One of the most intriguing surprises of the whole Disney/Lucasfilm buyout has been the sheer ambition Disney has demonstrated when it comes to making the most of their new franchise. The announcement of a new trilogy of films would have been noteworthy enough, but Disney has gone much further than that, aiming to imitate the Marvel approach of creating a vast, interwoven cinematic universe. One of the questions that’s still being answered, however, is what will happen with various Star Wars properties already in development, such as Star Wars: Underworld, the proposed TV series that’s been in the works since Yoda was knee-high to a midi-chlorian. Now the subject of Underworld’s future has finally been addressed…sort of.
EW raised the topic during an interview with ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee, and he gave an enthusiastic but noncommittal reponse:
We’d love to do something with Lucasfilm, we’re not sure what yet. We haven’t even sat down with them. We’re going to look at [the live-action series], we’re going to look at all of them, and see what’s right. We weren’t able to discuss this with them until [the acquisition] closed and it just closed. It’s definitely going to be part of the conversation.
“Part of the conversation” is a long way from “coming this fall to ABC,” but it’s still a more optimistic appraisal of the show’s chances than we’ve heard in a long time. The project began several years back, instigated by Lucasfilm producer Rick McCallum. He brought in talented folks such as Battlestar Galactica’s Ron Moore to pen fifty scripts for the series, but they’ve more or less been gathering dust ever since. Given the expectations put on a live-action Star Wars series by fans, it’s not terribly surprising that they’ve never made it to air, especially when you factor in the goal to give the show top-notch special effects on a TV budget. With the show having been compared to “Deadwood in space,” it’s got the potential to be the darker, more mature approach to the Star Wars universe that many fans were hoping to get from the prequels…assuming it ever makes it to air.
Still, if the show is ever going to get made, it’s probably got a better shot now than it ever did before. ABC is part of the same corporate monolith that now owns Lucasfilm, and there’s already precedent for TV franchise spin-off series, in the form of the S.H.I.E.L.D. series Joss Whedon is working on for ABC. Lee continues:
It’s going to be very much up to the Lucasfilm brands how they want to play it.We got to a point here with Marvel, a very special point, where we’re in the Marvel universe, and very relevantly so, but we’re not doing The Avengers. But S.H.I.E.L.D. is part of The Avengers. So maybe something oblique is the way to [approach the Star Wars universe] rather than going straight head-on at it.
While details about Underworld are pretty sparse, it’s set between the prequels and the original trilogy and is rumored to explore the dark and dangerous corners of Lucas’ universe. That would include the bowels of the Imperial capital world, Coruscant, and the protagonist is said to be a bounty hunter — not surprising given the popularity of Boba Fett.