Star Wars: The Mandalorian Season 1 (Ultrasonic’s thoughts)

the-mandalorian

For the longest time whenever someone was to mention Star Wars the original three films came to mind, as well as the prequels that followed later on in the early 2000s.  Television was never really in the minds of audiences aside from some die hards who would ponder about hat little possibility but nothing more.  And then in the late 2000s we were finally introduced to the Clone Wars era.  First was the version made by Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack) which was made up of animated shorts that helped bridge the gap between “Attack of The Clones” and “Revenge of The Sith”.  As great and nifty as they were, they weren’t enough to satisfy fans completely.

Until late 2008, when an animated film named Star Wars: The Clone Wars came on the scene, followed by the debut of an animated series of the same name a couple of months later, and from that point on, the rest was history.

For six seasons, audiences were enthralled with the stories that George Lucas and his protege Dave Filoni brought, for they not only validated the prequel trilogy tremendously but they also expanded on the Star Was mythology ten fold, and with George Lucas at the helm.  Sadly the series was cancelled and put on the shelf for a long while, until this year as of this post, when an official final season was placed on Disney Plus, thus finally giving a definitive conclusion to the series as George and Dave envisioned it to be.

Now there have been other series that have followed Clone Wars – Rebels, The Freemaker Adventures, Resistance – with some series being more compelling than others, but there was always that lingering question: Is a live-action Star Wars TV series possible?  Can a live-action series still deliver the spectacle/myth-building epic fans have come to expect and demand, and with a TV budget at that?

Well, with this series, I think we more than have the answer to our question: Yes.

With the way the story starts, you are immediately introduced to the protagonist (Pedro Pascal).  He doesn’t go by any name at all, aside from a nickname some bar thug calls him, but I – and many other fans can agree – the nickname “Mando” works just as good as his full title, The Mandalorian.

Much like the protagonists from classic spaghetti westerns, Mando is a man of few words, but his actions can more than make up for that.  Taking place some years after the events of “Return of The Jedi”, the Galaxy far far away is pretty much like what one would expect with a crippled government – a great deal of lawlessness is raging across star systems, but with that comes opportunities that only a Bounty Hunter can take full advantage of, but even that brings its own set of complications, as a mysterious client relays to our protagonist.

“Bounty hunting is a complicated profession.”
-The Client

Taking on what appears to be yet another job Mando finds himself on a journey that will ultimately change the course of his life once he acquires the bounty he was sent to retrieve, but what the show does best – among many things – is that even getting to that point is a journey in and of itself, because as Mando is making his way to his bounty he ends up encountering characters that at first may seem secondary or just flat out insignificant, but they too have a part to play in guiding Mando, specifically the character Kuiil (Nick Nolte), and his help goes beyond just saying three simple lines.

Kuiil I have spoken

But perhaps the biggest reveal was at the end of the first episode, which was definitely a surprise, but a welcome one, and it is nothing short of amazing that Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni, as well as the rest of the cast and crew kept their mouths shut about this surprise, but all the same it was incredible.

And that reveal was of course the bounty itself, or should we say, himself.

The Child Mando

No, you are not seeing things, the bounty is a 50 year old toddler who is of the same race as the now late Grandmaster Yoda in this timeline, but since nobody knows what sentient race he is, the Internet has come forward and nicknamed him “Baby Yoda” until further notice, and I’m glad they have.

To everyone’s surprise, this reveal went viral, thus leading to all sorts of things from new internet memes to tattoos and even a song (?).  The fact that the creators are using an actual animatronic puppet on set makes this even more special.

But even with this child’s age he is no dead weight, for it is seen shortly after his reveal that he is extremely gifted with the Force, as his saving Mando a few times over the season has shown.

Unable to simply leave the Child in the hands of the client – and whatever may befall him after – Mando then has a change of heart and goes to retrieve him, and with the unexpected help from fellow Mandalorians manages to achieve this goal and heads off to get “Baby Yoda” as far away as possible, thus truly kickstarting the season.

For the rest of the season that follows, Mando is trying to do everything he can to safeguard Baby Yoda while still trying to take whatever jobs he can, and avoid detection.  Along the way he runs into an old acquaintance named Cara Dune (Gina Carano) who becomes a big help.

But trying to stay under the radar is easier said than done, because at one point just when it seems like Mando can leave Baby Yoda in a safe place Cara manages to take out a bounty hunter who is tracking the child, thus forcing Mando to take the former with him.

Of course, nothing lasts forever, and Mando’s constant evading of capture and refusing to turn Baby Yoda over catches up to him, for the client isn’t even the real person who wants the Child, rather it is an Imperial Moff named Gideon.

