* Spoiler warning: Events from The Book of Boba Fett are discussed throughout.
Earlier this week I was playing a Star Wars board game with my 4-year-old. During the game I asked him who his favourite character was. Without hesitation he replied, "Boba Fett." I asked why and he said, "Because he has a cool helmet."
Fair enough. Boba Fett does have a cool helmet. It's no exaggeration to say that his badass helmet is entirely responsible for Fett's enduring and massive popularity.
It's certainly not because of his actions. While he appeared in the two original Star Wars sequels, 1980's The Empire Strikes Back and 1983's Return of the Jedi, he was only on screen for a total of around five minutes and he didn't do anything other than casually stand around looking cool before falling to his doom in a manner more befitting a comic relief sidekick than the supposed baddest bounty hunter in the galaxy.
Still, appearances go a long way and thanks to that helmet Fett enjoyed a lasting mystique that has enthralled generations. So much so, that the guardians of the Star Wars franchise long ago decided that he didn't, in fact, die in the digestive system of a monster but instead escaped and went on to reclaim his position as the most feared and coolest looking cat in the whole Star Wars universe.
After a successful and well-received extended cameo in the last season of the excellent Star Wars series The Mandalorian, Fett earned his own show. Titled The Book of Boba Fett, weekly episodes have been dropping on Disney+ for just over a month now.
With our very own Temuera Morrison pulling on the iconic helmet (a return, of sorts, to the role he played in 2002's Star Wars prequel Attack of the Clones) and with The Mandalorian's creator and writer Jon Favreau fulfilling that same role here, the series should have been a slam dunk.
It's not. There seems to be some disturbance in the force preventing the show from really taking off, despite Fett being in possession of a nifty rocket pack.
Part of it is undoubtedly that The Mandalorian ate Fett's lunch. That show, which is essentially a spaghetti western, took all the badass elements of Fett - a mysterious and intimidating man of few words with a cool helmet - and gifted them to its main character, Mando.
These exact traits are what made Fett so intriguing. But you can't have two shows about two identically closed books. Therefore The Book of Boba Fett had no choice but to open up the character.
So, instead of a show about a badass bounty hunter, Favreau has made a show about a loner's redemption and embrace of family, as the now creaky Fett attempts to start a criminal empire through empathy and mutual respect rather than the expected intimidation and fear. It's an anti-hero rebrand for a villain famed for going to such extremes that he even gave Darth Vader pause.
As a series idea, it's pretty good. After surviving the sarlaac, slavery and tremendous loss, Fett's obviously not going to be the same go-getting, hard as nuts, bounty hunter he once was. But, just like his fabled executions of yore, that good idea gets disintegrated by the series flaws.
The balance between its ambitious dual timelines is out of whack, moving at slow pace and weighing too heavily on Fett's recent past and not enough on his more compelling now. The CGI can get woefully ropey - a low-speed chase through a market being one of the worst examples of effects gone wrong in recent memory. And, far from being a fearsome warrior, Fett keeps getting caught with his pants down, both figuratively and literally, by his foes.
But the show's biggest problem is that underneath his cool helmet Boba Fett just isn't a very engaging, charismatic or interesting character. Morrison's certainly trying, firing off a stoic and measured performance that stills lets Fett's weary and battle-hardened humanity through. But you can't get away from the fact - or the irony, considering Fett's origin story - that his character's been bested at his own game by what is essentially a clone.
It's telling that the single best episode of The Book of Boba Fett doesn't even feature Fett at all, instead focusing entirely on Mando.
That said, the show's still entertaining. It's bringing just enough to the table to keep luring this Star Wars fan back each week. Each of its missteps (like, say, the colourfully out of place Mods-style scooter gang) balanced by a blazing success (the terrifying wookie bounty hunter Black Krrsantan).
It may not be a gripping page-turner of a show, but even with its flaws The Book of Boba Fett is proving hard to put down.