Posts tagged #disney channel

Star Wars Rebels Mid-Season in Review

Obi-Wan and his on the edge of giving into hatred Padawan Learner Anakin... wait... just kidding, that's Kadan and Ezra from Rebels. JK.

Star Wars Rebels, much like its predecessor Star Wars: The Clone Wars got off to a bit of a rocky start. While the "mini-movie" that kicked off the series had a lot of fun elements to it, there wasn't a whole lot of substance there, following in footsteps reminiscent of the Clone Wars "mini-movie" premiere which showed glimmers of promise but was ultimately forgettable.

The good news for Star Wars fans is that Clone Wars found its footing and became an incredible journey that, I could argue, was more satisfying and impactful than the three prequel movies. 

"Don't worry Tseebo, you have a long career ahead restoring artwork at the New York Museum of Fine Art and you'll meet a beautiful woman named Dana Barrett. Don't sweat the rest of the details..."

And good news for Star Wars Rebels: it appears to continue to follow in the Clone Wars series' footsteps. Progressively getting better and better with every passing episode. Now seven episodes into the series with "Gathering Forces", and at its mid-season hiatus, the one-off character building exercises seem to be out of the way and the show is spreading its more serialized wings. Seemingly one-dimensional characters are finally getting a little bit of depth and intrigue to them, and the stakes are abundantly higher for all the characters than they were in the first two or three episodes out of the gate. Ezra, the character meant to be the audience's point-of-view in this first handful of episodes has journeyed from street-rat, to vicarious aspiring Jedi, to a conflicted youth who is on the edge of giving into his anger and hate. His master, Kadan (who at first seemed like a Hollywood pitch meeting of, "It's Han Solo MEETS Luke Skywalker!") is now showing his lack of experience and training himself, having been a young member of the Jedi Temple at the time of Revenge of the Sith

Nobody will expect the Sith Inquisition.

Even the bad guys are getting a little more well-rounded as "The Inquisitor" who looks cool and certainly has a super-cool lightsaber as seems to be the pre-requisite for all Sith after Darth Maul, is starting to feel like a bit more than just the heavy who is always running two steps behind our heroes. Though I still question why he's so dedicated to hunting and tracking Kadan and Ezra and not venturing out throughout the rest of the galaxy on the hunt for other Jedi? I know Luke Skywalker was the one and only hope of the Force, so does this mean that Kadan/Ezra are quite literally the last two standing Jedi at this point in time?

One of these days, there'll be a Sith sporting yellow and blue lightsabers - and we shall call him Darth Ziplock.

But by far, the most intriguing aspect of Star Wars Rebels that's keeping me engaged at this point are the mysteries and larger storylines that it keeps hinting toward that I'm sure will play a bigger part in the remainder of this season and beyond. Hera continues to answer to a larger string-puller in the Rebellion who is known only as Fulcru" in these first seven episodes. There have been some theories as to Fulcrum's true identity, but in "Gathering Forces" the mystery source seems to be flying a vessel incredibly similar to Bail Organa's Tantive IV. This ragtag band of Rebels' destiny in the larger Rebellion is also a big question mark as it seems they're going to prove integral to plot points in the original trilogy (and possibly even the new J.J. Abrams headed sequel trilogy), so you can't help but hang on the introduction and current whereabouts of every character that the show introduces, including a Force-sensitive Imperial cadet who decided to hang back and investigate what happened to his sister at the Academy...

All-in-all, any worries that I had about the series being too squeaky-clean after the mini-movie seem to have been assuaged and the show has become must-watch television for me. You can feel it exuding potential for greatness now, much as Clone Wars did when it truly was firing on all cylinders. I have a feeling that the rest of the first season, and those to follow, are going to be a whole lot of fun. 

Posted on November 19, 2014 and filed under TV.

Seven Minutes of Star Wars: Rebels Released

"You! The Empire is looking for editors to cut marketing clips. Don't give me that, 'I'm just a farmer selling fruit' nonsense. Man up for the Emperor!"

While many are reporting it as "the first seven minutes" of Star Wars: Rebels, what feels like an excerpt from the show has been released giving us our first extended look at the show in context. Or at least, I'm hoping it's not a direct lift of the first seven minutes. It still feels a little rough around the edges. What's with that strange title treatment placement/Rebel theme to the hard cut to black? Will this be the formula of every show, with a short 30-second cold open? Seems strange and hoping that's just result of it being a marketing clip.

The segment acts as a great introduction to Ezra and the planet of Lothal - where we're led to believe most of Star Wars: Rebels will be taking place. You definitely get a strong feeling of how the Empire will be portrayed as an imposing force on the people of the city, and how Ezra channels his inner Aladdin to find food to eat.

But the clip is a strange introduction to the rest of the cast who are limited to a few incidental pieces of dialog within the action sequence... "He's on your left!" "You better hope the big guy doesn't catch up to you!" "Look out!" It's great to see and hear the speeder bikes, which inherently make it feel like Star Wars, but it still feels a little sleepy. Hopefully it's a result of pilot syndrome and the series will pick up steam as it goes along (much as the Clone Wars did).

I might also be jaded having just watched the final episodes of Clone Wars Season Six on Netflix, and especially "Voices" and "Destiny" feel so much like integral parts of the Star Wars world that it's strange to be back in a weird grey area.

We'll see how this fits into the entirety of the episode in context when the show debuts in October (and hopefully Disney XD will finally be in high-definition on Dish Network by that time).

