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Star Wars (Franchise)

Star Wars

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384

An Old Sock Full of Diamonds

Grab a porg, put on your matching necklaces, and get out your ancient Jedi texts—it’s time to discuss “The Last Jedi,” episode VIII of the “Star Wars” saga. (And if we missed something, please understand that we’ve only seen it once so far!)

Jason Snell with John Siracusa, Dan Moren, Kelly Guimont, Aleen Simms and Tony Sindelar

372

Jedi Inflation is a Serious Problem

With Jason away “on assignment,” a Rebel force of podcasters takes over The Incomparable’s transmission tower to celebrate (and introduce you to, if you haven’t watched them yet) Lucasfilm’s animated extensions to the Star Wars canon: the six-season Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, which is entering its fourth and final season. Why do adult fans love them? Did they actually redeem the prequels? Who are the breakout characters who became as important as anyone in the movies? We steer clear of the big spoilers!

Chip Sudderth with Dan Moren, Liz Myles, David Sparks, Alyssa Franke and Tony Sindelar

370

Someone We've Never Heard Of

This week we learned that Lucasfilm has parted ways with Colin Trevorrow, who was previously slated to write and direct 2019’s installment in the “Star Wars” saga, and realized that the absolutely dumbest way to react to the news would be to draft a bunch of possible replacements. So in this episode we present our suggestions to fill that director’s chair, from the real to the ridiculous to the ones from beyond the grave! Along the way we take time to discuss the challenges of finding ways for creative people to mesh with big studio-controlled franchises. And all without a single “Star Wars” spoiler!

Jason Snell with Serenity Caldwell, Monty Ashley, Dan Moren, Guy English, David J. Loehr and Brian Hamilton

Not Playing with Lex and Dan 3.8

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The circle is now complete. We conclude our viewing of the Star Wars saga—for now, anyway—with the most recent installment in the main sequence of movies. Grizzled smuggler Dan Moren teams up with desert scavenger Lex Friedman to take in the spectacle that is 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Hot topics include Kylo Ren as a Vader wannabe, how to get just the right amount of C-3PO, and, of course, the fact that Supreme Leader Snoke is a dumb name.

Programming Note: In addition to this capsule episode, which contains our discussion before and after the film, members can watch along with Lex and Dan in a full-length commentary track, available in the members-only First Class feed. If you’re not already a member, why not sign up? And if you are, now’s a great time to update your membership allocations and maybe throw a little support in the direction of Not Playing. Thanks!

Lex Friedman and Dan Moren

Not Playing with Lex and Dan 3.7

Return of the Jedi

In our penultimate episode, we close out the original trilogy with the movie that began a sixteen year hiatus of the Star Wars franchise. Lovable Ewok Dan Moren leads rebel commando Lex Friedman through the 1983 version of Return of the Jedi.

Hot topics include distracting alien effects, much ado about Admiral Ackbar’s famous line, what the heck the deal with Force ghosts is, and, of course, whether the film is a Vader apologia.

Programming Note: In addition to this capsule episode, which contains our discussion before and after the film, members can watch along with Lex and Dan in a full-length commentary track, available in the members-only First Class feed. If you’re not already a member, why not sign up? And if you are, now’s a great time to update your membership allocations and maybe throw a little support in the direction of Not Playing. Thanks!

Lex Friedman and Dan Moren

Not Playing with Lex and Dan 3.6

The Empire Strikes Back

We return to season 3 of Not Playing with the rare sequel that arguably surpasses its predecessor—at least as far as one of our panelists is concerned. Roguish smuggler Lex Friedman puts his trust in card player, gambler, and scoundrel Dan Moren to lead him through the 1980 masterpiece The Empire Strikes Back.

Hot topics include the most awkward dinner ever, disconcerting tauntaun animations, and, of course, why puppet Yoda is better than CGI Yoda.

Programming Note: In addition to this capsule episode, which contains our discussion before and after the film, members can watch along with Lex and Dan in a full-length commentary track, available in the members-only First Class feed. If you’re not already a member, why not sign up? And if you are, now’s a great time to update your membership allocations and maybe throw a little support in the direction of Not Playing. Thanks!

