Jabba! was an animated television series produced by Atkinson Film-Arts in 1989. Set on the planet Tatooine, it featured the adventures of Jabba Desilijic Tiure and his gang, including Bib Fortuna, Ephant Mon, and Sy Snootles. Intending at first to capitalize off the brief success of Star Wars: Droids and Star Wars: Ewoks, Jabba! was abruptly canceled by ABC before its first episode could air, in response to the flagging sales of the Star Wars brand. The show saw limited release in overseas markets, with three episodes airing in the United Kingdom and four more in Israel, but has been virtually unknown among the Star Wars fandom.
Production and release
Jabba! was created by the Canadian animation studio Atkinson Film-Arts in conjunction with Lucasfilm Ltd. After the success of Nelvana's Ewoks and Droids cartoons, Lucasfilm sought their next big animation hit. However, due to the overall poor sales of Star Wars products before the release of Heir to the Empire, they were unable to make an agreement with Nelvana for a third series. Lucasfilm turned instead to one of Nelvana's fellow Canadian studies, Atkinson, which had previously done licensed work on several Nelvana properties, such as the Care Bears franchise. Due to Atkinson's lower production values and lack of major successes to date, they were willing to take a risk on Lucasfilm. In a 1988 meeting, Atkinson's animators and writers met with Lucasfilm to draft up ideas and concepts for the new series. They landed on Jabba the Hutt, whose colorful personality and equally colorful supporting cast had been met with positive reactions in 1983's Return of the Jedi.
Both parties agreed that Jabba's role in Return of the Jedi as a criminal would not pass muster as the hero of a children's program with any television network. Instead, they decided that the series would focus on Jabba at a younger age, and his adventures would be more of a "comical prankster" nature. Atkinson was given near free reign to develop this idea, and placed Jabba into the role of a typical 1980s teenager, with a mohawk, sassy attitude, and love of skateboarding. To offset the implied criminal nature of his antics, each episode would be capped off with a wholesome moral. ABC tentatively picked up the cartoon for their 1989 summer programming schedule.
However, as 1989 progressed, Star Wars' financial situation proved to be worse than ever. West End Games' roleplaying game was the only product selling with any measure of success. Approximately one month before it was set to air, ABC pulled the plug on Jabba!. Atkinson was left with at least seven complete episodes and no one to sell it to. The loss they incurred on Jabba! was one of the many factors that lead to the company's closing later that year. The few episodes produced were left as the property of Lucasfilm, who seemed unwilling to do anything with them.
Before Atkinson's closing, however, the company was able to negotiate the sale of a few of its remaining assets, at a severely reduced price. Several episodes of Jabba! were sold to Thames Television in the United Kingdom, and to one English-language channel in Tel Aviv, Israel. Three episodes ultimately aired on the ITV Network in the United Kingdom, and four others in Tel Aviv. As of 2010, the only recordings of the series that survive are VHS bootlegs and several tapes in the Talkback Thames archives.
The episode I Pronounce You Hutt and Wife was additionally meant to air on Thames Television; however, a week before the scheduled airdate, Thames found out that it had lost its TV license. Thames canceled the showing as it was not guaranteed to be profitable.
Because of the questionable nature of the release of Jabba! in the few regions it aired in, the status of the series in canon is ambiguous. Lucasfilm does not acknowledge the series, though the presence of a copyright logo on the title screen indicates it was licensed by them.
Nonetheless, Jabba! contains many elements that would later appear in canon. Jabba's gruff father, who constantly yells at his son for the mischief the young Hutt gets up to, presages the later appearance of Zorba Desilijic Tiure in 1992's Zorba the Hutt's Revenge (Jabba's father in the series is only known as "Dad", and does not have a beard). Sy Snootles' redesign for the series has many elements in common with her CG portrayal in the 1997 Special Edition of Return of the Jedi. The plot of the episode "Two Brains are Better Than One", where Bib Fortuna's brain is removed by a mad scientist with hilarious consequences, oddly foreshadows Fortuna's similar transformation into a B'omarr monk in Tales from Jabba's Palace.
|Episode||Image||Title||Aired in||Prod. #|
|1.||"Jabba Rock"||United Kingdom||JB1|
|2.||"The King of Mos Eisley"||United Kingdom||JB?|
|3.||"Two Brains are Better Than One"||United Kingdom||JB2|
|4.||"Sy For a Day"||Israel||JB?|
|5.||"Jabba Gets Caught"||Israel||JB?|
|6.||"City of the Jawas, Part I"||Israel||JB?|
|7.||"City of the Jawas, Part II"||Israel||JB?|
|8.||"I Pronounce You Hutt and Wife"||Unaired||JB?|
|Organizations and titles||Sentient species||Vehicles and vessels||Weapons and technology||Miscellanea|
Organizations and titles
Vehicles and vessels
Weapons and technology
Notes and references
- ↑ This episode's title appears in Atkinson's records on the series, but there is no indication it was ever sold or aired. However, a copy of this episode exists in the Talkback Thames archives.