Fact is, it means that Star Wars fans elsewhere in the world are seeing The Mandalorian before the rest of us. That sort of thing used to happen a lot when films were released in America months before we'd get them. Generally, we'd be none the wiser.
But then isn't now, and now we have the Internet, which means we've got four months of avoiding spoilers for the first ever live-action Star Wars TV series. What should've been a moment of celebration for Star Wars fans across the planet has instead given a lot of us the runs.
Disney's Bob Iger has made it clear that, post-The Rise of Skywalker, TV is going to be the focus for Star Wars, at least for a few years, and here's where that is meant to begin. So, I hope you'll forgive us for feeling aggrieved.
Of course, it's not just Star Wars that Disney is pinning its streaming hopes on: it's also expanding its Marvel Cinematic Universe onto Disney+, with big budget shows featuring characters from the films. Those won't start arriving until next year, so for now there's only one of Disney's tentpole, movie spin-off, shows on the service from launch (unless you're a massive High School Musical fan, or desperate to see the tepid hidden camera series, Pixar In Real Life).
Apparently, it's a licensing issue that's preventing Disney launching in more than three countries, though based upon the issues users had connecting to the service on the first day, it might be as much to do with Disney not wanting to take on more than it can handle.
Which is fine, but doesn't change the fact that Star Wars fans are a rabid bunch, and we live in an age where things need to be released more or less simultaneously around the globe, or they're either going to be spoiled.
Or they're going to be pirated.
In today's world, four months is forever, and I'll admit we're a bunch of entitled, spoilt, arseholes. We know what we want, and think we deserve it now.
Nevertheless, it seems like a real oversight on Disney's part; they must know that Star Wars fans won't want to wait for The Mandalorian.
It can't have been part of the company's existing licensing deals, so couldn't they have just offered it for sale on iTunes or Amazon or something? I don't want to pirate it, or have to faff with a VPN; I want to pay Disney for it. I actually want to give them money to watch, but there's no legitimate way any of us outside the three launch territories can do that until March next year.
And that's why, obviously, I've not seen The Mandalorian. No no no no. Haven't seen it. I mean, in order to see it I'd have had to have torrented it illegally, or set up a VPN.
Which would've been an enormous amount of faff, given that Disney+ is blocking most VPNs (you can't even take screenshots of the shows... so I'm told), and anyway... it'd require creating, say, a US iTunes account, and... it would've been a real headache that would've taken me an entire day to semi-resolve, and even then getting it up on Apple TV might, y'know, prove impossible.
As if a busy man like me has that sort of time to waste, just to see the first episode of a brand new Star Wars live action TV show, which is going to be easily accessible in the UK come March anyway!
I mean, who'd do that?! To go to that sort of effort I'd have to be almost unhealthily paranoid about stumbling across spoilers, like the picture I saw when I opened Reddit yesterday morning, which gave away the massive twist at the end of episode one of The Mandalorian.
But no. I'm not that guy! No no no. I can wait. Of course I can wait! Absolutely. I'd never do any of the things above, even if I did think Disney has brought it upon themselves somewhat by not offering a legal way for people in the UK to watch The Mandalorian before Disney+ launches here.
So instead... here's my US counterpart, uh... Bob... um... Bob Maclunky, to review episode 1 of The Mandalorian. Take it away, Bob!
USA! USA! USA! Yee-haw! I'm Bob Maclunky, a real real American. I am real. I actually exist. No, I do, and I can prove it.
Like, did you know that in America crisps are called chips? Only an American would know that! My credentials extend further thus: I own a big barbecue, and one of those funny mailbox things out the front of my house (which is full of pulled pork, probably), and I can't afford to get my hyperthyroidism treated.
It don't get much more American than that! USA! USA! Support our troops. I'm walkin' here!
Lemme tell you Limey Brits what I thought of the first episode of Disney's The Mandalorian, what I have watched on Disney+ from here in my home country of America, in my cellar (like the sort all Americans have, except we call it a "basement" - because it's somewhere nobody can see us going mental with a baseball, or something).
First episodes are hard. Short of a final ep, they're the hardest episode of any TV show to get right. There's a ton of information to deliver up-front - not just in terms of story, and character, but tone. What sort of show will this be? Who are these characters? You have to grab the audience, and hope they'll stick around.
