It’s not uncommon for kids to pretend to be the heroes they see portrayed in fictional stories, but how often can they say they actually stepped into those worlds and took on the task of becoming heroes themselves? That’s the premise behind Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge, a new game show being released on the Star Wars Kids YouTube channel beginning with the first two episodes that premiered yesterday.
Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge stars prequel-trilogy veteran Ahmed Best (best– no pun intended– known as the blundering Gungan Jar Jar Binks across Star Wars Episodes I through III and some episodes of the The Clone Wars animated series) as the host, playing a freshly created Jedi Master character named Kelleran Beq. Beq is accompanied by protocol droid AD-3 (voiced by actress Mary Holland) and astromech unit LX-R5, as they guide three teams of two kids (ages 10-14) through several trials on their ways to besting– still no pun intended– their competitors, crafting their own lightsabers, and obtaining the title of full-fledged Jedi Knights.
It’s no secret that Jedi Temple Challenge appears to be heavily influenced by fast-paced kid-focused game shows of the 1980s and 1990s, particularly Legends of the Hidden Temple, which has come to represent the high-water mark for nostalgic millennials who look back fondly on this particular genre. This series puts a Star Wars-inspired twist on the proceedings of course, with Padawan exercises including trampoline jumping, rope-swinging, and balance-beam walking to acquire pieces of lightsaber hilts– and that’s all just in the first round.
Further challenges include a story-based memory game aboard a space-bound starship and the climactic adventure through the titular Jedi Temple, which includes a number of unique puzzles and physical undertakings unto itself. It all seems like a lot of fun for the young participants, but is it entertaining enough for viewers? Well, yes and no. I can imagine being the same age as the competitors and really enjoying the show, picturing myself scrambling over logs and answering rapid-fire questions, but as an adult the series doesn’t really do it for me, though I will readily admit I am far from its target demographic, despite being about as big a Star Wars fan there is.
The challenges are often confusing to watch and the first round especially has too much going on to really be able to follow the action with any investment. I feel like if the kids’ goals were clearer stated and the editing less haphazard I could find myself getting into the action and rooting for certain teams, but as it stands I find myself lost in the chaos for the first third of each episode. The show improves as it goes along, however, and I liked the details and Easter Eggs inserted into the stories-within-the-story during the middle round. The Jedi Temple itself is another mixed bag, though, with some tasks feeling clever and just the right amount of challenging, but others coming across as more convoluted than fun.
The cast is undoubtedly another highlight, and Best serves as a likeable and encouraging host, even when he’s made to dismiss the losing teams, sending them back to the Jedi Council for more training. Holland is a Hoot as AD-3 and her storytelling segments were bright spots in the two installments I watched. And Sam Witwer (voice of Darth Maul in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels, and Solo: A Star Wars Story) might be typecast here as a disembodied Dark Side presence who tempts contestants with deceptively easier routes through the temple, but his eerie timbre is the perfect match for the obviously evil glowing red light he represents.
Another downfall of Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge is its sure-to-become-repetitive nature, but maybe that just comes with the territory. The obstacles don’t seem to change much between each episode, so other than the outcome of whether each team wins or loses, further viewing might start to get more than a little monotonous. Still, as I’ve become fond of saying, there’s room for just about every type of content in the Star Wars universe, and as long as the kids are having fun both on-screen and off, there’s no harm in this show’s benign and inoffensive existence. And heck, maybe it will inspire more Younglings to get out and play in A Galaxy Far, Far Away.
Further episodes of Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge will be released Wednesdays on the Star Wars Kids YouTube channel.
Mike serves as Laughing Place’s lead Southern California reporter, Editorial Director for Star Wars content, and host of the weekly “Who’s the Bossk?” Star Wars podcast. He’s been fascinated by Disney theme parks and storytelling in general since a very young age and resides in Burbank, California with his beloved wife and cats.