Saturday, May 17, 2014

Episode III: Return of the Franchise

Your Blog is bummed. But, he has no one to blame but himself.

After nearly a week of not posting caused by one part "shit that I had no control over," and two parts "lazy procrastination..."

The PC's thoughts about what recent developments in the "Star Wars" galaxy mean for the not too distant future of the franchise, with one specific bit of "you heard it here first" prognostication, sort of slipped into the category of "old news."

Let's get the that one out of the way...

Based on comments on The Blog's Facebook page, and elsewhere, there seems to be a huge demand for a DVD / Blu-Ray release of the original, non- "Special Edition" (aka: not fucked around with, digitally,) versions of the original three movies.

The Great Blogoni was going to put on his turban and call on the spirits of The Force and predict that the folks at Disney's marketing arm, who have a long history of understanding that keeping an "in demand" property "in the vault" until demand has reached a fever pitch, will release the much desired, un-messed with versions of Episodes IV, V and VI sometime between now and the December 2015 release of Episode VII. I would have told you that you could take this prediction to the bank.

But, those know-it-all jerks over at The Nerdist had to go and beat Your Blog to the punch.

So fine.

I have said all I am going to say about that. If you want to read more, click on over to The Nerdist and read their story. It's fine. See if I care. But, remember, I was thinking it a week ago.

Oh, you're still here? You came back? That's nice. I knew you loved me more.

In your face, Chris Hardwick!

Okay, since you are still here, I will finish my thoughts, just for you. 

By now, you must know that the main cast members of the original trilogy are all returning for Episode VII.

(And if you didn't know, you probably don't care. You are welcome to read on, but I won't hold it against you if you skip the rest of this post and come back tomorrow for something about politics.)

Recent revelations tell us that, while the return of the original cast was only announced a week ago, via this Twitter™ pic...

Commitments from all were secured by George Lucas before the sale to Disney.

We had all heard the rumors. Most of the cast remained mum, except for Carrie Fisher who just couldn't help herself.

I don't really know how I feel about the return of the main cast after 30+ years.

I mean, I'm glad. It is right and just that they are getting another crack at the roles that made them famous.

But, here is a sobering thought.

Mark (Luke Skywalker) Hamill is, today, the same age that Sir Alec Guinness was when he first played Obi Wan Kenobi.

I'll give you a minute to digest that. Because, I know.

Okay, where was I?


So really, last week's announcement wasn't really a surprise. Just a confirmation of what we already suspected.

Which doesn't mean that there were no surprises.

The biggest surprise was probably the fact that Harrison Ford, who famously hated Star Wars, hated Han Solo and begged George Lucas to let him out of his contract and let Han die in "The Empire Strikes Back," (Thus, Carbonite,) but, grudgingly returned for "Return of the Jedi," was the first original cast member to sign on for the newest movie.

Maybe I read it somewhere, or maybe I am making shit up, but maybe it was Mark or maybe it was Carrie, or both, but someone said, "Well, hell. If Harrison is on board, I certainly can't say no."

So, the big three signed on.

Here is what surprises me most.

Two returning characters, whose faces were never seen...

And could, easily be replaced by other actors or, more likely, CGI, are getting back into their costumes that double as torture devices.

Kenny Baker, at the age of 80 is, voluntarily, climbing back into the tin can known as R2D2.

Good on Disney and Lucasfilm for giving him the opportunity. But, under any other circumstance, that would have to qualify as "elder abuse."

                                                     And then there is Peter Mayhew.

As he approached his current age of 70, his knees looked back on a lifetime of carrying around his 7'3" frame, and a decade of an additional 100+ pound costume and said, "Fuck this shit. We're done!"

Your Blog has been stalking following Peter on his Facebook page for a little over a year. Peter seems like one of the sweetest, gigantic people on earth. Peter has been posting posts that seemed like nothing more than enthusiastic love for the character that earned him a comfortable life. In hindsight, I realize that he has been dropping broad hints about his return to Star Wars, not the least of which was his regular updates on his surgical knee replacements and physical therapy, leading to his appearance, this weekend, at Disney's "Star Wars Weekend," walking without his light-saber shaped cane, walker or wheelchair, demonstrating his readiness to, once more, don the heavy, hairy body of Chewbacca.  

Han Solo once advised, "Let the Wookie win."

And the Galaxy said, "Make it so."

(I know. A "Star Trek" reference. Live with it.)

So there you have it. Whatever comes next, only Disney and J.J. Abrams know.

Okay, one more prediction...

J.J. Abrams is not only a genius, he is a true believer, and the heir apparent to Lucas and Spielberg. 

(Don't believe me? Go watch "Super 8.")

And Disney does not exist in the bubble that George's Lucasfilm was living in during the last (first) chapters.

What is coming is, I believe, going to be awesome. Or, at worst, no worse than Episodes I, II and III.

We will know, soon enough.


Oh, Wait!

Back on the first post in this series, I told a, possibly apocryphal, story about Sir Alec Guinness and an encounter with a young fan.

I promised a, sort of, parallel story about Mark Hamill that I witnessed with my own eyes.

Here it is...

It was the spring of 2001.

Mark Hamill was guest starring on the show I was working on.

Mark and I had worked together one other time, ten years earlier, so we bonded quickly on this show. For a little over a week, I ate lunches with Mark, by his invitation, in his trailer while we watched episodes of "The Simpsons" that he had recorded on his new-fangled Tivo™ machine.

Which is one of my favorite "only in Hollywood" stories, but has nothing, really, to do with what I am about to tell you.

After Star Wars, Mark maintained a quiet but comfortable acting career. A lot of stage jobs and TV guest roles. But, mostly, cartoon voice jobs.

                                                  Most notably, the voice of The Joker
                                   on a couple of decades worth of animated Batman shows.

We were filming on a public street in Long Beach, CA when a woman approached Mark with a very young boy in tow.

"Look Timmy!" (or whatever,) "It's Luke Skywalker!"

Two and a half decades had passed since Mark last played Luke.

Little Timmy had probably seen the original movies via his parent's video tapes.

But, while he remained mute, his eyes communicated his opinion that the old man standing before him was not Luke Skywalker.

"Bullshit," said little Timmy's eyes.

Mark, like Sir Alec before him, dropped to one knee and looked little Timmy in the eye.

"Do you watch cartoons?" Mark asked.

Timmy nodded in the affirmative.

"Do you like Batman?" Mark asked.

Another positive nod.

"Okay, so, close your eyes and picture The Joker." Mark instructed. "Can you see him?"

Timmy nodded, again.

Mark launched into full Joker mode.

"So, Bat freak! We meet again! etc, etc."

Little Timmy's eyes flew open. His jaw dropped to his chest.

Little Timmy was in awe.

Sixteen years later, he may still be in therapy.

And, I still get goosebumps when I tell this story.

This concludes The Blog's "Star Wars Trilogy."

Up next, I don't know.

Maybe some mocking of the #OperationAmericanSpring hilarity.

Or, maybe a tribute to #Randi'sLastDay.

Check in tomorrow.

We may all be surprised.

No comments:

Post a Comment