Geektoons : Star Wars Droids and Ewoks
Today's geektoons is a two for one special. The reason is that for me these two shows go hand in hand. The mid to late eighties were a dark time for Star Wars fans. The movies had ended in 1983 with Return of the Jedi, with no signs there would ever be more to come. The books that later came to keep the fandom alive were still years away. Star Wars was fading from the cultural landscape. There were however two animated shows, that while they were aimed at smaller children, were still just about the only new Star Wars stories being delivered at that time. These shows were, of course, Droids and Ewoks.
Droids aired in the fall of 1985. It featured R2-D2 and C3PO from the Holy Trilogy. Taking place before A New Hope, it showed the adventures of the two droids before they ran afoul of the Empire and ended up working for a farm boy named Luke Skywalker. The droids get a new master every few episodes, and have plenty of adventures along the way. They run into space pirates, evil Imperials, and the most famous bounty hunter in the galaxy, Boba Fett. Incidentally, the theme for the show was co-written and performed by Stewart Copeland of the Police.
Obviously the stories told in this series don't make a lot of sense now that the prequels have filled us in on some of the back story of the famous droids. Episode III indicates that the two were immediately put into service by Bail Organa, which is their situation at the beginning of Episode IV. This would seem to imply that they were not in fact hopping around the galaxy from master to master, having grand adventures. Still, the makers of later Star Wars movies paid at least a little attention to these shows. One episode features a planet named Boonta where there is a speeder race. You might recall Anakin saying in Episode I he had raced in the Boonta Eve race. The droids also have a few run ins with a pirate name Kybo Ren. Those of you who have seen The Force Awakens may notice that name is very similar to a certain Solo offspring prone to temper tantrums.
Ewoks was the other show, running from 1985 through 1986, a little longer than Droids lasted. This cartoon obviously followed the adventures of the teddy bear resembling inhabitants of the forest moon of Endor. Wicket, Teebo, Latara, and others go on quests for magical relicsand such to save their village from various disasters. The first season tried to aim at the older generation of Star Wars fans, but by the second season they just made it for the kiddies. Not as much made it from this show into later incarnations of Star Wars. It is interesting though that the show showed how the Empire became aware of the forest moon, and events it portrayed may have led to it being the location of the second Death Star construction site.
The show did expand on the Ewok characters, who were very limited in the films due to not speaking English. It also expounded on the Ewok social structure, as well as the ecology and co-inhabitants of the forest moon. As mentioned before, they do also have a run in with the Empire. This show is probably the reason the name Ewok is so well known, as they were never called that in the movie Return of the Jedi. The two cartoons were later packaged together and shown as the Ewoks and Droids Adventure Hour. There were even comic book adaptations made, which had a crossover. I haven't read them, and admit to being curious if they even bothered to write it in a way that would explain why the Ewoks don't seem to remember the droids when they showed back up in Return of the Jedi.
While these shows are obviously goofy and look inferior compared to the many Star Wars novels, comic books and cartoons that we've had since, it is important to keep in mind that these were aimed at kids, and again, aside from a couple of really bad Ewoks made for t.v. movies, the only new Star Wars content being made at the time. It wasn't until Timothy Zahn wrote his trilogy of novels, the first of which came out in 1991, that Lucas seemed to realize there was still a large base of fans for these movies and started making new content. They were fun and they gave us something to keep us connected to that galaxy far away.
Here is the first episode of Droids.
And here is the first episode of Ewoks. Enjoy!
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Movies have a tendency to over-explain everything these days, leaving nothing to the imagination. Often the reason the back story isn't the main story is because it isn't interesting enough.
Star Trek The Animated Series continued telling the story of the five year mission of the crew of the Enterprise. It kept the franchise going between the first show and the first movie.
The Transformers is one of the most popular cartoons ever made, with it's story of giant transforming robots bringing their civil war to our planet.
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