I read my buddy William Patrick Maynard’s post on Guy Boothby’s The Curse of the Snake, and I decided to write a The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes essay on Boothby’s gentleman thief, Simon Carne. But then, I signed up for a one-week Disney+ free trial. And my son and I watched the first three episodes of The Mandalorian, and I knew that Boothby could wait.
I was ten years old when my dad took me to see the first Star Wars movie at the theater. So, I go back to the beginning. I like Star Wars, but I’m not a fanatic. I didn’t care for the second trilogy and I think it was more than ten years before I saw one (I forgot which). I liked Solo, but didn’t like The Last Jedi. I quite enjoyed Star Wars Rebels, but my son likes Star Wars Resistance way more than I do. I’m not predisposed for, or against, a Star Wars production. I judge each one on how much I enjoy watching it.
And right out of the gate, I like The Mandalorian more than a chunk of the movie franchise. Most of my knowledge of Mandalorians comes from Rebels. I don’t know that I ever pondered that Boba and Jango Fett were ones. I just knew they were bounty hunters.
Jon Favreau, who played a huge part in the success of the Marvel franchise, is the creator of this one, and I think he nailed it.
The imdb.com description is pretty accurate:
The travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy, far from the authority of the New Republic.
I immediately picked up on the vibe of the lone gunslinger, wandering from town to town – in this case, as a bounty hunter on a job. We never see star Pedro Pascal’s face, as he never takes off his helmet. He only speaks the bare minimum, making him the stranger of few words.
The series opens with Mando (what Carl Weather’s character calls him, and since that’s easier to type than the whole word, I’ll go with that.) entering a dive bar in the middle of nowhere on a frozen planet. It’s a spot-on recreation of the classic western scenario of the cowboy riding into town and confronting some bad guys in a saloon where his prey is. I think it’s a great way to set the tone.
The bounty in episode one (the real one, not the intro story) was a great choice, and it set the story for the next two episodes (and beyond, I’d assume). My son Sean and I were both ‘Oh, my!’.
Visually, the cinematography seems to lean towards ‘dark’ a bit, which fits the bounty hunter theme. And there are wide open spaces and vistas, mixed in with tightly packed urban settings. I think the series looks excellent. It’s a treat to look at.
Carl Weathers, Nick Nolte, and Werner Herzog have appeared so far. It’s nice to see (or just hear) some familiar folks showing up.
The fight scenes are well done. Mando finds himself in a fight pretty regularly. Usually he’s outnumbered and/or outsized. Fortunately, he’s well-armed and armored. And he’s tough.
I liked Solo, because it was in large part, a heist movie. And a heist caper, with a Star Wars overlay, is a winner in my book. I like Westerns, though I prefer Joel McRea and Randolph Scott to Clint Eastwood and John Wayne (though I cannot pass by Rio Bravo. Just can’t do it). The Mandalorian is a Star Wars throwback to the lone gunslinger western. It’s a great approach, and so far, it’s excellent.
It looks like there are eight episodes, and three have aired as I type this. Each one is about 40 minutes long, which is a good length. Apparently, it’s already been greenlit for a second season. I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t be.
Also, I really like the ‘drawings’ that are included at the end of each episode. They look like sketched pictures of images from that episode and they are really cool. I look forward to seeing them each time.
I don’t want to give any spoilers, so I’m just going to wrap up by saying I highly recommend checking it out. You can see it for free for a week, so there’s no reason not to give it a try.
I really like The Mandalorian.
His ‘The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes’ column ran every Monday morning at Black Gate from March, 2014 through March, 2017 (still making an occasional return appearance!).
He organized ‘Hither Came Conan,’ as well as Black Gate’s award-nominated ‘Discovering Robert E. Howard’ series.
He is a member of the Praed Street Irregulars, founded www.SolarPons.com (the only website dedicated to the ‘Sherlock Holmes of Praed Street’) and blogs about Holmes and other mystery matters at Almost Holmes.