By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
When news of Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles (TYC) was first announced, some fans of this licensed property were particularly excited. Details were scant about whether or not this will become a TV series or a series of original video animations. After the release of “The Phantom Clone,” its direction has become all too clear. Only a handful of episodes will get made.
Sadly, after the airing of “Menace of the Sith,” the studios dispassionately released the DVD on October 15 and did not take into account when the final episode would get aired. Only two of the three videos are included and that can leave fans disappointed, hoping for a compilation release. The third episode, “Attack of the Jedi” aired on October 7th on Cartoon Network. Hopefully the next video release will include “The Padawan Menace” (TPM) and “The Empire Strikes Out” (TESO) to restore fans’ faith in the Force (i.e. studio planning). These shorts were far more brilliant and witty than TYC. Even the cut scenes from TT Games products had a beautiful tongue in cheek attitude that more or less started this craze.
The writers, directors and producers of TT Games knew how to bring guffaws to life in the muffled antics of LEGOized characters. Michael Price, the writer of The Yoda Chronicles, TPM and TESO, does not always succeed at the attempt with the dialogue he wrote. He might be losing his touch when he was commissioned to pen TYC. The silliness feels too forced or Price is just simply trying too hard to appease too many agencies.
Not every joke worked. Even poking fun at Yoda’s stilted use of English fell flat. He sounded like he had a speech impediment by the time he started stumbling over his own words. Even the self-referential parodies, namely putting lyrics to the Imperial March, felt poorly executed. Some fans will laugh but others will just have to shake their heads.
In between all this chaos that happens across all three episodes, the question of why Yoda and the Jedi Knights cannot figure out that the Chancellor is Darth Sidious will get laughed at. As anyone who has seen Mrs. Doubtfire will know, the Chancellor should get caught. He practically does and none of the characters take notice! Interestingly enough, most of the better laughs for this series are well-earned because he is the only character written perfectly. Maybe The Yoda Chronicles should be renamed What’s Up, Phantom Menace?
The voice actor Trevor Devall does a great job at providing a character voice inspired by Mark Hamill’s rendition of The Joker when he’s being Sidious. And when the Emperor has to switch back and forth in rapid order to deal with the Jedi and Sith forces at the same time, that’s when the true fun begins. He must be practicing some nasty black magic to maintain the illusion throughout this light-hearted depiction of the LEGOized Star Wars Universe. Or, Palpatine is taking lessons from Clark Kent aka Superman.
There is no hope for LEGO Star Wars to fix itself. If it does try, the creators have to return to the basics. The non-verbal slapstick comedy defined much of the humor in video games than the dialogue itself. At least LEGOs other licensed properties are faring better, like the animated Legends of Chima series. This animated product has proven itself to be quite the epic. The Thundercats must be very proud.