When it was announced that Disney had acquired LucasFilm with George Lucas’ blessing for a tidy sum, it seemed an interesting development. Lucas’ sound and special effects shops alone made the company very valuable and the current t.v. animation and games for Star Wars certainly presented Disney with a lot of opportunities. When Disney announced that they would indeed be making the final trilogy of Star Wars movies, set later on after the success of the rebellion plot-wise — movies that Lucas had planned out long ago, but then decided would never be filmed — there was a resounding cheer. After watching Lucas butcher his original series, albeit with great financial success, with the prequel trilogy, most Star Wars fans were happy to have the franchise in somebody else’s hands. And the sequel trilogy could go any number of places rather than be bogged down by the past mythology like the prequels, building on the groundwork laid out in the carefully coordinated tie-in novels or not, as needed. So while some were a bit uneasy about what the House of the Mouse might do to the franchise, overall the reaction was positive.
Then Disney announced that producer/director J.J. Abrams would be directing the new Star Wars movie, and I was a lot less happy. I have utterly nothing against Abrams, who has done a lot of interesting work on his own as a director/writer and also produced/mentored a whole lot more of new, young talent, particularly in the SFFH field, in both television and movies. He breathed some new life into the Mission Impossible franchise and handled the reboot of Star Trek with masterly aplomb, the newest installment for which is coming out this summer. But that’s the point. Star Wars and Star Trek are not only the two biggest sci-fi entertainment franchises, they are the biggest world franchises ever. A director, especially one who writes and produces, often simultaneously, leaves a distinctive imprint on his or her work. Having both major franchises have the same imprint, at around the same time no less, leads inevitably to a blanding out of creative craft and larger obstacles for new talent to come to the fore. If Abrams had wanted to be involved with Star Wars, then as a producer with a stable of hotshot directors on hand, he could have produced and brought one of them in to direct. (Which would certainly be in the Lucas tradition.) Instead, we’ve essentially had the reins of pop culture handed over to one guy, because Hollywood seems to be under the impression that only about five people at a time should be the big guns. (For instance, Jeremy Renner — love him, can understand why they like using him, but seriously, are there no other male actors to headline in major action franchises anymore? Don’t be surprised if he pops up in Star Wars and Star Trek now too. )
However, at least I think Abrams is good at his jobs and there is the prospect of the new movies, going off in new directions. And then it was just announced that Disney will do “spin-off” movies about young Han Solo, young Boba Fett, maybe a Yoda movie. No doubt some folk will really like this idea and it’s understandable that Disney wants to milk every aspect and keep the sales of Yoda dolls up, but for me, it’s just retreading water. I will probably enjoy the new Star Wars movie, but I am a good bit less enthused about the whole thing now.
Speaking of Abrams, though, Josh Holloway, who played conman Sawyer on Abrams’ co-originated t.v. show Lost, was on that show at one point playing a cop version of Sawyer in an alternate reality that turned out to be relevant for the end of the highly mythologized show. His playing the cop version of the character was so popular that people wished there could be some sort of spin off of it. Well, Holloway is coming back to television in a new show, and while he’s not playing a cop, he is playing an intelligence operative, which is basically a spy cop. The show, Intelligence, is about a special cyber unit, and Holloway will play an agent who has been implanted with a microchip that allows him access to the whole electromagnetic spectrum. So basically science hokum, but what they will do with it should be fun. Oddly or maybe not so oddly these days, ABC Studios (owned by Disney) is producing the show but it will air on CBS.
And speaking of cops, the most excellent Andre Braugher has survived the knew-from-the-start-it-was-going-to-tank submarine treason conspiracy series Last Resort‘s cancellation to land on a sitcom pilot which is potentially the new vehicle for SNL comedian Andy Samberg. The untitled comedy is being considered by Fox and essentially rechannels the great 1970’s show Barney Miller, focusing on a division of cops. Braugher will play the precinct’s no-nonsense captain. If the show gets on, expect a lot of inside jokes about Homicide, on which Braugher so brilliantly performed as police detective Frank Pembleton. (And speaking of Barney Miller, its star Hal Linden, now about 82 years old, did a wonderful guest spot on Supernatural as a rabbi mage who fought Nazis. It was lovely to see him. He also popped up on The Mindy Project recently. Everything is connected!)