Just a couple of months ago, we were treated to an array of vintage Star Wars content on Disney Plus and one show that was missing, but is scheduled to arrive soon, is Star Wars: Droid Tales, which is a classic series from 1985, set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. Featuring C-3P0 and R2-D2, the series see them under three owners, as they criss-cross the galaxy.
1) It’s gone by a lot of different names
It’s best known as Star Wars: Droids. Simple, but accurate. The original title card for the series billed it as Star Wars: Droids – The Adventures of R2-D2 and C-3PO. But it aired on ABC as part of The Ewoks and Droids Adventure Hour.
Fast forward to 2004, when the series was released on DVD. Suddenly, it was billed as Star Wars: Animated Adventures – Droids.
The newest name, Star Wars: Droid Tales, is probably to piggyback on the 2015 Disney XD mini-series, LEGO Star Wars: Droid Tales.
2) Anthony Daniels was reluctant to sign on
C-3PO actor Anthony Daniels wasn’t initially keen on the idea of doing an animated series. “I had seen all those awful Saturday morning cartoons,” he told The Toronto Star. “You know, that really cheap sort of animation where just one lip moves and the sound is flat, so I really didn’t want to do cartoons.”
Daniel’s gut feelings have proved wrong before. He needed to be cajoled by his agent to play C-3PO in the first place, assuming that a robot character wouldn’t have much personality.
3) It’s got an interesting supporting voice cast
Blue singer Long John Baldry voiced the Great Heep. Back in Britain, Baldry was a member of Blues Incorporated, a band whose members included Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts, who later went onto The Rolling Stones. He later founded Bluesology, a band featuring Reg Dwight on keyboard. Reg would go on to fame under the name “Elton John.”
Any fans of Hallmark’s Good Witch? George actor Peter MacNeill plays Jord Dusat.
Princess Gerin was voiced by Cree Summer, whose distinctly textured voice is recognizable as Penny in Inspector Gadget, Elmyra in Tiny Toon Adventures, and Susie in Rugrats.
For Disney fans, though, she inhabits the role of Kida, in Atlantis: The Lost Empire.
Summer’s voice has also shown up on Disney television series like Bonkers, The Little Mermaid, Gargoyles, Jungle Cubs, 101 Dalmatians: The Series, Hercules, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, The Weekenders, Kim Possible, The Proud Family, Lilo & Stitch: The Series, Miles from Tomorrowland, Henry Hugglemonster, Nebula on Disney XD’s Guardians of the Galaxy, DuckTales, and Milo Murphy’s Law.
Boba Fett is voiced by her dad, the late Don Francks.
4) Star Wars sound legend Ben Burtt wrote five episodes
If you’ve enjoyed the “pew pew” of a Stormtrooper blaster, the chirps of R2D2, or the hum of a lightsaber, thank Ben Burtt. He’s become a celebrity in his own right, a rare feat for a sound designer.
With Droids, he wrote one episode, “The Great Heep”, and developed the story for four others, “The Frozen Citadel”, “Across the Roon Sea”, “The Roon Games”, “Tail of the Roon Comets.”
Other Disney Plus connections? Try Indiana Jones films like Raiders of the Lost Ark, WALL-E, fantasy film Willow, or The Adventures of André & Wally B., a short by the Lucasfilm department that would become Pixar.
Interestingly, Burtt took a pass on doing the show’s sound effects. Nelvana house composer Trish Cullen, composed the music for both Ewoks and Droids, also doing their sound effects.
5) It’s very much part of the Star Wars canon
Various references to Droids have made it into the main films.
For example, the series features a landspeeder race on the planet Boonta. The podrace in The Phantom Menace? It’s the Boonta Eve Classic.
The bog moon of the planet Bogden appears in Droids. Jango Fett was recruited on that planet, to be the DNA source for the Clone Troopers, according to Attack of the Clones.
General Grievous’ wheel bike, in Revenge of the Sith? Jann Tosh rides a similar vehicle in “The Lost Prince,” his first episode of Droids.
StarWars.com detailed the many other connections, in 2014.
6) Nelvana and Disney have worked together
This series was a partnership between Lucasfilm and Nelvana, long before George sold his studio to Disney. But the Canadian animation studio has worked with the house of mouse for a variety of projects.
In the early 1990s the Disney Afternoon cartoon block brought fun to television stations across the United States and Canada. But when advertising dollars were being drained away by cable, Disney looked to Kellogg’s to save the lineup. They did, but cut Gargoyles. Disney quickly oved the show over to their newly purchased ABC, retitling it as Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles.
After series creator Greg Weisman fell out with Disney, over tighter creative control, the final season was handed over to Nelvana.
That’s not the only Nelvana animation to air with Disney branding. Disney’s Handy Manny was also created by the Toronto studio, as was Rolie Polie Olie.
Disney Channel and Disney Junior have aired Braceface, Handy Manny, Babar and the Adventures of Badou, The ZhuZhus, Hotel Transylvania: The Series, and Go Away, Unicorn!
7) ABC deemed it “too sophisticated” for Saturday morning
The series only lasted 13 episodes. According to Nelvana creative director Clive A. Smith, ABC executives deemed Droids as being “too sophisticated” for Saturday mornings. He told the Toronto Star in 1985, “Ewoks is softer, and aimed at a younger audience than Droids. Droids is high-tech, future. It is Star Wars weapons, rockets and cars.”
Ironic. Earlier this year, SyFy Wire wrote that the series was “very, very kid-friendly.” Audiences sure have changed.
Have you started watching Droids? What did you think of the program? Let us know in the comments below.