May The Fifteenth Be With You: The Great Heep

James Proclaims (4)

star_wars_droids_the_great_heep_tv-765688000-large

‘The Great Heep’ is a bizarre entry into the Star Wars ‘back catalogue’. A feature length special of an already cancelled TV show, which very few people actually watched.

It would be easy enough to have viewed this as just an extended episode of the aforementioned show, which I wrote about yesterday, as it seems to take place between episodes 9 & 10 of that show.

But it was released separately from the series and it is a little different in some respects.

So maybe it deserves its own post.

Even if all I’m going to tell you is that it wasn’t worth the 50 minutes of my life that I spent watching it last night and it definitely wouldn’t be worth you watching it either.

But before we get to that, I should issue a spoiler alert.

Spoiler alert – Don’t watch this. But if you do intend to watch this and you’re worried that plot details will ruin it for you then I may reveal some of those in the ensuing text. But what little plot I could discern was largely uninspiring stuff and to be honest, it didn’t make a massive amount of sense.

You don’t really need to have seen the preceding series to be able to watch this. Which is a bonus because although the series was a perfectly acceptable 80s cartoon, it hasn’t stood the test of time and you’ve got better things to do than watch that.

But you’ve also got better things to do than watch ‘The Great Heep’. In terms of characters, obviously C3PO and R2D2 are in it, and there are also some Stormtroopers and an imperial officer called Admiral Screed, who was also in some of the episodes of the TV show, but they were set chronologically after this and in any case he didn’t do much in those and he doesn’t do much in this.

The droids’ ‘master’ is someone called Mungo Baobab and he was also in the series but only in the same episodes as Admiral Screed. And he was fairly indistinguishable from the ‘masters’ in the other episodes. Except that he had a beard.

The main baddie, and titular character, is a giant droid called ‘The Great Heep’. And he’s rubbish. He eats R2 units though, so we’re vaguely aware that R2D2 might be in some danger. But he’s not an especially interesting character.

Ultimately it’s R2D2’s girlfriend who actually gets eaten. Because R2D2 has a girlfriend in this.

‘She’ looks like this:

Kt-10

Apparently she is called KT10, but I don’t remember her ‘name’ being mentioned in the cartoon, it’s just something I found out on the internet.

I don’t think KT10 would be an acceptable addition to a cartoon these days. But this sort of thing was apparently fine in 1986.

Although, to be fair, no-one watched this, so it would’ve been hard for anyone to be offended.

Anyway she gets eaten by The Great Heep. But no-one really cares. Except R2D2. And she’s miraculously brought back to life at the end. Although it presumably doesn’t work out between her and R2D2, unless they’re in some kind of long distance relationship during the events of, y’know, Star Wars.

There are other anomalies. We see a droid listening to a walkman, for example. Which is a bit weird.

Anyway, some stuff happens. I was quite tired when I watched this so it’s possible I’m not giving it due credit but none of that stuff seemed particularly exciting. The good guys win and the bad guys lose. But given that the bad guys are ultimately the Empire, the celebrations by the good guys at the end seem a little premature, because one imagines the Empire will be back shortly to crush them.

I didn’t see this when I was the ‘target audience’. I might have quite liked it back then. But, as I missed it, it holds no nostalgia for me now and that is the only value this cartoon could hold for anyone.

Best character – C3PO

c3po

More by default than anything else. Anthony Daniels does his voice (because of course he does) which gives the whole thing a bit of Star Wars ‘authenticity’. I wouldn’t say I loved C3PO in this so much as the times he was on screen corresponded quite strongly with when I was the least bored.

Worst character – The Big Heep

heep

If you’re going to be the titular villain, you need to be either scary, or charismatic, but ‘The Big Heep’ is neither. So he’s rubbish.

Unsung Hero – KT10

Kt-10

Objectified by the other droids, having to fend off unwanted advances in a male-dominated sector and then ultimately eaten by her boss, KT10 does not have an easy time of it. And, then she’s supposed to be grateful because all the ‘male’ droids club together to save her life at the end. Frankly it’s the least they could do…

 

And that’s it for one 1980s animated Star Wars spinoff. Tune in tomorrow when I’ll be dealing with the other one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May The Fourteenth Be With You: Star Wars: Droids – The Adventures of R2-D2 and C-3PO

James Proclaims (4)

droids

I remember this cartoon from the eighties but I can’t really say I was ever that big a fan as a child.

Which is strange because I loved Star Wars and I also loved cartoons. I suppose I just didn’t find a cartoon about C3PO and R2D2 that inspiring.

But it wasn’t bad. No worse than a lot of cartoons I did like.