Lex Friedman and Dan Moren

Not Playing with Lex and Dan 3.5

Star Wars

On to the main course. It’s the 1977 classic that started this whole thing: Star Wars. (And not with any of that “Episode IV” jazz or anything.) Crazy old wizard Dan Moren and whiny farm boy Lex Friedman embark upon the epic beginning of the franchise as season 3 of Not Playing passes the mid-point.

Hot topics include the names of Tatooine’s two suns, the weird slightly retconnings of Rogue One, whether or not the Millennium Falcon really is a hunk of junk, and, of course, why Obi-Wan Kenobi calls his old buddy “Darth”.

Programming Note: In addition to this capsule episode, which contains our discussion before and after the film, members can watch along with Lex and Dan in a full-length commentary track, available in the members-only First Class feed. If you’re not already a member, why not sign up? And if you are, now’s a great time to update your membership allocations and maybe throw a little support in the direction of Not Playing. Thanks!

Lex Friedman and Dan Moren

Not Playing with Lex and Dan 3.4

Rogue One

And now for something completely different. Rebel spy Dan Moren and reckless criminal-turned-freedom-fighter Lex Friedman take a break from the story of the Skywalker clan to watch 2016’s Rogue One, the first of the standalone anthology movies set in the Star Wars universe.

Hot topics include why droids are programmed with people-like personalities, why the Death Star flaws come in two separate parts, the convincing performance of Governor Tarkin, and hey, Jimmy Smits is back!

Programming Note: In addition to this capsule episode, which contains our discussion before and after the film, members can watch along with Lex and Dan in a full-length commentary track, available in the members-only First Class feed. If you’re not already a member, why not sign up? And if you are, now’s a great time to update your membership allocations and maybe throw a little support in the direction of Not Playing. Thanks!

Lex Friedman and Dan Moren

Not Playing with Lex and Dan 3.3

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

And with this, we conclude eating our vegetables for this special third of Not Playing covering the Star Wars saga. Dark Lord of the Sith Dan Moren and his apprentice Lex Friedman watch the final installment of the prequels, 2005’s Revenge of the Sith, allowing them to at last move onward and upward.

Hot topics include the complete absurdity of Anakin’s fall to the dark side, the frustrating nature of putting Padmé on a shelf, and, wait, is that Jimmy Smits again?

Programming Note: In addition to this capsule episode, which contains our discussion before and after the film, members can watch along with Lex and Dan in a full-length commentary track, available in the members-only First Class feed. If you’re not already a member, why not sign up? And if you are, now’s a great time to update your membership allocations and maybe throw a little support in the direction of Not Playing. Thanks!

Lex Friedman and Dan Moren

Not Playing with Lex and Dan 3.2

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

We return to a galaxy far, far away, a slightly less long time ago for the second installment of our epic third season, covering the entire Star Wars saga. Supreme Chancellor Dan Moren guides Senator Lex Friedman through the 2002 soporific bore film, Attack of the Clones.

Hot topics for this episode include telling the difference between clones and droids, a horrendously unconvincing love story, why CGI Yoda is an offense to all right-minded people, and who the hell Jimmy Smits is playing.

Programming Note: In addition to this capsule episode, which contains our discussion before and after the film, members can watch along with Lex and Dan in a full-length commentary track, available in the members-only First Class feed. If you’re not already a member, why not sign up? And if you are, now’s a great time to update your membership allocations and maybe throw a little support in the direction of Not Playing. Thanks!

Lex Friedman and Dan Moren

Not Playing with Lex and Dan 3.1

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

You’re not seeing things! We’re back with a very special season three of Not Playing with Lex and Dan. Right on schedule, as we promised. Go about your business. Move along.

Regular listeners of the show know that among the most egregious holes in Lex’s movie-watching history are most of the Star Wars saga, so in season three, we’re out to correct that oversight. Join Jedi Master Dan Moren as he takes padawan Lex under his wing and shepherds him through the entire eight (soon to be nine) movie saga.