“You have something I want.  You may think you have some idea of what you are in possession of, but you do not. In a few moments it will be mine.  It means more to me than you will ever know.”
-Moff Gideon

And even with help from Kuiil, Cara and even Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) things don’t look good.  However, a reprogrammed Assassin droid named IG-11 comes to the rescue and through this Mando’s real name is revealed: Din Djarin.  He also meets up with a Mandalorian armorer from earlier episodes who, upon meeting Baby Yoda decrees to Din that until the latter can find a way to reunite the Child with his own kind or “until it is of age.”  Gifting Mando with a jetpack the latter and his makeshift group make their escape but a squad of Stormtroopers are awaiting them.  Knowing that there aren’t any other options IG-11 makes a decision and self-destructs, taking out the group and giving the others time to escape.

After an intense fight with Moff Gideon, Mando manages to take the former down and escape but as is the case with the big bad – unless it’s the final season, they always come back, and Moff still turns out to be very much alive, and with a weapon that no one expected him to have in his possession, which begs the question how he got it given that said weapon was in the hands of someone else (spoilers for Star Wars Rebels).

In all, this season has definitely been a strong start to what appears to be an incredible series.  It is a great throwback to serialized adventure, as well as spaghetti westerns and Samurai movies by Akira Kurosawa, all of which inspired George Lucas as a child, and yet the series is able to stay true to the essence of what makes Star Wars Star Wars, and that’s thanks in no small part to Dave Filoni, who learned from George Lucas during the Clone Wars days, and with the help of one of the architects of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Jon Favreau, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch that the series is in good hands with these two at the helm.  Plus bringing in other talented folks like Bryce Dallas Howard and Taika Waititi to help behind the camera is an even bigger plus.

It may be a while before we see any more Star Wars movies, but that doesn’t mean the story won’t continue in other ways, and with Disney Plus Star Wars has a way to expand the story and make it richer than what has been done before, and The Mandalorian is doing exactly that in spades.

So yes, this series gets a recommend from me, and here’s to the next season!

The Mandalorian Poster

Clone Wars Season 7 Episode 3 Review – Now-stalgia on Disney+

Review by Joshua Jordan

“Survival is one step on the path to living”

After finding the source of the information leak to the Separatist, Anakin, Captain Rex, and The Bad Batch have to escape The Techno Union Army’s base. This escape has them going back to the Poletecan village where Anakin’s group along with the Poletecans have to fight the Techno Union’s forces and protect the village.

This episode was short, sweet, and to the point. Because of this it has no real story meat just a lot of action. This isn’t in any way a bad thing at all it just a story the bridges the gap between the previous episode and the next one. Just like the ones before episode 3 has fantastic animation and with amazingly staged action scenes, making this story anything but boring. I felt that this episode’s biggest strength is that it got me excited for the next episode, which will mark the end of our first of three-story arcs this season.

Episode Review Score: A

Homebrew Spotlight- Mappy For The Atari 2600!

Hey Arcaders!

Welcome to the 2nd issue of Homebrew Spotlight!

And I thought- what better place to start is with the game that’s shown in the title card- Mappy! I could go on FOREVER about this game (a future Coin Up episode is happening!) as this game is in my top five of all time. But, for now, let’s talk about the AMAZING homebrew that released last year for the Atari 2600. And this system will come up a lot in this series- the is probably more home brews made for this system than any other. And for good reason- with sites like the amazing Atariage keeping the Atari flame glowing, more people are drawn to the system everyday- whether for childhood nostalgia, or for the first time enjoying the retro goodness. Also- because of guys like John W. Champeau, Nathan Strum, Mike Haas and Ross Keenum. Champeau’s name will come up so many times in this series. He’s the founder of Champ Games, one of the largest homebrew publishers on the site. His work goes back decades- I remember playing his version of Donkey Kong for the PC- Champ Kong back in the early 2000’s. And his love of classic arcade games knows no bounds. If there is a classic arcade game you love- he has more than likely created a home brew of it (EXCEPT Make Trax- PLEASE DO MAKE TRAX!) But, we’re here to talk about Mappy!

As with any homebrew, we gotta start with it’s inspiration- the arcade game. and what an original and fun game it is! Mappy hit arcades in the U.S. in 1983, where it found it’s audience quickly, but wasn’t as big of a hit as it should have been here- possibly due to the arcade industry seeing it’s first stumble, due to the game crash occurring at the same time. Many games released that year would suffer greatly because of this. Also hurting distribution was Bally (having severed ties with Midway that year- due to it’s buyout and absorption by Sega) wanting MORE Pac-Man titles- gave this a modest release. But- what stood out was the amazing cabinet- and it’s awesome marquee!

And the game play- Typical Namco magic! You’re a police mouse named Mappy. He has followed the Nyamco gang to the hideout after a huge heist- they got computers, safes, TVs, even the Mona Lisa! The house is anything but fun- there are trampolines to bounce to any floor in the place! And watch out- Boss Goro and his pose’ of Meowkys are ready to pounce you flat! With great level design, amazing music and a fun bonus round, this game is classic gaming at it’s finest!

Ok- now that we have got you into thew game, how does the Atari 2600 port fair? Awesome is the word I would use! Champeau and his team have done it again! In fact- this is my favorite arcade conversion for the 2600 so far!- just look at this!

