What Andor Gets Right That Other Star Wars Shows Got Wrong

One of the biggest, bold things Disney did after buying Lucasfilm was to expand the scope of the "Star Wars" franchise beyond the Skywalker saga. That kicked off in earnest with 2016's "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," a movie that managed to turn a few lines of text from the opening crawl of "A New Hope" into a $1 billion hit — and arguably one of the best "Star Wars" movies ever made. At the very least, it's certainly one of the most beloved of the Disney era. Now, we're getting to revisit that corner of the universe with "Andor," the latest live-action "Star Wars" show on Disney+, which just dropped its three-episode premiere.

As the title implies, the show centers on Diego Luna's Cassian Andor, a member of the Rebellion who is at the center of "Rogue One." This show picks up with him years before he meets his demise in that film and shows us how he got involved in the Rebellion in the first place. It has already been picked up for two seasons and those two seasons will take us right up to the events of "Rogue One." There is a plan in place, and as a fan, it feels as though Lucasfilm is not just flying by the seat of its pants on this one. This show feels different in a profound and very positive way: It actually feels like a show, and is making good use of this particular medium of storytelling.

Not all Star Wars should be on TV

Some of the best "Star Wars" we've ever had has been on TV. While "The Mandalorian" is surely included in that, I am also talking about animation, such as "Star Wars Rebels." But Disney has doubled down on TV in this franchise following the sequel trilogy and, in some cases, that hasn't made a lot of sense or produced ideal results.

"The Book of Boba Fett" and "Obi-Wan Kenobi" have their fans, but in my humble opinion, these shows were done a disservice by the medium and probably would have been better off as movies. Both of those shows were originally going to be movies at various points. Unfortunately, the relative failure of "Solo: A Star Wars Story" at the box office made Lucasfilm back off a bit and rethink its strategy with spin-off films. So those projects became shows instead, largely due to the fact that "The Mandalorian" did so well on Disney+, paving a new path for "Star Wars" to traverse.

But just because something can be a show doesn't mean it should be. More doesn't equal better. You could feel the story being stretched at points in "Obi-Wan Kenobi," and perhaps just as importantly, the budget, as well. Having to stretch those dollars over more hours did that show a big disservice. It deserved to feel cinematic. Deborah Chow could have directed the hell out of a movie that reunited Ewan McGregor's Obi-Wan and Hayden Christensen's Darth Vader. The show had outstanding moments, but was largely a five-hour movie carved up into episodes that weren't really episodes — they were just breaking points that only kind of/sort of worked.

Similarly, "The Book of Boba Fett" felt as though it might have been served better as a more concise, cinematic story. Having to tell a longer story and get clever with the budget hurt the project in the long run. Neither of these series, in my humble "Star Wars"-loving opinion, benefited from being a show rather than being a movie. That's the key.

This is the way

Let me be crystal clear: I love "Star Wars," and more to the point, I love to love "Star Wars." I am not cynical by nature. So I take no joy in saying any of these shows left me feeling a bit empty. Thankfully, "Andor" doesn't suffer from that same pitfall. This is a show that truly feels as though it was always meant to be a show, and actually benefits from episodic storytelling. Also, not for nothing, it looks absolutely incredible, and, for whatever reason, doesn't (at least through the first few episodes) suffer some of the visual setbacks of "Obi-Wan" or "Boba Fett." It's stunning, and doesn't feel like a movie being carved up for parts to benefit a streaming service.

Some people have run up against the first two episodes of this show being a bit slow. Again, I can only speak to my personal feelings and say that I didn't have that issue. Even so, a great many wonderful shows get off to somewhat slow starts. What Tony Gilroy and the rest of the crew have done here is make a "Star Wars" show that is tailored to the medium and benefits from being able to spend time with these characters and living in the world. It doesn't feel like character stuff being injected into the story to fill time. There is a gigantic difference.

The point is, some "Star Wars" stories are going to make sense on TV and some aren't. Some should definitely be a movie, or perhaps nothing at all. It delights me to say that "Andor" would only be hampered by a constricted, two-hour runtime and that Lucasfilm made the right call in this case. My sincere hope is that, in the future, more of this franchise on the small screen feels this way as well, and other stories don't get forced onto Disney+ merely because that's what the corporate overlords want.

"Andor" is now streaming on Disney+.