Hot topics for this debut episode, which covers the 1999 travesty installment, The Phantom Menace, include what to do about really uncomfortable portrayals of aliens, why some droids can’t speak English, whether or not Queen Amidala is currently Natalie Portman, and what the hell planet we’re on now.

Programming Note: In addition to this capsule episode, which contains our discussion before and after the film, members can watch along with Lex and Dan in a full-length commentary track, available in the members-only First Class feed. If you’re not already a member, why not sign up? And if you are, now’s a great time to update your membership allocations and maybe throw a little support in the direction of Not Playing. Thanks!

Lex Friedman and Dan Moren

332

She's the Han Solo

Striking from a hidden base, our rebellious European podcasters have once again taken over the Incomparable Death Star—er, Zeppelin—to provide their own unique opinions on “Rogue One,” the latest Star Wars film.

Antony Johnston with Liz Myles, James Thomson and Dan Moren

Defocused 127

Shop Local Moisture

The address is 1234 Jedha St, Jedha City, Jedha Planet.

Joe Rosensteel and Dan Sturm

331

I Refuse To Call It a Prequel

Put on your Kyber crystal necklace, don a stylish white cape, and keep the Force with you! It’s time to break down “Rogue One,” the first big-budget live-action non-saga “Star Wars” film. We discuss how the film juggles its many characters and settings, the issues with reviving past film elements through CGI, the splendor of Darth Vader’s bachelor pad (and the weirdness of his bathroom), the unexpectedly spectacular space battle, the vacation plans of the Empire’s records division, the film’s strange disconnection with its teaser trailer, and a whole lot more.

Jason Snell with John Siracusa, Serenity Caldwell, Monty Ashley and Tony Sindelar

329

He's More Man than Puppet

As a new “Star Wars” movie nears its release, we turn our attention to some of our least favorite features of this franchise we love. Our panelists draft our least favorite Special Edition changes, retcons, Original Trilogy and “Force Awakens” elements, and more. Plus we each pitch a new “Star Wars” movie that can right a wrong in the existing canon.

Jason Snell with Dan Moren, Joe Rosensteel, Monty Ashley, John Siracusa, David J. Loehr and David Sparks

313

The Ziggurats of Yavin IV

Nope, Jason, John, Serenity, and Dan aren’t going to analyze the trailer for “Star Wars: Rogue One.” It’s not going to happen. It would take rebel podcasters, striking from a hidden studio, to bring this podcast to its knees…

Antony Johnston with Liz Myles, Chip Sudderth and Moisés Chiullan

Robot or Not? 62

General Grievous

He’s a droid with a cough. So what’s the deal?

John Siracusa and Jason Snell

295

A History of Things That Never Happened

The first teaser trailer for “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” has dropped, and so in the spirit of our “Force Awakens” teaser breakdown, we’re back to provide frame-by-frame analysis of all 90 seconds. This is the first in a new series of “Star Wars” anthology movies, this one set before and around 1977’s original film. How do you make a period piece about a fictional period? What’s Felicity Jones’s character all about? Why does Forrest Whitaker have a Darth Vader breathing harmonica? And why does Jason refer to all droids like they’re vacuum cleaners? For some questions there are no good answers.

Jason Snell with John Siracusa, Dan Moren and Serenity Caldwell

280

They're Not Alone

Our many-part analysis of “The Force Awakens” continues. In this episode we praise the casting of Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac, and ponder how the diversity of the “Star Wars” universe has increased. Plus, did Luke hide something in all the droids? Why does Finn hold a lightsaber like a baseball bat? Why would one of the Weasley brothers become a fascist? And ultimately, why is this film redemptive for the franchise as a whole?

Aleen Simms with Lisa Schmeiser, Erika Ensign and David J. Loehr

279

They Were Jerk Planets

In this installment of our continuing coverage of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” our East Coast panel gushes a little, complains about Starkiller Base a little, ponders “The Force Awakens” as a buddy movie, copes with death, and tries to imagine what it will be like to get a new “Star Wars” movie every year. Also, Scott keeps bringing up “Star Trek.”

