I haven’t seen any of the Disney Star Wars television series’ up until this point. In my opinion, The Last Jedi was just awful, and killed the franchise. (And The Rise Of Skywalker did nothing to counter this.) I’ve generally held the position that I won’t return to the franchise unless they decanonise The Last Jedi. So I’ve not seen any of The Mandalorian or The Book Of Boba Fett. I haven’t seen the Han Solo movie either.
But I decided to watch (at least the first episode of) the new Kenobi series. I didn’t have high hopes for it, but I liked Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequel films, and thought he might be able bring a similar magic to this show.
But it’s garbage.
Starting with the worst part of it: the dialogue. The dialogue is just awful. It’s some of the worst-written dialogue I have ever seen on television. It’s glaringly expository – so obviously trying to just inform the audience about who’s who and what’s what that it immediately pulls you out of the story. When the main villain says his first line, I actually laughed out loud, it was so badly written.
The villains spend an awful lot of time monologuing. (It’s like the writers have never seen The Incredibles.) Monologuing isn’t so bad in a melodramatic, somewhat flamboyant and romantic setting like the actual films, but it really doesn’t work in a show that’s trying to be gritty. It also doesn’t work as the opener for your villains. The villains in this show spend a ridiculous amount of time pacing backwards and forwards, surrounded by what must be 0.0001% of Mos Eisley’s total population (I assume it’s Mos Eisley – I don’t think it’s ever said). They desperately try to look menacing and evil, but the writers seem to have a cartoon idea of what evil is. These characters have no presence whatsoever, and do not appear threatening.
Moving on to the next-worst part: there’s basically no plot. One of the first rules of writing for television must surely be: in the first episode, establish what your protagonists want, and are trying to do, and establish what your antagonists want, and are trying to do, and create tension between them. I see so many shows ignoring this principle nowadays – including this one. What does Kenobi want? Well … just to sit around and work cutting up meat in the desert. Not very compelling. What do the Jedi hunters want? To find Jedi. Kind of obvious in the name. How are they going to do it? Just sort of walking around and occasionally smouldering. There are three of them, but they don’t seem to have individual motivations. Leia gets captured, but obviously we know she’s fine in the end, so no real suspense there.
These things alone are enough to condemn the first episode, if not the whole series (which is only going to be six episodes long, so they’ve wasted the first episode not doing the essentials). But there are various other weird things that the show does that pull you out of it.
The main one is that where Kenobi works – at some kind of thrown-together outdoor factory in the middle of the desert, next to the body of some large creature that they’re cutting up and getting the meat from – when all of the workers finish for the day (which, curiously, is when the suns are still high in the sky), they just leave all these huge slabs of meat out in the desert sun. They do this every day. I was staring at the screen thinking ‘You’re just going to leave raw meat out in the desert sun? And then you’re going to continue cutting it up for sale the tomorrow? What?!’. How switched-off do you have to be not to notice a problem like that when you’re writing? Did no-one mention that during the production? (Or worse, and more likely, someone mentioned it, but a bad culture on the production meant that that person was ignored or shut down.)
Another one: Leia’s toy flying droid has a circular saw attachment, which it uses to untie her hands after she’s captured. What the fuck kind of children’s toy has a circular saw attachment? This droid isn’t big either – there is limited space for what kind of attachments to give it, and apparently the manufacturers decided on a circular saw.
They’ve also decided to do a Luke Skywalker on Obi-Wan Kenobi – he’s now a bitter, reluctant old guy who doesn’t want anything to do with the Jedi anymore. I mean, for goodness’ sake, who’s writing this shit? People didn’t like that in The Last Jedi; they’re not going to like it here. Stop doing this – it isn’t a good character point.
So it looks like this series is going to be a disaster. It’s a shame, because I don’t think it had to be. The CGI on the show is mostly excellent (though there are a few weird moments where it falls apart completely). The music is not especially good, but it’s not dreadful either – it’s passable. McGregor does what he can with the lines he’s been given, but he’s been given shit lines and no character work. The young actress who plays Leia is quite good (some very unrealistic lines, but quite fun). But while I like seeing a lot more of Alderaan, I don’t think they’ve chosen a particularly interesting story path for Leia.
So it looks like Disney continues to have no idea how to make Star Wars stuff, and continues pumping out shit.