On Sunday, ABC Entertainment Group President Paul Lee told a group of Los Angeles reporters that the much-bandied concept of a Star Wars television show is something he is striving hard to make happen.
This idea has popped up like a dianoga in a trash compactor a few times before – LucasFilm has talked about doing (another) animated show, this time called “Star Wars: Rebels,” which would take place between the Episodes III and IV, and would be about the rise of the plucky Rebellion against the douchey, semi-German Empire. Back in 2005, LucasFilm even tickled fanboy nether regions with teases of a live-action series that managed to get its hyperdrive working.
So here we are again, except this time, George Lucas isn’t around to stop production by throwing his positively gargantuan neck-chub into the gears. Disney wants to milk the property they bought from George Lucas at pants-wetting sums of money. Disney owns ABC. ABC makes TV. A Star Wars show is going to happen, in some form or another.
Now, we could speculate all day about what the show COULD be, look at rumors, dissect tiny pieces of garbage information like shit-house rats. OR. We could dream. DREAM WITH ME!
I’ve written some stuff in the past, and so I’m happy to provide three pitches for a Star Wars television show. If you happen to be involved in LucasFilm or ABC and wish to give me buckets of cash, I’m totally okay with that. If not, well, buckle up and put on your ponchos, because the first three rows will get nerd on them.
And, to make things interesting, would you kindly hit the comments section and vote for your favorite version? Much obliged.
Alright. Ready? Listos?
In a Galaxy Far, Far Away . . .
Pitch A: “Star Wars: Hope”
In the Elevator:
“Okay. So you know how Game of Thrones is the cat’s tits right now? It’s all betrayals and horrible violence and sexy sex? Okay, well we can’t do any of that because it’s Star Wars. And it’s on network television. But! What else do people love about that show? The characters! Because the show has so many characters, and jumps between so many plotlines, every viewer has something to like. If you can’t stand Stick-in-the-Mud Stannis, just wait like two minutes and we’ll be following somebody who is rad.
Don’t care about a bunch of crusty dudes trekking through the snow? Well here’s some sexy court intrigue! Don’t give a bastard’s fart about who’s marrying who? Check out these exploding ships! Just here for the stabby-stabby? Here’s Jorah Mormont and Daario Naharis!
So we do that with Star Wars. Six or seven main characters, loosely connected in the beginning, are thrust across the galaxy into different exciting locations and situations!”
For the Writers Room:
Timeline: Takes place after “Return of the Jedi.” Can use the show to bridge the thirty-year gap between that movie and the new, upcoming movies.
Main Conflict: The second Death Star has been destroyed, and Palpatine along with it, the shards of his nightmarish future scattered in the sky over Endor’s forest moon. Darth Vader has fallen, with only his son witness to his final, heroic sacrifice. The Rebels have won.
But the Empire is not broken. The Empire stretches across half a galaxy, after all, hundreds of thousands of ships and millions of troops. Moffs turn into petty warlords, squabbling over star systems like cruel children. The government is shattered, broken, descending into corruption where it doesn’t dissolve completely, and the Rebel Alliance, so effective as revolutionaries, are ill-suited for diplomacy.
The galaxy is in turmoil, the Rebels need help, and the reach out wherever they can . . .
Willa Dolinn – Former Rebel General and war hero, raises her family on a farflung world. Having lost her husband to the war, she settled down to start a new life as a rancher. Following a devastating attack that shakes the foundations of the newly-forming New Republic, the Rebel leadership comes to Willa with an offer to roust a cell of Imperial terrorists. She refuses at first, but when the Rebels promise to pay her enough to float her failing ranch and save her family from starvation, Willa is forced back into a war that took so much from her the first time . . .
Johr Dolinn – Willa’s youngest son, Johr, has been keeping a secret from his mother – he can use the Force. When Willa leaves the ranch to help the Rebels again, Johr decides now is the time, and he runs away from home to join the newly-formed Jedi Academy. There, Johr finds friends and enemies, struggles with his anger towards his dead father, and comes face-to-face with what happens when Jedi training fails . . .
