I got my kids into “Star Wars” early, starting around five years old. I had them sit down with me and a steaming bowl of popcorn and tried to instill a sense of the same excitement that had imprinted into my soul when I was kid.
They liked the movies, but they never really took hold in the way the original films did for me when I was a kid. I remember watching “Star Wars” in the theater nine times, then at home on VHS and Betamax tapes (obviously dating myself here). I played with the toys, read the comics and soaked up everything I could about the lore of the Jedi, The Empire and The New Republic. Conversely my kids watched the movies, liked the action and the characters, and then went back to whatever truly interested them.
It was that way for years, and then came along “The Mandalorian.” To be honest, what came along was a little character properly referred to as The Child but commonly referred to as Baby Yoda.
Baby Yoda is funny and cute, but with a mysticism about him. He is the sidekick to the Mandalorian character, but he is also the primary focus of the show. Kids get excited watching the Mandalorian in his Wild West stories, but they connect to the Baby Yoda character as he does things they do every day. The stories are simple and fun, a combination of the “Lone Wolf & Cub” comics (as pointed out by an old friend) from the ‘80s with the mythology of “Star Wars.” They are fun, self-contained stories that also feed into a larger narrative. Oh, and the episodes are typically 35 to 40 minutes, which is about the best attention span of an average kid these days.
My kids are all in. They remind me on Friday night that the show is available for us to sit down and watch and afterwards we all dive online to see what we missed in terms of Easter eggs and references to the “Star Wars” canon.
That curiosity has led them to backtrack and watch “The Clone Wars” and “Star Wars Rebels” animated series. They are now deeper into the mythology than I am.I love hearing my boys tell me about obscure characters who make an appearance and where they came from. I thoroughly enjoy hearing them do a play by play with my wife, re-enacting this last weeks’ episode for her, even though she has no idea what they are talking about with some of these obscure references to Shadow Troopers and the Mandalorian history of the Purge.
They are experiencing the same wonder that I had as a kid, and it propels them in their creative journey. That is one of the greatest things about mythology and science fiction — that it gets you thinking in new ways and unlocks doors in your mind that help you spur creative thought for the rest of your life.
In these pandemic-era days, when there is little to look forward to, we look forward to our Friday nights again.
This show is creating that same attachment to the “Star Wars” universe for my kids that I have, creating a connection between us that I will cherish for years. I hope that this next generation is able to stay as connected as I have. This show is “A New Hope” for the future of “Star Wars,” and I am also all in, as they are.