In the wake of Disney's Lucasfilm acquisition, the media giant is shuttering the long-running Clone Wars animated series and postponing an odd-looking comedy series called Star Wars: Detours. Instead, "we are exploring a whole new Star Wars series set in a time period previously untouched in Star Wars films or television programming," said the company in an official statement on StarWars.com. "You can expect more details in the months to come."
Well, we didn't want to wait for "the months to come." So we parsed Disney's statement — which means, as far as we can tell, that there will be no "sidequels" set during any of the six Star Wars films, and no reboot of the Clone Wars story — and took our best guess about the future of the Star Wars franchise on television. Here, four ideas for the next Star Wars TV series:
1. Between Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Episode IV: A New Hope
The most obvious answer is the one that's been on the table for nearly a decade — an absurdly ambitious live-action Star Wars series set between Episode III and Episode IV, which would chronicle the rise of the Empire from the perspective of crime lords on the planet Coruscant.
Why it might happen: If producer Rick McCallum can make good on half the promises he's made about such a series — that it will look like a major feature film, that it's intended for adults, that Boba Fett will play a prominent role, that it resembles everything from The Godfather to "Empire Strikes Back on steroids" to "Deadwood in space" — it would easily be the best Star Wars project since the original trilogy.
Why it won't happen: "Too expensive," admits McCallum, citing an estimated budget of $5 million or more for each episode. Plus, an adult-oriented Star Wars TV show is a much tougher sell to networks than a TV show aimed at children.
2. Between Episode IV: A New Hope and Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back picks up three years after Episode IV: A New Hope left off. But there's surely a great story that could be told about how the galaxy changed immediately after the Rebels destroyed the Death Star. Picture Imperial propagandists trying to downplay the Rebel threat and painting them as ruthless villains as undercover Rebel operatives quietly move from planet to planet, dredging up support for their cause.
Why it might happen: It would offer a compelling, in-depth look at the growth of the Rebellion.
Why it won't happen: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford are too old for the TV series to use the original Luke, Leia, or Han.
3. Thousands of years before Episode I: The Phantom Menace
The biggest problem with making a TV series set during the original trilogy? No Jedi. Other than Obi-Wan and Yoda — and Luke, after he's been trained — pretty much all the Jedi were killed off during Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. But that wouldn't be a problem for a TV series set in the Old Republic era, which was thousands of years before Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Though the time period has been thoroughly explored in novels and video games, it hasn't been depicted in TV or on film.
Why it might happen: A time in the Star Wars universe in which thousands of Jedi and Sith roamed the galaxy? It has enormous, untapped potential to kick off a whole new era in the franchise.
Why it won't happen: Short of a time warp — which is really more Star Trek territory — none of the characters from the movies could appear.
4. Between Episode VI: Return of the Jedi and Episode VII: Title unknown
And then there's the other wide-open canvas unexplored in film and television: What happens after the death of Darth Vader and the collapse of the Empire after Episode VI: Return of the Jedi? This is the time period, of course, that J.J. Abrams' Episode VII will tackle — but a TV series could bring extra depth and breadth to a story about a galaxy adjusting to its government being dismantled in a way that the films simply won't have time for. Would crime lords and bounty hunters step up to fill the gap? Would the remaining Imperial forces attempt to strike back?
Why it might happen: It would offer the first true sequel to the original trilogy in more than 30 years, and could be the perfect way to reintroduce a whole new generation to the Star Wars universe.
Why it won't happen: It could interfere with the stories of the upcoming films.