The Mandalorian: One great show on Disney+

So the Mandalorian television show for Star Wars showing on Disney+ continues to impress me and make me very happy to have the new streaming service option as part of a massive collection of entertainment options. At this point there have been five episodes and its quite clear that the creators understand what Star Wars is all about, even if critics are still mystified as to the magic. Most people love the show, many of them like it. I have yet to hear from people who hate it. Critics in the industry continue to measure “greatness” by the amount of social justice in any entertainment product, and Star Wars has never been about that. When Disney has tried to make social justice part of the experience, Star Wars fails. And that is not the case with The Mandalorian. I wouldn’t say that Episode 5 was my favorite so far, but I do love the title, “The Gunslinger.”

It was fun to travel back to Mos Eisley spaceport on Tatooine from the original Star Wars movie and see the cantina, the Dewbacks, and the docking bays that originally started us all on this massive journey. This particular episode reminded me again of many of the great westerns that I grew up loving, specifically in this case, The Unforgiven with the stupid young kid playing off the much more experienced gunfighter. Critics keep providing a disclaimer that this series is Saturday morning cartoon material, and more specifically, Saturday morning matinee material which George Lucas grew up on. OK, so what? That’s what makes this kind of entertainment so special. That’s how Star Wars was born to begin with, so its not surprising that the creators are trying to get back to the roots of what makes the brand so special. Sometimes its good to tell a story without trying to change a public narrative, but one that reflects the one we have. Disney has certainly listened to the fans even if the industry is still trying to scratch their heads at why returning back to Mos Eisley was so much fun for fans.

I think its great that female directors are working on The Mandalorian. I thought Bryce Dallas Howard did a great job with Episode 4, brilliant even. It doesn’t matter to me if the director is a man or a woman, what matters is if the content is good, and with this show, it is. So long as nobody tries to turn the show into something that its not, The Mandalorian will continue to be a hit. I found myself looking forward to this latest episode all week and its been a very long time since I’ve had that experience, especially these days with all the on demand content that you can binge watch. Having a show that is this much fun to look forward to after a long hard work week is a wonderful thing to have, and I must thank Disney+ for giving it to us.

What is unexpected by me at this point in the show’s run is the popularity of Baby Yoda which is all anybody who is anyone is talking about. The little creature from The Mandalorian is taking over the internet and people are falling all over themselves for a chance to get the first merchandise that goes on sale. The Mandalorian is a cool show, so it’s a bit odd that such a cute character that so many people love has come out of it is the surprise. At this point in the season I wouldn’t have guessed that so many people would be talking about it. I would say the character is so popular that if we put Baby Yoda on the ballot for the next presidential election, that he’d win. That is the state of our political life these days, and maybe that’s not a bad thing.

The value of something from a scientific perspective is whether or not its fun. In a society of thinking human beings, we all need a little fun in our lives, and anything that gives that to us is a tremendous benefit. Having fun gives us the ability to set perspective and manage stress, so in that regard, The Mandalorian is better than just a show, it’s a wonderful stress management tool full of big ideas as this gunfighter/bounty hunter travels around a galaxy in a cool starship and interacts with all kinds of challenges without getting too emotional. That makes these shows fun and a great relief from the mundane outside world that is addicted to problems and stagnant thinking. So far, The Mandalorian never seems too far from a solution no matter how great the problem has been. In this Episode 5 The Mandalorian gets into a dogfight in space with someone trying to collect a bounty on him, and his ship is knocked out stranding him. He doesn’t panic and cry to his mom, he just calmly fixes his ship and gets going again. Traditionally, that is what the Saturday morning serials did for young people, show them how to deal with tragedy with a kind of bravado that made all their normal problems seem small, and in that way, solutions were easy to find.

Everyone in entertainment could take a lessen from The Mandalorian. Nobody says that a good show must have a huge budget and a bunch of cry baby characters to be good. Just giving the audience what they are looking for is the most important thing. Nothing about The Mandalorian is trying to be the next critically acclaimed show, it’s just having fun being what it is and its kind of strange to find that so refreshing because when I was growing up, most everything that was produced had that kind of whimsical quality. Most of the time, the best things are the things that critics don’t like, because many of them have some social agenda they are trying to steer creative people to, such as social justice concerns that are here today and gone tomorrow as a political priority. The things that matter most to people are things that last no matter how politics are aligned.

If Disney keeps up this kind of production I will be firmly in their camp. I have been skeptical about them as a company as they have been way to political for me, even as recently as Frozen II. I am very much a lover of traditional Walt Disney productions, and this Mandalorian title and the direction of Star Wars recently gives me hope that we can get back to that kind of story telling and cultural reverence. But I’m bound to like anything that has the title, “The Gunslinger.” Kids need a lot more entertainment like that, the values extend deep into our culture not just into our past, but for our future. But heck with the kids, I need more of this, and apparently so do many other fans of the show. Baby Yoda is cute, and it makes the show better. However, what makes the show good is that its fun, and its not afraid to take some chances which is why I look forward to it all week long, and watch it at my first available moment every Friday.

Rich Hoffman

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