What's the right level of goofiness for Star Wars?
Star Wars has always been inherently silly—very, very silly—but it's also always been deeply earnest. The best Star Wars stories are the ones that somehow manage to maintain an increasingly tricky balance—committing to bold, rewarding adventures even while embracing the wacky, Muppet-y weirdness that gives the series so much of its charm.
Thankfully, The Mandalorian—the astonishingly expensive flagship show of Disney+, the Disney Empire's new streaming service—does a pretty good job striking that balance. Sure, there are plenty of scenes of the titular bounty hunter (Pedro Pascal) shooting and stabbing and being all "Argh, I'm a stoic and tough bounty hunter" right before he gives jerks a carbonite bath, but there's also:
• A walrus eel monster
• Giant angry tadpoles with feet that you can ride like a horse, sort of
• Nick Nolte voicing an Ugnaught who rides around on those giant angry tadpoles
• Taika Waititi voicing a possibly depressed droid who seems a little too eager to initiate its self-destruct mode
• Brian Posehn: Space Lyft Driver!
• Werner Herzog being Werner Herzog
Based on its first episode, at least, the show's also committing hard to being a western, and it's all the better for it. Soundtracked by an inventive, evocative score from Ludwig Göransson (the music's one of the stars here, and it sounds like Ennio Morricone got stoned and grabbed a synthesizer and shot himself into space), the as-yet-unnamed Mandalorian stalks from bar to bar on desolate planet after desolate planet, staring down enemies and frenemies as he commits various acts of bounty hunting. (And riding a giant angry tadpole.) Pascal—so far, speaking only from behind his helmet—already seems to be creating a more interesting protagonist than the terminally boring Boba Fett, on which his character is clearly based, and too-quick appearances from the likes of Herzog and Carl Weathers hint at a broader cast that'll be just as much fun to watch.
It's early yet—only one episode has been released, with the next coming out Friday—but so far, The Mandalorian feels enjoyable and familiar and Star Wars-y even as it offers a twist or two. (This first episode's ending shouldn't work, but it really does.) And hell, since Disney's already spending $483 trillion to take over the streaming market, they might as well just go ahead and launch a spinoff: The Ugnaught.
The Mandalorian—and everything else Disney has decreed will now be our culture—is streaming now.