Things may be quiet on the Star Wars movie front after the divided response to how the Skywalker Saga concluded. But when it comes to other Star Wars mediums, the Force is definitely strong. The long-running Clone Wars animated series recently ended, satisfying long-time fans. The Mandalorian TV series is continuing with an upcoming season 2, along with a behind the scenes documentary series currently on Disney+ as well. The Star Wars High Republic books are looking to bring back a canonical shared book universe to the franchise, once again. And now we can add a kids’ game show to that list. So here is my Star Wars Jedi Temple Challenge review, to see if it’s a worthy addition to the franchise.
Star Wars Jedi Temple Challenge Is A Kids Game Show
Image via StarWars.com
Capitalizing on the trend of game shows with physical challenges, the Star Wars Jedi Temple Challenge does just that, but for kids. Premiering on the Star Wars Kids YouTube channel, each show features three pairs of hopeful Jedi Padawans. The six kids need to work with their respective team members to complete a series of physical, intellectual, and courageous tests to become a Jedi Knight. Well, that’s the pitch anyway. It’s all make-believe, but I’m incredibly invested!
Contestants first face a physical challenge with four different obstacle courses set in a jungle. At the end of each, they receive one piece of a lightsaber hilt. The first two teams to assemble their hilt, move on to the next round, with the last team eliminated. The second challenge is an intellectual one inside of a Jedi Starcruiser. The contestants hear a rich and detailed story set in the Star Wars world. They are then asked questions about the story which they have to answer, like a trivia game show. The team to get the most correct questions moves on to the next challenge.
The last team goes deep into the bowels of an old Jedi Temple, through which they have to go through another obstacle course with puzzles. This time, the prize is a set of Kyber crystals needed to complete their Lightsaber. However, during some puzzles, the Dark Side attempts to tempt the contestants into choosing the easy way, with consequences later on.
Star Wars Jedi Temple Challenge Review
The format of the Jedi Temple Challenge is pretty straightforward. The contestants are all seemingly between the ages of 10 to 12 years old, most often either siblings or best friends. Ahmed Best is the show’s host, playing a fictional Jedi Master and Mary Holland is the droid AD-3. While Best lays out the rules to the kids, Holland’s droid provides a lot of the comic relief, along with another droid named LX-R5.
The chemistry between Best and Holland is very interesting. The two characters can toe the line perfectly between providing information about the rules and playful commentary on the action as it happens. The jokes and quips aside are also pretty funny and keep the kids engaged during the action. Both my 11 and 7-year-old were thoroughly invested in the fate of the contestants through both episodes of the Star Wars Jedi Temple Challenge released so far. It’s a fun and engaging show that sucks you in as you root for your favourites.
Why the Jedi Temple Challenge Is So Much More Than Other Game Shows
Personally, I’m not a fan of game shows. Or reality television of any kind for that matter. Being a cinephile who logs countless hours of watching fictional content, the aspects of reality TV aren’t appealing. Especially when the reality TV industry tries to manufacture drama, through fictional storytelling techniques like misleading narration, voice-overs, clever editing, and more to create false tension. Why not just watch a fictional drama about the same subject matter instead? Where the Star Wars Jedi Temple Challenge differs is how it creates tension and drama while involving real-world people playing along with the premise.
Most reality game shows offer some sort of monetary reward as the end goal. The stakes are real and so the outcome is that much more crucial. With The Star Wars Jedi Temple Challenge, the reward is to become an official Jedi Knight. Which is a fictional thing. Knowing that from the get-go makes the proceedings that much more enjoyable to watch. Because the stakes and the entire experience come from a place of love for the universe than any other real-world motivations. So win, lose, or draw, the contestants have fun. And consequently, as the audience watching them go through challenges to become a Jedi, you’re also having fun. Especially if you pick your teams at the beginning and cheer them on at home, as I did with my daughters. It’s a game show where the ultimate prize is of less significance than the immersive journey to get there.
The Game Show Has Feel Good Moments On And Off-Screen
Image via StarWars.com
Despite being an elimination-style competition, Star Wars Jedi Temple Challenge maintains a positive outlook throughout. When a team becomes eliminated, it’s not a ‘you’re the weakest link, goodbye!’ moment, but rather a hopeful ‘you’ll need to continue your Jedi training’ speech. Which is a very cool way of letting kids look on the bright side of failure, with motivation to improve. Obviously, there is no Jedi Academy, but the commitment to the bit is very admirable. Even the contestants themselves are less bitter about losing and more excited about having gone through the experience. Which, at the end of the day, is what you really want kids to take away from any experience.
These positive outlooks continue off-screen behind the scenes of Jedi Temple Challenge with the casting of Best as host. Most Star Wars fans will recognize Ahmed Best’s name as the actor of Jar Jar Binks, introduced in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. The character itself has had a tumultuous history in the franchise, with many hating Binks and his silly and zany depiction. As the actor behind the character, Best took on the brunt of this reaction. In previous interviews, Best even revealed how the backlash to Jar Jar Binks affected his mental and emotional well being through the years. So to see him back in the Star Wars universe, as a Jedi Knight no less, is incredibly heartwarming.
I Want More Immersive Star Wars Game Shows
Image via StarWars.com
To end off this Star Wars Jedi Temple Challenge review, I want to pitch the possibility of more immersive Star Wars game shows. Or, even immersive game shows from other franchises as well. Imagine an Indiana Jones themed American Ninja Warrior where the contestants have to traverse booby-trapped caves and ravines to get to the priceless relic. Or a Green Lantern themed Fear Factor to see who has the courage and strength of will to become part of the Lantern Corps. I’d love to see an Amazing Race style Dragon Ball Z themed show, as the contestants race all over the world to collect all seven dragon balls.
There are already examples of this with the immersive rides at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge featuring storylines, and multiple outcomes that then carry over into other rides. So immersive reality shows that blend the reality of competition within a fictional world could easily find an audience.
Episodes 1 & 2 of Star Wars Jedi Temple Challenge are now streaming on YouTube.
What did you think of this first-ever Star Wars game show? Let us know in the comments below.
Shah Shahid is an entertainment writer, movie critic (so he thinks), host of the Split Screen Podcast (on Apple Podcasts & everywhere else) and filmy father on a mission to educate his girls on decades of film history. Armed with uncontrollable sarcasm and cautious optimism, Shah loves discussing film, television and comic book content until his wife’s eyes glaze over. So save her by engaging him on his own blog at BlankPageBeatdown.com or on Twitter @theshahshahid.