It’s Kind of Amazing to Wake Up to a New Episode of ‘Star Wars’
Almost every television show like The Mandalorian produces 60 minute episodes. It’s an unwritten rule of television: Comedies are 30 minutes, dramas are 60.
Not The Mandalorian. I don’t know why Lucasfilm chose to go with half-hour episodes. My assumption is the main motivator was money. Producing a television show this detailed ain’t cheap, and making eight 30-minutes episodes surely represents a significant savings from producing eight 60-minute ones. Whatever the reason, the relatively short runtime — along with the fact that each new episode premieres somewhere in the neighborhood of 3AM Eastern Time — has had one extremely positive side effect: Disney+ subscribers can start their Friday mornings with a brand-new dose of Star Wars. It’s like having a miniature Star Wars movie delivered to your home every single week.
After just three episodes, I’ve already started looking forward to their weekly arrival. I set my alarm a few minutes early on Friday mornings, and before I get dressed and pour myself a bowl of C-3PO’s, I fire up my laptop and watch the new Mandalorian. This week, I got bounty hunter wars, cool space rifles that can eavesdrop on people through walls, arcane alien armor rituals, and more Baby Yoda — all without putting on a pair of pants. That’s better than coffee; it’s like a jolt of televisual caffeine straight to the eyeballs.
The Mandalorian’s release structure is strikingly different from anything by Netflix, Disney’s primary competitor in the streaming space. With just a handful of exceptions, Netflix dumps entire seasons of their shows online all at once — and most of their dramas (and even some of their comedies) are 60-minutes long without commercials, meaning they require a major time commitment. Sometimes I talk myself out of even starting a season of a Netflix show just because they are so freaking long — both in terms of the number of episodes, and in terms of the length of each individual installment. The Mandalorian is so easy to fit into a busy schedule. I’ve rewatched episodes on a whim just because they’re so short.
While each chapter is slight, I’m beginning to like that about The Mandalorian as well — particularly when compared with the Star Wars movies of late. Each of the recent films has arrived in theaters after years of deafening, omnipresent hype. That much speculation tends to weigh down a film. Almost nothing could live up to the absurd expectations placed on these Star Wars Episodes. I think you can draw a straight line between the amount of anticipation and the amount of backlash around these movies. (Ironically, the only Friday through the end of 2019 without a new Mandalorian is Friday December 20 ... when Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters.) In contrast, when one Mandalorian ends, you know you’re just seven days from the next one. It’s like that tape from The Ring, but not pure evil.
I haven’t loved every episode of The Mandalorian; I thought the second episode was actually pretty weak. But when there’s a new episode every week, they don’t all need to be The Greatest Science-Fiction Spectacular Ever Devised By Human Hands™. For more than 40 years, Star Wars has been a franchise built around big events; it practically invented the idea of movies as events. The Mandalorian is a major break from that, in a good way. Who doesn’t love getting an atmospheric, visually dynamic Star Wars show every single week? The Mandalorian proves Star Wars doesn’t need to be an event anymore. On Disney+, it can be a routine — and an incredibly fun one at that.
Gallery — What NOT to Watch on Disney+: