Like most people, I’ve seen all the Star Wars movies. I’ve never had any sort of attachment towards them but have always had respect for their momentous achievements in film and fandom. Last year, when there wasn’t a pandemic and we were able to leave our house and attend events, I was lucky enough to attend a press event for the much anticipated Star Wars live-action series, The Mandalorian. I didn’t know at the time, but this serious would end up becoming my favorite off-shoot of Star Wars, mostly thanks to my newfound obsession with Baby Yoda aka The Child.

Recently, in preparation for its May 4th debut, I had the opportunity to check out the first two episodes of Disney+’s newest docu-series, DISNEY GALLERY: THE MANDALORIAN. The series features executive producer Jon Favreau who “invites the cast and crew to share an unprecedented look at the making of the series which quickly became a pop culture phenomenon after premiering in November. [The] eight-episode documentary series pulls back the curtain of the first season of The Mandalorian. Each chapter explores a different facet of the first live-action Star Wars television show through interviews, never-before-seen footage, and roundtable conversations hosted by Favreau.”

Clockwise from center: Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni, Taika Waititi, Rick Famuyiwa, Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard participate in a directors roundtable on DISNEY GALLERY: THE MANDALORIAN.

The first episode, Directing, focused on the directors involved in the first season. Situated literally at a round table, Favreau spoke with Deborah Chow, Rick Famuyiwa, Dave Filoni, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Taika Waititi about their respective episodes and working together as a team. I was impressed with what each director brought to the table but I have to give up to Dave Filoni. I didn’t know much about him prior to The Mandalorian, but to say that man is a fountain of Star Wars knowledge would be an understatement. That said, it was enjoyable to hear how each director’s background helped with how they approached their episode. Whether it was Filoni’s background in animation, Chow’s love for sci-fi/fantasy/action films, Famuyiwa’s appreciation for misfit characters, Howard’s understanding of actor’s needs, or Waititi finding his passion for art through filmmaking, each of their backgrounds helped in amplifying how they brought the overall story of The Mandalorian to life.

The second episode, Legacy, dived more into the legacy of what George Lucas created with the Star Wars Universe. As someone who doesn’t have a vast knowledge of anything Star Wars, I found this episode to be extremely beneficial in helping me understand this vast universe. Participating in this talk were visual effects artists John Knoll and Hal Hickel, producer and President of Lucas Films Kathleen Kennedy, and more. During their roundtable discussion, again spearheaded by Favreau, they discussed everything from the innovative technology used by Lucas as well as making sure that the stories involved a sense of hopefulness. This tied into what was so meaningful for Lucas as his power of storytelling is what makes the Star Wars films so important to so many people.

Pedro Pascal on the set of THE MANDALORIAN.

If you’re wondering if each episode is just 30 minutes of talking heads, have no fear! Interspersed throughout each episode are clips and behind-the-scenes footage from The Mandalorian. We also get brief interviews and soundbites from the cast as well as more behind-the-scenes footage of George Lucas on the set of Star Wars. It was enlightening to see the cast talk about the importance of Star Wars and how it shaped them as not only kids but also as actors. My partner and I enjoyed listening to Carl Weathers talk about how Star Wars impacted his life and how much it meant for him to be working on The Mandalorian. At one point, my partner turned to me and said, “I would watch a whole season of Carl Weathers just talking about important life lessons.” I bring that up because each actor showcases a genuine love and affinity to what George Lucas has created and it’s easy to see the excitement in their eyes over being part of a new generation of Star Wars content.

In all, DISNEY GALLERY: THE MANDALORIAN is an informative docu-series that will interest both die-hard Star Wars fan as well as those who are just learning to have an appreciation for the universe George Lucas created. I could have definitely used more Baby Yoda footage but that’s because I’m obsessed – though I truly hope there’s an episode that features Jon Favreau and five variations of Baby Yoda all discussing the importance of The Mandalorian. With six other episodes left, who knows, my dreams may come true! Episode 1, Directing, is now available to stream on Disney+ with Episode 2, Legacy, dropping on May 8th at 12:01am.

Shannon McGrew
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