The thing I like most about Champ Games, is their attention to detail. Everything is faithfully reproduced- the demo screen, authentic game sounds, all the items, characters and their movements, even the high scores are there! This homebrew is a Atari cartridge tour de force- on a system primarily designed to play PONG!

If you have ever bought anything from Atariage- you know that they are sticklers when it comes to authenticity. All box art, Instruction manuals, even the cartridge labels have to meet very strict standards. and the Mappy cartridge doesn’t disappoint- check this out!

So- if you have been looking for a great classic arcade game to put in your Atari VCS collection- Or wanting to start one from scratch, and are looking for a great game to begin with- you can’t go wrong with MAPPY!

Just go to the Atariage website HERE to get your own copy!

What do you think of Mappy? How about the Homebrew? Were you like me, and wished the was a version for your Atari back in ’83? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks Arcaders, and keep playin’ like It’s 1981!

Big City Greens Season One and Amphibia Season One Review: NOW-stalgia on Disney+

Review by Joshua Jordan
NOW-stalgia on Disney+ is all about reviewing modern animated shows that you can find on the Disney+ streaming service.

Big City Greens Season One (2018)

The Green Family are simple farm folk who are having a hard time. So much so that Bill Green decides to sell the farm and move in with his grandmother. Along for the ride is Bill’s two kids Cricket and Tilly. Cricket is a high energy, super confident, and at times a bit too selfish but lovable kid and living in the city is what he’s really excited about. In contrast is his younger sister Tilly, while Tilly shares a mischievous side with Cricket she is much calmer and is more inclined to follow the rules. Together The Green Family has some fun and wacky adventure as they learn to adapt to their new surroundings.

 In my opinion The Big City Greens is like an updated version of the classic television series, The Beverly Hillbillies mixed with character designs straight out of The Muppets. Not only is the character designs influenced by The Muppets but It’s humor is too, very smart, quirky, and imaginative. Another great thing but Big City Greens is the fact there is no season long narrative. Unlike shows like Gravity Falls or Big Hero 6 you can just kind of leave for a bit then come back to once you’re finished bingeing something else. It’s just a fun time as you watch and enjoy this family’s misadventures.

The only criticism I have is that of Cricket, while I don’t mind his character Cricket is very selfish which comes off as being a little of a jerk and almost being unlikable. Whether or not this is intentional by the writers or it’s just me but since he is the main character of the show and it can hurt my enjoyment of Cricket and be a little too much. These times however are few but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it. Altogether The Big City Greens is very fun and can laugh out loud funny and a great show to jump in and out of between other shows you can watch on Disney+.

Review grade for season one: B+

Amphibia Season One (2019)

After Anne is peer pressured into stealing and opening a weird music box, she is transported to a new world filled with intelligent Frogs, Toads, Newts,etc along with dangerous giant insects and birds. It’s here that Anne meets Sprig, a young and super energetic frog whom she befriends. Together with Sprig’s Grandpa Hop Pop and his younger tadpole sister Polly, Anne tried to live in this beautiful yet dangerous world while trying to find a way back home.

Since Amphibia’s announcement I’ve been very interested in seeing what kind of show this would be. It turns out it has similar humor and mystery as Gravity Falls with an interesting and unique world like Adventure Time. The main cast is also very interesting and I like that the writers are taking their time to get the audience to care for them even if this slows the story down a bit near the middle of the season. Other than that I feel this series has really great potential and has a very satisfying end to season one.

Review grade for season one: B+

Liked these reviews? Then check out our others
Click here for my review of Milo Murphy’s Law and season one of Big Hero Six The Series.
Click here to start reading the episode by episode review of Star Wars The Clone Wars as they air on Disney+

Clone Wars Season 7 Episode 2 Review – Now-stalgia on Disney+

Review by Joshua Jordan

“The search for truth begins with belief”

After the events at the end of episode one Anakin, Captain Rex, and The Bad Batch go to Skako Minor to see the source of where they believe The Separatist are getting their information from.

Episode two, titled “A Distant Echo” is a great continuation from episode one and builds on what was set up last week. Having a personal touch to the episode is what I really liked the most about it. Its hard to think of the Clones as nothing more than cannon fodder but the best thing about The Clone Wars is that by the end you really care for the Clones. Since The end game of the series is to hook up to Revenge of The Sith I liked that it took a moment to focus on Captain Rex and Anakin’s relationship as friends. Which may or may not play into the last arc of the series. Another pleasant surprise in this episode is that it took time to give us some more humor, which was a nice breather between the more action and dramatic scenes.

Lastly, I want to also compliment the animation again this time focusing on the facial expressions. They have come a long way since The Clones Wars Movie back in 2008 where they seemed kind of stiff. This episode showcases some of the subtlest of gestures from Anakin trying to tell Captain Rex something with is eyes to Obi-Wan not looking surprised at who Anakin is talking to in secret. All of this together makes a much more fluid and almost realistic way to connect to the characters. This story arc is really turning out to be a good one but the question is how does this tie in to the end? I guess we’ll just have to watch to find out.

Episode Review Score: A