Article by Kieran Burt.
Obi-Wan Kenobi: A Jedi’s Return has debuted on Disney+, and it focuses a lot of its one hour run time on quick interviews with cast and crew, which is a missed opportunity. There is certainly enjoyment to be had watching this behind the scenes look, but for anyone looking for a deeper dive into the creation of the show, it’s largely disappointing.
The show starts right where the character began, with an old interview with Sir Alec Guinness, and this is a great opener. It shows Guinness being unsure of what he’s doing, saying that he’s never made something in sci-fi or fantasy before, and so in some ways it’s a difficult role, and that Star Wars could be in the past, present or future. This helps to set the mysticism of the character or Obi-Wan, and so is a great segue into a piece from Ewan McGregor.
From there, Ewan explains his start into Star Wars, going through his auditions for the role of Obi-Wan from episode one, and him coming back to the role. It transitions into Deborah Chow explaining how she got her start into the series, and how she got into filmmaking. While this is a great introduction to both key players of the creation of the show, Chow surprisingly skips out on mentioning her experience on The Mandalorian, which would have no doubt informed her directorship on Obi-Wan Kenobi.
While it’s acknowledged that the series took a long time to make, it doesn’t dive into any of these problems. Obi-Wan Kenobi had originally been a film, until the box office failure of Solo caused Lucasfilm to cancel it. It’s unclear what state of production the film was in, and it would have made this special all the more intriguing had it gone into this failure. The same can be said for the rewrites of the show’s script, causing the year delay.
The Inquisitors feel like an obligation to cover in the show, it’s casually mentioned they first came from Rebels (though no mention that their fortress came from Jedi: Fallen Order), and doesn’t explain the challenges in bringing the Grand Inquisitor or the Fifth Brother into live-action, or what challenge they themselves pose to Obi-Wan. Of course Reva gets a section devoted to explaining her character, though not as an Inquisitor.
Vivien Lyra Blair appears in the show, and honestly she is a delight. Deborah Chow was spot on with this casting Blair, Chow is absolutely right that Blair is a perfect fit for young Leia. Blair captures the same defiance and optimism that Carrie Fisher defined in her performance of Leia.
Hayden Christensen’s entry to the special is held back, specifically to build anticipation, and that tactic works to great effect. It’s amazing to see that even after so many years and so much criticism about the prequels, he still wanted to do it. And the audience are given an insight to the reason why, and that’s because Ewan was coming back. It’s heartwarming to see their relationship off camera. It’s worth watching the special just for that. He gives his summation of what Vader is
Liam Neeson makes a surprise appearance at the end of the show, to explain what Deborah Chow pitched to him, and saying that even 24 years after The Phantom Menace, the mythology and the storytelling goes on. The segment is presented in a very peaceful way, with both the music and Neeson’s calm voice contributing to the soothing tone.
This show is more of a celebration of Obi-Wan Kenobi show, and what it means to the main cast and crew. And while there is nothing wrong with that – the enthusiasm from everyone is infectious – it doesn’t go into much depth that the prior behind the scenes shows. The little nuggets of information that is given is positive, and ignores the troubles with the show’s production.