff. I liked her well enough as a person, but so far she's got less personality and depth than that assassin droid from the pilot. Though that's true of this episode in general, and I'm sure she'll be fleshed out a bit in future if she's going to be recurring.

On the positive side, I loved all the kids going crazy over Baby Yoda, I liked the sneaky 'blue harvest' reference, I liked the sinister AT-ST monster roaming the forest and I liked how hard it was to take the thing down without Ewok assistance. Plus the visit to planet Stargate SG-1 was nostalgic. It was also was nice to get more information about Mandalorian helmet rules. He can take it off to sleep, wash his face, brush his teeth etc. but he can't show his face to anyone. If he does he can't put the helmet back on, so he'd basically be giving up his clan. The episode also confirmed that he's not Mandalorian by birth, and he's been wearing that thing since he was adopted by them as a child.

1-05 The Gunslinger

The Mandalorian visits Tatooine and teams up with a wannabe bounty hunter to capture Ming-Na Wen. It all goes wrong when the wannabe gets too greedy and betrays him to get the bounty on the Child.
Man this episode had a weird tone to it, at least at the start. Though that's more a side effect of the comedy robots and the comedy music than Dave Filoni getting a turn as writer. This was the first of the episodes to be written by someone other than Jon Favreau, and bringing in the guy in charge of Lucasfilm Animation to take a turn was probably a smart choice (especially as he'd already directed the pilot).

This is actually our first glimpse at a post Return of the Jedi Tatooine, and it's looking a bit quieter these days. Part of that's due to all the Stormtroopers being off the streets, but the famous Mos Eisley cantina was pretty empty as well. Also a droid's running the place now, which kind of implies an end to the 'no droids' policy they had. I get a bit worried whenever something revisits a classic location, as you never know how well they're going to be able to recreate the look (assuming they even want to), but they really nailed the sets here. Actually I have no idea what was a real set and what was a virtual background, but it all looked great to me. They also showed a lot of restraint with the references. I was rolling my eyes a bit that they landed at Docking Bay 35, the exact one the Millennium Falcon was parked in during A New Hope, but then I learned afterwards that it's Bay 94 in the movie and I was just inventing problems. On the plus side, this means I'm not so much of a nerd that I've memorised docking bay numbers! There's still hope for me.

I thought the bounty hunter/Han Solo wannabe played his role well and I was actually kind of hoping he wouldn't turn out to be a git. But he was cocky enough to throw away a win to go after the more valuable target and learned the hard way that the toughest bounties tend to be pretty tough! Well actually he didn't learn anything, 'cause he's dead. Which is what he deserves for holding an actual baby hostage (and for not learning that you ask the target to cuff themselves).

It would be nice if I could say Ming-Na Wen's assassin was good as well, but we barely got anything of her before she was murdered. I was curious to see what type of character she'd be playing on the series, now that she's done playing Melinda May on Agents of SHIELD, but she only had time to play her as evil Melinda May. There's no way they're going to leave her dead though, as the mysterious man in the cloak didn't come all that way just to confirm that their guest star died after barely doing anything. Unless he did.

Overall, it was an alright episode I thought. It was spoiled a bit by the strange comedy at the start, but it gets bonus points because the Mandalorian's actually taken his ship in for a proper service! The Razor Crest did pretty well in a spacefight for a ship he and his mate put together themselves over an afternoon, but it really needed to be looked over by a professional.

1-06 The Prisoner

The Mandalorian agrees to do a job for an old associate, but the deal keeps getting worse as he finds his team are breaking a criminal out of a Rebel prison ship and they're locking him up in his place.
This one's by Christopher Yost, the writer of Thor: Ragnarok and the upcoming Cowboy Bebop series, and directed by part time X-Wing pilot Rick Famuyiwa, who also directed the excellent second episode with the Jawas, so I had my hopes up for it. And... it was alright. It felt more like an episode of Dark Matter than of Star Wars at times, with its band of wacky assholes and its extensive use of that one corridor set. But Dark Matter was alright too, so that's fine.

I think my main problem with it is that I wasn't keen on the squad. They had some great actors there, like Richard Ayoade and Clancy Brown, and I did like the gun backpack guy, but it all felt a bit too cartoony for me. Especially hissing Twi'lek Harley Quinn and her brother. Plus this was the first episode where I could really tell they were in front of a fake background. They got a bit too ambitious with the virtual hangar set at the start and walked around long enough for it to become pretty obvious.

