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Cover art for the live-action TV series Star Wars: The Jedi Path

Star Wars: The Jedi Path is an American science-fiction television series created by William Walton Granger and Timothy Zahn and produced by Granger. The show originally aired on the FOX network for six seasons, from January 7, 1998, to May 29, 2003. Upon completion of the prequel trilogy in 1993, Granger conceived of a show that would utilize the Jedi motif in a modern day setting to keep costs down.

20th Century Fox had were reluctant to fund a live-action show. Fears that production costs would be inflated with such a special-effects laden series, or cost cutting measures would limit the visuals, Fox executives turned down the suggestion. Instead they urged Granger to focus on the planned sequel trilogy.

Suggesting that an earth-bound setting using the fan favorite lightsabers and Jedi characters could work, Granger pushed the idea to the executives. Following the re-release of the original Star Wars trilogy in 1997, Fox executives agreed to green-light a pilot for the controversial series.

The show debuted on FOX network on January 7, 1998, earning the channel's highest ratings thus far. The series ended with the sixth and final season. The show has received numerous awards, including two Satellite Awards, six Golden Globe Award, a Writers Guild of America Award, a Young Artist Award, and two Emmy Awards.

Production[]

Conception[]

Knowing that a live-action series based on the Star Wars films could never achieve the same look and style on a television budget, William Walton Granger essentially opted to create a Star Wars show without using the established universe. Returning again to earlier drafts for names and concepts, Granger created a storyline where the Jedi and the Sith and their ancient war could be relocated to modern day earth.

Still of the test footage for a lightsaber sequence. Fight coordinators Jeffrey Coffin and his sister Joanna Coffin spar. Notice the blades are without visual effects added.

Granger created a 35 page TV bible titled "Star Wars: Path of the Jedi" which included early concepts such as earth being the world which would become Coruscant. Mark Hamill returning as a lead where an older Luke Skywalker travels through a wormhole and becomes stranded on Earth. As well as the origins of droids via a multi-national corporation known as BioCyber Corp that would solidify the timeline and the show's position specifically within the universe of Star Wars.

Early announcement footage of the series' original title from Comic Con '97

Not pleased with most of his outline, Granger turned to novelist Timothy Zahn for help. The two radically altered the series and its origins. The idea of Luke Skywalker being a lead was dropped. (The character would turn up in several guest appearances though) They deliberately made the (renamed Jedi Path) connection to the Star Wars universe vague, focusing on the Jedi and Sith characters and the idea of a secret society of Sith who ruled the world. The Jedi were non-existent as a entity until their formation in the pilot. Granger and Zahn conceived of a 6 year story arc that would reveal the series timeline connection to Star Wars in the final episode.

Development History[]

Based on Granger's TV bible FOX ordered a full season which would have only fifteen episodes for the first season (including the pilot). The initial versions of the script were set in Washington D.C., but at the suggestion of 20th Century Fox, Hawaii was chosen for the production's location due to favorable financial conditions offered by the state and its varying location to better emulate world wide locations called for in the storyline. It was shot primarily on 35 mm film, with digital cameras employed as needed for additional angles, point of view shots and time-lapse photography. The Jedi Path reportedly cost $2 million per episode to produce, higher than the average cost for a basic cable program.

Casting[]

The Jedi Path creator William Walton Granger cast Sam Witwer solely based on his audition in which he "nailed it" as Granger stated in a later interview. Witwer had little experience, but a magnetic personality and Granger trusted that he could play the lead. To support him, he cast more experienced actors for the supporting roles, including Fairuza Balk and Chase Masterson. For the lead villain Granger wanted a handsome man that would make women's hearts go flutter. Granger said the character had to be simultaneously loathsome and sympathetic, and eventually cast up and coming actor Paul Walker for the role of Darth Abyssus.

"Paul, really, was the only actor who could do that, who could pull off that trick. And it is a trick. I have no idea how he does it."
— Granger on casting Paul Walker as Darth Abyssus

20th Century Fox executives were initially reluctant with many of Granger's casting choices, but he convinced them that big name stars would be harder to deal with and more expensive. Granger also revealed that numerous characters from the movies would be used in guest spots for specific episodes.

Filming[]

The Jedi Path was filmed on Panavision 35 mm cameras almost entirely on the Hawaiian island of Oahu due to the wide range of diverse filming locations available. The discovery of the Archive Box sequence was filmed at Mokulē'ia Beach, near the northwest tip of the island. Various urban areas in and around Honolulu are used as stand-ins for locations around the world, including California, Ireland, Toronto, Scotland, New York, Miami, South Korea, Montreal, Iraq, United Kingdom, Paris, Thailand, Berlin, Moscow, and Australia. For example, scenes set in a Moscow Airport were filmed at the Hawaii Convention Center.

