This week in Galactic Hunter Video Theater, it's something from NPR! I'll never understand why but for some reason Star Wars was adapted to radio, and it's quite neat. The first episode "A Wind to Shake The Stars" is all about Luke Skywalker doing things we never saw in the movies. Camie? Fixer? Biggs? They're all here. Could this be ground zero for the shared delusion of many fans believing they saw these characters in theaters? It's possible! So read on, good reader!
If you want to experience the Star Wars Radio Drama I suggest grabbing the CDs (and make MP3s) to take around with you. If you can't do that, just watch the video below which has Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker and a bunch of his buddies like Windy, Camie, and Fixer, bringing to life the then-mysterious deleted scenes from the saga. Many fans also point to these episodes as something that may have lead to a lot of kids thinking they saw the "Biggs Scenes" as kids despite never being shown theatrically.
It's all here! Whining! Tosche Station! More whining! Skyhopper derring-do! This was an actual, honest-to-goodness official look into the life of the (at the time) main focus and true hero of Star Wars back when the entire franchise was more or less marketed as the ongoing adventures of Luke Skywalker. The motivations of Anakin or the machinations of bounty hunters or a grimy underworld weren't really the focus, antiheroes weren't the order of the day as we were mostly concerned with space ships and princesses and robots at the time. Here, what we get are the early days of a great adventurer, back when he had chores and didn't yet take up arms against his dad. (That comes later.)
For those of you with long commutes, I would suggest grabbing this and if you dig it, be sure to get The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi dramas as well. The entire original trilogy is about 13 1/2 hours, and to date no word of any plans to do a prequel trilogy exist. (Although, I have to admit, I would be positively delighted to hear such an adaptation or be involved in one. There's a lot of wiggle-room for more story in that movie, particularly with the backstories of Anakin and Darth Maul.)
Back in the 1990s, the novelizations, movies, and radio dramas were often cited as the only things which were truly canon by a few of the official guidebooks to the Star Wars universe, which is notable because the original Star Wars runs roughly 6 hours long in this radio form. The first episode is made up of almost completely new (to movie fans) narrative, setting up future installments while giving us a bunch of material that really expands the universe. Remember, this thing aired in 1981 when Star Wars consisted of two movies, two novelizations, about 40 comic books, and a smattering of original novels.
The idea of radio dramatizations in 2012 is certainly quaint, but many of us grew up without any screens in our rooms other than the screen door on the window. This gave something like this a lot more weight, simply because there weren't 200 cable stations or "phones" that were, in actuality, computers. Growing up I had a small tape recorder and, eventually, a radio I smuggled in to hear stuff from outside my house, which was unfortunately far too late to catch these on 91.5 FM or any other station. (I did, however, find out I could pick up AM stations from a state away and the Dr. Demento Show, but I digress.)
I'm more than a little surprised this format didn't get revived by Lucasfilm when podcasts took off, we did get short HoloNet News episodes but nothing particularly "big." I'd lose my damn mind if we had a Clone Wars radio drama podcast, but in this era of Star Wars Angry Birds I doubt kids would want to just listen to a show when they could play a game or learn about, quite literally, absolutely anything from the screen on their phones. Oh well! I hope you got a chance to listen to this episode and that you dig it.
Also fun: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy radio drama, which actually predates the Douglas Adams novels. It's a BBC radio show, and it's a lot of fun if you like your adventures to start with the Earth blowing up. In England this form of entertainment isn't quite as dead as it is here, as Doctor Who had numerous audio adventures while it seems we in the United States are largely content with books on tape. Podcasts have done a great job filling in the gaps, but those are largely less interested in this kind of storytelling, although many of them do serve similar purposes in terms of marketing and keeping a franchise alive in another medium.