The Ewoks TV Movies
I never set out with this blog to write daily updates, but I don’t want to break the streak. Sometimes I don’t know what to write and then something randomly comes to mind that always annoyed me.
Today—the Ewoks TV movies! Do you remember those? They were belatedly added to Disney+ last year. I started to watch bits of them, then remembered why I always found them so frustrating.
By 1984, Star Wars was fading from the public’s imagination. Return of the Jedi had been a satisfying end (for kids, anyway) to a gigantic, shared cultural experience—I don’t think people appreciate what a big deal it was to find out the truth about Luke and Darth Vader. Marvel was still publishing their comic book, Kenner was making toys...but it was petering out.
George Lucas wanted to experiment in television, and make a kids’ movie for his young daughter (or so I learned from this article).
When The Ewok Adventure (later called Ewoks: Caravan of Courage) premiered on ABC on November 25, 1984—the Sunday night after Thanksgiving, I just checked—I can’t tell you how excited my brother and I were to watch it. I was 10, he was 8.
We were, however, a little suspicious. Of all the things to use as the basis for an unofficial sequel (something never made clear, by the way—is this a prequel or a sequel?)...Ewoks? Even as kids, we found the Ewoks obvious and insufferable toy-bait.
The second we heard narration by Burl Ives—a voice we recognized from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer—we were like, “Uh-oh.”
Remember how disappointed you were by The Phantom Menace? Yeah.
At least that film had dazzling VFX. The ads for The Ewok Adventure were chock full of blasters and chases and monsters—
—and I swear, it felt like that ad used every piece of VFX in the two-hour film.
Anyway, it’s not worth belaboring. It was a kids’ fantasy adventure, with just enough Star Wars elements—Warwick Davis, a Luke Skywalker clone, the sound FX, a brief piece of John Williams’ Ewok theme interpolated into Peter Bernstein’s pretty good symphonic score—to feel like a missed opportunity.
Turns out Warwick Davis (Wicket) and Eric Walker (Mace Towani) made a documentary from their behind-the-scenes footage of the production:
The next year, on the same post-Thanksgiving Sunday, ABC aired another Lucasfilm Ewok movie—this one called Ewoks: The Battle for Endor.
And this one was more like it. More action, better bad guys, a cool spaceship with laser guns, an acceptable use of Wilford Brimley—we liked it.
There was only one thing. (Spoilers!) Tell me if you notice the problem with this:
The spend the entirety of movie #1 rescuing the parents so the beloved family can be together again.
Then, in the opening scene of movie #2, the parents and the older brother are killed by the new bad guys, making the moppet Cindel an orphan who needs to run for her life.
Is George Lucas a sociopath?
We were like, dude, that’s cold.
The next year they made an Ewoks and Droids Saturday morning cartoon hour—and of course we watched that. The Ewoks half was annoying, but the Droids half at least had Anthony Daniels and more of a Star Wars flavor—and a cool Stewart Copeland theme song:
Ah, nostalgia. But even now, watching these clips, I remember how excited I was to get more Star Wars...and how disappointed I was with the kiddie stuff served up.