Tag Archive: Joseph A. Porro


Review by C.J. Bunce

Jawas, Ugnaughts, and Bounty Hunters… oh, my.

With three episodes in and a new episode dropping today on the new Disney+ streaming service, it’s time to dig into the latest entry in the Star Wars universe.  Great music, callbacks to prior Star Wars elements, and the best alien creations of any sci-fi or fantasy that have come along in years provide fans a lot to talk about.  With a complete story arc, and what is essentially a new, full-fledged Star Wars movie in the A Star Wars Story vein, The Mandalorian might be the greatest innovation in the Star Wars saga since the original movie that started it off back in 1977.

If there are faults in The Mandalorian, it is in its faithfulness to George Lucas’s world building.  Sometimes that includes clunky, simple dialogue.  Sometimes that includes characters with names that lack creativity (such as a mercenary named Greef, since a General Grievous wasn’t enough).  Sometimes that includes lack of rich character development and layered storytelling.  That said, there is so little fan service in the major creative franchises, so that when–at last–someone is listening to fandom, and the people pulling the strings grew up with the original trilogy like they did (I’m talking about you, Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau), and they artfully deliver in such a satisfying way, well, the perceived faults just don’t seem to matter.  The Mandalorian is the dream of every kid who lived through Star Wars in multiple viewings in the theater in 1977.  Every kid who played with a Jawa in a plastic Kenner Sandcrawler.  Every kid who had action figures of Boba Fett, IG-88, and Bossk, battling each other, and mashed up his/her Ugnaught action figure from The Empire Strikes Back with a patrol dewback toy from the first movie.  And every kid who still thinks Boba Fett can’t be surpassed as the word “cool” is defined, despite lots of variants on the character in the prequels and animated shows.  All that plus so, so many Easter eggs to find.

But The Mandalorian probably couldn’t have happened before now.  It relies on the effectiveness of Roger Christian’s lived-in distressed look of buildings and objects replicated so well in Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One in 2016.  It relies on the confidence that the Western is not dead, as tried on for size in Ron Howard’s Solo in 2018.  And it even skips over The Empire Strikes Back to find what may be a simple Western story framework as seen in Lucas’s original Star Wars, itself an interpretation of Akira Kurosawa and Jin Yong’s legendary heroic adventures.  In good writer style, it has all those beats needed so that the first three episodes could have been released with only little tweaks in theaters, and shown on the big screen, as a standalone.  Say, The Mandalorian: A Star Wars Story, as a major motion picture.  You need a good story and good writing, regardless of genre, to grab viewers.  This first tale may not be complex, but compare it to the first three episodes of any other sci-fi or fantasy series or any movie, and it’s The Mandalorian that rises above the rest.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Last year Fox’s science fiction series The Orville provided what many fans of sci-fi TV had been missing for the past decade: a rejection of a dystopian model of the future and a return to an optimistic outlook, a future where Earthlings succeed in their exploration of the universe.  Hands-on creator Seth MacFarlane and sci-fi royalty Brannon Braga, Jonathan Frakes, Robert Duncan McNeill, and even Jon Favreau and many other genre veterans created a new world full of real people, believable aliens, exquisitely designed ships and sets, and a 75-piece orchestra with the best music you can find on television.  In the old days of Hollywood, studios tried to give fans what they wanted to see.  Distancing itself from the new trend of laying on viewers quirky visions and forced constructs, the show instead unapologetically serves up what is frequently disparagingly called “fan service.”  In other words, MacFarlane is giving sci-fi fans what they want.  Fans of The Orville can marvel at the details of the production in a newly-released chronicle of the series, The World of The Orville Readers will walk away with a better understanding of why the series works: It’s a show by fans for fans, created by some of the best artists, artisans, writers, and actors around.

It’s pretty rare that any television series releases a companion book, let alone one that is published before the second season airs.  The World of The Orville covers the series from idea through concept art design, casting, art direction, make-up, costumes, prop design, and sound, up through the end of the season this past December.  The book is not just a compilation of concept art or film images, it’s a good mix of both, complete with explanatory text from across the several production departments.  Insight is provided from execs Brannon Braga, David A. Goodman, and Jason Clark, production designer Stephen J. Lineweaver, supervising producer Andre Bormanis, master visual effects veteran Rob Legato, effects supervisors Luke McDonald and Natasha Francis, concept designer Brandon Fayette, prop master Bryan Rodgers, display designer David Watkinson, construction coordinator Tony Lattanzio, makeup artist Howard Berger, music composer Bruce Broughton, and creator and actor Seth MacFarlane.  The book’s author Jeff Bond incorporates a good mix of behind the scenes photographs and text to provide a solid overview of the story path of season one.

Significant coverage is given of the ship The Orville itself, inside and out, including early concept art and alternative styles considered in arriving at the giant yacht that would make it to the screen.  Readers will get a look at costume designer Joseph A. Porro’s rejected designs, and various makeup designs attempted for key alien characters.  Ship designs, alien worlds, costumes and weapons, as well as a look at each key character and production set can be found here.

Check out some preview pages from The World of The Orville, courtesy of the publisher:

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