‘Disney Gallery’ Look at ‘Mandalorian’ Season 2 Bowing on Disney+ Dec. 25

The Disney+ series “Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian” will take a look behind the scenes of the second season of the popular “Star Wars” series in an hourlong special debuting on the streaming service Dec. 25.

The second season of “The Mandalorian,” which concludes Dec. 18, has featured the return of several fan favorite “Star Wars” characters, from bounty hunter Boba Fett to former Jedi Ahsoka Tano.

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The new installment of “Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian” showcases filmmakers and cast providing unprecedented access to the storytelling decisions and innovations that went into the second season of the Emmy Award-winning series.

Featuring immersive on-set footage that places viewers right in the middle of the filmmaking process, and rare insights from the cast and crew, this special documentary explores the production of all 8 episodes in season two — from early concept art through the groundbreaking technology introduced in the series.

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“Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian” explored the making of the first season in eight episodes earlier in 2020.

‘Star Wars’ Dominates Parrot’s Demand Expressions Chart

The annual “May the 4th Be With You” marketing event also known as Star Wars Day helped two of the franchise’s spinoffs dominate Parrot Analytics’ weekly list of the most in-demand digital original television shows the week ended May 9.

The Disney+ animated series “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” not only remained No. 1 on Parrot Analytics’ digital originals rankings for a third-consecutive week, it stayed atop the data firm’s overall list of TV series from any platform for a second week.

And the live-action series “The Mandalorian” climbed a spot to No. 2 on the digital originals list following a number of developments surrounding the upcoming second season of the series.

A “digital original” is Parrot’s term for a multi-episode series in which the most recent season was first made available on a streaming platform such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu or Disney+.

The seventh and final season of “The Clone Wars,” available exclusively on Disney+, finished its run with a couple of the most-talked about episodes in the series’ history as the show chronicled how popular character Ahsoka Tano dealt with Order 66, the command to wipe out the Jedi seen in Revenge of the Sith. With the finale debuting on May 4 to coincide with Star Wars Day, “Clone Wars” registered a massive 139.9 million average daily Demand Expressions, the proprietary metric used by Parrot Analytics to measure global demand for TV content, up 43.7% from the previous week.

“The Mandalorian” was up 25.2% in expressions to 62.3 million after receiving its own May the 4th boost from a couple of sources. First, Disney+ premiered a new documentary series called “Disney Gallery: Star Wars — The Mandalorian” to chronicle the making of the first season, with the first two of eight episodes available May 4 and 8, respectively. Also May 4, director Robert Rodriguez tweeted a picture of himself with the famous “Baby Yoda” puppet (officially known as The Child) to confirm he was directing a season two episode. Then on May 8 reports began swirling that actor Temuera Morrison, who played bounty hunter Jango Fett and the clone troopers in the prequel movies, would be playing fan-favorite bounty hunter Boba Fett on “The Mandalorian.”

The prequels established Boba was cloned from Jango to be raised as his son as payment for Jango serving as the template for the clone army, and Morrison previously voiced Boba while re-recording dialogue for the DVD special edition of The Empire Strikes Back. Boba Fett supposedly died in Return of the Jedi, but the notion that he survived has been a part of expanded “Star Wars” fiction in comic books and novels since shortly after that movie came out in 1983. There is some speculation that Morrison could also be playing Rex, a former clone trooper who abandoned the rising Empire during Order 66 (as depicted on “Clone Wars”) and is a close associate of Ahsoka (who was previously reported to be appearing on “The Mandalorian” to be played by Rosario Dawson).

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Netflix’s “Stranger Things” dropped to No. 3 on the digital originals chart, down 1.5% from the previous week to 57.9 million expressions.

Holding steady at No. 4 was the Netflix crime drama “Money Heist,” known internationally as “La Casa de Papel,” with expressions down 9.1% to 44.3 million.

The superhero series “Titans,” a chart mainstay from the DC Universe streaming service, ticked up a spot to take No. 5 for the week with 41 million expressions, up 1.2% from the previous week.

Another DC Universe series, the animated “Harley Quinn,” rose six spots to No. 6, with expressions up 15.6% to 37.7 million. The show is in the midst of its second season and its first season was recently announced for a June 2 DVD release.

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The Demand Expressions metric draws from a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

Media Play News has teamed with Parrot Analytics to provide readers with a weekly top 10 of the most popular digital original TV series in the United States, based on the firm’s  proprietary metric called Demand Expressions, which measures global demand for TV content through a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

The Future of ‘Star Wars’ Storytelling Is Clear

The week of “May the 4th Be With You” has been a banner one for Dave Filoni, the longtime animation veteran who is now one of the leading creatives of “Star Wars” content over at Lucasfilm.

Monday, May 4, marked the triumphant finale of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” the CG-animated series executive produced by Filoni that was given a chance by Disney+ to finish storylines that were abandoned after Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012 and canceled the series.

Filoni later went on to earn praise from “Star Wars” fans for producing the likes of “Star Wars Rebels” and “The Mandalorian,” the latter alongside noted fanboy filmmaker Jon Favreau.

Having worked with George Lucas since before “Clone Wars” debuted in 2008, Filoni is something of a creative bridge between the Lucas and Disney eras of “Star Wars.”

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In the first episode of the new Disney+ behind-the-scenes series “Disney Gallery: Star Wars — The Mandalorian,” which premiered May 4, Filoni talked about learning about live-action filmmaking from Lucas and applying those ideas to animation. All he expected from his initial meeting about doing a “Clone Wars” show was a story he could tell in line at Revenge of the Sith about being in a room as George Lucas ruminated to him about the zen philosophies of the Jedi. Filoni ended up getting the job, implying it had something to do with Lucas enjoying his work on “Avatar: The Last Airbender.”

