THE MANDALORIAN (streaming on Disney Plus): I just finished Season 1, and while I liked it, thought it was fun, and saw it as having all the elements of a powerful series, it’s so connect-the-dots it feels empty and I ended up with a largely meh reaction.
It’s a great idea. The rebellion has succeeded, the Empire has fallen, and a lone bounty hunter works the Outer Rim. When tasked by a minor warlord who was once an Imperial officer to recover a child (now famous as “Baby Yoda”), he decides to protect it instead of hand it over, resulting in a series of adventures and ultimately conflict with some type of Imperial resurgence.
The series borrows a ton of tropes from old Westerns, films like THE SEVEN SAMURAI, and even a typical heist movie, a fun mashup. I loved little moments like when the Mandalorian sees mangy stormtroopers at his new client’s office, a comical moment between two speeder-riding troopers about whether to bug the commander, some terrific action, and similar cool elements pulled from the STAR WARS series but now showing the aftermath of the Empire. Baby Yoda is awesome, and I loved all the droids. The presentation is solid.
I think where the story became meh for me is in the length. The episodes are around 20 minutes long. As a result, the cool elements become a quick connect the dots with little real tension and heavy reliance on tropes, and I don’t feel anything, especially when I’m supposed to (e.g., “I’m done for. You go on without me.”). Same as every STAR WARS movie since the original trilogy. Maybe I’m showing my age and simply want, I don’t know, gravitas and real wonder from STAR WARS, instead of my favorite numbers repeatedly served hot off the menu.
So overall, I liked THE MANDALORIAN but didn’t fall in love with it. It’s the best STAR WARS showing since the original trilogy in my opinion, but I just found it hard to truly invest in it.