But I'm a Babylon 5 fan, so I can handle the occasional ropey looking virtual set. Plus there was a lot to like about the episode as well. For instance I liked the jokes. I liked the effective use of Star Wars doors. I liked that every time someone did the 'I'll pay you triple if you work for me' trope, they actually took the offer. And I liked that the Mandalorian went berserk when he got a chance to kill some droids, getting right up close to smash them with his hands and tanking blaster bolts like a reckless idiot.

Also the scene on the Razor Crest where they threatened to pull The Mandalorian's helmet off and picked up Kid Yoda was suitably tense, especially now that we know what both of them mean to him, and we got some nice revenge at the end when he went full slasher villain on them. Well, minus the slashing. They cunningly misled us with the 'previously on' clips by showing that the Mandalorian never leaves his enemies alive... and then revealed at the end that he left them all alive. Well, apart from those poor bastards on the space station. Yay authentic X-Wings!

1-07 The Reckoning

Greef presents the Mandalorian with a plan to eliminate Imperial warlord Werner Herzog and he recruits Kuiil and Cara Dune to back him up. The Child's kindness after a monster attack encourages Greef not to double cross them, but when they meet the warlord he's killed by another Imperial and Kuiil is murdered before he can get the Child to safety.
I don't hate the idea of The Mandalorian being a series of unconnected adventures sometimes, but I can't deny that the series got way better the moment it reconnected to the arc plot. It's a bloody crime though that the crap team all survived last episode, but when he got the good team together we lost Kuiil!

The good team was good while it lasted, though they still had a surprising amount of tension in the Razor Crest. Partly because Kuill resurrected the murderbot that tried to kill the baby and partly because the baby turned out to be the only being in the galaxy strong enough to take down Cara Dune! He was happy to just sip his soup and watch when she and the Mandalorian were genuinely fighting back in Sanctuary, but once they started arm wrestling he went full Darth Vader. Seems like there's a bit of a theme developing how the Mandalorian's violent behaviour is rubbing off on him. Meanwhile IG-11 has taken after his adopted dad and has (apparently) become a kind and helpful droid.

It was nice to actually see the guy again, though the episode sure spent a while showing how he'd been reborn (possibly establishing that all droids need to be trained), and then did absolutely nothing with him. I feel like he's probably going to be key in the next episode... and hopefully won't get shot in the head again. Though I should probably be more worried about Chekhov's thermal detonator.

The Mandalorian once again struggled with his greatest weakness this episode: animals. Though to be fair it's not like the rest of the group was doing any better, and those pterodactyls were tough enough to take down the creature that gave him trouble in the pilot. This scene led to the reveal of a brand new trick: Force healing. It's perhaps a bit more outright magical than telekinesis and mind tricks, but I can't think of a scene in the movies it'd ruin, so I can live with it. (It wouldn't have saved Amidala, she was perfectly healthy and died because she'd "lost the will to live", and I can believe people like Anakin, his mother, and Qui Gon were probably beyond helping.)

Other episodes this season have been fairly serialised, but this ended with an actual proper cliffhanger, with the heroes pinned down and confronted by an Imperial Moff, who apparently has a thing for gunning down his own men. I guess Imperial warlord Werner Herzog just got a definitive answer on whether the Empire is good for people or not. Though the best part of the ending was getting to see how a TIE Fighter lands, and it was so perfect. For 42 years it's been a mystery how the things land on the ground, with most of the games just having them park on their wings or in racks, but the solution seems so obvious now. Of course the wings just fold into an 'X' shape, why wouldn't they? Sure it means the X-Wings don't get to be special anymore, but they'll get over it.

1-08 Redemption

IG-11 gets on a speeder bike and murders Stormtroopers and then the Mandalorian starts mowing them down with a blaster cannon but he's injured and then the Armorer kills a bunch of Stormtroopers with her blacksmith tools and then they ride a river of lava with a weird R2 unit and IG-11 explodes to save them but there's a goddamn TIE Fighter strafing them so the Mandalorian starts flying with his jetpack and blows it up with bombs and it turns out the guy has a black lightsaber!!
Okay, here's a question: how does that lava boat work? I mean I get that the lava's working on Revenge of the Sith rules, and is perfectly safe to stand close to (and breathe close to) as long as you don't go right next to it, but it still only flows one way, so how does the boat get back up again to take another trip? It was also a little dodgy that IG-11's heroic suicide is a big emotional event, but no one cares that Arm2-D2 got his head blown off! That poor poor robot.