Chip Sudderth with Andy Ihnatko, Shannon Sudderth, Scott McNulty and Tony Sindelar

278

Fake Jedi Boy

Lots of people have opinions about “The Force Awakens,” and it’s sort of our charter to overdo it when it comes to “Star Wars.” So this week we’re presenting several follow-up panels about this new film. In this installment, we travel across the pond for a panel predominantly made up of residents of the UK. Why are there Scottish people in space? Who is the face of fresh young fascism? Where can we get red replacement arms?

Antony Johnston with Liz Myles, James Thomson and Dan Moren

Defocused 77

I'm Happy That You Like His Hand

It’s totally tubular.

Joe Rosensteel and Dan Sturm

277

Stormtroopers Are People

After three years of anticipation, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is finally here, and our panel of “Star Wars” fans is ready to review it. So here we go.

Jason Snell with John Siracusa, Serenity Caldwell and Dan Moren

Defocused 75

Quid Pro Quo, Anakin

Who’s a good Jedi? Yes you are!

Joe Rosensteel and Dan Sturm

Unjustly Maligned 42

"Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith" with Brianna Wu

Just ahead of “The Force Awakens” release, game designer and podcaster Brianna Wu joins Antony to round off our very own “prequel trilogy” with a defense of “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith”!

Antony Johnston with Brianna Wu

276

Don't Drink the Bacta Tea

With “The Force Awakens” only a week away, we pause to ponder why we’ve anticipated this film release for more than three years. What spoilers have we avoided? (This episode certainly contains none.) What does it mean that “Star Wars” is now an extended film franchise releasing new films annually? How many times are we going to see the film next weekend, and how will we find time to podcast about it? And perhaps most importantly, can any new “Star Wars” movie ever possibly hope to capture the excitement we felt when we discovered these films as children?

Jason Snell with Serenity Caldwell, John Siracusa and Dan Moren

Defocused 74

Eight-Year-Olds Writing Romance for Fourteen-Year-Olds

Remember that time we found a clone army in the couch cushions?

Joe Rosensteel and Dan Sturm

Defocused 73

Quantify His "Forciness"

It didn’t have to be this way, George.

Joe Rosensteel and Dan Sturm

Defocused 72

Then We All Shout and Throw Things at Our TV

The droids you own end up owning you.

Joe Rosensteel and Dan Sturm

Defocused 71

That's the Mallrats Line

As it turns out, we don’t agree on everything. Who knew?

Joe Rosensteel and Dan Sturm

Defocused 70

C-3PO's Funeral Parlor

The thing is, you get more parsecs per mile on the highway.

Joe Rosensteel and Dan Sturm

Unjustly Maligned 25

"Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones" with Mike Klimo

Film critic and controversial prequel fan Mike Klimo joins Antony to explain his unorthodox Ring Theory, and how he believes it proves “Episode II: Attack of the Clones” is unjustly maligned. It’s kind of intense.

Antony Johnston with Mike Klimo

Unjustly Maligned 10

"Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace" with Erika Ensign

Podcaster and handwavium aficionado Erika Ensign joins Antony to explain why “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” is unjustly maligned, that audiences should judge a movie in what it’s trying to be rather than what it’s trying to live up to, and how George Lucas never grew up.

Antony Johnston with Erika Ensign

243

Find My Lightsaber

A new “Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens” trailer has appeared! And, as was fated, we are here to deconstruct it within an inch of its life. Dark Side IKEA end tables! John Boyega quotes us the odds! Bespoke evil ships! And is that a glimmer in your eye, or just some lens flare? Plus we give some love to BB8, everyone’s favorite robotic soccer ball.

Dan Moren reports in from the Star Wars celebration, and Serenity Caldwell phones in from her car. This is serious business, people.

