I am a week behind in my YouTube subscriptions. That means I’d wager most of you have already seen this, but for those who haven’t test footage was recently leaked for Star Wars: Underworld, a planned live-action TV series that would take place between the first two trilogies. I remember back when the Lucasfilm The Clone Wars cartoon came out there was talk of doing a live-action series and if memory serves we thought The Clone Wars was going to be it and some fans were disappointed it was a cartoon…until it came out and slowly won them over. I could be remembering this wrong however, so don’t quote me on this. Underworld was announced in 2005, but the technology wasn’t there on a TV budget so nobody wanted to fund it. The Clone Wars came out in 2008.
The footage was created by Stargate Studios, who did the special effects. This video was a sort of proof of concept, to show what they could do. According to Wikipedia (question the source) they’ve worked on such diverse body of works as Doctor Who, the 2008 remake of Knight Rider that was canceled just after they finally started doing it right, and the Walking Dead shows on AMC, but also stuff like Grey’s Anatomy, Parks And Recreation, and one of the Degrassi High series. I don’t know where the leak came from but this gives us a idea of the look of the show, set on Corsucant but going by the Star Wars fan wiki there isn’t a lot known about it. Depending on what happens on YouTube the video I found not only contains the test footage but some on-set recordings of the work on a green screen set. We’ll talk more in a moment.
The story is clearly not important here. The dialog is weak, the audio is meh, and the shootout…I mean, even Stormtroopers shouldn’t be THAT bad a shot. (Notice they snuck the famous “Wilhelm Scream” in there, which pops up at least once a movie and I’m pretty sure even the recent cartoons got them in somehow.) The point is the effects, and they aren’t too bad. They aren’t movie quality but since even these effects were deemed too expensive on a TV budget in 2010 it’s not all that surprising. They’re also trying to show off the visual tone of the series. Based on the title this would be focused on the underground of Corsucant. You know, the thieves, groups like Black Sun, things like that. I saw someone compare it to Blade Runner but that’s what Corsucant looked like in the prequel movies as well as the cartoons so that’s not too big a shock either.
Star Wars: Underworld is said to be set primarily in the Coruscant underworld (which was briefly glimpsed during Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones), in the time period between Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. It is during this period that the Galactic Empire rises to ultimate power throughout the galaxy. In 2005, George Lucas told Celebration III audiences that the show would not focus on any characters from the films, but that some of them could appear; “A lot of the issues from the films are connected, but you won’t necessarily see a lot of the people that are connected.” He later described the show as “bare-bones” and “action-heavy,” and explained that it would depict what the inhabitants of the Star Wars galaxy do for entertainment.
There’s a few other discussions about the plot but nothing really states what the plot would be about. That makes it unclear if it would be all that interesting. However a few concepts they had in mind would pop up elsewhere. While the movie characters were not going to be the focus (it’s not clear if it would have a new cast or be some kind of anthology thing) they might show up. Some ideas included showing how Han won the Falcon and met Chewbacca, and a story about a gangster woman who would break the Emperor’s heart. Producer Rick McCallum compared it to shows like Deadwood and Empire as well as the Godfather movies. Dan Wasson, who worked on the Nintendo Wii version of The Force Unleashed suggested elements of that game would show up in the series, while reports sate that one character in particular from the comics, Quinlan Vos, shouldn’t be killed off, suggesting elements of the now de-canoned “Expanded Universe” might play a role. A number of classic cast were hoping to have a role in this. Ron Moore (from the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica) and Chris Chibnall (the guy who made the Doctor female) were two of the writers who might have worked on this. It could have been a big deal.
Would I have watched this series? If I knew what the actual concept and plot of the series was going to be I could tell you. The effects look okay for the time but that’s not a lot to go on for the quality of the final product. I might have watched the first episode and done a review of it but otherwise I guess we’ll never know. It’s unlikely that Disney will add this to their lineup of Disney shows (or show since all they have is The Mandalorian, having put the Obi-Wan series on hiatus) given that Lucas was so involved and Iger is willing to toss him under the bus even after asking for his advice. The sad thing is we don’t really know enough to even know if it’s a loss or not. It’s a shame, really.