This was definitely IG-11's episode and I don't just mean his voice actor was the one directing it, as the jerky stop-motion kill bot spent every minute of the story making up for doing nothing in the last one. I'm still a little unclear on how or why Kuiil retrained him to ride a bike like that, or shoot like that, but I don't really give a damn. The episode had won me over before he'd even appeared though, as that scene at the beginning with the two scout troopers and Baby Yoda was A+ television. Or maybe an A+ fan film... either way it was great. The rest of the episode was also pretty good, even if this is the third time now we've seen a slow motion flashback of his parents being killed. I have to give them a pass for that because of how the scene of a Mandalorian flying away with kid Djarin was echoed later by the scene of grown-up Djarin flying away with kid Yoda.

They held back until the end of the season, but the faceless Mandalorian with No Name now has a name and a face (and a jetpack). It feels like the right time though, and his rule hasn't been broken thanks to IG-11 claiming not to qualify as being a person. I've never been keen with how Star Wars likes to have its cake and eat it when it comes to the nature of its robots (they're portrayed like people but we're supposed to be okay with people treating them like hardware), but I did like IG-11 earning irony points with his compassionate choice. Kuiil's kindness and cleverness really lived on in his adopted robot, which makes it a bit of a shame that he went and blew up at the end! We still don't know why Baby Yoda's so important but the amount of people who've died over him is getting ridiculous. At least the Armourer survived to provide us with a great helmet-smashing fight scene and give the Mandalorian a clan of two.

I was wondering if Baby Yoda was just going to be a season one thing, but it seems he's here until the end. He's already fifty years old so it seems unlikely we'll see him grow up and get his own Mandalorian helmet (with a gap either side for the ears to stick out), but you never know. At least next season the two of them won't have to worry about bounty hunters hassling them all the time... only the remaining forces of the Galactic Empire. And seeing as they already killed most of the Rocketeer Mandalorians (off-screen) they're a not an insignificant threat. Plus that dude has a black lightsaber, which is apparently supposed to mean a lot to Clone Wars viewers, but not so much to me.

The episode had some great action scenes (the speeder bike run, the TIE Fighter fight) and plenty of good moments for the characters in-between, however I did have a bit of a problem with the way the Stormtrooper siege was filmed. One moment the heroes had to keep their heads down, the next they could just walk out into the open, and the episode didn't do a good job of showing why it was safer. I still have to give it a huge thumbs up, but overall I think I liked the Jawa episode just a little bit more.


It was brave of Lucasfilm to make their first live action Star Wars series all about a man who never shows his face, with no Force users and absolutely no lightsabers. Well okay, he did show his face, his kid's a Force user and his nemesis has a lightsaber, but they showed a lot of restraint for the most part!

The series has plenty of action scenes, good ones too, but it's a definite change of pace from the Star Wars films, the recent ones anyway. It's far less frantic and quippy and gives more time to the characters, so when things finally do kick off they have more impact. In fact it feels like they were mostly trying to go back to the feel of the first Star Wars film, which didn't even get off Tatooine until halfway through, and they've really nailed it in my opinion. This may be a noticeably lower budget Star Wars universe but it still feels authentic. And the relatively moderate stakes makes it fit in as a prequel to the new films as well. In both regards it's miles ahead of Star Trek: Discovery, and in a lot of other regards too! For one thing it successfully pulls off being focused on one main character by actually focusing on that character, instead of being an ensemble where one character is special. Sometimes you want multiple simultaneous plots going on featuring different characters and different perspectives, but The Mandalorian really benefits from never straying far from the lead. Well almost never... occasionally you just have to take a break and see what the scout troopers are up to.

The main thing that sets it apart from the Star Wars trilogies is Ludwig Göransson's soundtrack, which isn't even trying to mimic John Williams. I love Star Wars' music, all those classic themes, and I'm really glad none of them show up in this series because I'm kind of burned out on them now. You can't keep piling on the familiar or else it starts getting obnoxious, and that's true for music references as well. To be honest I didn't even notice the music during the first episode, but by the end of the second I was humming the theme, and three episodes in I finally realised how important the soundtrack was to making the whole thing work. I also began to understand why the theme gets so triumphant two minutes in; I mean the main character's definitely a badass, but it took a while for him to show his heroic side.

The Mandalorian is also fearless, though that isn't always a good thing when you're going against things you can't beat. He keeps running into fights and hoping that his armour can take the hurt, and he keeps doing jobs with untrustworthy people who have reason to double cross him. He really needs to think these things through more. I mean he's clearly one of the most dangerous people in the series, but Batman he ain't, and that reveal of his face under the mask shows just how human and vulnerable he actually is. He gets beat up, he bleeds, we just don't see the whole extent of it.

