When Did Star Wars Jump The Shark?

(This was previously mention by John in a tidbits post, but I think it deserves its own post.)

Jay Garmon at Geekend asks Sci-fi rant: When did Star Wars jump the shark? Now we all know that the prequel trilogy just doesn’t live up to the original three, and that Revenge of the Sith, while the best of the three, can’t unjump the shark. So when, exactly, did the Star Wars jumpage occur?

Jay’s answer is one word for you: Midi-chlorians. As lame as midi-chlorians are and as bad as all the awfulness they lead to (the ‘royal’ blood to be a Jedi, Annakin’s miracle birth), the series didn’t jump the shark here because it had already been jumped. In Return of the Jedi. You probably know where I’m going, so I’ll say just one word:

Ewoks.

That’s right, the moment Lucas decided to put merchandising above storytelling, the shark was well and truly jumped. Not only did we get cute, cuddly Ewok toys and the execrable Ewok adventure movie, we were also cheated out of seeing the Wookies kick some Empire butt during the fight to eliminate the shield generator.

Because Lucas saw $$$, the Wookies were relegated to a bit-part in Episode III, and the Ewoks took their glory, and we got the shaft. Episode VI could have been so much better without Ewoks, too bad Lucas was eying the killer fish in the water in front of him.

8 thoughts on “When Did Star Wars Jump The Shark?”

  1. I’ve never been a huge Star Wars fan. However, I watched the the first three again when the new, revised, spiffy FX versions came out on DVD a few years ago. I thought Star Wars (episode 4, I guess) was great. The Empire Strikes Back was even better. I was generally liking Return of the Jedi until….

    I can pinpoint the exact moment when the shark jumped. It’s when the Ewoks decide that C3PO is a god. The whole movie crashes down after that. (Except for the scenes between Luke, Vader, and the emperor, which are good.)

  2. The worst part of C3PO as god is that the idea of a characters head resembling something atop a totem pole was lifted from Gilligan’s Island. That’s where it breaks down for me too – he went from referencing Joseph Campbell to ripping off Bob Denver.

  3. I think the shark got jumped earlier in “Return”. Think about what happened during “Empire”. Look at the fight to try and save Han, the fight between Luke and Darth. So you go into “Return” expecting a big set-piece action sequence to get Han back. Instead we have a cheesy band, a sluggish villain, and a rescue that looks (overall) too easy.

    The “mo” got broken and they never got it back. The problem may not be so much as when the shark got jumped in “Return” but how they heck were they going to top “Empire”!

    :O

  4. I think we would have overlooked the Han rescue sequence if the remainder of the film had been better. For example, I don’t personally find the quirky Bespin hallway fight scenes in Empire to be all that inspired work, but I overlook it because the remainder of the film is so good.

    The Ewoks are a problem – I agree there. If the filmmaker isn’t taking it seriously, why should we? My son just watched that film yesterday (on DVD) and I saw the initial parts on Endor again. This is the start of the terrible – with goofy caps on Luke and Leia, a fumbling Han Solo attempting to fake out an enemy trooper, and forced fight sequence on those poor hover bikes.

  5. Is it really “jumping the shark” when the fans clamored and begged for the series to continue after RETURN OF THE JEDI?

    Isn’t the definition of “jumping the shark”, after all, a desperate attempt to keep one’s audience?

    Somehow I don’t get the impression George Lucas was in any serious worry that he was about to lose his audience around Episode IV. Hence he did not jump the shark.

  6. Interesting point, although I doubt there is a formal definition for Jumpinging the Shark! :D

    However, if one definition (as listed in the soviet encyclopedia linked above) is that the property has veered away from its original premise and won’t return – then I do submit that RotJ did exactly that. After the Ewoks, I don’t see a return to the greatness of the first 2 films. Heck, even the music changes for the worse and never recovers.

  7. maybe it’s because i’m not a die-hard scifi guy (read: phan boi), but i just don’t understand why people hate the idea of the midichlorians. given that its a sci-fi story, you would think that a non-mystical explanation of the force be more appropriate than some magical force out of a tolkien story.

    and another thing, jp, why do you hate the ewoks so much? as i’m watching episode v while writing this, it occurs to me that there had always been “cutesy/dorky” puppet-like characters even before the ewoks came along — the r2 units, droids, jawas, and yoda. *gasp* was that blasphemous to say?!?!

    and who is to say that the ewoks were solely introduced for their merchandising viability? did lucas say that? and on that note, the entire series was one big ginormous merchandising venture — remember all those kenner toys and dolls (yeah! they’re dolls!! LOL)??? i seem to recall that this very blog has articles on said toys and dolls…

    anyway, i’m one of the people who voted that the series has NOT jumped the shark — it is what it is, be it lucas’ vision or money-making scam or whatever. we, as fans, should just enjoy it for what it is.

  8. I didn’t have a problem with ewoks, i had a problem with a scene.

    I’ve always had a problem with the scene where the ewok wicket met leia. While leia was unconcious it seemed rather bizarre that wicket just waits for her to wake up.  Another strange thing would be the ewok being far from the village alone with all the threats at that time on Endor. Worst yet was them giving leia a human dress, I wonder what would have made them have her change into it. they wouldn’t have an attraction for a female human anymore then a female human would for an ewok.

    A more credible scenario would have been Leia waking up and trying to reassure wicket the ewok and taking off her helmet when a net lands on her.   The other ewoks would swarm her with the pointed spears and take her back to the village bound hand and foot to the pole.  Leia would have been taken back to the village a little earlier then Hans, Luke, R2D2 and Chewbacca who are also tied on a pole.  The pole they are on would be placed next to leia and the pole she is bound on.  They could have an entire dialogue similar to the trash compactor scene in Star wars. 

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