That much is true; Resistance is made for kids. In contrast to the previous two Star Wars TV series, Resistance offers a lot less action and a lot more humor. But by insisting on taking younger viewers seriously, Resistance gains its greatest advantage: a license to break away from the Star Wars formula and take the universe into unexplored new directions.
Resistance doesn't follow the lives of Jedi Knights or elite troopers or guerrilla rebels or gun-toting smugglers. Instead, it immerses viewers in the blue-collar underbelly of the Star Wars universe: a world of mechanics, junk dealers and racers. What is Star Wars without the star warriors?
The overall reduction in violence from the last series, Star Wars Rebels, to Resistance is striking. In the first poster for Rebels, for instance, the protagonists were all depicted holding weapons: blaster pistols, a lightsaber, a slingshot, an electrostaff-rifle-hybrid and a disembodied Stormtrooper helmet (or head?). In the poster for Resistance, however, the heroes hold a rusty wrench, a racing helmet and a gorg (a cute cross between a porg and a piranha). And in the hourlong premiere, the only guns to be seen are the "no blasters" signs in the background. Some underwhelming ship-to-ship combat is depicted, but vehicles are only disabled, and no one dies. Resistance may not provide the best fodder for those fan-made kill count supercuts.
Reducing the emphasis on violence doesn't so much water down the Star Wars TV formula as transform it entirely. From the start, Resistance seems particularly interested in interrogating and replacing the model of heroism established in previous outings. Lead character Kazuda Xiono (Christopher Sean) is introduced as an aspiring ace fighter pilot, but he is immediately ditched by Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) on a remote world where his space combat skills are irrelevant and his piloting aspirations almost get him killed. The characters of Resistance will have to prove their heroism in other ways: through intelligence, diplomacy and ethics. The show's executive producers promise the action will ramp up over the season, but when Kaz finally picks up a gun, he won't turn into an instant badass. Instead, his inexperience wielding a blaster will be a running joke.
The Cantina scene in the original Star Wars captured the fans' fascination by giving them a sense that every weird background character was living their own intersecting story that continued just off-screen. (Various stories have spun off that scene). Resistance takes the Cantina impulse to the next level, digging into the same location and gradually peeling back the layers of its world to flesh out the background characters and their interrelated lives. The show's primary setting, a remote refueling station called the Colossus, is a tiny self-contained world with its own complex laws, economy and culture.
According to executive producer Athena Yvette Portillo, the team took inspiration from the sitcom Cheers to answer the question: How do you tell stories based in one location? This challenging limitation was generative, Portillo explains, because "it allows you to delve into the personalities of everybody on the platform, and you get to know them." That tough guy in the Colossus cantina, for example, turns out to be a struggling small-business owner selling gorgs in the open-air market, who just needs some help with his advertising. As for that adorable janitor creature that Kaz and Neeku (Josh Brener) walk past in a hallway, you'll be seeing a lot more of him.
"If you stay true to joy and astonishment and empathy," director Hayao Miyazaki once explained, "you don't have to have violence and you don't have to have action." Miyazaki's anime films work so well because they take children seriously; they understand that children can see heroism in the inner strength of characters in all shapes and sizes. The Clone Wars and Rebels were at their best when they slowed down to tell emotional stories grounded in tough ethical questions. By that standard, Resistance is brimming with potential as a worthy successor — even for adults.
Star Wars Resistance premieres Sunday, Oct. 7 at 10/9 on Disney Channel.