Jason Snell with John Siracusa, Serenity Caldwell and Dan Moren

238

Caucus with the Dark Side

Finished, this podcast torture is. We conclude our conversation about “Star Wars - Episode III: Revenge of the Sith,” taking you all the way through the dissatisfying ending. As a bonus, we try to rank the prequels, and discover a surprising winner. (part 2 of 2)

Jason Snell with John Siracusa, Serenity Caldwell, Steve Lutz, Dan Moren and Andy Ihnatko

237

Force Denier

War! We begin our final battle with the “Star Wars” prequels with our take on “Star Wars - Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.” After a long string of opening statements, we take on the crawl and the first few scenes of the film. Why does a droid wheeze? Why are villains introduced off screen? Why is Christopher Lee wasted? What’s the deal with all the elevators? Why is Darth Vader a chump? Why is there even more boring political science? What happened to Natalie Portman, and why is she wearing beaded bedclothes while standing on balconies? (part 1 of 2)

Jason Snell with Steve Lutz, John Siracusa, Dan Moren, Serenity Caldwell and Andy Ihnatko

Game Show 2

Counterclockwise: Space Minivan

It’s time for Counterclockwise, the panel show where four people discuss four geeky aspects of a single topic, and it’ll all get done in less than 42 minutes.

This week on our inaugural Counterclockwise, Jason and Dan are joined by Tony Sindelar and John Siracusa to discuss “Star Wars.”

Our topics include: “Star Wars” ships and vehicles, the best scenes from the original trilogy, classic video games and books, and who’s going to die in “The Force Awakens.” Plus, we all pick our Sith names!

Jason Snell and Dan Moren with John Siracusa and Tony Sindelar

226

Stop Circulating the Tapes

It’s the holiday season, when it’s time to consider what’s truly important. We spend time with family and friends and maybe even reserve a few moments to ponder some of life’s mysteries: Is Bea Arthur really Boba Fett? Does Han Solo have a secret Wookie bride? What is Tobor spelled backward? And does C-3PO have eyelids?

Jason Snell with David J. Loehr, John Siracusa, Steve Lutz, Erika Ensign, Tony Sindelar, Monty Ashley and Dan Moren

222

Forcegiving

There’s now a teaser trailer for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, and you know we have opinions. And so, in great Incomparable fashion, we’re here to talk about 80 seconds of video for more than an hour. How could we not?

Jason Snell with John Siracusa and Dan Moren

193

Don't Worry, We Got This

The casting for “Star Wars: Episode VII” has been announced, and so our team of interested “Star Wars” fans has arrived to break down the returning actors, the new faces, and our hopes for the future of the franchise. Plus we talk Kremlinology and Soviet industrial design, lament a bag of villains, and confuse screenwriters with pasta.

Jason Snell with Serenity Caldwell, Lisa Schmeiser, John Siracusa, Dan Moren and Andy Ihnatko

183

How I Sold Your Mother

Do you like sand? Then you may get upset as we conclude our discussion of “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones,” in which we ponder the mystery of droid consciousness, fail to get excited about seeing our old friends from Episode I again, open a Variety Pack of monsters, debate Yoda’s fighting strategy, and talk John Siracusa off the ledge. Finally, we ponder whether it’s worse for a movie to be bad or boring. (Part 2 of 2.)

Jason Snell with Dan Moren, John Siracusa, Monty Ashley, Serenity Caldwell and Steve Lutz

Bonus Track 182b

Episode II - Omnibus Commentary

Our complete, uninterrupted conversation about “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones.”

(You can listen to this instead of episodes 182 and 183 of The Incomparable.)

Jason Snell with Monty Ashley, Steve Lutz, John Siracusa and Dan Moren

182

Full-Fledged Force Mullet

Against the advice of our doctors, we’re back with more prequels. This time it’s “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones.” With three different opening statements, our podcast is about as bureaucratic as the Imperial Senate. We also discuss R2’s incompetence as a security system, ponder Anakin’s puzzling pick-up lines (and haircut), sympathize with the boring job of the Jedi, and question the plight of the Fett family and the clone troopers. (Part 1 of 2.)

Jason Snell with John Siracusa, Steve Lutz, Serenity Caldwell, Dan Moren and Monty Ashley

137

Go Wash a Droid

We conclude our discussion of “Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace.” We discuss the merits of podracing, debate who the Jedi’s version of Fonzie is, and grapple with tricky euphemisms. Plus, is the final lightsaber duel cool or just over-choreographed? And why is there a hall full of forcefields, next to a room with no guard rails? Party on, Darth! (Part 2 of 2.)

