If you don't know about Disney+, there's a decent chance you've been living under a rock.
Disney's answer to Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services was made available Nov. 12. While the service's first days had hiccups as an overwhelming number of people signed up and streamed Disney's huge catalog of movies and TV shows, the service drew me to enroll on the strength of a single offering: original series "The Mandalorian."
"The Mandalorian" is set in the "Star Wars" universe in the aftermath of "The Return of the Jedi" and follows the titular character, a bounty hunter trying to survive. The character design will look familiar, as the helmet is nearly identical to fan favorite character Boba Fett, who was a Mandalorian himself, a culture within the "Star Wars" universe.
In the show, the Mandalorian is referred to only by that name and always wears his helmet (it's a cultural practice, as it turns out) as he sets about gathering a mysterious bounty for a mysterious benefactor.
Even without seeing his face, Pedro Pascal ("Game of Thrones") communicates the no-nonsense attitude of the Mandalorian as he kicks butt across the universe.
The first season is set to have eight episodes, with one released weekly. At the time of publication, five episodes are available to stream. Even without the whole season out there, this series is binge-worthy. It's smart and lived-in, the way the original trilogy was and the more recent movies are as well — special effects used only when needed, not where practical effects are more appropriate.
The decision to release the episodes weekly was a deliberate storytelling choice, "Mandalorian" creator Jon Favreau said in an interview with CNBC. Favreau, known most recently for his shaping of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, wanted to be able to tell the story in a serialized fashion, so the audience would anticipate what was to come, and to drive conversation between episodes.
This is a spoiler for the end of the first episode, so excuse the faux pas. The bounty the Mandalorian is sent after turns out to be a young creature the internet has dubbed "Baby Yoda," because the creature resembles a young version of the beloved character from the original trilogy. Called "The Child" in the series, this little creature is nearly too adorable to handle; it's inspired many an internet meme since its introduction and the little mysterious guy deserves all the attention.
The show pairs the gruff Mandalorian with this tiny creature for amazing Mr. Mom vibes. Combine this with excellent character design, well-coordinated fight sequences and a stellar supporting cast, and "The Mandalorian" has been an incredible success for Disney+, which has steep competition and an uphill battle in luring subscribers to the service in face of the mounting alternatives.
On top of all that, the show is a great world-building creation, which is saying something for the massive "Star Wars" universe. Boba Fett has long been a character of great intrigue, as he originally had a minuscule amount of screen time in "The Empire Strikes Back" and "The Return of the Jedi." Through "The Mandalorian," viewers get a greater peek into the culture that created Fett, using storytelling methods that don't hit you over the head with exposition. The character designs are superb and the opportunity to see what happened to non-Skywalkers after the Empire fell is exciting.
Each episode will have you wanting more.
WHERE TO START: Season 1, Episode 1
AVAILABLE ON: Disney+