Recycle Bin, Writing

Recycle Bin: Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi (I)

July 13th, 2009 by Jeff | Dump Core

For this edition of the Recycle Bin, I’m throwing out one of many, many Star Wars related ideas I’ve had over the years. Star Wars has always been a major influence on me, ever since it was released on my third birthday back in 1977. From the childish stick-figure doodles I drew back in elementary school to the premises I’ll be sharing with you here, I like many others have taken George Lucas’ space opera epic as my own and expanded it with my own ideas. I’ll just never get paid for my contribution, so I might as well throw it out here and hope I’ll never get sued. 😉

Actually, this is (at least) a two-part entry, mostly because there was an original premise that eventually morphed into something else. This time, I’ll introduce the original version; sometime later (probably the next update) I’ll include the “final” version into which this one eventually evolved.

This edition of the RB is even less polished that last time’s Powerpuff Girls idea. (I still can’t believe I posted that.) It mostly consists of the central premise, onto which would be tacked various specific stories that would be developed later. Ideally, it would take the form of a live action television drama with hour-long episodes, some of which may consist of multiple parts. This idea is actually pretty old (within my own personal time line, that is) and probably predates Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Of course, many of the ideas it may have presented would likely already be covered by much of the “Expanded Universe” material orbiting George Lucas’ films, but it could also have served as a vehicle to bring some of those items to television as episodes of the show.

And yes, I am aware of the Dark Horse Comics series Tales of the Jedi. The choice of my working title is an unfortunate coincidence and may or may not have preceded that series, but since I’ll never be able to do anything with my version anyway, it’s not very important in the long run.

Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi

One-Line Synopsis

A live-action, hour-long anthology series chronicling the history of the Jedi Order and its battles to protect the Galactic Republic (and its preceding organizations) from the machinations of the Sith.

Characters/Extended Synopsis

As an anthology series, the principle characters of any given episode’s story would change from week to week. However, each episode would have had a framing element set in the years after Episode VI: Return of the Jedi in which an aging Luke Skywalker (ideally played by Mark Hamill himself), founder of the resurrected Jedi Order, teaches his students object lessons relevant to their studies through adventures and legends taken from the recently rediscovered Jedi archives. Each episode would begin with one of his pupils encountering a problem, to which Skywalker would relate a tale from the archives that the viewer would see as a flashback. The episode would conclude with the student drawing a moral from the story and applying it to the problem at hand. Of course, to add variety, things could always be mixed up to let the pupils share stories with each other, showing that they too learn and grow from their experiences (and to potentially give Mr. Hamill the occasional vacation).

Unfortunately, besides Skywalker himself, no other characters were developed. There were a few unnamed padawans of various ages, genders, and species, but they mostly existed to run into trouble until Luke helped talk them out of it. As such, the “characters” in my head were largely unformed, nebulous, and completely interchangeable. As a tip of the hat to other “Expanded Universe” material, any of Skywalker’s pupils from the post-Return material could have been substituted, of course. I didn’t plan to include any other characters from the original films, although ageless characters such as R2-D2 and C-3PO could have been added fairly easily.

All of the stories would be set far into the Jedi Order’s past, probably at least a thousand years before the events of Phantom Menace. (This time frame stems primarily from the statement in Phantom Menace that the Sith had not been seen for a thousand years.) This would provide significant freedom to explore many new characters, locations, and themes not dealt with in the theatrical films without having to worry too much about conflicting with the established canon and story arc. However, this would also be the series’ Achilles’ heel; without a set time frame or the film references to draw on, the series’ designers would be forced to “devolve” the civilizations and technologies of the films to earlier times, much like they did while producing the prequels, but on a much more limited television budget. This would be compounded by the fact that the setting would change from story to story, meaning that the likelihood of reusing sets, costumes, and 3D models as cost-cutting measures would be pretty much nullified.

The more I thought about this idea, the more I realized how much of a problem this would become. True, some locations like the Jedi Temple could be realistically reused even over a supposed time frame of thousands of years, but it just became far too daunting to prove feasible.  (Mind you, that’s not really a problem for a writer, who can help his readers imagine any time or place with a few choice words. That said, even as unrealistic as it may be, I envisioned this as a TV show and tried to approach it with that mentality.) Add to this the fact that I’ve found I’m not that great at writing anthology fiction. I’ve discovered through GPF that I’m much more drawn toward long-form story telling, where I can spend time developing characters, stories, and themes.

As I swapped in the occasional non-GPF processor cycles on this idea, I began to realize that the anthology angle wasn’t going to work for me. A single, solitary story began to emerge focusing on a core set of characters in a fixed time frame, and the more I tried to expand upon the anthology concept, the more it became lost next to the fledgling monolithic saga. Eventually, I decided to give into the change in focus and abandoned the anthology altogether. Next time, I’ll share with you at least part of the larger Star Wars idea; because of the depth involved, it may actually require multiple updates!

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