Jason Snell with Dan Moren, Greg Knauss, John Siracusa, Serenity Caldwell, Steve Lutz and Monty Ashley

136

We Waited 16 Years For This?

They said it couldn’t be done! They said it shouldn’t be done! But here we are, talking about “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace.” Why are the Jedi such jerks? A little Jedi goes a long way. Also, the biggest letdown of John Siracusa’s life to date, stupid droids, good actors being boring, text versus subtext, the merits of prequels in general, and why this is a movie that makes us dream… of a better movie. Exqueeze me? (Part 1 of 2.)

Jason Snell with Dan Moren, Greg Knauss, John Siracusa, Monty Ashley, Serenity Caldwell and Steve Lutz

114

When You Wish Upon a Star Wars

Were we pranked, or did Disney really just buy Lucasfilm and announce a new Star Wars trilogy? We decided to just assume it’s happening and record a live flash podcast about this unexpected turn of events.

Jason Snell with Ben Boychuk, Dan Moren, John Siracusa and Serenity Caldwell

89

Also Known as Endor

We wrap up our six-part series on the classic “Star Wars” movies with the climactic final half of “Return of the Jedi.” We discuss how the Empire is ahead of the rebels every step of the way, question Luke’s choice of forest camouflage, and explain why Ewoks are better unsubtitled. Also, how is Luke’s journey to being a Jedi not like what you see in most action movies? Who is more heroic in the end, Luke or Vader? Why does the Emperor wait so long to show us his lightning fingers? Why are rebel ships equipped with fireworks? And is Endor the name of the moon, or the name of the planet the moon is orbiting, or both?

Jason Snell with Dan Moren, John Siracusa and Serenity Caldwell

88

Skywalker's Eleven

We tackle the last of the classic “Star Wars” trilogy, “Return of the Jedi.” Why does Jabba the Hutt enjoy avant-garde wall hangings and ’80s dance moves? Isn’t it sad how Boba Fett goes out with a whimper? Are the alien languages in “Star Wars” too fake-sounding? And what’s up with Leia’s metal bikini? (Part 1 of 2.)

Jason Snell with Dan Moren, John Siracusa and Serenity Caldwell

68

Jedi Weekend

Gather some bounty hunters and warm up the carbon freezer! It’s time for the conclusion of our epic discussion of “The Empire Strikes Back.” We dissect the evolution of the Han-Leia relationship, the truly playful nature of Yoda and the importance of Dagobah, Vader’s agenda and his crunchy gloves, and Luke’s continuing adventures with garbage.

Jason Snell with Dan Moren, John Siracusa and Serenity Caldwell

67

Darth Vader's Office is Really Weird

Launch your probe droids and cut open your tauntaun! It’s time for part one of our two-part discussion of “The Empire Strikes Back.” Does Han Solo just want to be loved? Is Chewie sabotaging the Falcon on purpose? Why is snowy Hoth the setting? Why is Ben Kenobi a man of few words? Who’s scruffy-lookin’? And what is the purpose for Darth Vader’s clamshell office, anyway?

Jason Snell with Dan Moren, John Siracusa and Serenity Caldwell

47

Death Star University

Continuing our discussion of “Star Wars,” the original film. We praise the jump to hyperspace, explain why TIE fighter pilots wear black, ponder how Han and Leia somehow turn up in an Aaron Sorkin scene, reveal why there is no Space OSHA, comment on Ben Kenobi’s old man slippers and incomparable pseudonym, and expose the rebellion so rich it can have its own university and mint its own medals. (Part 2 of 2.)

Jason Snell with Dan Moren, John Siracusa, Scott McNulty and Greg Knauss

46

I Like My Coffee Like My Evil Sith Lords

“Star Wars,” the original film, is finally in our crosshairs, and if we can bulls-eye a Womp Rat we can take on this classic sci-fi film. We talk about our first memories of Star Wars, pretend the prequels didn’t happen, give Cantina drink-ordering tips, and marvel at Darth Vader’s coffee-drinking habits. (Part 1 of 2.)

Jason Snell with Dan Moren, John Siracusa, Scott McNulty and Greg Knauss