Rin Dolinn and Maris Dolinn – Rin and Maris are Willa’s oldest children, a girl and a boy, and are forced to run the ranch when she leaves. With a broken Galactic economy, local politics in disarray, and rampant crime on the rise, Rin and Maris are forced to make deals with the Galaxy’s shady underbelly to keep the ranch running. Rin delves into crime, trying to take care of herself and her family while Maris takes the empty, much-needed position of town marshal. As their philosophies and machinations come into direct conflict . . .
Egan Brace – The charismatic leader of the Imperial terrorist group responsible for a renewed set of attacks against the New Republic. We follow him as he murders, cheats, steals, and tricks his way out of every situation, he and his team of malcontents always just barely escaping the New Republic’s best agents. Think “Psychotic Han Solo” leading a small cult of personality who are all willing to follow him into hell.
The series starts there, and like Game of Thrones, gradually “activates” more viewpoint characters after the audience is acclimated to the story and the world. Now, the story doesn’t have to be as dark as Game of Thrones, but it can take format cues from it easily enough.
For the Executives:
We’re copying the formula of a known hit. People also love Star Wars, but they’re getting tired of Tatooine, the Skywalker family, and Darth Vader. The Star Wars galaxy is a huge, flushed out place – we have infinite source material to crib from. Also, the story deliberately echoes elements of the Star Wars legend. Farm. Being pulled into the Rebellion. Would-be-Jedi. Longing to see the stars. A Han Solo figure with a twist. People want to see the familiar. But they don’t want to see the same THINGS. Plus it helps to ease the audience, lore-wise, into the new movies. A “How We Got Here” situation.
Pitch B: “Star Wars: Black Sun”
For the Elevator:
“‘Ray Donovan‘ meets ‘Star Wars.’ A single viewpoint character. A down-to-Hoth, likable main character who does repugnant things to help the people in his life. He’s been hip-deep in organized crime his entire life, and travels the galaxy solving problems for the criminal Black Sun organization. As the show progresses, we see the lifestyle weighing on him, and the inner good man struggling to escape. Also, we get to zip around to different planets and get in adventures and run into both good guys and bad guys.”
For the Writer’s Room:
Timeline: Same as the upcoming Star Wars movies (Episodes VII through IX). That way you can flush out the movie’s universe, much like how ABC is doing “Agents of SHIELD” for the Marvel/Avengers universe. Allows you to tell smaller stories, with character who might not have large roles in the movies.
Main Conflict: The primary conflict is going to be character-centric. A man in his 30’s-40’s who is getting tired of causing harm. Of cleaning up messes. Of seeing pain. He’s trying to edge some decency into his work, show mercy, let people off the hook, etc, but it’s causing problems with the cutthroat world he’s from.
The “galactic” conflict would tie in with whatever the new movies are using, but it would be more as a backdrop. So, if the new movies feature the extra-galactic invaders the Yuuzhan Vong (which they probably won’t), then all this criminal activity would be happening during the war. Gun running. Mercenaries. Assassinations. Piracy, etc.
Again, it doesn’t have to be as dark as it sounds. We’re talking “Star Wars” dark here, not “Breaking Bad” dark. Nobody has to be gutted or get raped by a protocol droid or anything.
Zoren Felair – Or “Zee” to those in the know. Zee is the main character, and he’s been a cleaner for Black Sun since he can remember. He was an orphan actually raised by the organization, and has come to see it as a twisted kind of family. There are actual decent people mixed up in the organization, and he’s trying his best to keep them out of the worst of the trouble even as he juggles his nastier responsibilities. Travels the Galaxy, solving crazy problems.
The other characters would float in and out, but you’d have the Vigo, the space mob-boss that Zoren answers to. Part father figure (put your tiny hand in mine) and part total bastard, Zoren has a tricky disappointment/anger relationship with him.
Involve an ex-girlfriend who reformed from crime (a dream he nurses but never pursues), some wacky sidekicks, a few screw-ups he’s constantly “fixing,” and you’ve got yourself a pretty damn good recipe for Star Wars adventure WITH character depth and a side of moral ambiguity.
For the Executives:
Have enough colorful underworld characters for the kids, some gravitas for the adults, a dash of swashbuckling, globe-trotting adventure and you’re good to go. Again we model the format after a successful show (Breaking Bad, Mad Men, the Sopranos, Ray Donovan).
Add to that, you can have cross-over from the movies, which you can use to create a living breathing universe that could potentially. Plus if you get solid enough writers, you can even draw some critical attention to a franchise that many have lost faith in.
