As a long time fan of radio drama (some readers may remember my reviews of the old Superman radio dramas) and a huge fan of the NPR versions of Star Wars I couldn’t miss Kyle Newman’s live, Celebration exclusive.
The show was billed as a Brian Daley-esque return the days of yore with everything handled in an audio-only fashion starring Han Solo in an all new, original trilogy-era adventure. The cast was a who’s who from the Clone Wars: Tom Kane, Ashley Eckstein, Dee Bradley Baker, Daniel Logan, Matt Lanter, Sam Witwer, Matthew Wood, Clare Grant, and Dave Collins as Han Solo. Chewbacca and other sound effects, unfortunately were not handled by Dee Baker, but Jimmy Mac did an excellent job from the sound board.
The story took place between Episodes IV and V. Ashley Eckstein and Sam Witwer played a pair of bounty hunter/smuggler/lowlife types looking to cash in on Han and Chewie’s bounty from Jabba. Well, that’s what Witwer’s character planned. Ashley’s Ryder Thorn was more like a female Han Solo – smuggler with a heart of gold. Cameos from Boba Fett and Prince Xizor were fantastic.
While the story was not canon, Newman did essentially set the stage for what eventually goes wrong with the Falcon’s hyperdrive. The story also led us straight to the eventual bounty hunter Han and the rebels will meet on Ord Mantell.
Currently there are no plans to do anything with the recording they took a this event. Nor are there any plans for more radio dramas in the Star Wars universe. However, if Newman has his way, this is just the first step into a larger universe. He’s eventually liek to see prequel dramas made for radio using the wonderful cast of Dave Filoni’s Clone Wars. Asked about the possibility of another radio drama at the next Celebration, Newman promised he’d make it happen with as much of the recurring cast as possible. He even promised a line to the young girl who asked the question, assuming she would be available at the time.
Star Wars has its roots in a bygone era. Radio is a great fit for a universe built so heavily on Ben Burtt’s sound design. I would love to see more come from this show, even if it’s just a slapped together podcast from starwars.com. I’d much rather see a whole new foray into the expanded, or exisitng, universe by taking our audio adventures beyond audio books and back into “radio” drama.
As a special bonus, during the Q&A at the end, two things of note were mentioned. First, for fans of Being Human, they are currently about halfway through filming the third season. Sam Witwer has seen about five episodes and is thrilled with the direction. He promised lots of surprise guests and weird turns. Weird enough that you couldn’t even hint at it for fear of ruining a surprise.
Second, next week is Dee Bradley Baker’s 50th birthday. He was visibly moved by the fans singing to him and tried to show us the picture of him on his phone in which he wore a homemade Jawa costume for Halloween in October 1977. Baker is one of those rare talents who has a true and deep love for his job. May we all find careers in our passion as well as Dee.
Once again, OUR THANKS to baldassbot and Big Shiny Robot for this article.