The Ewoks Spin-offs
George Lucas has found many shameful ways to exploit the Star Wars brand, but a definite low point was reached with the 1984 TV movie An Ewok Adventure, which is also known as Caravan of Courage. The Ewoks movie was an early indicator of everything fans would eventually come to hate about Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menance: The cutesy characters, questionable F/X, childlike tone and ridiculous story - Caravan of Courage has it all.
That first Ewoks TV movie gave rise to a second in 1985, entitled The Battle for Endor. It's a little less painful, but still shameful enough to never mention in conjunction with the Star Wars Saga. One funny little production note: Battle for Endor's production designer was none other than Joe Johnston, director of the upcoming Captain America movie. Just try not to shudder about that.
The worst part about it: as bad as the Ewok movies were, they still weren't enough to prevent the coming of Ewoks, an animated show about the cute little fuzz balls from Endor, which ran for two seasons from 1985-1986.
If you young geeks only know of Clone Wars and think that animated spinoff is the greatest thing since Luke dueled Vader, then thank the eternal sunshine of your spotless mind you never had to suffer through the Ewoks experience.
The Star Wars Prequels
All this talk about Ewoks brings us to the ultimate closeted shame of the geek universe: The Star Wars prequels. Though the last prequel movie was only released five years ago, the denial about these films is only now starting to crack, thanks in part to internet sensations like Red Letter Media, who have made small documentaries out of analyzing everything that is wrong about the Star Wars prequels.
Fan excitement was through the roof back in 1999 when Episode I: The Phantom Menance was about to hit theaters. The only time I ever skipped school in my life was to purchase tickets for the film, and countless people have already heard me recount the night my friends and I risked our very lives driving like madmen to the theater for Episode I's premiere. Faced with that kind of anticipation, is it any wonder so many of us were in such deep denial by the time the end credits rolled?
I remember my remaining weeks of high school not because of proms, or tests, or college acceptance letters - what I remember most was skipping classes with dozens of other seniors, sitting outside on the central lawn where we argued Phantom Menance from as many "intellectual angles" as we could think of. We worked so hard to see deeper meaning in a clearly crappy film; we simply could not accept that the movie was an epic FAIL.
Of course our devotion began to wane when Episode II: Attack of the Clones came out in 2002. By then I was well into college and the combination of girls, academics and constant intoxication had opened my perceptions. Attack of the Clones sucked, and it was impossible to deny it. When Episode III: Revenge of the Sith finally came around in 2005, like a cult bent on mass suicide, a lot of us were just ready to end it all.
With the closure brought by Episode III, the long road toward healing began. Every parent from now until forever will have a new moral question to wrestle with: do I expose my child to the entire Star Wars Saga, or just the original trilogy? Parents, I do not envy your dilemma - sometimes it is truly hard to know what is best for a child.
For the rest of us Star Wars fans, the last five years following Episode III's debut in theaters has been wholly dedicated to erasing the stain of the prequels from our brains. Thanks to mutual agreement by the worldwide masses, you hear the name "Jar Jar Binks" less and less these days; young children grow up never having the burden of knowing who Qui-Gon Jinn is; and the story of Darth Vader's origin is kept alive in the fantastic imaginations of youngsters.
And, with continued discipline, Star Wars will forever be preserved the way it should be: in its purest form, with best foot forward, in celebration of its achievements, rather than lament over its failures.
So that's it, our Pandora's Box of the movies and TV shows that geeks pretend don't exist. How did you like our list? Is there anything on there that you proudly acknowledge? Anything that you think we missed?
Episode I Mashup Image: Nerdvana