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Cancelled Star Wars TV Show Told Emperor Palpatine's Origin Story

By Ryan Scott — June 22nd, 2016

Right now, after years of having almost no new Star Wars content outside of comic books and novels, we are getting an avalanche of stuff, thanks to Disney wanting to capitalize on their $4 billion investment. We are definitely getting a whole bunch of movies over the next handful of years and even some animated TV shows, but there is still hope Disney will eventually get to making a live-action Star Wars TV series. It has been known for some time that there were plans for such a thing, and we just learned some brand new details about what it might have been.

Recently, Cory Balrog, who directed the critically acclaimed God of War video games, did an in-depth interview with Venture Beat and his time spent working for LucasArts. During the course of that chat, he revealed that he read some of the scripts for the Star Wars TV series and revealed that it would have focused on how Emperor Palpatine became The Emperor as we know him in the movies. Here is what Balrog had to say.

"Probably the really small beginnings of this idea, the germination of this - when I was working at Lucas, I was allowed to go up to the ranch and read the scripts for the [canceled live-action Star Wars] TV show. It was the most mind-blowing thing I'd ever experienced. I cared about the Emperor. They made the Emperor a sympathetic figure who was wronged by this f***ing heartless woman. She's this hardcore gangster, and she just totally destroyed him as a person. I almost cried while reading this. This is the Emperor, the lightning out of the fingers Emperor. That's something magical. The writers who worked on that, guys from The Shield and 24, these were excellent writers."

That may not seem to tell us a lot, but so little is known about Star Wars: Underworld, which was the rumored title for the series, so even this bit of information helps to paint a picture about what we might have seen. It is perhaps really interesting for Star Wars fans to think of the idea of Palpatine as a sympathetic character, because as of now, he is pretty much 100 percent vile. It is also pretty noteworthy that the root of a lot his evil came as a result of a "heartless woman," being that he essentially had to tear Anakin Skywalker apart from Padme in order to get him to be Darth Vader. It is strange that for a character who has had so much screen time in Star Wars, we know so little about his backstory.

The journey of Star Wars: Underworld dates all of the way back to 2005 and was the baby of George Lucas, who planned on using the series to follow up his Star Wars prequel trilogy. Many writers were hired for the show and rumor has it, there are more than 50 scripts at Skywalker ranch for the show. The project eventually stalled out due to budget constraints, but Lucas did talk about it in an interview with Total Film in 2008.

"It's kind of like Episode IV - it's funny and there's action, but it's [a] lot more talky. It's more of what I would call a soap opera with a bunch of personal dramas in it. It's not really based on action-adventure films from the '30s - it's actually more based on film noir movies from the '40s!"

What Lucas said there gels very much with what Balrog had to say about the scripts he had the chance to read. Underworld pretty much hit a dead stop in 2010 and when Disney purchased Lucasfilm in 2012, it almost totally put the nail in the coffin because they clearly want to focus on the movie and merchandising side of things. It makes sense that Disney would eventually pursue a Live-Action TV series revolving around Star Wars, but we are probably going to have to wait quite a while to ever see it actually get off the ground. But this new information doesn't make it any easier to contain the excitement for what could be.

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