Pitch C: “Star Wars: Defiant”
For the Elevator:
“World War II heist movie meets Star Wars. Except you do it every week.”
For the Writers’ Room:
Timeline: During the original “Rebellion Era,” basically somewhere around Episode IV: A New Hope. The Empire is huge, the Rebellion is small, and the path to victory looks impossible.
Main Conflict: The Galactic Empire is an oppressive, racist, fascist, dickist galaxy-spanning nightmare factory that seems unstoppable. Headed by an evil sorcerer and his badass black cyborg, the Imperial machine is crushing everything in its path.
A small squad of Rebels is tasked with the most difficult jobs, the most audacious stunts. They specialize in the impossible.
The Characters: The show focuses on one squad of about six guys/gals, and it’s an ensemble show. It’s a little “Leverage,” a little “Firefly,” and probably a bit of “Hogan’s Heroes.”
Quod Tyril – The leader. An older gentleman con-artist who joined the Rebellion because of his deep dislike of authority. Almost never gets into fights. Entirely relies on his incredible wit and expert schemes.
Pixin “Pix” Assad – A deadly sniper and thief, Pix is a career soldier. She’s from Alderaan originally, and has forged the destruction of her home planet into a red-hot rage that she wields like a weapon. Quick to fight, quick to kill, Pix is as unpredictable as she is skilled.
Jump – Known just as “Jump,” the team mechanic, engineer, and hardware expert is a small humanoid with a batlike head. He enjoys poetry, philosophy, and gambling his money away.
Sanja – Though he’s the “big guy,” Sanja is, however, quite young and tends toward the naive side of things. Just a farm boy at heart, he joined the Rebellion to do what’s right. Though he doesn’t enjoy hurting people, he’s amazingly good at it.
Diza – A dark, Dathomiri witch far from her homeworld. Enigmatic, with strange motivations. Works as the teams “mystic,” using her Force powers to sway people with her mind, find the unfindable, and even battle the Sith with their own powers. Probably ripe for a betrayal.
Djak Mayner – A former actor, current lech, and petty criminal, Djak Mayner is handsome, manipulative, and a dirty rotten cheat. He drinks too much, smokes too much, and doesn’t particularly enjoy working for the Rebellion. However, he’s a fantastic point man, a master improviser, and most of all, a survivor.
8DM-30 – or “Adam 30,” the team’s astromech droid designed to fulfill a number of roles. Often bails the team out of trouble. Sort of a team pet.
For the Executives:
The problem with a TV show about the Rebels is this – anyway you slice it, it’s essentially a show about terrorists. Now, we can argue the freedom fighter/terrorist matrix all day, but you’re still piping in a show every week to main stream Western culture about people who sneak around, blow things up, and subvert a large military aggressor.
The only way to make this work is to look to World War II heist movies. ‘Star Wars: Defiant’ has to be the ‘Dirty Dozen,’ ‘the Great Escape,’ and ‘Kelly’s Heroes’ every week. Plucky, funny characters. The keyword is ‘Heist’ – steal the Moff’s yacht. Get some codes from a highly secure Imperial bunker hiding beneath a casino. Rob an Imperial bank. Rescue a Rebel leader from an airship over Bespin. Escape ‘the Void,’ the high-tech Imperial prison orbiting a black hole that’s never, ever been escaped.
High adventure. Improbable scenarios. Daring heroics. Dirty cheating. Plus, it uses the “Rebellion Era,” which most of America is extremely familiar with. Bing bang boom.
Far Far Away . . .
Who knows what they’re actually going with, but it’s fun to pretend, ain’t it? Let me know below which of these three you’d like to see, or why they all suck, or if you have something better.
What kind of Star Wars show would you pitch to the Mouse?
Oh man, it’s a toss up between Pitch A and C.
But, ultimately I’d go with C.
I am such a sucker for WW2 “Men on a Mission” style films. Whats great is that , like WW2 movies, you “know” the outcome already (I.E. We won. Nazi’s didn’t) so a series set during THE Star Wars would work.
Also, in all the “Men on a Mission” films, very few of them actually MET Adolf Hitler, so explaining why Vader or the Emperor isn’t in the series won’t be a problem (A LOT of people fought in this war.)