And I did quite like the Ewok cartoon that was made around the same time. Which wasn’t really any better.

But more of that another day.

Anyway, in the spirit of trying to write about all things ‘Star Wars’ I watched all 13 episodes of the only series of this recently.

There was a subsequent one-off special. I haven’t seen that yet. I might watch it later and write about it tomorrow. Who knows.

In a misguided attempt at humour, I’ve been issuing spoiler alerts on all my Star Wars posts. Except the one about mugs. So, for no good reason, I’m going to issue another spoiler alert now.

Spoiler alert – there is no point worrying about spoilers. This cartoon was made in 1985. It’s not the worst example of an 80s cartoon but it’s not worth watching now. You can find all the episodes on YouTube if you really want to watch it, but only someone who has decided, for no good reason, to spend the whole month writing about Star Wars would need to bother. And frankly that person needs to take a good long look at his current life choices. And make better decisions.

‘Star Wars: Droids – The Adventures of R2-D2 and C-3PO’ unsurprisingly is about the adventures of R2D2 and C3PO. I don’t know if the hyphens were necessary but I’ve never bothered with them before, so I see no reason to use them now, just because a long forgotten cartoon chose to use them.

There are other characters, but the premise is really about how, prior to the events of the original Star Wars movie, they were quite itinerant and had lots of masters.

Which seems to have been largely debunked by the prequel movies.

So these stories have no bearing on anything that happens in the movies at all.

But every four episodes or so, the cast of characters changes and the only constants are our two droid friends.

For the duration of the episodes that they are with any given master, there is generally an overarching storyline of sorts, but most of the episodes work as stand-alone stories as well. Or don’t work depending on your point of view.

Certainly the plots are all fairly forgettable and most of the characters are archetypes. It doesn’t always feel like it’s really in the Star Wars universe but there are some minor characters from the movies that pop up from time to time, like Boba Fett (who, like his appearance in the dreadful ‘Holiday Special’ is way better in cartoon form than he ever was in the movies) and IG88, (who was even less of a presence than Boba Fett in ‘The Empire Stikes Back’).

There are also a few Stormtroopers in about four episodes.

As an 80s cartoon it’s OK. Maybe it deserved a second series. But it’s also fine that it didn’t get a second series.

None of the characters are really that memorable. Anthony Daniels does the voice of C3PO, but he does the voice of C3PO in everything so it’s no guarantee of quality. His presence helps make an ordinary cartoon slightly more memorable though.

Really, though, the main ‘take home’  from this is also something that I’ve found problematic in the movies. Which is the question of whether the droids are sentient beings or not. Because they always seem to be. And if they are, then they are essentially slaves. And I don’t think I’m OK with that.

Best character – Thall Joben

thall

One of the ‘masters’ of the droids for four episodes. They’re all archetypes really and Thall is no better or worse. But he does have quite a hairstyle and for that alone, he’s the most memorable character in the whole series.

Worst character – Coby

Coby_swenc

He’s only in two episodes and only a prominent character in one, but he’s so annoying in that episode that, in a cast of largely forgettable characters, he sticks in the memory for all the wrong reasons.

Unsung hero – Kybo Ren

kybo

When you’re already a forgetable villain in a pretty forgettable cartoon, the last thing you need is to have a name that is almost the same as the main villain in a much more memorable trilogy of movies. Not that anyone would ever claim that Kybo Ren was their favourite Star Wars character, but if such a person does exisit, they’ll now find themselves being contantly challenged. “Surely you mean Kylo Ren?” I’m not the sort of person who dresses up as Star Wars characters and goes to conventions but if I ever do, I’ll definitely go as Kybo Ren. Which, given my dietry choices during lockdown, will be quite an easy look for me to pull off.

And that’s all I’ve got to say about ‘Star Wars: Droids – The Adventures of R2-D2 and C-3PO’. And some people might argue that even that is too much.

Tune in tomorrow to see if I’ve got the audacity to base another whole post around the 1986 ‘one-off special’…

 

 

Birthday Blues

James Proclaims (4)

Hello blogosphere!

Today is the 4th April and therefore it is my birthday. My birthday is on the 4th April every year and I fully anticipate maintaining this tradition for many years to come.

One of the main reasons, indeed possibly the only reason, that I went into the education profession was that the 4th April is always in the Easter holidays and so, theoretically, I would never have to work on my birthday.

This theory has been proven incorrect on three occasions since I joined the teaching ranks. Arguably the worst was a few years back when my birthday fell on a working Monday, but today was almost as bad, for today is Tuesday and once again I found myself at the metaphorical coalface of my profession. Continue reading Birthday Blues