- "For two years, we had three series, Droids, Ewoks and the second season of Ewoks, that were really superior efforts as far as what's out there on television. Each one of the Ewoks episodes had the quality in artwork that went into it, and production values that you usually only see when you have a primetime special. And it was a very good effort from everybody. I'm sorry we won't be back, but we're looking ahead—onward and upward."
- ―Ewoks story editor Paul Dini in 1988
Star Wars: Ewoks is an animated television series set in the Star Wars galaxy. It follows the adventures of the Ewoks of Bright Tree Village prior to the Battle of Endor. The primary recurring villains are Morag the Tulgah Witch and the Ewoks' rival species the Duloks.
Produced by Nelvana on behalf of Lucasfilm, Ewoks was broadcast on ABC from 1985 to 1986. The first season was advertised as simply Ewoks, and was aired as part of the Ewoks and Droids Adventure Hour. The second season was advertised as The All New Ewoks.
During production of The Star Wars Holiday Special in 1978, director David Acomba showed George Lucas a recent film made by Clive A. Smith's animation company Nelvana. This convinced Lucas to hire the company to produce the animated segment for that film. Lucas was pleased with their work, and in 1984, he again hired them to work on the two animated series he was developing, Droids and Ewoks. These two subjects were chosen because they would appeal to young audiences and because, as the future of the film franchise was uncertain, they would be the least likely characters to conflict with the stories of the feature films. With these two shows, Lucas (who served as executive producer) hoped to raise the standards for Saturday morning animation; he wanted the animation and voice acting to be better than the average animated series of the time. Pre-production began in May of 1984. During this time Lucas met with the two series' producers, directors and writers, who collaborated on story ideas. The stories were often inspired by The Lord of the Rings, Pogo and the Uncle Scrooge stories. Lucas laid out his basic ideas for the series, but wasn't involved with day-to-day matters. As the episodes were being worked on, rough cuts were screened for him. The series were under strict broadcast standards, and there were limitations as to what could be shown or dealt with in the episodes. ABC's Standards and Practices Board issued a series of restrictions on the shows:
- Blasters must not look like guns
- Fires can only be started by magical creatures
- Physical contact must never include punching and hitting, just pushing and shoving
- Never strike a character on the head
- Always have characters wear seat belts in a landspeeder
Writer Paul Dini commented on this in a 2004 interview: "...we were dealing with a regime at the network that just wanted safe children's programming. Every time we wanted to stretch it a little bit, they would kick up a fuss over it"; ABC rejected an episode Dini had written called "The Starman" because it was "too Star Warsy".
The Korean company Hanho Heung-Up struggled with the show's designs, which often encompassed up to 24,000 cels per episode. As a result, Clive Smith moved to Korea for eight months in order to assist the company. Smith estimated that each hour-long pair of Droids and Ewoks episodes cost approximately $500,000 to $600,000 to produce. He later commented on the production: "Ewoks wasn't as problematic because you could get away with more animal characters. Droids had many recognizable humanoid characters which are much harder to do and make look right". Layout artist Brian Lemay had a different take: "The Droids show was much more challenging as it had far more locations and they required perspective drawing which I really enjoy (a lot more than drawing trees, that's for sure). [...] The main difference was the lack of trees in Droids. [...] I guess the other key difference was the lack of emotion in the characters in the Droids series. They always seemed to have the same emotion on their faces where as with the Ewoks they had lots of emotion, happy, sad, surprised, angry, the whole range." During production, the American animation team would often play games during down time, and would regularly play practical jokes on each other.
Denny Delk, who voiced Wicket in the second season, commented on the actors' recording schedule: "We usually completed a story in about an hour and a half, unless there was something especially tricky. We'd do two or three stories in a day, and record every week or so." The series had two different opening sequences, one for each season. The first season's opening featured a song written and performed by the American blues musician Taj Mahal, while the second season opening featured a different song in which the Ewoks sing a song about friendship. The show's "new wave" score was created by Patricia Cullen and David Shaw.
The first season of Ewoks debuted on September 7, 1985 and ran for 13 episodes. For the second season, ABC made a number of changes to the series to "lighten up" the show. Rather than full 22-minute episodes as had been the first season, much of season two consisted of pairs of 11-minute episodes which were aired together in the same timeslot.
In the mid 1990s, beginning in 1994, the US Sci-Fi Channel ran episodes of the series, along with those of its counterpart, Star Wars: Droids, on its "Cartoon Quest" and "Animation Station" blocks of programming.
Prior to the debut of the series, Joe Johnston wrote and illustrated an Ewok storybook titled The Adventures of Teebo, which formed the basis of the show. Among other things the book introduced the Duloks (who were originally much nastier than the bumbling Duloks in the TV series). In 1984, Random House began publishing a series of children's books with the subtitle "An Ewok Adventure", which were meant to tie in to both the series and Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure.
In 1985, Kenner produced a toy line based on the series, including action figures, ship models, and other items. In 1986, Star Comics, an imprint of Marvel Comics, published a bi-monthly Ewoks comic, which was based on the animated series. The comic ran for two years, ending with issue #14. Like the TV series, this was aimed towards a younger audience. It was produced along with the Droids comic, which was based on the Droids animated series. Issue #10 of Marvel Ewoks was a cross-over with Star Wars Droids 4: Lost in Time. An LP record and a cassette featuring music from the show were released in France.
