Commentary: ‘Star Wars’ has always been political. ‘Andor’ made it must-see TV in the U.S. The question is: Why?
The latest episode of the Star Wars saga began on a cold December evening over 20 years ago. For those of us who live in the United States — and who still watch the original series on DVD — it was nearly a year before the eagerly anticipated prequel episode, “The Phantom Menace,” was added to the canon.
The rest of us were still waiting for a “Star Wars Holiday Special” that would turn the sci-fi saga into a TV movie, or a “Theatrical Edit” that would transform the films into a pop-culture extravaganza. I’m not talking about a TV movie — for once, the Star Wars prequels have outsold the original. There are four films to the prequels’ five — if you want to throw out the prequel trilogy altogether, you’re no one’s friend.
But the wait for this new Christmas-themed episode was excruciating, because the episode had been set in a different galaxy at a different time (“A New Hope”) and on the planet of a different planet (“The Phantom Menace”) in a different universe. But the wait continued, because the episode didn’t even get a premiere screening before its release — it aired the very day after the first “Episode IV” premiered, on April 1, 1999.
The episode, now an undeniable must for fans who remember the original trilogy, is so highly anticipated that the last word almost never gets written: It’s the one episode Lucasfilm originally intended to premiere during the Christmas holiday, but was only ready to show the following week.
(The company also had plans to give audiences a taste of the prequel trilogy this Christmas, by pulling back the curtain on the “X-Wing” and “Y-Wing” series of “Star Wars” animated shorts.)