Star Wars fans all want to know the answer to one question: When can we expect to see Lucasfilm’s long-in-development live-action TV series? Well, sadly, the series, to paraphrase the iconic opening epigraph of the Star Wars movies, is “far, far away.”
Still, fans were given some hope Monday when IGN posted a video with Lucasfilm executive producer Rick McCallum at a press junket for the movie Red Tails (opening Jan. 20). In the clip, McCallum indicated that the series was, for now, being called Star Wars: Underworld — one of the bigger pieces of news pertaining to the hush-hush series since it was first announced in the wake of the last Star Wars movie, Revenge of the Sith, almost seven years ago.
EW followed up with McCallum at the Red Tails premiere after-party last night at New York City’s Gotham Hall. “No, it’s not the final title,” McCallum said of Star Wars: Underworld. “It’s just a working title.” A working title that may actually be quite revealing. The series has long been thought to focus on either peripheral characters from the movies or new characters outright — with nary a Jedi in sight — during the 19-year span between Episode III and Episode IV, the period during which the Empire was still consolidating its grip on that Galaxy Far, Far Away. “Underworld” suggests that the series will focus on the galaxy’s sordid demimonde. “Absolutely,” McCallum confirms. “Expect a lot of smugglers, gangsters, bounty hunters, and a few Wall Street-type power brokers. Nothing about Luke or the Skywalker saga.”
The initial appeal of the series was that it would fill in a relatively blank part of Star Wars history. But in the years since Episode III, a number of comics, novels, and videogames (all considered canon, since they’re officially licensed by Lucasfilm) have begun to shed new light on that period, possibly presenting some continuity constraints for a series. In fact, a number of behind-the-scenes moves over the past few years have fueled speculation: George Lucas himself ordered that popular Jedi rogue Quinlan Vos survive the Star Wars: Republic comics series; A.C. Crispin’s proposed young Princess Leia novel series was canceled, as was a Boba Fett novel to be penned by Mandalorian obsessive Karen Traviss. Could this mean that Vos, Leia, and Fett could be involved in a TV series?
Obviously, McCallum isn’t saying. But the fact that over 50 scripts have been penned “by writers hailing from Europe, Australia, and North America,” according to McCallum, suggests that the show could be envisioned as an anthology series, sort of like a television analogue to the Tales of the Mos Eisley Cantina short-story project in the ’90s, with many already-established aspects of the Expanded Universe included.
Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait for a long time indeed, to find out. When I asked McCallum if the show is still three or four years off, he said, “Even longer. Because I think we don’t have the technology yet to be able to do it for the level of money that it would have to be done. Plus, the world of television is imploding. No one knows whether you should make a network show or a cable show. I’m really excited about it though, and I hope George does do it. I really do.”
Closer on the horizon is Seth Green’s Star Wars comedy series. “That’s coming along great,” McCallum says. “I’ve seen a few of their little skits. They’re great.”
Green’s kept really quiet about the format his show will take, but the fact that McCallum calls them “skits” suggests that the series will indeed follow the sketch-comedy format of the Robot Chicken: Star Wars episodes. McCallum suggests that Green’s series won’t be ready in time for a fall debut, but it may very well get a 2013 airdate.
Hey, if Obi-Wan Kenobi can wait around in the Jundland Wastes for 19 years, so can we. At least we’ve got The Clone Wars — and the reappearance of a certain tattooed Sith Lord — to give us our Star Wars fix in the meantime.