Raising Rebels – Fighter Flight

One of my favorite things about watching kids shows with my girls is hearing them laugh. They both have a great sense of humor, and easily pick up on comedy aimed specifically at them. Rowan, my oldest, has even been picking up on my constant sarcasm more and more each day. As a parent, hearing my girls cry, whine, or pout, happens just as often as hearing them laugh, but laughter is always preferred. My youngest laughs a lot like I do. It happens suddenly, loudly, and wholeheartedly. My oldest daughter Rowan’s laugh is easily outdone by little Zoey’s, but it’s adorable nonetheless. Thanks to the latest episode of Rebels, I got to hear a lot of laughter.

Pumpkin chocolate muffins? Check. Star Wars Rebels? Enthusiastic check.

Pumpkin chocolate muffins? Check. Star Wars Rebels? Enthusiastic check.

Star Wars Rebels: Fighter Flight was the episode I needed my kids to see. There was no Agent Kallus, no Inquisitor, and with only a few suspenseful moments near the end, it was the amazingly fun ride my kids needed to help them buy into the show even more. Looking through the list of episode titles going forward, a few of the them have me worried. The next episode called Rise of the Old Masters is definitely one of them. Right now they are more than excited to watch Rebels each week, but I can see that excitement turning to concern when the Inquisitor makes his first appearance. As I mentioned in my first Raising Rebels post, Darth Maul did not go over well with them at all. Come to think about it, neither did Darth Ferb in the Phineas and Ferb Star Wars special. They are older now, so my hope is that their love for the characters of The Ghost will outweigh their inevitable fear of the villains. This episode had them laughing and playing along with the crew, and even if things get a little scary in the future, I’m fairly optimistic about them voluntarily staying with the show.

When the episode started, I admittedly had concerns about Zeb’s childish behavior. Although I let it go pretty quickly, it was a little off-putting to see the previously angry, all business muscle of The Ghost acting like one of my high school students. It not only worked a few minutes later when Zeb, Ezra and Chopper started fighting, but it further reinforced the family structure of the crew. Herra and Kanan acting as parents, while the rest get into trouble with mom and dad. My girls really got a kick out of the banter between ‘the kids” on The Ghost. We must have rewound the scene where the bunk falls on Zeb a half dozen times. In fact, there were more “rewind it daddy” moments in this episode that any others so far. Rowan loved Zeb flying the TIE fighter, and Zoey was cracking up when Zeb teased Ezra about using The Force.

Overall, this was yet another episode that was well received by my daughters. My wife and I enjoyed it as well. Now that the relationship between Zeb and Ezra is as solid as two close brothers, I’d like to see more of Sabine’s backstory, and because I haven’t finished A New Dawn yet, I’d like to know more about the very close relationship between Kanan and Herra. I am also curious to see when the stolen TIE fighter will make a reappearance. I think many of the other Rebels and Star Wars podcasts have it right when they assume the crew will need an Imperial ship for some reason down the line just as Han and company did in Episode VI. That’s the trouble with watching a show week to week, and never being able to watch it the night it airs. You’ve got to have a Jedi’s patience, and wait for all to be revealed …eventually.

Raising Rebels: Droids in Distress

This week’s Star Wars Rebels episode went over quite well with my girls. All three, in fact. My daughters, Rowan and Zoey laughed at just about everything C3-PO, Chopper and R2-D2 did, and turned away when things got a little stressful between Zeb and Agent Kallus. At the same time, my wife and I both got a little teary eyed when Ezra saved Zeb. But before I get to what my daughters liked about the episode, I want to give my two credits on the episode as a whole.

My girls were pretty stoked for this week's episode

My girls were pretty stoked for this week’s episode

My second spin Star Tours last year

My second spin on Star Tours last year

I’ve watched Droids in Distress three times before writing this, and everything from the pacing to the cameos were very well done. I knew that both R2-D2 and C3-PO would be making appearances before my first viewing, but I’m glad they didn’t stick around as the episode ended. Don’t get me wrong, as many Star Wars fans do, I love those droids, but any “old school” characters joining the crew so early on, or for more than one episode, would seriously detract from the Ghost’s crew, and the relationship that we must have with them. I think Senator Organa’s interest in them as the episode ended was enough to get me excited about more “old school” characters making cameos going forward. I was also glad to get more of Zeb’s story in this episode. I think the connection between his past and Agent Kallus will make their next meeting fairly intense. Hopefully my girls will stay with it despite the darker themes. I really enjoyed the Star Tours references as well. My family goes to Disneyland every year, and as a kid, some of my fondest memories of the park were riding the Star Tours attraction. I thoroughly enjoy the new version of the ride, but something about Pee-Wee Herman yelling “comets!” or “I’ve always wanted to do this! We’re going in!” were at the forefront of my mind as I watched the scene in Rebels. A very fun nod to an old school Disney and Star Wars collaborative project.

Why wouldn't they try on Yoda hats?

Why wouldn’t they try on Yoda hats?