The series received its first home video release in 1990 when J2 Communications released The Star Wars Trilogy Animated Collection. The collection consisted of three VHS tapes; one tape contained one episode, while the other two tapes contained two episodes each—with one of those repeating the episode from the single-episode tape. Each tape began with a Star Wars Animated Classics trailer promoting the "Special Double Length Edition" volumes. However, for the single volume tapes, the white box covers were shown, but differing content was advertised. CBS/Fox Video also released the complete series on Region 2 VHS in the UK.
On June 26, 2002, prequel trilogy producer Rick McCallum responded to a question about a complete DVD release on StarWars.com's now defunct "Ask the Jedi Council" feature, in which he said "I hope so. Definitely. At some point after we're finished with Episode III, we'd really like to make all of that material available to our fans on DVD. Unfortunately, we won't be even thinking of making any firm plans until we're finished with this trilogy." However, in 2005, at McCallum's Celebration III "Spectacular", he and Lucasfilm's Vice President of marketing Jim Ward dodged questions about a complete DVD release of the series.
The Ewoks in this series speak exclusively Basic rather than Ewokese. In a series aimed at a younger audience, the practical reason for this break from canon is obvious, but no in-universe explanation has been provided. It does not appear that Ewok dialogue is translated from Ewokese for viewers: the episode "Battle for the Sunstar" shows Ewoks communicating with Doctor Raygar and Imperial droids without a translator.
In Star Wars: Rebel Assault II: The Hidden Empire, pressing Alt-v and then typing "ovres" will turn on theatre mode, where R2-D2, Darth Vader and C-3PO watch the cutscenes and comment MST3K-style. At one point, they imitate Rookie One, saying "Let's see what's on the telly. It's the Ewoks/Droids cartoon hour! I loved that show! Especially that episode where R2 joined that cult.... and began talking like a hippie..."
The novel Fate of the Jedi: Outcast contains a reference to the show: Ben Skywalker takes a deep breath of Dorin's helium-rich atmosphere and sings, his voice "as high and ridiculous as that of an animated Ewok in a children's broadcast".
|Season||Episodes||First airdate||Last airdate|
|One||13||September 7, 1985||November 30, 1985|
|Two||22||September 13, 1986||December 13, 1986|
- Bantha Tracks 29
- Bantha Tracks 30
- Bantha Tracks 33
- Bantha Tracks 35
- "A Star Wars CELibration"—Star Wars Insider 27
- "Wicket Unleashed"—Star Wars Insider 31
- "Caravan of Courage: Star Wars on Television"—Star Wars Insider 32
- "Star News"—Star Wars Insider 32
- "A State of Nelvana"—Star Wars Insider 73
- "I Have a Bad Feeling About This!"—Star Wars Insider 106
- "I Have a Bad Feeling About This!"—Star Wars Insider Special Edition 2012
- Star Wars Chronicles
- Star Wars: The Ultimate Visual Guide
Notes and referencesEdit
- ↑ Tasty Taste (Apr 20, 2006 11:42 AM). Books, Comics, & Television VIPs. StarWars.com Message Boards. Archived from the original on November 25, 2010. Retrieved on February 24, 2013.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 "A Star Wars CELibration"—Star Wars Insider 27
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2
- ↑ An interview with series animator Paul Dini
- ↑ "An Animated Discussion with Brian Lemay" - Article at Rebelscum.com
- ↑ Interview with Denny Delk
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 A history of home video releases of Star Wars: Ewoks - Rebelscum.com
- ↑ http://www.starwarz.com/tbone/index.php?categoryid=20&p2_articleid=121&p2_page=2
- ↑ http://www.comingsoon.net/news.php?id=9297
- ↑ "CVI: The StarWars.com And Beyond Panel" - TheForce.Net
- ↑ "GameScape"—Star Wars Insider 62
- ↑ Fate of the Jedi: Outcast, Chapter Twenty-nine
- ↑ 18.00 18.01 18.02 18.03 18.04 18.05 18.06 18.07 18.08 18.09 18.10 18.11 18.12 18.13 18.14 18.15 18.16 18.17 18.18 18.19 18.20 18.21 18.22 18.23 18.24 18.25 18.26 18.27 18.28 18.29 18.30 18.31 18.32 Erickson, Hal. Television Cartoon Shows: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, 1949–2003. 2nd ed. Vol. I: The Shows A–L. 2 vols. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co., Inc., Publishers, 2005, p. 306
- ↑ 19.00 19.01 19.02 19.03 19.04 19.05 19.06 19.07 19.08 19.09 19.10 Erickson, Hal. Television Cartoon Shows: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, 1949–2003. 2nd ed. Vol. I: The Shows A–L. 2 vols. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co., Inc., Publishers, 2005, p. 307
- ↑ "Wicket Unleashed"—Star Wars Insider 31
- Fox Home Entertainment's Star Wars: Ewoks site - at the Internet Archive
- A history of home video releases of Star Wars: Ewoks
- Ewoks Layouts and Posing - Original artwork by a Brian Lemay, a crewmember of the show