Yet when it came time to craft the sequels to Lucas’ films, the new regime turned to J.J. Abrams, not Favreau or Filoni. The new films have mostly divided fan loyalties over the creative direction of a franchise that seems to be in serious need of a producer along the lines of Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige who can oversee the coherence of the shared universe, an element that was noticeably absent from the recent sequel trilogy.

In the second episode of “Disney Gallery” that premiered today (May 8), Filoni delivers a soliloquy that should cement his status as the person who should fill that role. In it, he analyzes a key plot point from 1999’s Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace from an angle many fans may not have approached it from before.

The “Disney Gallery” series features Favreu, Filoni and other filmmakers involved with the show and “Star Wars” engaged in a series of roundtable discussions about their approach to the material. At one point, the discussion turned to the nature of storytelling in the “Star Wars” universe.

“The prequels I thought were almost an impossible task,” Filoni says. “How do you tell the story that we’ve all grown up with, imagining who Anakin Skywalker was? You saw so many things in The Phantom Menace that you had just imagined, like the Jedi Council, and none of it really was what I had expected, but I know now that’s just like how creative George is, he just sees it differently.”

Filoni focuses on the climactic battle between Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi, with Darth Maul, an agent of chaos working for the Sith Lord who would eventually become Emperor Palpatine.

“I love the lightsaber fight with Darth Maul, not because it’s a lightsaber fight, but because George is so good at crafting why that fight’s important,” Filoni says. “In Phantom Menace, you’re watching these two Jedi in their prime fight this evil villain. Maul couldn’t be more obviously the villain, he’s designed to look evil.”

Filoni compares the emotional stakes of the battle with that of the fight between the older Obi-Wan and Darth Vader in the 1977 original movie before continuing.

“What’s at stake is really how Anakin’s going to turn out,” Filoni says. “Because Qui-Gon is different from the rest of the Jedi. You get that in the movie, and Qui-Gon is fighting because he knows he’s the father that Anakin needs, because Qui-Gon hasn’t given up on the fact that the Jedi are supposed to actually care and love, and that’s not a bad thing. The rest of the Jedi are so detached, and have become so political that they’ve really lost their way, and Yoda starts to see that in the second film. But Qui-Gon is ahead of them all. That’s why he’s not part of the Council.”

Filoni then references “Duel of the Fates,” composer John Williams’ signature track written for Episode I.

“So he’s fighting for Anakin, and that’s why it’s the ‘Duel of the Fates,’ it’s the fate of this child. And depending on how this fight goes, Anakin is going to, his life is going to be dramatically different. So, Qui-Gon loses, of course. … He knew what it meant to take this kid away from his mother, when he had an attachment, and he’s left with Obi-Wan.

“Obi-Wan trains Anakin at first out of a promise he makes to Qui-Gon, not because he cares about him.”

Filoni points out that when Obi-Wan first hears about Anakin, he considers him a distraction in the same vein as Jar-Jar Binks, and thinks trying to save the boy from slavery is a waste of time. In that sense, Obi-Wan shares the detachment from empathy that Qui-Gon worries has engulfed the Jedi Order.

“So he’s a brother to Anakin, eventually, but he’s not a father figure,” Filoni says. “That’s a failing for Anakin. He doesn’t have the family that he needs. He loses his mother in the next film. He fails on this promise that he made, ‘mother I will come back and save you.’ So he’s left completely vulnerable. And ‘Star Wars’ ultimately is about family.

“It’s everything the entire three films of the prequels hangs on, is that one particular fight.”

At that point, Maul’s role in the story has been fulfilled as disposable tool of the Emperor, who then turns his attentions to Anakin, eventually manipulating Anakin’s sense of loss to turn him into the evil Darth Vader by filling the fatherly void in Anakin’s life.

Filoni then turns to 1983’s Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, and the scene where Luke is tempted to join the dark side by killing the Emperor out of anger.

“The only thing that’s going to save Luke is not his connection to the Force, it’s not the powers he’s learned. It’s not all these things that are an advantage to him,” Filoni says. “That’s gotten him to the table. But what saves Luke is his ability to look at all that, and look at his father and say no, I’m going to throw away this weapon, I’m not going to do that, I’m going to let that go and be selfless. And he says ‘I’m a Jedi like my father before me,’ but what he’s really saying and why we connect, why I connect so powerfully to it is he’s saying ‘I love my father, and there’s nothing you can do that’s going to change that.’ And the Emperor can’t understand that connection. Why wouldn’t you take from the power of the galaxy? Why won’t you take this?

“And Anakin, in that moment, has to decide to be the father that he’s never had. He has to give up all the power in the galaxy and save his son. And that’s the selfless act that he does in return for his son. And that’s what saves him in turn. So the son saves the father, the father saves the son and it works out perfectly, and I draw that line all the way from The Phantom Menace to Jedi. That’s the story of ‘Star Wars.’”

The example, Filoni says, is emblematic of the core values that all “Star Wars” stories should strive for.

“It’s all part of the fated arc. It’s all part of why it works and why we care,” Filoni says. “It’s not about X-Wings. It’s not about all these things we decorate ‘Star Wars’ in. It’s important, it’s part of the genius of it, but we soulfully react to it. We don’t just want an action movie, we want to feel uplifted. And ‘Star Wars’ is an adventure that makes you feel good, you know?

“That’s what I always go back to with ‘Star Wars’ is this selfless act, this family dynamic, which is so important to George, so important to the foundation of ‘Star Wars.’”

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The ultimate lesson, Filoni says, is one he learned directly from Lucas.

“Remember to make these stories hopeful,” Filoni says, channeling his mentor’s words. “Remember to give that to kids because they really need it.”

After that kind of insightful analysis, is there any doubt that Filoni isn’t the true heir to the creative legacy of “Star Wars”?