There’s been a lot of buzz, rumor, and wild-speculation about a long-promised Star Wars live action television series lately: at one point, folks were reporting that there were 50 taped hours sitting in the vault adjacent to George Lucas’ Scrooge McDuck-like pool of gold. That isn’t actually the case — there are drafts of scripts that would support 50 hours of programming, but they’re not complete and haven’t been filmed. Rick McCallum, a LucasFilm producer, apparently told a Czech publication that the company plans to wait until visual effects costs come down to start actually translating those scripts into a show. He also told them that the show will be about parallel stories: the Empire’s consolidation of power while the Skywalker twins are children, and Coruscant’s crime syndicates.
Now, long-time readers know that I have a long-running interest in the Star Wars extended universe, and in fact screwed up my promise to finish reading the Yuuzhan Vong arc of the books and blog them (though I got a couple of posts done). So when it comes to the prospect of an extended universe television show? I have opinions. And this strikes me as a bad way to go about making a Star Wars television show that will capture the imaginations of people who grew up with the original trilogy but have had their tastes honed by The Sopranos and The Wire, among other things.
The thing the Star Wars extended universe has done quite well at is filling in the world around the Skywalker family and the people who have married or been adopted into it. Lucas, particularly in the prequels, is rotten at this. He’ll seize on an idea, be it crabby, potentially racist frog-people; slug-like gangsters who haven’t been couped for no particularly discernable reason other than who wants to be the biggest crimelord in a backwater; or feral teddybears and run with it. He’s got a sentimental streak a mile wide and absolutely no sense of how institutions work. For Lucas, politics actually do happen in the Republic’s Senate chamber, and mercenaries ultimately come around to the nobility of democracy promotion.
If you’re going to do a Coruscant-crime-lords-meet-a-consolidating-Empire storyline, and you’re going to do it with existing characters, that probably means a show about Prince Xizor taking over Black Sun and mounting a rivalry to Darth Vader. Which is honestly, just another Powerful Dudes Duke It Out story, rather than an institutional one, even taking into account the whole Vader’s bioweapons program killed Xizor’s whole family thing. Vader and Xizor aren’t actually surrounded by anybody interesting, and focusing a story on them would be sort of arid and weird, and wouldn’t actually reveal anything about the impact of Imperial rule.
Instead, and I say this not just because I am a total Corran Horn stan, though I am, is that someone should really do a show about the Corellian Security Force. For those not in the know, CorSec is basically the FBI of Han Solo and Wedge Antilles’ home planet, that before the Emperor went all buck wild, had a strong complement of Jedi serving in its ranks. Telling a story set in CorSec would be a great way to dig in to an inhabited world with strong traditions and cultures of its own, rather than jumping from place to place in a world that lets Lucas avoid doing coherent world building. Setting a story on Corellia would provide context for some of the franchise’s most beloved characters without having to be directly about them, and it would fill in things like spice smuggling that are referenced but not particularly explored in the original trilogy. The history of CorSec is also just a great story about the actual impact of Imperial control, which throughout Lucas’s movies, is mostly asserted rather than shown. As Imperial influence penetrates CorSec, the agency loses its efficacy, and the people in it have to make real decisions between their tradition of public service and the fact that the tradition may be corrupted beyond repair. The Rebellion’s a choice that comes with flaws in that narrative, not just the only choice, and that’s a worthwhile shift in perspective.