Back in 2012, before Lucasfilm was purchased by Disney, there was an announcement regarding a brand new Star Wars animated television show. At Star Wars Celebration VI, a panel was scheduled called the “Super-Secret Star Wars Panel with Todd, Seth, and Matt.” Fans had no idea what this panel was, but its cheeky title had them eager with anticipation. Turns out that the panel was premiering a Star Wars show unlike anything anyone expected. The show was called Star Wars Detours, and it was being produced by the same people behind Adult Swim’s popular stop-motion sketch show Robot Chicken.
Given the full approval of George Lucas — who signed off on the project due to his love of the Robot Chicken parodies of Star Wars — the concept of the series would involve a humorous look at the daily lives of citizens of the galaxy. Originally planned to showcase everyman type characters who had to deal with silly day to day frustrations, the show eventually grew to be more of a spoof of more famous characters like Han Solo, Chewbacca, Darth Vader, and Emperor Palpatine.
There was enough hype behind the show — Robot Chicken creators Seth Green and Matt Senreich had been working on the show for a few years by the time it was unveiled in 2012 — that the creators were even able to wrangle a few original cast members for the fun. Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), and even Ahmed Best (Jar Jar Binks) all signed on to reprise their cinematic counterparts. The rest of the voice cast featured notable appearances from folks like Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy), Felicia Day (Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog), Donald Faison (Scrubs), Joel McHale (Community), and even Weird Al Yankovic.
When the first trailer (seen above) hit the web, fan reaction was decidedly mixed. This was the first time a Star Wars property had decided to intentionally lampoon itself. Though parodies had been plentiful before Detours, this was a project that carried the Star Wars seal of approval. The show was attempting to straddle a line between being friendly enough for younger viewers but also humorous enough for older viewers. It existed in a strange middle space that made a lot of fans uneasy.
Since Detours was a product built purely by Lucasfilm, there was no attached network to broadcast it. Lucasfilm had hoped to shop the show around, giving Cartoon Network the first opportunity (Cartoon Network has also been the successful home of The Clone Wars cartoon). But just as the show was making its rounds, Lucasfilm announced its sale to Disney. With Disney taking a vested interest in the biggest intellectual property of all time, they decided to shelve Detours. Disney felt that they couldn’t let a ridiculous parody show be part of the foundation that they wanted to build. Disney wanted to start fresh with a new feature that paid homage to the original trilogy and created a brand new universe of characters for a younger generation to adopt as their own. A spoof show about a bunch of older characters didn’t gel with the direction Disney wanted to go in.
Will we ever see the release of Star Wars Detours? According to Green, there are 39 (!) fully produced episodes ready for release. Last year, there were rumblings of Detours getting some sort of digital release during the summer, but nothing came of that news. IMDb lists the show as being in post-production for 2016, but there has been no official word from Disney about this. It seems wasteful to leave 39 episodes just sitting on the shelf, but let’s not forget the fate of the Star Wars Holiday Special. Maybe one day we’ll get to see Star Wars Detours, but as of right now, the odds are looking pretty slim. But, as Han Solo famously said, “Never tell me the odds!”