I can't think of many TV series that have gone to such an effort to keep the main character's face hidden the whole time (the RoboCop series maybe?), but years of superhero stories have shown us that a hero can be expressive even when we can't see his expressions and this confirms it. The Mandalorian isn't quite as loveable as Baby Yoda but there's never any doubt of what's going on in his head. When he wants to cook Jawas with his flame thrower, you know he wants to cook Jawas.

It was a pretty genius idea to take everything good about Boba Fett and transpose it over to a new character... then show that he hangs out with a whole bunker of Boba Fetts and he's not actually anything special. He's very good at what he does, he's very tough (and he's good with kids), but he's not the chosen one. He's more of an Obi-Wan Kenobi, except hopefully better at steering the powerful kid under his wing away from becoming a fascist henchman.

The last two parter definitely drives home the message that the season (and probably the series) is about a father and his son, to the point that even the Mandalorian eventually realises it. IG-11 provides a very unsubtle demonstration that a child will be heavily influenced by their parents' example, even if that child is an assassin robot, and from episode two onwards we started getting shots from the Child's point of view, showing him watching and taking it all in. All the violence, the fantastic props and the beautiful virtual scenery (much of it originally filmed on actual locations!) IG-11 also showed the Mandalorian that he can also change his programming, becoming a father and a killer instead of just a killer.

Speaking of the beautiful virtual scenery, man this series looks good. I left the end credits playing so I could to listen to the music and I was always amazed at how close the concept art was to the final scenes. It does rely on their real time backdrop tech a lot, but I could rarely tell. The final result is definitely far more convincing than the virtual sets in things like Sky Captain or Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome (partly because it's all reflected in the hero's suit).

Overall I fell hard for this series, I love it. I was a bit concerned when I saw that Jon Favreau was running it because he also did the pilot episode of The Orville and it was a little bit... weak, but man he proved himself here. Well okay it dipped a bit in the middle; those three episodes broke the series' air of invincibility and I realised it was perfectly capable of being average, okay, and sometimes even just watchable. Then it went right back to IG-11 riding a damn speeder bike and I went right back to loving it.

Maybe season two will take a real nosedive, anything's possible, but right now this is my favourite space samurai western series.

My top three season 1 episodes:

  1. The Child (9)
  2. Redemption (8)
  3. The Sin (8)
The Mandalorian vs Jawas may be the greatest epic in the entire Star Wars saga. But anything with a shootout in the streets of Nevarro is a clear runner up.

Bottom three season 1 episodes:

  1. Sanctuary (6)
  2. The Gunslinger (6)
  3. The Prisoner (6)
I thought the three standalone episodes in the middle were weaker than the ones that came before and after them. In fact the series almost felt like a different show when it dropped the serialisation for a bit, but I'd happily watch this version of the series too.

Next time on The Mandalorian:

What do I want from season 2? More of what we just got, except slightly different. And better! No galactic-scale threats, no unfolding conspiracy, no epic secrets that rock the Star Wars universe to its core and reveal that everything we knew was a lie. Just a baby and a bounty hunter making cash, avoiding Imperial entanglements, and looking for space wizards.

That's it for this run of Sci-Fi Adventures I'm afraid, but I will be back in two months or so to begin reviewing Babylon 5 season four, starting with The Hour of the Wolf. Also, Super Adventures is already back, with even more words about even more games, and you can go read that right now if you want.

So subscribe to the RSS feed and follow me on Twitter to stay informed about new posts, then leave a comment in the box below! I mean, if you want to.


  1. I haven't seen Beyond the Mandalabra -- Disney+ is one streaming service too far for me and I can't keep track of the ones I have already -- but I do love the theme tune.

    Dark Crystal had a 37 year gap between movie and TV series, which is almost there.

    The only other one I could think of was Beastmaster, but the gap there was only 17 years so that's boring. A bit like the Beastmaster series, I suppose.

  2. "On the other end of the scale, Doctor Who and Firefly hit cinemas just 3 years after their first episodes aired"

    What Doctor Who movie are you talking about?

  3. Battlestar Galactica got a film after 29 years

    And started as a theatrical release in 1979.

    1. Depends where you are. It aired as a two-part episode in the US but it was released in cinemas in the UK and probably elsewhere.

    2. Yeah, I wondered whether I should count that, but decided if you theatrically release an episode, it's still technically an episode.