Television Man | Aidan Morgan | Feb. 10, 2022
Have you ever been sick? I don’t mean COVID-sick or having your kidney decamp for another dimension, but just a regular, flu-like suspension of comfort and concentration. Not fun.
I bring it up because I’m dizzy and discombobulated but determined to write a television column for you decent vaccinated folk. Please wave your proof of vaccination in front of the paper to read the rest. Don’t go around saying things like “Television Man is fake news” because that doesn’t even work as a sentence.
Book of Anything But Boba Fett
Hardcore Star Wars fans — the kind that have dug into the animated Clone Wars and Rebels series to supplement the movies — are probably gleeful over episodes five and six of The Book of Boba Fett (Disney+). After four hypothetically entertaining hours of watching several pages of character notes held together with a splat of nostalgia, the series decided to abandon Fett altogether on Tatooine and follow other SW characters around the galactic board. And it leaves me wondering why The Book of Boba Fett bothered to exist in the first place.
Episode five’s “Return of the Mandalorian” was exactly that: an hour of Din Djarin, a.k.a. The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal), taking bounties and hanging around as Amy Sedaris builds him a spaceship straight out of The Phantom Menace. The episode is structurally odd, dramatically negligent and features an extremely long scene with the Mandalorian limping along corridors (I timed it out. Mando limps for a total of four minutes and 32 seconds).
If episode five feels like a distraction from the main storyline of Boba Fett (although said story is extremely scant), episode six (“A Stranger Comes from the Desert”) shrugs its shoulders and goes full fan service, with narcotized renditions of Luke Skywalker (modelled by Graham Hamilton and voiced by a piece of software called The Respeecher) and Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson), as well as plenty of tiny Grogu making Jedi jumps and looking like an adorable grub slowly outgrowing his potato sack. Timothy Olyphant’s character from The Mandalorian also pops up, facing off with Clone Wars favourite villain Cad Bane.
“A Stranger” is episode five on steroids: more cameos, more references, even less attention paid to dramatic structure in favour of presenting a montage of things that aren’t precisely scenes but certainly happen. It’s a style of storytelling that Dave Filoni honed in Clone Wars, but a slack or baffling half hour is much more forgivable when it’s a bit of lore spackle in a wall of 20-plus episodes. In a live-action series with only seven episodes, it becomes clear that Favreau and Filoni neglected to flesh out a story for its titular character.
Reach Out and Punch Someone
If you’re in the market for some unchallenging but extremely well-constructed television, I suggest Reacher (Amazon Prime). Based on Lee Child’s novel Killing Floor, Reacher is eight lean episodes about a drifter named Jack Reacher (played by human statue Alan Ritchson) who wanders into a small Georgia town and finds himself tangled up in a string of murders. Aside from a few childhood flashbacks here and there, Reacher rarely strays from its thriller roots and almost never drags. It’s an ideal binge watch.