Star Wars: Underworld (Johnsonverse)
Star Wars: Underworld is an American space opera television series created by George Lucas, Rick McCallum, Dave Filoni, and Sheldon Johnson, Jr. It has aired on HBO since September 2, 2007, and is set in the Coruscant underworld between the events of Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope.
Production on the series began in 2005. Lucas wanted the series to capture the look and feel of the live-action films. Filming for the first season
It has received critical acclaim for its view of the underworld in the Star Wars universe, as well as its acting, effects, and musical score.
"It's kind of like Episode IV — it's funny and there's action, but it's [a] lot more talky. It's more of what I would call a soap opera with a bunch of personal dramas in it. It's not really based on action-adventure films from the '30s — it's actually more based on film noir movies from the '40s!"
―George Lucas, Total Film magazine, May 2008 issue, p. 138
Set between the events of Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, this series focuses mainly on what it's like in the underworld of Imperial capital planet Coruscant. It is during this period that the Galactic Empire rises to ultimate power throughout the galaxy. Characters from the Expanded Universe, the Prequel Trilogy, and the Original Trilogy, as well as the Sequel Trilogy starting in 2015, appear from time to time, and some stories take place on other planets. Each episode begins with an opening crawl, just like the movies; the episode's name replaces the subtitle of the movies as well. The TV series also contains elements from the overall Star Wars: The Force Unleashed multimedia project.
"It tells the story of a different part of the Star Wars universe that you didn't exactly know, and then it slowly folds back into the characters that you knew and loved."
- Kira (
"It's a completely different kind of idea, which is risky. But that's the only reason I did it. Some people will inevitably say, 'It's not what I think of as Star Wars.' But I think it's worked. Rick thinks it's worked, Sheldon thinks the same, Dave thinks that, we all think that."
―George Lucas, Total Film magazine, May 2008 issue, p. 138
Prior to the release of the original Star Wars film in 1977, rumors began circulating that a TV series would be produced based on the film. Although such a project never came to fruition, George Lucas became involved (to varying degrees) in three live-action Star Wars television productions: The Star Wars Holiday Special, Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure, and Ewoks: The Battle for Endor. While the Holiday Special was a critical failure, both Ewok films won Emmy awards and had a positive critical reaction. In each case, the networks saw the productions as backdoor pilots for possible television series, though Lucas wasn't interested. From 1992 to 1996, Lucas produced the television series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, during which he developed a love of making television.
In late 2004, rumors again began to circulate of a live-action Star Wars series in development. Lucas officially announced his plans for a live-action Star Wars television series at Celebration III, saying "We probably won't start that until sometime next year." He also spoke of plans for a new animated television series set during the Clone Wars, which he expected to be produced first. Also at the event, Rick McCallum elaborated; "He [George] envisions somewhere like 100 hours between Episode III and Episode IV." The first season was entirely written and produced before shopping the series to broadcast networks; after HBO was committed, work commenced on the following seasons.
"We'd go gather at Skywalker Ranch periodically, every couple of months, and break stories and write scripts for this series that George was interested in. And George was in the ring with us every day. And it was a fascinating, amazing experience."
―Ronald D. Moore
"So imagine an hour's episode with more digital animation and more visual effects and more complicated in terms of set design and costume design than a two-hour movie that takes us three years to make, and we have to do that every week and we only have $5 million to do it. That's our challenge."
McCallum expected that he and Lucas would approach the series in a similar manner as they had The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. Like on that earlier series, they hoped to give each episode the look of a feature film, with feature-level production values and visual effects on a television budget. Lucas also talked of using the show as a template for how he would approach "more personal films" that he hoped to create. In 2005, Lucas stated his intentions to shoot the series using consumer-level cameras, which McCallum said would be high-definition cameras. Lucas expected that, in producing the show, he would "do what would typically cost $20 million, for $1 million." According to IESB, McCallum has said that each episode has a budget of 2-4 million dollars.
Principal photography for each season takes place all around the world, with a base in Sydney, Australia. In respect to the stunts, prequel trilogy stunt coordinators Nick Gillard and Kyle Rowling work on the series as fighting directors. On the other hand, prequel trilogy special effects technician Matt Sloan returned to do the series' visual effects. By November 2005, all major roles had been cast. Principal photography for the series started on March 5, 2006 in the Czech Republic, a location used multiple times by Lucasfilm for various productions. Jim Marquand, son of Richard Marquand, was hired as one of the directors, along with Johnson and longtime Johnson Studios director Timothy Hill. Each episode has an original score, and original composer John Williams returned for the series. Upon his 2019 retirement, Michael Giacchino, who had scored the Rogue One anthology film, was hired as his replacement.
"Casting was the real fun part because we could select great actors. Not just those who could reprise their roles from the movies, but some fresh new blood to go with them. These new actors all give the characters lovable personalities, and the old guard builds on top of what they built when they did the movies all those years ago. This truly is Star Wars for a new generation."
―Sheldon Johnson, Jr.
Several actors from the original movies reprised their roles for the series, such as Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, and Frank Oz as Yoda. Other actors (mostly unknowns) were cast to play new characters.
"You've got network TV, which has the dollars to pay for this and an audience, but you're burdened by the fact you only get 42 minutes for an hour because of commercials. And then you've got cable, which has the most provocative and daring programming, but has audiences of 1 or 2 million people. They also have a very limited amount of money they can spend without wanting some sort of say or control over the material, which is absolutely repugnant to us in terms of the way we work. But HBO was nice to us, they gave us a multi-million dollar budget, I think around $10 million per season, gave us a completely hands-off approach, put up billboards, signs, buses, and other advertisements, gave us a stock car to promote the series, allowed us to exploit our vision to its fullest extent, and we managed to get ten times the audience cable shows normally have."
―Rick McCallum, to denofgeek.com
|Season||Episodes||First aired||Last aired|
|1||13||September 2, 2007||2008|