By Julie Catherine
The new series Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge recently concluded its fun, family friendly first season. Airing on the Star Wars Kids channel on YouTube, rather than Disney+, Jedi Temple Challenge is hosted and produced by Ahmed Best and sees different teams of kids compete in a series of tasks to determine which kids are worthy of becoming Jedi Knights.
Off the bat, Jedi Temple Challenge should be commended for offering something different in the Star Wars universe. George Lucas has repeatedly said over the years that Star Wars is for children, and to see a project like this specifically tailored for younger audiences is nice to see. It’s important to, in reviewing different projects within the Star Wars universe, to remain cognizant of the project’s target audience. For instance, E.K. Johnston’s Padme novel Queen’s Shadow, although there’s plenty for a broad array of Star Wars fans to feast on, is primarily tailored toward young adults. As such, it’s inevitable that children and families are more likely to enjoy Jedi Temple Challenge than fans in other age ranges. This doesn’t mean, however, that the show exclusively appeals to children, as there’s plenty on offer for families, adults, and Star Wars fans of different demographics more broadly. In fact, Jedi Temple Challenge can be a thoroughly entertaining experience regardless of age.
What really makes Jedi Temple Challenge work as well as it does is host Ahmed Best. Moving away from his role as Jar Jar Binks, Best assumes the role of Jedi Master Kelleran Beq, who not only hosts the show, but also provides a much needed personality and enthusiasm to each episode. And, of course, it wouldn’t be a Star Wars project without a quirky droid companion. Beq is accompanied by AD-3, voiced by the incredible Mary Holland. Holland isn’t given much to do throughout the series, but Best expertly leads the ship throughout and elevates Jedi Temple Challenge beyond just another children’s game show. In true Star Wars fashion, the show also features a neat little easter egg related to Kelleran Beq, as he shares the same last name with and, according to Ahmed Best, is related to Best’s character from Attack of the Clones Achk Med-Beq.
As the title suggests, the crux of Jedi Temple Challenge lies in the challenges themselves. And, for the most part, these challenges are entertaining and engaging. It’s evident that the show is inspired by similar children’s game shows, in particular Legends of the Hidden Temple, which aired on Nickelodeon in the 1990s. The challenges in Jedi Temple Challenge are varied and interesting, some requiring more intellectual engagement, while others necessitating physical activity. The show excels with less physical tasks as these challenges are more easily followable for audiences. This highlights the main issue with the series so far, which is the difficulty in following the contestants as they engage in each task. The way in which the series is edited, in addition to the lack of a studio audience, can make viewers feel a little distant from experiencing the show. One of the most enjoyable things about game shows like this is when we can immerse ourselves within the contestants’ perspective, feeling overjoyed when they succeed and devastated when they fail. Occasionally, Jedi Temple Challenge makes this difficult as the editing of the show makes some tasks difficult to follow, which results in viewers watching the kids tackle different challenges from a distance.
Despite issues in following some tasks, Jedi Temple Challenge succeeds in delivering entertaining, family friendly Star Wars content. It’s great to see Star Wars venture into different domains beyond movies, scripted television, books, and video games with Jedi Temple Challenge and, hopefully, there is more of the show to come. Anchored by the always incredible Ahmed Best and bolstering some interesting tasks for the contestants to engage in, there’s a lot on offer for Star Wars fans with this series.
Images courtesy of Lucasfilm & Star Wars Kids on YouTube