T-Canon and CWAS Continuity

While I'd tried to keep myself mostly unspoiled regarding the Clone Wars animated series, after inadvertently finding myself with the trailer before me recently I decided to go looking. And, as it happened, some of the conversation occurred among hardcore EU-philes.

The basic feelings I've seen from them overall range from excitement to alarm to rage, with most on the latter end of the spectrum. Apparently what little information has emerged thus far already ends up "stomping" all over the EU stories from the Clone Wars era, much to the annoyance of EU fans.

Chances are it will only get worse. The prequels required a great deal of EU retconning, but that was only six hours or so worth of film. As one fellow put it, "the TV show only needs to
go 16 episodes to match that, meaning that even one full season of the
show* will have more screentime--and thus introduce more content for
the books to hew to--than the prequels combined."

Given that Lucas doesn't pay too much attention to the EU, this does not bode especially well for EU-Completism-based continuity efforts.

We haven't heard much from Lucas Licensing about this. No doubt at present they are still busy with Indy tie-ins, but with the Clone Wars coming in August they're undoubtedly at work with that as well.

We've known for some time from continuity database coordinator and "Keeper of the Holocron" Leland Chee that the new Lucas-helmed TV titles would be considered "T-Canon" at Licensing, which seemed to just be a sort of holding area for television product until they figured out what to do with it. While I don't pay terribly much attention to the old 'GCSN' rankings for Licensing canon (where G is from Lucas, C is EU, N is non-continuity, et cetera), the emergence of a new level is interesting.

Circa March 17, Chee stated that "T-canon falls between G and C". In May, he noted that it was not EU, and then pointed out (in keeping with Lucas's recent assorted "three pillars" comments) that it was part of the Lucas pillar.

With so much from the Lucas universe coming down the pike, it may become harder and harder for the Licensing universe to retcon itself into consistency. Granted, this need not be an issue, given that Chee has already stated that the EU has some intentional, selected inconsistencies with what Lucas has created. However, the farther they diverge, the harder it will be for EU Completists to maintain their Lucas-discredited claim that it's all one big happy universe.


Lucas: EU is "sandbox", still "no story" past RotJ

More from Lucas (hat tip: "Mange")

George Lucas: 'Star Wars' won't go beyond Darth Vader

The saga resumes in August, but don't expect any new ending from George Lucas.

By Geoff Boucher, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
May 7, 2008

Thanks to CGI animation, the "Star Wars" saga is coming back to theaters this summer -- but George Lucas said fans shouldn't get their hopes up about any future films that take the epic beyond the point of Darth Vader's death at the end of "Return of the Jedi."

In other words, it ends with the Ewoks.

"Whatever it is that happens afterward," the 63-year-old filmmaker said, "that isn't the core 'Star Wars' story that I like to tell."

The stories that do interest Lucas are the ones that take place before Anakin Skywalker dons the ebony mask of Darth Vader, which is why he and his 5-year-old Lucasfilm Animation venture will add a seventh feature film to the "Star Wars" canon on Aug. 15 with "The Clone Wars."

The movie has been produced with state-of-the-art computer-generated animation and voice actors, including Samuel L. Jackson, reprising his Mace Windu character, and Anthony Daniels as the familiar voice of C-3P0.

The fact that Daniels is back raises the idea that this new approach could provide a digital fountain-of-youth for other original trilogy actors, such as Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher, who haven't been in the universe of the Jedi since they frolicked with the furry Ewoks on the forested moon of Endor at the end of "Return of the Jedi" in 1983.

If there's any force behind that concept, Lucas isn't feeling it.

"There really isn't any story to tell there," the filmmaker said. "It's been covered in the books and video games and comic books, which are things I think are incredibly creative but that I don't really have anything to do with other than being the person who built the sandbox they're playing in."

In the non-film versions of the saga, for instance, Han Solo and Princess Leia marry and have three children, one of them named Anakin after his notorious grandfather. All of it has been popular with core fans, but Lucas doesn't see any upside to extending the tale past the leafy luau on Endor where Vader's corpse was torched.

"I get asked all the time, 'What happens after "Return of the Jedi"?,' and there really is no answer for that," he said. "The movies were the story of Anakin Skywalker and Luke Skywalker, and when Luke saves the galaxy and redeems his father, that's where that story ends."

The "Clone Wars" film in August will lead into a weekly animated television series of the same title that will air on both the Cartoon Network and TNT beginning in the fall. The new film and series will fill in gaps between "Episode II: Attack of the Clones" and "Episode III: Revenge of the Sith" with stories of Anakin, Padmé Amidala, Count Dooku and other second-trilogy characters.

" 'The Clone Wars' is a lot of fun for me, because in the normal course of the Skywalker saga, what happened during the Clone Wars is never told -- we see a little of the beginning and a little of the end, but other than that, it's skipped over," Lucas said.

"Obviously, during a war, there are lots and lots of stories, there's action, there's drama, there's heartbreak and sometimes there's comedy. Anakin was a part of the Clone Wars, so it makes a certain sense to tell these stories, because they ultimately do affect him."

Basically, Lucas is expanding his own universe, telling stories that affect Anakin. He's not moving past RotJ, because Anakin (the guy who is the core story) is dead after that, and so Lucas has nothing noteworthy to tell.

The sandbox reference is also fantastic, and is a perfect analogy. A literal sandbox is a designated area for play, one where the mess is kept. This concept has been used elsewhere . . . for instance, in software and security to describe a contained virtual space for testing unsafe or simply untested code without harming anything else. Wikipedia even has a sandbox, defined as "a page where users are free to experiment with codes without destroying or damaging any legitimate content." There is also the term "sandbox effect" for a theory of Google's operation featuring a 'holding area', from which a new page must graduate (i.e. once it is established as appropriate) before it gets ranked. There is also "sandbox therapy", which allows children (and/or those who cannot otherwise express issues) a way to create a world from their own experiences using toy people and such. Last but not least there are so-called "literary sandboxes", basically a place for writers to play and experiment.

In all cases, the sandbox is basically a container, separate from the rest of the world. In all cases the results are, like a sand castle, non-permanent . . . or, more accurately, non-binding on the real world.

In essence . . . a parallel universe.