Binge Watching The 1985 Star Wars Cartoon Series ‘Droids’!

Whilst Star Wars content is fairly common in this day and age, there were some very lean years between ‘Return Of The Jedi‘ in 1983 and the special editions in 1997. However, there were actually some cartoons in the mid-eighties which were only seen by a limited number of people at the time. Thanks to the internet and YouTube, that has changed and now pretty much everyone can access the animated shows. Many people have no interest in watching them though as the reviews were not so kind!

In 1985 two cartoons were part of ‘The Ewoks and Droids Adventure Hour‘ on morning TV at weekends in America. The former lasted two years and the latter ran for just one season of 13 episodes (broken down into three story arcs) as well as ‘The Great Heep‘ hour long special in 1986 which was set before the final cycle of episodes.

I never saw these shows at the time (they were later shown on Children’s BBC in the UK) so have no nostalgic thirst for them. I did buy Japanese versions of the DVD releases for each series about a decade ago but never got beyond one episode of each. Time to change that!

All those drinks ought to keep me going……to the toilet!!

The Ewoks cartoon show challenge was my first plan but then I thought the Droids one might be more interesting (and easier!) as I have more affinity to those characters. The duo, particularly C3P0, have often provided comic relief in the saga films but how would they fare on their own? My expectations were very low as I watched them all in chronological order (meaning the 1986 one got slotted in between episodes 9 and 10) via a mix of YouTube and DVD one Sunday starting bang on 10 am.

S01E01 – The White Witch

10:00 – The opening titles. The theme tune is sung by Stewart Copeland of The Police. It’s awfully catchy too and I’m actually quite excited as the series starts off in the desert but this is not quite the same as ‘A New Hope‘ (1977)…..which technically is yet to happen as these adventures take place before that but after the events of ‘Revenge Of The Sith‘ (2005).

10:01 – Artoo is dead already. Surely not. It’s too soon. Oh you had me there! It’s the classic scene where one character pours their heart out thinking their partner has gone only for them to re-emerge seconds later. Phew!

10:04 – A violent C3P0. This is new! The golden one throws a rock at some kind of machine.

10:05 – The white witch from the episode title is revealed. It’s a spaceship. I just assumed it was an actual witch! It’s a good reminder that this is actual Star Wars content.

10:12 – “My word. A lightsaber!” exclaims 3P0. I’m surprised too as I really didn’t expect to see one in this series at all.

10:15 – It’s really evident that this was made for TV as the screen fades in and out of blackness at the points where the commercial breaks would’ve been 35 years ago.

10:20 – One character says the classic “I need a holiday” line after exhausting himself in battle. “I think that’s the last we’ll see from Tig Fromm (the villain) for a while!” says another. That ought to mean he’s back in the next episode!

10:22 – Not a bad start. Dare I say it but I quite enjoyed this opening episode. Nurse, the screens!!

S01E02 – Escape Into Terror

10:30 – A passing mention of the Rebel Alliance. Such references to the Star Wars we all know are probably going to be fairly minimal I guess!

10:32 – C3P0 practices a martial art which he describes as Bantha hand combat.

10:35 – I’m already checking the time code to see how long is left of this episode!

S01E03 – The Trigon…Unleashed

10:47 – “We need a plan. If only Artoo was here” says Threepio. I’m sure everything will work out, even without the garbage-can droid.

10:53 – Droids are floating. Zero gravity puts Threepio’s arms out of circuit and they’re kept aloft for a few minutes thereafter.

11:02 – Artoo is flying a small aircraft with Threepio on the back. An inevitable crash occurs.

11:06 – The episode finishes with a typical plot-hole explanation as our hero droids are told they are a terrific team by the mother of rebel freedom fighter Kea Moll.

S01E04 – A Race to the Finish

11:10 – The Fromms (the gangsters from in Cycle One) hyper-space backwards!

11:11 – Threepio is caught in wires akin to the Endor scene in ‘Return Of The Jedi‘ (1983).

11:13 – “We droids are often judged by the company we keep” says Threepio to Artoo. It’s a good line.

