The Freemaker Adventures: Season 1 Review
The Freemaker Adventures: Season 1 Review
The Freemaker Adventures were created by Bob Roth and Bill Motz. The writers for season one include Bob Roth, Bill Motz, James W. Bates, Russ Carney, Ron Corcillo, John Behnke, and David Shayne. Released in Summer 2016 this review covers the 13 episode season, which aired on Disney XD. Digital purchase is available on iTunes, Google play, and more at the starting price of around $20-30 for the whole season!
Before we begin...
A few years ago my wife and I were going to go see the movie Ride Along. It was one of those movie nights, where we just wanted to sit, eat some popcorn, and enjoy a movie on the big screen. Only we never saw Ride Along. On the way there my wife changed her mind. She wanted to watch some Lego movie. Now, my only exposure to the movie was a teaser trailer. AKA I had no expectations going in. Boy was I in for a shock!
The Lego Movie pulled my emotions in so many directions. The way they revealed Emmet's story as a construction worker living alone, just living the day to day as a nobody until someone said he was more. He was a character I started to relate to, when he was interrogated, for having a forbidden item. A piece of resistance to the world of normalcy. Anyways, long story short, I don't have many friends, and the more I watched the movie, the more I saw myself as Emmet. I could be a somebody, and still be my goofy self. In addition, what the movie opened to me was a way to tell a story through Lego pieces.
Flash forward to the TV show Star Wars Rebels, where I went in, with high expectations. The story seemed intriguing, but the animation was a different style. I had spent a year or so binge watching on the predecessor show The Clone Wars, which used a puppet style animation. The new show Rebels used a Kenner action figure look, with a hint of Studio Ghibli. I was optimistically hesitant on the show, as the feel of the show was on a different scale than it's predecessor.
Was I worried it would not hold up to expectations? Yes a little, but the show quickly grew into itself so fast! Long before the end of the first season, I was hooked! In addition, the supplemental reading only made my enjoyment of the show soar! What the show was able to pull off was a story focused on a smaller scale of characters, and go in new directions that were amazing.
Ahem, back to The Freemaker Adventures!
Now, comes a new age in Lego Star Wars storytelling. Set between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, The Freemakers are scavengers. Scavengers of destroyed ships. Ships destroyed in the ongoing battle between the Empire and Rebellion. Two sides the Freemakers stay away from. They own a repair shop on a housing station called The Wheel. There they fix up ships, sell reconstructed "U-Wings," and try not to drool too much, when beautiful ships dock.
The Freemakers consist of siblings Kordi (Vanessa Lengies) a fast-talking business lady, Zander (Eugene Byrd) mechanic with action flying pilot skills, Rowan (Nicolas Cantu) youngling with a sensitivity to the Force, and R0-GR (Matthew Wood) repurposed B-1 battle droid with a heart of gold. The setup of the show is a piece of a Kyber Saber is discovered by Rowan, who runs into Naare (Grey Griffin) a mysterious stranger Jedi with interesting facial tattoos. From there begins a quest to find the remaining pieces that only Rowan can sense of the Kyber Saber, and put it back together.
The Kyber Saber
The Kyber Saber. A weapon so powerful that the Jedi, who created it quickly changed their mind and hid its pieces. Only something is not right... Something the show wastes no time in revealing… Snippy Darth Vader and the Sassy Emperor Palpatine make an appearance… Things get good.
My expectations of the show going in were to think of it as a mash-up to The Lego Movie and Star Wars Rebels... Initially, that created a dissonance to my enjoyment of the show. I had to forget what I had learned, and focus on the beauty of this show. After awhile I noticed that the show reminded me of another movie. Not exactly related, but a certain feel. Something that gave it a different vibe. A different groove... An Emperor's New Groove kind of vibe! No, not Emperor Sheev! Kuzco the llama! The story has that wild card meta feel, where it can be hilarious and sweet at the same time while breaking the fourth wall to nail a crescendo of a joke!
Is the show canon?
Yes and no. The show is a bunch of Lego blocks and minifigs and does a lot of self-referencing of the movies in a very tongue and cheek way. Though, the story does ground itself in the Star Wars universe in ways that line up to canon. Worlds, ships, and more that have been revealed in the newer stories show up in The Freemaker Adventures seamlessly.
Will any of the material exclusive to this show carry over into canon? I don't have the answer to that, but some things only appear to work in the show's universe. Kyber Saber? Totally bananas! However, it works out so splendidly in this show. I am glad that the show can go off the rails. It is very freeing. The show is still very Star Wars. Side note, my only criteria in a Star Wars story are two things: a story of family (not just by blood or romance) and discovering who you really are.
But wait there is more! The show does include some new and notable returning guest characters! These include rich money guy Wick Cooper (Thomas Lennon) aka Lieutenant Dangle from Reno 911, Imperial Durpin (Richard Kind) aka Bing Bong from Inside Out and Graballa the Hutt (Dana Snyder) aka Master Shake from Aqua Teen Hunger Force. And that is just scratching the surface! I don't want to ruin any surprises, but there are characters from the original trilogy, prequel trilogy, and the TV series (The Clone Wars, Rebels), who make guest appearances. How they manage to include all those guest appearances and make them mesh together flawlessly was astounding!
What the show also accomplishes is a new entry point into the fandom of Star Wars. The show is for all ages but has the appeal to younger kids that Rebels and The Clone Wars simply can not offer. Though, the comedy is not all physical jokes. There are some dark humor moments sprinkled in that are subtle enough the younglings will miss... But the adults will catch. The show does a wonderful job playing against expectations in the story and uses that in the comedy bits. That is one thing that kept bringing me back. There was a shift in the story about the halfway point that kept the flow going, and the ending of the season was stand out work.
All in all, the show stands out on its own. If you like The Lego Movie, Star Wars Rebels, and Emperor's New Groove you will be closer to what to expect. However, the creators did a wonderful job at building a new story in Star Wars that is approachable to a wide audience. Definitely give this show a shot if you want a fun story in the Star Wars universe. A story full of laughter. Full of heart! A story allowed take what you know of Star Wars, tear it down, and rebuild it in a refreshing way!
P.S. - I have to give a huge mention of thanks to Leland Chee (Holocron Keeper at Lucasfilm Studios), for his promotion and enthusiasm of the show. His interviews helped me get hyped, for the show! Lastly, I have to give a big shout out to Johnamarie Macias and Aaron Goins of the Star Scavengers podcast! They were a big outlet to me on discussing this show. Their website can be found at www.starscavengers.com!