Droids and Ewoks: The First Star Wars Shows

Droids and Ewoks: The First Star Wars Shows

In the 1980s, there was a push to keep Star Wars going - and well, it didn't exactly work out.
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In the years following Return of the Jedi, there was a bit of vaccum in pop culture where Star Wars once was. The prequel trilogy was just rumors, and George Lucas was more interested in working on the Indiana Jones series and other projects like Willow. However, in 1985 there was still some hope in the Lucasfilm offices to keep the franchise in the public's mind. The Marvel comics were starting to come to an end, because of the lack of movies and other tie-in comics were outselling the sci-fi fantasy title. Kenner's iconic toyline wasn't selling as well either, due to competition from G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero and Transformers. But the one area where Lucasfilm felt they could keep the series going was televison. George Lucas was interested as well, and offered to come help design programs that would add to the competition of Saturday morning cartoons and draw attention back to the trilogy. With that, two shows were produced – and there's a reason they were the last full-length Star Wars shows for over twenty years.

In 1984, a live-action televison film. The Caravan of Courage, about the Ewoks was released, and it went just about as well as you would think. People didn't want Ewoks, they wanted lightsabers and droids. But hey, the Ewoks were marketable so they stuck around. It was followed up a year later with a sequel, which did even worse than the first one, but they still sold stuffed Ewoks. Meanwhile, teams were working on ideas for new Star Wars content, and the idea of a weekly cartoon came up – and for good reason, the mid-1980s featured some of the most iconic cartoons of all time, and those were primarily ads for toys (which let's be real, that's why they kept adding new vehicles to the movies). George Lucas was a huge animation fan, and got back in contact with Canadian animation house Nelvana, who had previously animated the ten-minute segment of the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special, to commission two shows about characters from the movies, as to keep some recognizable characters in the mindset. These shows were titled Star Wars: Ewoks and Star Wars: Droids, the latter about C-3PO and R2-D2. Unlike the low-budget animation from the Holiday Special, the animation was a lot more refined and detailed, and very, very colorful – which translated into the two toylines and the Marvel comics based on the shows that were commissioned as well.

Both shows began airing in September 1985, among stiff competition. Droids is notable for being the first “prequel” in the Star Wars media, being set before A New Hope and chronicling the adventures of C-3PO and R2-D2 before they met Luke Skywalker. It also featured Anthony Daniels reprising his role of C-3PO, and sound designer Ben Burtt further developing the R2 beeps. Ewoks, set between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi but before the television movies as well, was definitely aimed at a younger audience. though it is said that the first season was more “philosophical” for what it was, but then again, so was Transformers from time to time. Unlike Droids, Ewoks was limited to the location of the stories, but used that to their advantage – introducing new aliens and monsters to the world, as well as developing the culture of the Ewoks as a whole. Droids on the other hand was more action-comedy, which is pretty well expected judging by the focus of the series. New characters were introduced, but in addition to the droids, Boba Fett showed up in the series. It should be pointed out that in Droids, a character named “Kybo Ren” appeared, a similar name to sequel trilogy villain Kylo Ren. While not a hit with critics or fans, the shows were at least being discussed and occasionally tuned into, but not as much as Lucas would have liked The toylines for each show were relatively popular, the Ewoks one featuring different characters and a new style of paint and sculpt, as well as some interesting vehicles, and the Droids line gave kids the first A-Wing toy, as well as a repainted Boba Fett, C-3PO, and R2-D2, just to give another opportunity to buy the characters. But again, in a market dominated by cars that turn into robots, a seven-foot long aircraft carrier, and the Nintendo Entertainment System, Star Wars was turning into a relic of the past.

Despite the kid-centric tone of Ewoks, the show ran for 35 episodes, ending in December of 1986, while Droids only had 13 episodes, ending that June with a finale, though it was the first new episode aired since November of 1985. It just seemed that Ewoks had grasped the market just enough to push through, but ended after just over a year. The reviews were terrible, the animation cheap and the toys overshadowed in the aisles. The next Star Wars television program was the 3-5 minute episode Clone Wars in 2003, which was designed to tell the story between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, but that show was given a near complete reboot in 2008 with the much more popular and half-hour length The Clone Wars, a series that is the only pre-Disney sale show considered canon. The original two cartoons from the 1980s were a last-minute effort to keep the brand alive, but it was too little too late, with kids and the public moving on and finding a new icon to go to. With the new toylines in the early 1990s, the Special Edition re-release in 1997, and The Phantom Menace in 1999, Star Wars came back with a vengeance, and hasn't left the pop culture since. Droids and Ewoks were referenced from time to time in other merchandise, but has mostly been ignored now that we've moved on to good animation from the franchise. Then again, it's only a matter of time before we get a cartoon just about the porgs. Then we're back to this point.

Cover Image Credit: Lucasfilm

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.
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When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Country Songs That Deserve To Stay On Repeat

Calling all country music loving people out here!!

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Sadly, it's pretty hard to find a lot of people nowadays that genuinely love a good country song. However, country music is, in my opinion, one of the best genres of music.

Yes, it unfortunately does have that typical stereotype to it that songs are only ever about beer, girls, and trucks. BUT that stereotype couldn't be more wrong.

Anyone who actually listens to a decent amount of country music would know that each song tells a story and has meaning to it. I could ramble on about how freakin' great country music and its singers and songwriters are. But instead, I'll leave you with 10 songs I've been listening to on repeat these past few weeks and hope that after reading this, you will be too. These songs are not in any specific order though, since they are all equally great!

1. "While You Still Can," Brothers Osbourne

2. "Not Everything's About You," Old Dominion

3. "I'm Alive," Kenny Chesney and Dave Matthews Band

4. "Born To Love You," Lanco

5. "Follow Your Arrow," Kacey Musgraves

6. "I Lived It," Blake Shelton

7. "Beautiful Crazy," Luke Combs

8. "Simple," Florida Georgia Line

9. "21 Summer," Brothers Osbourne

10. "Amarillo By Morning," George Strait

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