11:14 – Jabba the Hutt is referenced as Boba Fett appears to return an owed favour to Sise Fromm. What a minute!

11:21 – Threepio, having entrusted a stranger over Artoo, fights back and floors the deceptive droid.

11:23 – Who knew that the Boonta Eve Classic Podrace first appeared in ‘Droids‘ before later appearing in ‘The Phantom Menace‘ (1999)! I do remember hearing this ages ago actually but had long forgotten so it’s a nice surprise.

11:27 – “A master never has to thank his droids” says Threepio in an emotional moment. Boba Fett then turns over the Fromms to the Hutts.

11:29 – The crew go to light-speed and there’s a message in the final moments as this is a kids show after all and they need to learn something. It’s not all entertainment and slapstick humour y’know! Time for a 30 minute ‘Droids‘ break!

S01E05 – The Lost Prince

12:01 – I move to the sofa as the next four episodes are on my DVD. Comfort at last. Too much comfort maybe. On screen, the droids finally get to do the work they’ve been programmed for (according to Threepio) as they work in a cafe and there’s an inevitable face-in-the-soup scene before they’re fired.

12:04 – The droids acquire a new master; a young miner called Jann Tosh.

12:17 – “I can’t bear to watch” shrieks C3P0. I’m kind of in agreement but I’ve got a job to do! Tiredness may stop me watching soon though. I’ll crack open one of those energy drinks the next time a monster of sorts appears.

S01E06 – The New King

12:24 – Assassin droid IG-88 appears. I’ve heard of him before, and know he’s been in some other stuff, but I can’t really remember what.

12:26 – The all time classic “We have company” line is wheeled out by C3P0. Has anyone ever said this line in real life?!!

12:34 – The droids and their master are in trouble as the walls close in on them akin to ‘A New Hope‘ (1977). The tension is unbearable. Oh no it’s not as all is ok a few seconds later!

12:35 – “Mwhahahahahahahaha!” Gotta love it when villains laugh like this!

S01E07 – The Pirates of Tarnoonga

12:44 – Threepio’s classic “We’re doomed” line gets aired for the first (but not the last) time in the series.

12:45 – Wow! So Kylo Ren first appeared in this series did he?! His appearance is very different to the sequel trilogy! Oh hang on, this one is called Kybo Ren!!

12:46 – A tie-fighter appears and Artoo shoots out a self-inflating crash mat for Threepio to land on. Is there no end to his abilities?!

12:50 – An ability to swim is one skill I didn’t imagine the droids could do. How wrong of me! A monster appears at last. A sign that it’s time for a certain energy drink to revitalise me.

12:52 – The droids are now in disguise. Who’d have thought it?!

12:58 – An imperial star destroyer on screen.

S01E08 – The Revenge of Kybo Ren

13:08 – “No-one stops Kybo Ren!” says the villain who likes to speak in the third person. It’s a serious line but I can’t help but laugh. I’m still amused by his name!

13:10 – “So be it” says Lord Toda. I recognise that line! It lacks the conviction of The Emperor though!

13:11 – Now C3P0 is on all fours which is strange to see, especially as it’s basically not even possible with the real suit worn by Anthony Daniels.

13:16 – “You’ve got C3P0 to deal with now” brags the golden one as he tries to create a diversion. It works of course.

13:19 – The Force is mentioned but I doubt we’ll ever see it used in any of the remaining episodes.

13:20 – Threepio is doomed again!

S01E09 – Coby and the Starhunters 

14:02 – Back from another break and I have to view this one on YouTube but the quality is poor. The episode is also substandard. It’s no wonder this episode was cut from this arc on the DVD I have. “How rude” says Threepio on screen as another of his famous lines is used.

14:13 – This episode seems just a little too real-world for me. Is that because of the young boy’s cat? Probably!

14:20 – Master Jann is suddenly accepted into the academy but it means the end of his mastership of the droids. It’s all a bit ‘Littlest Hobo‘-like as the protagonists move on.

