At what point should we be concerned about the “Kenobi” Disney+ series?

Like most things in the world nowadays, the Star Wars fandom is incredibly polarized. The sequel trilogy has yielded “mixed” reactions and depending on who you ask, “The Force Awakens”, “The Last Jedi”, and “The Rise of Skywalker” are either the best things that have ever happened to Star Wars or some of humanity’s most awful crimes. And the two anthology films haven’t faired much better (I personally love “Rogue One”), garnering a reputation as being mostly unnecessary.

Luckily, not all has been lost. A beacon of light has pierced the fog of tumult, and its name is ‘Baby Yoda’ (I know that actually isn’t his name). Things have been looking up though since we have found common ground with the Disney+ series “The Mandolorian” and mutual excitement for the long-awaited conclusion to the animated series “The Clone Wars”. Even the video game side of the franchise had been hit-or-miss untill the release of “Jedi: Fallen Order” to unviersal praise in the past 2 months. And then we were told that Ewan McGregor will reprise his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi for his own Disney+ show and we were really cooking!

But, if you thought things felt a little too good to be true then I admire your cynicism because you were right! I was just waiting for something to go wrong and in the immortal words of Dexter Jettster, “well, wadda ya know?!” The last week or so have brought us potentially dire reports about the “Kenobi” series. It all began on January 18th, a rumor circulated on the internet that the entire series has been cancelled. This rumor gained so much traction that Ewan had to publicly reject the rumors as false. But where there is smoke, there is often fire…

After this second report on January 23rd, I had become officially worried. One of my loudest criticisms of Disney-helmed Star Wars is that they often appear as though they act before they have a plan for their actions, and this fits like a glove into the recent history of Disney’s issues. Having one of their future projects so closely resemble their most current that they have to delay and totally rewrite scripts seems like a pretty obvious sign that their was no communication between creative teams and no oversight by Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy during the development stages, and possibly that there was never a thought-out plan to begin with. Luckily, Ewan, once again, drops in to say “Hello there” and save the day.

I can’t say for sure why these rumors are so persistent but the 2 constants throughout this saga are that Ewan really wants to do this and that Deborah Chow is still slated to be the director. For what that is worth, those are reasons to believe as long as the series exists, it will be good. But I am not sure anybody on the outside can be sure what exactly it is that we will be getting and flares are up everywhere, signaling problems that we have seen before. It is an objective fact that more of the Disney-era Star Wars live-action productions have had considerable production issues than those that have not. But before we divulge into full-on fear of anarchy, is there any way this panic can soothed?

If the reports saying that the series has been cut from 6 episodes down to 4 end up being true, the potential arises that this project could possibly be more successful as an anthology film than a limited 4-part series. Assume that every episode of a potential series is between 30 minutes to an hour long, that means we would be looking at a potential 2-4 hour story. How many individual storylines could you fit in a series that small, all while still wrapping it up neatly? And what if they really do need to rewrite the entire premise of the series? Would it make more sense to just condense the project into a single feature film to potentially make the story less messy? If the right people are involved they are provided adequate leadership, this could be an option.

While the sample size is incredibly limited, Star Wars has almost been perfect with their record of creating successful television shows. I cannot speak for the show “Star Wars Resistance” (because I haven’t cared enough to watch), but “The Clone Wars”, “Rebels”, and “The Mandolorian” have all added fresh stories, tones and perspectives to the Star Wars mythos that have been welcomed additions. If this track record is anything to go by, “Kenobi” might fare better through this medium than it would as feature film, which as we know, tend to ignite miniature civil wars every 2 years.

Of course, these are just the fevered panicked responses of a madman reading too many internet rumors. I suppose it is equally as likely that everything is under control, the scripts are fine, and production is still on schedule. But one can’t help but get a really bad feeling about this. As if the Force keeps granting us a premonition of the future and we all know how those always turn out…

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Kathleen Kennedy, above all, has to right this ship before it crashes. It is her responsibility and she already has too many blemishes on her record as leader of the franchise. Directing criticisms towards her is fair, regardless if you are a fan of her tenure or not. She is in charge and there is great public doubt circulating around one of the most anticipated projects of the franchise, and there are no mulligans on this. She must prove that she has a firm grasp on the totality of the franchise and display the leadership necessary to execute a project that should almost assuredly be beloved by fans. If this version of Lucasfilm is not capable of a success here, then I suggest new leadership is needed. I will call for a vote of no confidence in Chancellor Vallorum Kennedy’s leadership.

But, I digress from stiring up unrest. I think we are all excited to see Ewan reprise his role as Obi-Wan, but none of us want this opportunity to be wasted on a poor story or production problems. I trust Deborah Chow to create a polished final product but this is concerning. If guidence is needed, there are plenty of comics and novels already written about Obi-Wan’s time as a recluse that should serve as source material to help guide the process along (which is frustratingly something that Kennedy insists does not exist). There is no reason that this project doesn’t end up being successful so here is hoping that Disney can get out of its own way.

What is it that you would want to see out of “Kenobi”? Are you concerned at all? Am I just fanning the flames or am I doing a service by warning that the end is near? Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts!

Published by Zach Vecker

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