Showing the behind-the-scenes in a “Star Wars” universe has always been an important part of the process. With “The Mandalorian” using ancillary aspects and the fact that this was the jumping off point for Disney+ makes sense. While more ancillary material in a way than an actual new series, it is great to tide audiences over in anticipating of the next iteration (especially with the advent of COVID-19) which might slow down production. Creator Jon Favreau again uses his indie instincts in this perception because he does what he used to do with “Dinner For Five” back in the day. He sits people around a table to talk with people (just no wine like before). While this first episode entitled “Directing” focuses on the directors, one gets a sense of input from different arenas. All the directors are inherently different. But that is what makes them unique. It is hard to say how much they actually were on everyone else’s sets. Favreau seems inherently around a lot even though he was finalizing “The Lion King” at the time. He did not direct an episode in the first season. Dave Filoni was likely consecutively working on “The Clone Wars” at the same time so it is interesting to see that balance that he could find time to direct but again it is perception of how they could balance. Seeing George Lucas sitting on set with Filoni and Favreau watching some of the scenes being directed really added credibility to the proceedings.
The one aspect of the virtual background sets (which again will make shooting post COVID inherently different) seemed to be incorporated almost fully the whole time even though it will be explained later. Even on Bryce Dallas Howard’s episode (which bears certain parallels to “Willow” in many ways) it seems that the wrap around back screen mattes/projection were going constantly. Deborah Chow, who is set to direct the Obi Wan series seems to have her focus extremely visceral which again should be interesting in approaching Kenobi especially with an actor who knows him inherently, Taika Waititi tries appear aloof since he is also a comedy actor after all so there is an interesting play where his tone is. He gels with the people even though he is primarily at a different place than many of the others. It works but it almost seems if he is trying too hard to play up to the paradox. All the episodes are good but his season finale was exceptional. Hearing Bryce’s recollection of being in Japan with her dad (Ron Howard) when he met Kurosawa and she fell asleep when she was 5 was great lore and cemented her perception and love of film making. Continuing episodes especially how they explore the story and creatures should be a treasure trove for Star Wars fans until they can hunker down for the next installment.
By Tim Wassberg