S01E09.5 – The Great Heep 

14:28 – En-route to meeting their new master Mungo Baobab, C3P0 ends up with a bucket on his head after R2D2 makes a mess of mopping up.

14:49 – “Wait for me” yells C3P0 in homage to another of his original trilogy lines.

14:58 – It appears that Artoo has a parachute inside him for emergency use. Is that a pair of stormtroopers? It sure is! Just the sight of these guys reminds me that this is Star Wars!

15:17 – The droids are reunited when we all(?) thought Artoo was dead. I’m sure we’ve seen this sequence before!

S01E10 – The Tail of the Roon Comet

15:32 – Stormtroopers again! This is more like it! Artoo dances at the jukebox and jams the troopers’ audio amplifiers (as only he can do) by cranking up the volume so they can escape. Artoo now does a somersault to get on the landspeeder.

15:37 – Threepio reveals that he hates space travel. Oh dear. That doesn’t bode well as he’s got a few more decades of space exploration left! It’s taken 11 episodes but finally the “I have a bad feeling about this” line is used. By Threepio too. He also says “we’re doomed” twice inside the same minute!

15:39 – A tractor beam. “We’re being pulled into it’s mouth!” Oo-er!!

15:45 – The two droids are shut down by those menacing stormtroopers. Oh no!

15:51 – The screen shaking effect almost gives me a seizure. Not good when I’m tired. I go to the spare bedroom to get my Star Wars Insider (issue #27) guide to these episodes. Oh I can see the TV from here…even when lying down! Never knew that. Admittedly it is too far away to hear the sound though!

S01E11 – The Roon Games 

15:54 – Zzzzzz!

16:09 – I wake up from short nap and return to the living room to see Threepio on a horse-like creature in the Roon games! What the hell is going on?!

S01E12 – Across the Roon Sea

16:17 – The Bantha graveyard is mentioned. I’m intrigued but what is it?!

16:18 – Artoo rolls along with his umbrella up. Well, of course!

16:24 – C3P0 regrets that he can’t disguise himself! I’m sure he did do such a thing in episode 7!

16:28 – Lin D appears. He is an entertainment droid for happiness and humour. He’s not annoying at all!!

16:30 – My wife interrupts me by having the nerve to ring me! She wants dinner ready when she gets home. I’ve not even given that a thought. I’ve been too busy!!

16:35 – Lin D suggests going on the road with C3P0 and R2D2 as they make a great team. The former is not impressed. I actually am and think that Lin D might have become the third main character if a second season had been granted.

S01E13 – The Frozen Citadel

16:50 – “What’s happened to him?” asks a girl of the tiny Artoo. I’ve not got a clue though as my mind was elsewhere. It seems he turned into a 3.75 inch figure after touching a magical mirror or something.

16:53 – The all-important Roon stones end up in the lava, the only heat source, meaning when it freezes so will everyone else. Time to save the planet guys! Nope, they just decide to get the hell out of there.

16:55 – One of the villains swears his revenge on Mungo and that he will get him next time but we know that’s not true as this is the final episode and my day is nearly complete.

16:56 – The Mungo Baobab arc comes to an end with him flying off after telling our beloved droids that they were the best friends he could hope for. Is that something in my eye? No, don’t be stupid! It’s not that emotional. Besides the same happened at the end of the other two cycles.

On paper, watching about six hours of retro cartoons really doesn’t sound too difficult a challenge. However, it’s not like binge-watching ‘Breaking Bad‘ or a few movies in one go. It’s tougher than you think as the content does not exactly have you on the edge of your seat so remaining focused is not easy! In terms of Star Wars animation, it’s a long way of the excellent ‘Clone Wars‘ and ‘Rebels‘ shows and I really did struggle some of the latter episodes. Now I just need to decide whether I should bother with the ‘Ewoks‘ series which is considered to be a much harder challenge!

Click here to read ‘Star Wars Plane Spotting At Haneda Airport’

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About tokyofox

A Leicester City fan teaching English in Japan
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6 Responses to Binge Watching The 1985 Star Wars Cartoon Series ‘Droids’!

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