So yesterday I reported on the kids-focused screening of Young Jedi at Star Wars Celebration VI. Today I checked in with a few sources about what Young Jedi is all about. My first assumption about Young Jedi while viewing it was that it was going to be a story arc on The Clone Wars this season, but one thing I immediately noticed was the lack of a The Clone Wars title card – merely the Young Jedi logo. The screening definitely felt like it could be broken apart into several episodes of the show in terms of the storyline.
Afterwards, I heard about George Lucas’ mention of a younger-audience series during another panel, and thought that Young Jedi would fit the bill as a spinoff of The Clone Wars for younger audiences, and Lucas’ presence in the audience was his way to gauge audience reaction. Did the kids and parents in the audience get a sneak peek at an early version of the pilot? I got a chance to talk to someone with an in on the project. While hoping that it would not be the case, my source mentioned that it is possible that this screening might be the only time that this is shown to the public – presumably this would be a worst case scenario (ie, either Lucas shelves it, or can’t find a venue for it). I would hope not, since I thought it was pretty awesome, and would totally work for a younger audience show. Or it could mean that this was the rough cut, and based on audience feedback, it might get tweaked to be either A) the pilot episodes for the younger audience show, B) a movie (either to theaters or TV) for the show, or if the show ends up not happening, re-woven back into The Clone Wars.
While Celebration is the best place to get Star Wars fans as a test audience, was the format – a surprise 88 minute screening as if it were a movie, working in its favor? After the screening, lots of parents and kids left during the credits (as you do at the movies), before any real feedback session could happen with Dave Filoni. I know that with a show that long, I’m guessing bladder relief might have been a priority.
There were some definite cheers at some key hero moments in the screening, and laughs at some of the more comic moments, but overall the audience felt quieter – perhaps more intent on the show, or just well behaved in public, or a little wiped out on the third day of a con. (Note: I don’t have a lot of experience in watching children’s movies in the theater with children.) But there wasn’t also a lot of distracted child noise (ie kids not watching the show and being noisy about it), so maybe that means that they were being fully drawn into the story. I’m hoping on this being the case, as I certainly enjoyed the show despite its focus on younger characters and themes and lessons that fit with a younger audience. Based on what I saw, I want to see more Young Jedi and I think most kids would also enjoy it. It definitely fits into The Clone Wars, and could stand as a great story arc in the show.
A point in favor of it being a younger audience show (highlight to read spoilers) when gauging the action and violence:
- In one scene, a clever youngling improvises an potentially lethal explosive that would be activated by the bad guys. The item explodes, but the bad guys are shown to be only stunned and not killed.
But a point in the direction of it being at the same level as The Clone Wars in depicting violence:
- In one scene, a villain boards a Republic vessel and smacks the snot out of a few clones, and pins one as a hostage under his foot. Once the Jedi general and reinforcements arrive on the scene and the fighting reaches a standstill, the villain crushes the trooper slightly offscreen (but it is heard).