My girls loved the episode overall. When it ended, I asked them a few simple questions, hoping for the awesome that is a young child’s response to something fun they experienced. I asked them separately what their favorite part of this week’s episode was, and they both said: “The Force part.” I can’t help but agree. I mean, what child doesn’t try to use The Force to turn the lights off in their room, or to wrestle a toy away from their younger sibling? Granted, they both turned away as the fight between Zeb and Kallus unfolded, but when Kallus was poised to strike, and the Ezra committed to saving the Lasat, the Force push he delivers was both very Star Wars, and great storytelling. This moment worked on a number of levels. One, of course, is that Ezra instinctively uses The Force in a powerful way to save someone he cares about. Two, he saves the Ghost and it’s crew as a whole by stopping the Imperials at a crucial moment. Lastly, this action forces (pun absolutely intended) Kanan to train him for fear that his increasing powers, if not honed, could cause him to hurt someone he loves, turn to the dark side, or cause him to leave the crew altogether.

Overall, this week’s episode was great. I found myself wishing it was an hour long episode rather than 30 minutes, mostly because I just wanted more. I’m still a bit nervous about the inevitable entrance of The Inquisitor, and how my girls will respond, but right now we are having a blast watching Star Wars together, consistently, for the first time ever.


Raising Rebels: Too Young for Star Wars Rebels?

As a geek, and die-hard Star Wars fan, my dream when I became a father was, of course, to raise my kids right. At the same time, I have secretly dreamed my kids would grow up to love Star Wars as much as I do. Rocking my girls to sleep when they were newborns, I would hum the Star Wars theme, and still do when they have a bad dream, or have a hard time falling asleep. We’ve held little dance parties to the Imperial March, and at ages five and three, they can recognize most of the original characters by sight. Buying them Star Wars sticker books and coloring books, watching the Jedi Academy show at Disneyland, riding Star Tours, and reading them countless Star Wars pop-up books, learning to read books, and the Jeffery Brown books helped in that regard for sure.

In the last year or so, I’ve tried to show them Star Wars: Episode I, and The Clone Wars with mixed results. For the record, my girls are absolute sweethearts. (No father has ever said that about his girls right?) That said, when they get nervous about a particularly “scary” character, or the suspense in a show builds, whether it’s a cartoon or live action movie, they are quick to cringe, jump up onto the couch with us, and or vow never to watch that movie, or episode again. This has happened with everything from certain My Little Pony and Phineas and Ferb episodes, and sadly, both The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Episode I. The latter two, I can understand. Darth Maul in the eyes of a three year-old would be terrifying, and even to a five year-old, The Clone Wars has some fairly dark, and violent moments in the early episodes. I’ve had to give up on introducing them to the Star Wars Trilogies and The Clone Wars for now.

Dinner and Star Wars Rebels

Dinner and Star Wars Rebels

However, I refused to give up hope. When I had first heard that Star Wars Rebels was in the works, I got to work warming my girls up to the idea. The New Yoda Chronicles and the Star Wars Rebels books I picked up at San Diego Comic-Con over the summer have been an incredible help. The Rebels learning to read books, and Pablo Hidalgo’s book Star Wars Rebels: A New Hero, helped get them excited about the characters and the world of Lothal. We read chapter books to the girls each night as they fall asleep, and I’ve read them both Rise of the Rebels and Ezra’s Gamble. My family enjoys many of the Disney shows, and as we watch Dog With a Blog, Girl Meets World, or Phineas and Ferb, when Star Wars Rebels commercials run, they both yell: “Star Wars Rebels, Daddy! Don’t rewind it!” Of course they mean don’t fast forward it, but I love that they want to watch the commercials and shout: “Daddy, that’s Zeb!” or “Kanan!” as they watch.

It's Kanan!!

It’s Kanan!!

Last night, nearly a week after it had first aired, we finally sat down as a family to watch the premiere of Star Wars Rebels. Although they had seen the first few minutes, and loved it, I hadn’t had a chance to screen the rest of the episode ahead of time. I was afraid they would beg me to turn it off part-way through as they did with Episode I, and I would have give up on yet another Star Wars show until they’re older. There were a few moments where they got a little nervous, especially with Agent Kallus and the baby Wookie, but by the end of the episode, they were hooked. I was relieved, but more than anything I was proud of them. Even my wife, who isn’t the biggest fan of Star Wars, loved the show. For me, laughing, crying, and feeling the suspense with my girls, while watching something in Star Wars universe was literally a dream come true.

I listen to at least a dozen Star Wars, and Star Wars: The Old Republic podcasts every week, and in the most recent episode of Coffee with Kenobi they discussed the issue of violence in Star Wars Rebels. My kids are a few years younger than theirs, and I do have some concerns with the violence because my kids are so young. They watch Perry the Platypus sock Dr. Doofenshmirtz in the head repeatedly in every episode of Phineas and Ferb, but it’s a bit different watching stormtroopers blown to bits, or kicked hilariously, and more than a little disturbingly off a platform to fall to his death. Doofenshmirtz returns every week, but these stormtroopers will not. Granted, they are quickly replaced by more helmeted troopers, they don’t have names, and they don’t have major roles outside of blasting wildly as our heroes escape, but this doesn’t lessen the violence inflicted upon them. When The Inquisitor finally arrives on the scene, I wonder if my girls will not only be able to handle the violence, but will they ultimately refuse to watch episodes with him in it? I hope not.

I have concerns that my kids are below the recommended age to watch Rebels, and if the show gets even darker, and more violent, my fear is that this show will join the others in what I have dubbed the Hopefully Temporary Star Wars Graveyard. As far as the premiere is concerned, overall, it went over very well with my very young girls. My hope is that this is the right time for them to develop a love for what is very much their Star Wars, and that my dream of raising Star Wars fans becomes a reality sparked by rebellion.