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Back in the days before The Mandalorian was even a possibility and few people could have dreamed of something as cute as Baby Yoda, George Lucas had plans for his own live-action Star Wars TV show, and it would have involved somebody renowned for his work in genre TV shows. Ron Moore, best known for the Battlestar Galactica reboot, was on board the project as a writer. Now, Moore has dropped some details about Lucas' planned show.
Called Star Wars: Underworld, the live-action show was intended to be set between the events of Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope (which will actually be the setting of a different Star Wars show thanks to Disney+). George Lucas began developing Underworld in 2004, before Revenge of the Sith even hit theaters, and Ron Moore shared his experience as a writer for the project with Collider, saying:
It was a ball, it was a lot of fun. It didn’t happen ultimately, we wrote I’d say somewhere in the 40-something, 48 scripts, something like that… the theory was George wanted to write all the scripts and get ‘em all done and then he was gonna go off and figure out how to produce them, because he wanted to do a lot of cutting edge technological stuff with CG and virtual sets and so on. And so he had a whole new thing he wanted to accomplish. And what happened was, you know, we wrote the scripts and then George said ‘OK, this is enough for now, and then I’ll get back to you. I want to look into all the production things.’ And then time went by and like a year or something after that is when he sold Lucasfilm to Disney.
George Lucas seemingly had very big ideas for Star Wars: Underworld, as putting together 40+ scripts for a project before filming anything isn't exactly standard operating procedure in the television business. That said, Lucas was coming off work on the special effects-heavy prequel trilogy and had earned a legacy for revolutionizing what can happen on the big screen, so perhaps it's not surprising that he would be ambitious for his own show on the small screen.
As Star Wars fans who only got their first look at live-action TV in the galaxy far, far away with The Mandalorian know, Star Wars: Underworld never happened due to George Lucas' decision to sell Lucasfilm to Disney, which opened the door for the sequel trilogy and some TV projects for Disney+. According to Ron Moore, Lucas didn't ask the writers to scale back their ideas for what could happen on Underworld:
There was lots of action, lots of sets, and huge set pieces. Just much bigger than what you would normally do in a television show. . . . Yeah, I think it was pretty much one big storyline. It was one long tale with episodic things that would happen. You know, there would be certain events [that] would happen in this episode or this episode, so it was sort of an episodic quality to some of it. But it was telling a larger narrative, in terms of the story of those particular characters in that setting.
Star Wars: Underworld apparently would have been a grand serialized TV show, which was unprecedented at the time and would still be pretty remarkable. Unfortunately, all signs point toward the future of Star Wars TV already being settled on The Mandalorian, the Obi-Wan Kenobi series, the Cassian Andor-centric Rogue One prequel series, and a mysterious fourth live-action show in the works, all at Disney+ with no mention of Underworld.
That said, Kathleen Kennedy revealed back in 2015 that the Disney Star Wars team had the scripts George Lucas put together for Star Wars: Underworld and said that they were interested in developing something based on that material. Of course, that was years before The Mandalorian, Baby Yoda, and Disney+, so Underworld may be dead for the foreseeable future unless elements are incorporated into the Obi-Wan or Cassian Andor series, both of which are set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope.
Only time will tell if more details emerge about what Star Wars: Underworld would have been. For now, Disney+ is the place to be for Star Wars TV and movie content. For some viewing options set elsewhere than the galaxy far, far away, be sure to check out our 2020 summer premiere schedule!