Why not? I seem to be in a theme this week.
Star Wars Droids: The Adventures Of R2-D2 And C-3PO was a Saturday morning cartoon following the adventures of the real stars of the prequel. I don’t have to say who because it’s in the darn title! Airing the 1985/1986 season on ABC, the show takes place before the events of the original Star Wars movie (or episode four or A New Hope or whatever makes you happy and gets us back on topic). This is obvious by the occasional appearance of the Empire and a not-eaten Boba Fett. In hindsight this would take place past the prequels and their recent appearance on Star Wars Rebels although neither of those existed. Return Of The Jedi had ended and the parties involved wanted to keep the franchise in people’s minds, especially the toy-seeking younglings.
The series was produced by Nelvana, who had done the animated (aka the only watchable) segment of the ill-fated and ill-conceived Star Wars Holiday Special, otherwise known as “what were they thinking” over and over again. The same character models were used although thankfully the fleshy ones were less rubbery. It also aired alongside an Ewoks cartoon but I was never interested in that. (Although I did like the first live-action TV movie. The second one…not so much.) There was a prime-time animated special called The Great Heap, which has our heroes fighting a giant droid that for some reason was powered by draining R2 units, and R2 gets a girlfriend. It’s an odd show at time, but really quite good.
The series plot is that R2 and 3PO need to find work, and end up with a series of masters. Three-episode story arcs have the Droids dealing with mobsters and claim jumpers, saving princes and racers, and of course the usual bickering. Anthony Daniels returns as the voice of C-3PO and would do so again for both animated Clone Wars and the aforementioned Rebels appearance. The theme song, which finally gets us to the topic of this article, was co-written by Steward Copeland (of the band The Police, where Sting is also from), who sings the song, and Derek Holt. As I’ve stated before there is more to an intro than a song. Otherwise there would be more live-action pieces in this series than there are. So what helps make this work without John Williams involved?
I think the best thing in the intro is the transitions, using fake vector images in various displays, closing in on the display, and having the image turn into the next mess our heroes have gotten into…which is most likely R2’s fault. None of the humans appear in the scene, which considering they change masters after each arc makes perfect sense. We just see the Droids in various situations showing that the show involves them getting into trouble on multiple occasions. It demonstrates the tone of the show well and if you are a Droids fan like I am you’ll fall into it.
“In Trouble Again”, the theme song, doesn’t have the epicness of the movies or other animated series to follow (with the exception of the Ewoks, which had its own themes to match the more mystical forest adventures they would go on), but the stories themselves weren’t as epic as the movies or later series. They were short story arcs (which the CG Clone Wars would emulate) but were less about saving the galaxy (a random planet or kingdom perhaps) and more about R2-D2 and C-3PO making a new master or masters and trying to help them solve a problem while some big threat got in the way. The theme seems to come from a Droid’s perspective (possibly C-3POs) and talks about risking their lives for their friends, weaponless (Threepio can’t really hold things well due to lacking individual fingers, although he has them in this series since they don’t have costume limitations), and cursing his metal body (which Threepio has done on a number of occasions). It fits well with the visuals and while it lacks the impact of a John Williams score it’s a little softer than the movies and later series so it works fine.
This continued into the comics, which I have reviewed all the issues I own as of this writing from both Star, which tied into the cartoon, and Dark Horse, which was closer to the movies but still lacked the galaxy-saving in favor of helping masters or in one story, protecting people FROM their new master. As a fan of the Droids I very much enjoyed the show and hope we haven’t seen the last of them since other characters are getting their own movies and there is a C-3PO solo adventure from Marvel that I sadly do not have access to. I also need to watch the whole show again and collect the comics from all the runs I’m missing. Good luck with that first one. The first story arc was released on VHS many years ago and I do have two other arcs edited into movies on DVD, but there’s little to no chance of a full-series DVD or a release of The Great Heap, so while I prefer to support the official release, there is none and thus the internet will have to do. Hopefully that changes because this series is fun to watch and the intro does it’s job of drawing you into it, which is what a good intro should do.