Monday, January 23, 2012

A Better World

My friend Kelly postulated on Facebook that everything would be just a little bit better if Jake Lloyd hadn't been cast as Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace. Of course, my brain immediately took that on as a challenge. I won't bore you with how this would have changed the outcomes of various elections and prevented numerous catastrophes, partly because I've made a New Year's Resolution to avoid politics and partly because it just wouldn't be funny. But here's how the world would be a better place in a Lloydless Phantom Menace Alternate Timeline.

(1) So let's set our stage: instead of casting a wooden, talentless waif indistinguishable from a zillion other playground-hollering little snots, George Lucas finds someone who could plausibly grow up to one day sound like James Earl Jones.

(2) Spending day after day on-set with an elementary-school kid who projects gravitas beyond his years, the rest of TPM's cast has no choice but to up their acting game and project real intensity into every scene.

(3) Even George Lucas isn't crass and shallow enough to put Jar-Jar Binks onscreen beside this razor-eyed tyke. Or maybe he keeps Jar-Jar, but dubs him into alien-speak and runs subtitles under all his dialogue. Either way, a massive improvement.

(4) From that, it naturally follows that moviegoers sit spellbound through TPM thinking, This is a hell of a movie, and Holy crap, this kid's gonna turn into Darth Vader! (As opposed to thinking, didn't this kid dent my car door when his effing razor scooter got away from him?)

(5) Encouraged by the enthusiastic response to Episode I, Lucas proceeds to Episode II with more focus and a dedication to maintaining quality. Despite his natural inclination to let actors get away with shoddy performances, he chooses instead to repeatedly slap Hayden Christensen around during the course of production, saying, "Christ, the ten-year-old was scarier than that in the last movie. Do better, or I'll have Frank Oz stick his hand up your ass and work your mouth for you -- Yoda's CGI in this film, so Frank's got the time to do it, too!"

(6) Attack of the Clones is heralded as cementing the return of Star Wars' greatness. It dominates the box office through the summer of 2002.

(7) Eager to ride the renewed bandwagon of space-based sci-fi, FOX promotes Joss Whedon's Firefly sensibly and runs the episodes in correct order in a good time-slot. Time magazine puts Nathan Fillion on its cover back-to-back with a Han Solo cardboard cutout, over the headline, "Better than Star Wars?"

(8) Faced with sudden competition and also riding the heady wave of two acclaimed Star Wars films in a row, George Lucas works night and day to make Revenge of the Sith the most intense and effective of all the Star Wars movies. This in and of itself might mean nothing, except that Lucas concedes he can't possibly outdo Whedon without help, and actually takes advice from people who know how to write throughout the creative process for Episode III.

(9) Paramount finally recognizes that it can no longer blame the poor ratings for "Enterprise" on some kind of flagging interest in sci-fi. The entire writing staff and all the producers are fired, and replaced with a new creative team focused on good storytelling and exciting plots.

(10) With Firefly and Enterprise duking it out on the small screen and Battlestar Galactica debuting during production as well, Lucas continues to seek all possible collaborative input into making Revenge of the Sith the greatest science fiction movie ever made. It wins Best Picture for 2005, and lands acting Oscars for Natalie Portman, Christopher Lee, and Ewan MacGregor. Hayden Christensen good-naturedly jokes that he'll get his nomination for Episode VII.

(11) Having had so much fun and finally achieved critical acclaim as great as his box office success, Lucas announces his third trilogy will soon go into production, but that he intends to take it easy, letting Ron Moore produce and Ridley Scott direct. Moore is giddy about the project, saying, "When I saw how George wrapped up Episode III, it gave me the balls to avoid ending Galactica with some kind of ambiguous, chicken-sh*t cop-out. I'm certainly not going to let him down now!" Scott is more reserved, but does remark that he'll be pleased to work with Harrison Ford again.

(12) Aglow with optimism and delight at the prospect of a future full of quality Star Wars films, the world has no time for economic downturns, and the allegorical fate of the Trade Federation has scared most of the Bernie Madoffs of the world into hiding anyway, leading to an endless housing boom and a world economy bustling enough to more than support Episode VII's $1 billion budget.

(13) During production of the final Star Wars trilogy, Industrial Light and Magic literally invents magic, and nothing bad ever happens in the world again.

Now admit it, does any of that really sound so far-fetched?


  1. Very entertaining Herb! I see you are still ticked off about the ending of BG. lol

  2. "We wanted to leave the interpretation up to the viewer." Sorry, Ron, that's fantasy, not science fiction. Science doesn't leave facts up to the viewer, and BG ditched out on revealing some of the most important facts in the series.

  3. Well my problem with Phantom menace was all of the talk about a trade war. Really? Who cares it added nothing to the story. Also who was the protagonist in the story?