News from the frontier, 6/1/2007 (Star Wars, Hallmark, Romans)

Happy Friday, everyone. Here is your daily, uh, weekly, er, occasional dose of news from the frontier!

The death of Star Wars?
1985-1996 was a dark time for Star Wars. There was an ill-conceived sequel to an ill-conceived TV movie about Ewoks. There were a couple of quickly cancelled Saturday morning cartoons, one dealing again with Ewoks and the other with the early adventures of Artoo and Threepio. Pretty much Star Wars minus all of the good stuff.

Die-hard fans were eventually able to find some solace in books and video games, but for the general public, Star Wars became a distant memory, a relic of the past.

When the 20th anniversary special editions of the trilogy hit theaters in 1997, the world suddenly fell in love with Star Wars all over again. And though some claim the 1999-2005 prequel trilogy did more harm than good to the franchise, it sustained and built upon Star Wars‘ resurgence in popularity.

Beginning with the flops of the much-hyped Star Wars: Unaltered DVDs late last year, Star Wars entered a dark time again. Last week, there was little mainstream media coverage of the 30th anniversary of the original film.

Even the official Star Wars site failed to run a story on the anniversary. Their headline story on May 25 was a three-day-old entry promoting Star Wars: The Legacy Revealed on The History Channel. Whatever happened to that “30 Years Ago This Month” feature they started back in March? (I’m nothing if not sentimental, so The Film Frontier lovingly covered the anniversary.)

The “front door” of the Star Wars site was spruced up a bit for the anniversary, though I actually prefer the simpler version. They have also added some video features.

As we’ve been hearing since 2005, two Star Wars TV series are in the works. In case you’re curious, here’s a teaser poster for the forthcoming Star Wars: The Clone Wars, a 3-D animated series taking place between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. As posters go, it’s not exactly a classic. Hopefully the actual show will be better.

Will these new TV series bring Star Wars back to life? Or just continue the dark times?

Here are a couple of news columns with further opinions on the current state of Star Wars:

Is Star Wars over? (The London Free Press)
A convention almost killed ‘Star Wars’ (Argus Leader)

Oh yeah, and Yoda wins
Remember that whole Star Wars postage stamp contest? Though the winner was announced a week ago, you may very well not have heard due to the above mentioned lack of coverage and, dare I say, lack of interest.

With little surprise, Yoda won. This means that the Jedi Master will get his own sheet of stamps this Fall, in addition to being part of the set that went on sale last week. That’s right, all of the voting was for a double-dip.

The voting results were also not covered on starwars.com, though it was revealed at www.uspsjedimaster.com, the horribly named “Jedi Shipping & Mailing Master” site that promotes the stamps.

I think the whole voting for a stamp thing failed to light up the Web as Lucasfilm and the postal service might have predicted. As we know from the Unaltered DVDs, starwars.com has a short memory when things don’t work out as hoped.

The difference between this and the promotional bonanza that the 50s Elvis vs. 70s Elvis stamp voting 15 years ago created is that all of these Star Wars stamps would be released either way. It was a contest with little meaning.

Nothing against Yoda, as he’s one of my favorite characters, but I was hoping an image from the 1977 film would win instead, to honor the anniversary. Yoda’s first appearance was in 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back. Oh well, not worth staying up at nights over it.

You can get Yoda and the other 14 Star Wars stamps at post offices now.

Christmas is only seven months away. . . .
So that means it is time for Hallmark’s catalog of 2007 Christmas ornaments.

Page 33: Superman (“Quick-Change Artist”) From the looks of things, I’ll be skipping this one. I suppose it is marginally better than a recent Superman ornament that featured the Man of Steel laying across the Daily Planet globe (“flying” is what they were going for, I guess).

Pages 34, 35: Star Wars and Star Trek
There are three ornaments celebrating the 30th anniversary of Star Wars: “R2-D2 and Jawa,” “The Adventure Begins” (featuring the Millennium Falcon over Mos Eisley), and “A Jedi Legacy Revealed” (Ben explains the Force while Luke tries out his father’s lightsaber for the first time).

For Star Trek, there’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, which is an Enterprise bridge scene with the Reliant on the viewer. You can’t see the character faces in the picture, and they will likely make or break the ornament. Nice for Trek II to be remembered, in any event.

For you TNG fans out there, there’s “Future Enterprise“, the vessel seen in “All Good Things. . . .” Sorry, even spruced up, the Galaxy Class just doesn’t do anything for me.

Page 47: Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots One of the classic toys of Christmas certainly makes for a decent ornament. I used to have the Transformers version of this way back when, with Optimus Prime vs. Megatron.

Page 57: Superman and Wonder Woman
“Just Like Superman!” is basically a miniature Clark Kent jacket and shirt on a hanger with the Superman suit peeking out underneath. A simple concept, but better looking than the Superman in phone booth ornament above.

Speaking of phone booths, I remember reading somewhere that DC was “anti-phone-booth” now in regards to Superman and was not allowing that imagery to be used. Apparently this either didn’t apply to Hallmark, DC changed their collective minds, or I shouldn’t believe everything I read on the Web. Let that be a lesson to you.

“A Real Wonder Woman” is basically the same concept, with Diana’s cape and costume on a hanger. Though I’ve never gotten the impression she stored her costume on a hanger, who am I to wonder about such things?

That’s some of the highlights, anyway. There are also lots of Peanuts and Looney Toons ornaments scattered throughout. And lots of boring, more Hallmarky stuff. That’s one hefty catalog.

And yes, it really is a slow news day if I’m sitting here making up content by flipping through a Hallmark catalog.

Rome: Remastered
This weekend on Star Trek: Remastered, it’s “Bread & Circuses.” The Enterprise discovers a planet where its equivalent of the Roman Empire has survived into its equivalent of the 20th century. The gang gets drafted for a reality TV series. Those Romans were ahead of their time.

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And that’s all for this installment of Frontier News.

Coming next time, the leftover, minor news items that I just couldn’t find room for today: JJ Abrams announces cast for Star Trek XI and George Lucas announces a Star Wars sequel trilogy.

(That’s a little joke. Very little.)