Take a look at the "first" (?) seven minutes of the pilot episode and let us know what you think?

New Extended Trailer for Star Wars: Rebels

TK-421, what is your origin story? The public must know!

Lucasfilm and Disney XD released a new 2:27 trailer for their forthcoming animated series Star Wars: Rebels today. Presumably this is part of their ramp up to the San Diego Comic-Con where I'm sure a great deal of information on the series will be released. 

The series still appears to be aimed for a younger audience, and looks to be much lighter in tone than the Clone Wars series (especially the later sixth Netflix-exclusive season, which was particularly dark but absolutely fantastic). This trailer emphasizes the fun and adventure while stressing that we'll be seeing things through the young eyes of Ezra, who is pulled into the Rebellion Joseph Campbell-style. There's lots of great imagery and luckily, this trailer doesn't have any difficulty evoking that classic Star Wars feel, which was one of the biggest complains about the prequel trilogy.

Star Wars: Rebels premieres on Disney XD (which means if you're like me and on Dish Network, you'll be watching in glorious standard definition... gross) this October.

Posted on July 22, 2014 and filed under TV.

Girl Meets World S1E2 - "Girl Meets Boy" Review

Pay no attention to the near college-aged kid on the far left… it's not quite illegal. Yet. (Courtesy

I've had a lot of reservations about the new Girl Meets World, a sequel that of the 1990s ABC TGIF show that picks up with former kids Corey and Topanga dealing with now being parents themselves. Especially after an overly saccharine Disney Channel TV spot confirmed fears that the show was going to be more of the same from Disney Channel and not exactly a harkening back to the glory days that ABC ruled the airwaves on Friday nights.

Admittedly, part of the resentment might stem from the realization of my own sheer mortality. Yes, it's a bit strange to see the characters who were elementary school aged kids at the same time that you were now as the teacher/parent roles on a spin-off of the same series. But I was also worried that the toothpaste commercial "hey, buy a bunch of songs off this Disney Channel Radio Pop Star's Album" show invading series creators' Michael Jacobs and April Kelly real vision was in store.

This weekend, I caught the first two episodes back to back and the pilot had me worried. All of my fears seemed to be realized, it was the same over-saturated hyper-real Disney Channel fodder that makes me never want to have kids. When my wife walked in during the closing moments of the show, she asked my thoughts (she had watched the episode previously on one of her days off) and I mentioned that it just felt strange. Something was just off. And where was Mr. Feeny? Granted, William Daniels who has been my hero since he quipped back and forth with David Hasselhoff is nearing 90 years old… yeah… let that sink in for a minute or two. But it seemed strange not having him there to get things kicked off on the right foot. Sure enough, he pops up for a brief fleeting moment at the end of the episode during one of the stranger sequences of the pilot. For that reason going into the second episode, I had zero expectations for the show other than for it to be white noise while I did other things on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

The second episode "Girl Meets Boy" had me intrigued, at least at first. Centering around the students' reliance on cell phones, the premise was something right out of TGIF. Changes and tweaks were made from the pilot going into the second episode, for example Maya (played by Sabrina Carpenter)'s overly sexual and incredibly creepy and off-putting make-up was toned down, thankfully. And overall, the second episode felt less stilted and more like a classic throwback to the 90s than the pilot did.

A funny, but a little alarming comedic moment comes when the kids enter a library and aren't quite sure what to do with a stack of books. I get that digital technology has replaced research and reading in 90% of applications, but I'm hoping that kids haven't completely become inept in a library. A legitimate Amblin-era giggle was elicited from me when an elderly librarian shushed the kids and their reaction was an in-unison "DAH!?!?!"

But the biggest reaction that I had to the series' second episode was just how creepy it is that the show has chosen to cast a male "romantic" lead who is three or four years older than everyone around him. Lucas (played by Peyton Meyer) may have the One Direction boy band charm that every male Disney Channel star is required to exude. But when he's standing next to anyone else in his classroom, it's a little on the side of creepy. The episode focuses on a budding relationship with he and Corey/Topanga's daughter Riley played by Rowan Blanchard, who is 12 years old both behind and on camera. But standing next to the driving aged Peyton Meyer, you get a really gross feeling as the two of them eyeball each other akin to when one of your friends suddenly sparks an interest to your younger sister.

"The guy looks like a date rapist! Is that my jacket?" - If Brodie Bruce was in Girl Meets World.

I'm not completely oblivious to the production process, I know that it's preferable to cast old to look young. But that's the problem. This guy was cast to be the dreamy-eyed, bed haired love interest but he looks old enough to be babysitting all the kids. Especially given how young and precocious Riley has been cast to be, you just want to reach through the screen and protect her.

Other observations: the little brother Auggie, played by August Maturo steals the show. Farkle, played by Corey Fogelmanis) has potential to be the new Steve Urkel in terms of how quickly his "charm" will get old and he starts to overstay his welcome. 

But bottom line, while overall the show still oozes Disney Channel it does have those glimpses of the Touchstone Television/ABC-era which is what I had hoped it would have. It's too bad that major audiences are too cynical now and a show like this can't fly on national networks so that the Disney Channel qualities of the show could be toned down immensely. But if the show runners are able to wade the Disney Channel waters and really hone this show into what it can and should be, it might actually be a fun watch for families with as much entertainment value as its predecessor.

Posted on July 14, 2014 and filed under TV.