'The Mandalorian,' Season 1 - TV Review

Wikipedia refers to "The Mandalorian" as a "Space Western," while a friend made the connection to Samurai movies. That connection was formalized in film in 1960, when John Sturges brought us "The Magnificent Seven," a Western remake of the brilliant "Seven Samurai" (1954, Akira Kurosawa - a movie I consider one of the greatest films ever made).

In the Star Wars universe, "The Mandalorian" is a bounty hunter. He's played by Pedro Pascal - although we see his face only briefly in the eighth and final episode of the season - Mandalorians never remove their helmets. We find out quickly that he's making his money to support the other Mandalorians, particularly the foundlings, who live in a small enclave. The first episode leads him to ... "Baby Yoda." And if you haven't heard about Baby Yoda, you're living under a rock (although I'm not sure that's a bad idea in this case).

This series is set a few years after "Return of the Jedi," and a couple decades before "The Force Awakens." The Mandalorian is a bounty hunter with a strong moral code who ends up protecting Baby Yoda from the evil remains of the Empire. The Empire is represented in this season - to my considerable surprise - by none other than Werner Herzog ... who does "evil" with considerable ease and a significant German accent. Werner Herzog is both famous (mostly as a film director) and obscure (his old movies are German arthouse, and all of them are weird), and I think he's crazy. Then Gina Carano shows up. It gets wilder with Taika Waititi directed the last episode ... which explained the long and absurd banter between two former Empire guards at the beginning of the show. And the whole thing has Jon Favreau as the show runner, creator, and writer for six out of eight episodes.

There are endless nods to the fans: almost every Storm Trooper helmet type is represented, we visit not only Mos Eisley, but what appears to be "the" Cantina, and of course The Mandalorian himself is heavily based on Boba Fett. It being Disney and Lucasfilm, the effects are predictably very good.

I found the result to be an enjoyable if unspectacular.