Scenes set in Germany during the winter were filmed at the Bernice P. Bishop Museum, with crushed ice scattered everywhere to create snow and German storeshop and automobile signs on the street. Several scenes in the Season 3 finale, "Death Awaits No One", were shot in Los Angeles, including a White House set borrowed from The West Wing. Two scenes during season three were filmed in London because Patrick Stewart, who portrays Darth Vindus, was at the time performing a limited engagement of his famed one man show of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol and was unable to travel to Hawaii.

Music[]

Needing someone to utilize John Williams' famous music from the series, Granger sought up and coming composer Jeremy Soule. Soule was comfortable on using the past themes of Williams, with encouragement that he'd have plenty of original work to compose personally.

Still of the series' composer Jeremy Soule

Soule had been a composer of video games for several years and was ready to have a hand at composing a Television program. Having worked for LucasArts with Ron Gilbert, he was recommended to George Lucas who passed on Soule's name to Granger, claiming that he was "the John Williams of video game music".

Granger requested a demo reel with 4 interpretations of established themes and an additional 6 original themes. Soule chose the main Star Wars theme along with themes for The Force, the Emperor's Theme and the Imperial March. He then used those four pieces as springboards to create his own compositions that felt like Star Wars in a genuine and definitive way. Upon hearing the demo reel, Granger hired Soule on the spot and budgeted the first season's music for a million dollars.

Granger liked the music so much, he released a sneak-peak soundtrack of Soule's work to help promote the series.

Cast and Characters[]

Main article: List of Jedi Path characters

Main Characters[]

Recurring Characters[]

Special Guest Appearances[]

Series Overview[]

Episodes[]

Main article: List of Jedi Path episodes

The DVD box for the "Jedi Path" TV series

The complete series was released on DVD and Blu-ray on November 26, 2010, in a collectable box shaped like one of the Jedi Archives found and used by Decon Starkiller to reform the Jedi Order. The set contains various features, including a two-hour documentary, a copy of "The Jedi Path" book, multiple episodes with Special Commentaries,

Season 1 (1998)[]

Main article: The Jedi Path (season 1)

Season 1 starts with the establishment of a Sith ruled Earth, with the Empire under the rule of Darth Abyssus, who in his normal guise is an American Senator and businessman named Charles Dathaine. His life long friend, and employee, Deacon Sternemoder finds a silver box while surveying an oil spill on a California beach. Deacon gives it to Dathaine's secretary, Victoria Cavanaugh, but is soon drawn to it. Discovering that he can open it, Deacon is given a vision of the history between the Sith and the Jedi. Aided by his ex-girlfriend C.J. Thorpe, Deacon obtains new allies as he learns that Dathaine is the Grand Master of the Sith. Vowing to rid the world of such evil, Deacon assumes the historic name Starkiller: the English translation of his name.

Season 2 (1999)[]

Main article: The Jedi Path (season 2)


Season 3 (2000)[]

Main article: The Jedi Path (season 3)



Season 4 (2001)[]

Main article: The Jedi Path (season 4)



Season 5 (2002)[]

Main article: The Jedi Path (season 5)



Season 6 (2003)[]

Main article: The Jedi Path (season 6)


Format[]

Star Wars: The Jedi Path utilized a serialized story structure, similar to that of her contempory shows The Amazing Spider-Man, Lost, Prison Break and 24. From the very start Granger and Zahn had announced that the entire series had been pre-written and the scripts were under lock and key. Despite the fact that the ratings were strong by its sixth year, Granger chose to end the series as planned.

Reception[]

Critical response[]

The first season has been well received among critics; it holds a score of 86 out of 100 on Metacritic. British magazine Empire ranked it #35 in their list of the "50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time" and said "The Jedi Path was an action-packed weekly adventure that outclassed just about every other show in the genre." The New York edition of Time Out listed the show in their top 50 TV shows of the decade 2000–2009. The Jedi Path also appeared in UGO.com's list of Top 50 TV Shows of All Time.

U.S. television ratings[]

Seasonal rankings (based on average total viewers per episode) of The Jedi Path on FOX

Season Timeslot
(Eastern Time)
Season premiere Season finale TV season Ranking Viewers
(in millions)
1 Sunday 8:00 PM January 10, 1998 May 12, 1998 1998–1999 #04 29.7
2 Sunday 8:00 PM January 09, 1999 May 14, 1999 1999–2000 #06 29.0
3 Monday 8:00 PM September 28, 2000 May 23, 2000 2000–2001 #07 28.2
4 Monday 8:00 PM January 5, 2001 May 25, 2001 2001–2002 #07 30.3
5 Monday 8:00 PM January 19, 2002 May 22, 2002 2002–2003 #10 26.7
6 Monday 8:00 PM January 19, 2003 May 19, 2003 2002–2003 #05 36.2

Awards and nominations[]

External links[]

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