Could Star Wars Come to TV?

Slate's Culture Blog
Jan. 11 2013 12:58 PM

Could Star Wars Come to TV?

Star_Wars_Leia_Chewbacca_Han_Solo
Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back

Lucasfilm

Since Disney acquired Lucasfilm back in October, pundits and fans have mostly discussed the upcoming seventh installment of the Star Wars franchise. While the quest for the perfect director continues, though, ABC has shared news that is arguably just as exciting: They are considering a Star Wars TV show. Why is that just as exciting? Last summer, Lucasfilm’s then-producer Rick McCallum described it as being like “Deadwood in space.” One could make the case that in this post-Sopranos world, TV, rather than the movies, is where the Star Wars franchise could be most successfully revisited. And with Disney now holding the reins, we could see such a series in production sooner rather than later.

Before Disney bought Lucasfilm, 50 scripts overseen by McCallum and Lucas were shelved, deemed too expensive for television. Part of what made the show so expensive is that a network would have had to pay Lucasfilm in order to license their rights to the franchise. Now that Disney owns those rights, the middle man is eliminated, and the estimated costs are significantly lower. McCallum has since left Lucasfilm, but ABC Entertainment president Paul Lee is reportedly eager to take a look at those scripts soon.

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With the new film due out in 2015, there is some concern about oversaturation. But Lee has talked about bringing the Star Wars universe back to audiences in a more “oblique” fashion, similar to the way Disney has handled its ownership of Marvel Comics. “We got to a point here with Marvel, a very special point, where we’re in the Marvel universe, and very relevantly so,” he said. “But we’re not doing The Avengers [on TV]. But S.H.I.E.L.D. [the upcoming Joss Whedon superhero TV show] is part of The Avengers.”

What we know about the proposed Star Wars series  suggests this sort of peripheral approach. On the planet Corsucant, two families rival for the control of the “seedy underside of the Star Wars universe and the people who live within the subterranean level and air shafts.” (Entertainment Weekly says this is similar to the upcoming videogame, Star Wars 1313.) And there’s a chance we may see some familiar faces as well, as the story takes place sometime between the movie prequels and the original trilogy.

Star Wars has graced television screens before—the animated spin-off Star Wars: The Clone Wars is in its fifth season, and no one who has seen the campy, absurd 1978 Christmas special could possibly forget it—but a more serious take on the franchise could breathe fresh life into the universe, whatever happens at the multiplex.

Aisha Harris is a Slate staff writer.