The Mandalorian plays its first episode safe by keeping story and exposition to a minimum, and dropping only the smallest hints about the main character. There are no sub-plots, just the Mandalorian going from one place to another, encountering a few new people/aliens/droids along the way. By not overloading the audience, it works, and subtly evokes the way the very first Star Wars movie had an almost audaciously linear storyline.
How you doin'?
Instead, this first ep is mostly focused on dropping Easter eggs for fans (and there are a lot of them, many of which are cheekily obscure), telling us how this is and isn't like all the other Star Wars things we've seen before. It also succeeds in setting up a mystery (as spoiled in the aforementioned Reddit post) that's going to propel the series onwards.
And... they succeed.
Most significantly, it succeeds in demonstrating that this is TV on a scale we don't often see. The budget is clearly off the charts, and though a couple of CGI shots do look a little video game-y, on the whole what's here is certainly on a par with what we've seen in the films. The original trilogy anyway, at least.
It opens with a typically Star Wars-esque cantina sequence, and a wisecracking alien who would be more at home in Star Trek, it takes a few minutes before that budget really kicks in. By the end, the episode has done that unique Star Wars thing of somehow combining seamlessly mythology, action, humour, scale, and heart. It's one heck of a balancing act to get right, but series creator Jon Favreau and director Dave Filoni nailed it. For a first episode, it's very, very strong.
I kind of wish they hadn't decided to release one ep a week (two in this first week; the next one is out on Friday) - though that's likely a move to keep people subscribed. Regardless, I am onboard to see where this goes.
Cornish hen! Canadian bacon!
Is it worth getting Disney+ just for The Mandalorian? Yes... ish. Though that's dependent on how much you want to see The Mandalorian, and a lot of people clearly have a knee-jerk hatred of everything Star Wars, while a lot of other people are tired of it and think it's being run into the ground.
And they've got a point, but The Mandalorian - by being more a Western than anything - already does a good job of arguing that Star Wars can exist beyond the Skywalker saga and the tropes that have propelled that movie series.
Even beyond The Mandalorian, already Disney+ offers ridiculous value for money. There's so much on there that I want to watch (here in my home, America, remember?), it's actually kind of intimidating. It also underscores how kind of evergreen Disney's output is. On Netflix, I rarely bother if a film is five years old, but there's loads of stuff from the Disney vaults that I realise I've never seen. I'm not even sure if I've ever seen Snow White all the way through.
My faucet has bangs!
Every Disney movie, every Pixar movie (barring the very latest ones, such as Toy Story 4, which will arrive next year), almost any Disney Channel show you can think of, a ton of National Geographic documentaries, a handful of interesting original shows, such as The Imagineering Story, all of The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, the 90s X-Men cartoon, 30 seasons of The Simpsons, everything Marvel... it's overwhelming, and since its purchase of 20th Century Fox, there's still a lot more Disney can add going forwards.
One other thing I really, really like about it is that it feels completely different to other streaming services, simply by virtue of everything on there being family-friendly. There's no category for "horror" or "thrillers" - everything is PG-13 or below.
And all of it will be stuff you can watch safely with your kids. Some of you might find that cloying and naff, but if you're like me (Bob Maclunky, the American), you'll find it refreshing.
Support our troops!
Thanks for that, Bob! You really are a real real American. I can't wait to finally see the show when Disney+ officially launches here in the UK...
What a massive shame Disney has chosen to handle things this way. They could've released The Mandalorian as a standalone, or launched Disney+ in a stripped-back way, with the promise of a more complete launch in March. I think many of us would've understood, given we would've been signing up just for The Mandalorian.
Instead we get... literally nothing.
Frankly, it's going to be virtually impossible to avoid spoilers until March, and Disney must've known that it's going to be pirated out of the wahoo. Can that really be what they want? It's not what I want; I want creators to be supported - regardless of how massive the company they're making content for is - and I actually want Disney+ to succeed. I'm fully behind a streaming service that feels welcoming to all-ages.
It's an utterly baffling decision on Disney's part, and you had to only glimpse at social media yesterday to see how it is already generating resentment towards the streaming service.
I'm guessing Disney assumed that was a risk worth taking, and that most people over here will have forgotten all about it by the time the next big, geek-friendly, show lands on Disney+, but nonetheless... it's hard not to take it as a slight, when we know that The Mandalorian isn't tied up in the deals Disney has with Sky, and the like.
Good show. Good service. Bad move.
Fanny packs indeed.