While the LEGO Star Wars series has become renowned for its humour and charm, the playful sub-brand has never truly stood on its own two feet, instead opting to play within the confines of existing material. The Freemaker Adventures marks a change in this approach, taking LEGO Star Wars into largely unexplored territory, with brand new characters and stories taking the lead. Following the titular Freemaker family around the galaxy, the show had a challenge proving itself to be both entertaining, and deserving of a place amongst all the other EU content currently being produced. And after 13 superb episodes, it has more than accomplished that.
(Minor spoilers for S1 of The Freemaker Adventures follow)
Set during the Imperial era between Episodes V and VI, The Freemaker Adventures introduces us to the Freemaker family; Zander, Kordi and Rowan, along with their loyal “vintage” Battle Droid, RO-GR (Roger). Stumbling across an ancient artefact, the family are thrown into an adventure across the galaxy, interacting with numerous memorable characters, both new and old.
Building on the classic Star Wars dynamic of family, the show’s emotional core is the trio of Freemakers, with along with their lovable droid companion, Roger. The camaraderie between the family feels natural and earned, and despite us getting very little backstory, they feel like a genuine family unit. There’s a playfulness and earnestness to their actions, which helps to sell the later episodes where the familial bonds are tested to their core. Each family member also builds up a genuine character within the show – Kordi, the optimistic, profit driven entrepreneur; Zander, the creative spark and joy rider; Rowan, the enthusiastic and curious youngster; and Roger, the hapless droid who somehow ends up in trouble every week.
Against our band of heroes forms up a brilliant ensemble of villains. The Emperor and Darth Vader pull the strings from afar, leaving newcomer Naare to infiltrate the Freemaker’s and manipulate Rowan into finding the Kyber Saber for her Master. With her true identity remains hidden to the Freemakers (but crucially not the audience), it makes her ultimate betrayal all the more heart-wrenching, especially as Rowan comes to trust her.
Alongside the Dark Side of the Force, the comic relief comes in the form of Graballa the Hutt, and his henchmen, Dengar, Ramm and Bash. One of the most memorable characters from the show, Graballa, the ever-suffering cousin of Jabba the Hutt, lights up the screen every time he appears, while the incompetence of his henchmen will delight young and old fans alike.
And speaking of old fans, The Freemaker Adventures has plenty of cameos to keep things grounded in the Star Wars universe. Alongside the Emperor and Vader, the show features cameos from Luke, Leia and Lando to name but a few – there are also crossovers with The Clone Wars, The Force Awakens, and even LEGO’s own The Yoda Chronicles, creating something of a LEGO Expanded Universe.
With a show created entirely out of LEGO, it would be easy to dismiss it as simple, whimsical fun – however, the creators go to great lengths to ensure that there are real stakes, and even though the Kyber Saber seems crazy (even for EU content), Naare’s relentless pursuit of it, and eventual destructive capability with it, remain a very real threat throughout the series. There are some dark moments in many of the episodes, and while characters remain upbeat, the final arc almost ends in disaster for our heroes.
But that’s not to say the show is all doom and gloom – in fact it’s far from it. The writing team deserve huge credit for being able to blend genuine character development, plot movement and hilarious jokes into one enjoyable package. From the Emperor’s “Galaxy’s Best Emperor” mug, to Graballa the Hutt’s exasperation at everything, to Roger’s absolute horror at the idea that the Battle Droids were the bad guys, every episode is full of memorable, and very quotable jokes. And as always with LEGO, its humour that appeals to all viewers – older fans will thoroughly enjoy Graballa’s revulsion that Jabba carries around Han encased in carbonite with him, while younger fans will enjoy the sight of such a vibrant show.
That vibrancy and attention to detail is in place throughout, with everything looking incredibly realistic, to the point that it being LEGO no longer becomes the focal point of the show. The Freemakers feel like real characters facing a real threat in the Star Wars universe, as genuine as Rey and Finn. And while technically non-canon, the show slots so neatly into the stories that have come before, it very easily could be.
It would be remiss of me not to make special mention of the soundtrack, which much like the characters, feels very much a part of the Star Wars universe. The triumphant theme tune is as good as The Clone Wars and Rebels fanfares, and background music constantly riffs on classic themes, adding an incredible extra dimension to the world of The Freemaker Adventures.
So was The Freemaker Adventures a successful venture for LEGO? The answer is a resounding yes. While it was a huge gamble to introduce an entirely new set of characters, the 13 episode run proved that when done right, new characters can fit in seamlessly within the Star Wars universe. For both fans young and old, The Freemaker Adventures is a superb show that easily stands alongside many of LucasFilm’s other offerings. It’s a show that you will want to revisit, and a family that you will miss once the credits roll on the final episode.