The spectacle of reasonably well-compensated TV critics struggling to make themselves relevant with their trenchant, telling, sharply observed takedowns of Disney’s “The Book of Boba Fett” threatens, like the sound of a sour fart at a garden party, to fatally disrupt a rather pleasant evening’s diversion.
To paraphrase Ham Salad from the immortal Lucasfilm parody “Hardware Wars”: Relax, kid, it’s just a TV show.
But are these pro-level nerds relaxed? Not a chance. There are nits to pick! And more importantly, clickbait to deploy.
“What went wrong??!” keens Decider. Heavens! IndieWire brusquely dismisses the entire series as unworthy. Over at Inverse, meanwhile, they’re attacking the show’s lumpy, Saturday-morning TV format.
The grand prize for separating pepper from fly shit with a needle, however, goes to Rolling Stone, for exhaustively subjecting the seven-episode Disney+ serial to a freshman-year film school critique that actually complains about the lack of story development in a kaiju sequence that tributes King Kong; attacks the very idea of an underground drug (the illicit “spice” that is the macguffin at the heart of the series’s gang-war stage setting) being supplanted by a some type of more wholesome local economy; and kvetches about the “man in black” gunslinger Cad Bane’s lack of character backstory …
In a word or three: Who fucking cares?
“The Book of Boba Fett” is a lively, entertaining, comic-book-style pulp adventure. Yeah, it’s lumpy and awkward. Uh huh, I was annoyed by all the Mandalorian incursions, when all I really wanted was to see more BOBA! Sure, it’s a bundle of dopey cliche … so what?
It’s “Star Wars,” people. It comes preloaded with cliche and fan service, and has been for decades. At least they didn’t have any ewoks or space ponies! The tributes to other movies in “Book of Boba Fett” — the train sequence in Ep. 2, right out of “Lawrence of Arabia,” the kaiju stuff, the spaghetti western fan service — are just icing on the cake.
The only thing Cad Bane needs to do is walk menacingly into town out of the desert and look up under the brim of his (black) hat. The rest of his story is implied, the nerds get to squabble about it, and everyone else can move on to the more more important task of cleaning up their snacks after the show’s conclusion.
That, and savor the flavor.
Temuera Morrison’s turn in the title role is great. He’s an older man who’s seen some shit, is looking to make some changes in his life, and turn over a new leaf. He’s slower and more creaky, but man can he sling a gaffi stick!
Ming-Na Wen’s “master assassin Fennec Shand” is also a treat. She’s wise, sly, and pulls out the mad ninja skillz when it counts. Sure, you want more of her. Maybe she’ll get a spinoff!
Plus! Timothy Olyphant as the quick-draw marshall! Amy Sedaris goes native with a budding Twi’lek love interest! Depth and sympathy to the Tusken Raider backstory! The Pyke Syndicate is definitely not an azn cliche, is it??! And what’s up with those incestuous Hutt twins??!
All this, and they had Rick James, capably portrayed by the inimitable Thundercat, doing disco surgery in his after-hours clinic to attach cool widgets and cyber gizmos to kids and wounded warriors alike.
Oh yeah, and they moved along the Mandalorian and Grogu storyline most intriguingly, and we got some mysterious foreshadowing with Ahsoka, the Togruta (not Twi’lek) Jedi dropout, making the scene with the de-aged Luke Skywalker …
What’s not to like, I ask you!?
Thundercat, by the way, wins the prize with the Greatest Tweet Ever, “Now that I’m Star Wars cannon, I need to be shot out of an actual cannon.”
Thundercat keeps it all in perspective. We’re here to have fun. “The Book of Boba Fett” is fun. Yeah, it’s not perfect — far from it. Yet it is also wonderful. I want to know more about these characters and where they’re going next.
“Star Wars” has taken some dismal turns in the past — certainly “Rise of Skywalker” is the worst film ever made, and I mean that unironically — but these new TV shows are unapologetic in their pulpy glee, their capable wielding of cliche, and their astute development of characters who are intriguing and worthy of fan loyalty.
I definitely would have done some things differently — but then again, I’m not in the writer’s room. I’m just a fan, relaxing after another boggling day of pandemic, climate change, robber baron capitalism and fear-mongering fascistic demagoguery.
I’ll have some more chips with my pulp escapism, please.
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