It would be easy to cynically dismiss The Freemaker Adventures as nothing but fluff for the kids, or worse, a toy advert. My own reaction was sceptical, thinking there was nothing that the series could offer me as a Star Wars fan. This despite crying every time I watch The Lego Movie, and the slow surrender of my home to umpteen Lego sets. Having caught up with the first season, I can see how wrong I was.
I was first struck by the quality of animation. Being based around geometric bricks and stocky mini-figs, there are certain limitations to overcome. But the team of talented animators managed to convey that same wanderlust and possibility inherent throughout the Star Wars saga, from A New Hope to Rebels.
Then there was the comedy, which had me guffawing in my seat in next to no time. We had sight gags, physical humour and the kind of jokes you can only accomplish in Lego. And that’s all without mentioning the Easter eggs and deep dives, proving this is as much a show for adults as it is for kids. The comedic centrepiece of the show, though, is the dynamic between the Emperor and Darth Vader, both in full Robot Chicken mode.
The new characters hold up to scrutiny too, with the titular Freemaker family instantly cementing themselves as down on their luck kids trying to make their way in the galaxy. All characters of colour, a real boon for inspiring every kid at home, Zander is an excitable mechanic with no self-control when it comes to pretty ships. Like Vader, he has a weakness for the Naboo N-1 Starfighter. But then, who doesn’t? Though obsessed with money, Kordi has a heart of gold. Her family comes first, always, and her business savvy ensures they can keep themselves in food and shelter. Even if they are always behind on the rent.
Then there’s Rowan, the plucky twelve-year-old at the heart of the show. With his short attention span and penchant for getting into mischief, he has ADHD in all but name. Rather than being something he has to overcome, it was a defining character trait all through this first series. It was never written as a weakness or drawback, but simply part of the complex tapestry of his character.
For a while, Rowan shadows other characters we’ve seen in the saga becoming Force users, reminding me especially of Ezra early on in Rebels. But where The Freemaker Adventures excels is in tying everything to the pleasure of playing with Lego. Rowan becomes a builder, using his connection with the Force to move bricks and pieces. Props here to young voice actor Nicolas Cantu for crafting him into a bright, fun and conscientious character.
While I loved all of the Freemaker family, it was their reprogrammed battle droid R0-GR that I developed a particular soft spot for. His clumsiness meant he was often used only as a punchline, but he had some of the best quotes and wound up being a real source of pathos. Even better, he’s voiced by sound wizard Mathew Wood, who also lent his pipes to General Grievous in Revenge of the Sith and The Clone Wars.
Though hardly exhaustive, I hope this post inspires you to check out The Freemaker Adventures and enjoy its many charms for yourself. Before you ask, no, the series isn’t technically canon. But since when did canonicity matter a damn to a good story?