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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Mandalorian is a TV series set in the Star Wars universe. The series' main character (Pedro Pascal) is a bounty hunter, so expect lots of conflict and battles, including those in which faceless villains are mowed down by futuristic sci-fi weapons. When characters are killed, they fall down on the ground and lie still; there's no blood or gore. But characters may scream or writhe in pain, and imagery includes things like a small creature roasting on a spit while another of its kind looks piteous in a cage nearby. Menace and danger are frequent, but the show's overall tone is action/adventure rather than scary. There's no strong or iffy sexual content, although romantic complications may rear their heads at some point. Characters show compassion and courage, but even "good" characters use force, violence, and intimidation to realize their aims -- the same as the "bad" characters. Scenes take place at bars with creatures drinking, but we don't know what, and no one acts drunk. Expect to see Mandalorian tie-ins merchandised in the Star Wars tradition.
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What's the story?
Set after the fall of the Empire depicted in the original trilogy of stories in the Star Wars universe, THE MANDALORIAN depicts a new hero. The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) is a lone wolf hard at work in the furthest reaches of the universe. He comes from an ancient race of warriors and bounty hunters, a sort of dark mirror to the noble Jedi fighters, and until now, the Mandalorian has been content to uphold his people's traditions. But when a mysterious new job brings him into contact with a life form he'd never imagined he'd face, the Mandalorian is suddenly willing to take desperate chances to protect what he holds dear.
Is it any good?
Existing in a recognizable Star Wars universe yet telling a unique story of its own, this small-screen extension of the film franchise is, in a word, cool. Unlike other recent Star Wars narratives that circle rather obsessively around the Han-Luke-Leia story, The Mandalorian branches out with a character who's built on something of an Easter egg from 1977's A New Hope. Boba Fett was the most minor of characters who inspired major mystique; choosing a Boba Fett-like character to center this series around is an inspired choice. The series looks amazing too: Plenty of money was spent making a fantastically immersive world with creatures fans will recognize (Jawas and Kubaz and Kowakians, last seen giggling from Jabba the Hut's throne), and fascinating new characters to meet.
The Mandalorian himself is something of a lone gunslinger, making his way in a world beset with dangers. He's also a tragic figure -- we get some backstory on his terrible past, which will no doubt be brought to bear at some point -- and Pedro Pascal does an excellent job of making him sympathetic despite the handicap of a full-face mask. Like other Star Wars entries, The Mandalorian gets into some fan service: Franchise nerds will flinch happily when Ewok holiday "Life Day" pops up, and it's clear that the Empire is going to play some part in the story. But unlike other entries that felt like they were circling the drain of an increasingly overly fleshed-out story, The Mandalorian feels fresh and newly enchanting, just the thing for fans awaiting the next movie.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can discuss how this series compares to the original 1970s live-action saga that many parents grew up with, as well as the more recent movies. Why do you think George Lucas and Disney decided to make a Star Wars TV series?
What's the impact of the violence in this show? Does the fact that you don't see blood or gore change the way the violence comes across? Do deaths look scary? Are they supposed to? Characters who die are mostly faceless characters, often in uniform. How does that change your perception of the violence?
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