Star Wars. Seems like only recently that was a vague term referring to a Galaxy far, far away. It wasn't mentioned much, and I only ever heard lightly of a Luke Skywalker, C-3PO, R2-D2, and a Dark Vader; those terms never meant much to me, and I never fully understood them.
I recall being at a friend's house and hearing them talk about an Episode II, and how the worms crawled all over the queen. That was really it--until that day happened.
By brothers and me were at a friend's house, and their son asked if we'd seen Star Wars yet, and we answered no. That night we watched The Phantom Menace (TPM), and Attack of the Clones (AOTC).
Well, those two episodes explained a lot to me about the Star Wars universe, but I was thirsty for more. I recall finding the blue skinned Twe'lk people intriguing, and they stuck out to me the most among all the others; and they remain one of my favorite aliens.
Sometime later, still being in total suspense to find out how the last two episodes I'd seen would play out, we rented Revenge of the Sith (ROTS) from Blockbuster and watched it that night.
I had know I idea what to expect, and I was blown away. Things quickly went from bad to worse as I rode the emotional rollercoster of ROTS. (The only other time I experienced such a rush of emotion was when I watched Weapons Factory for the first time on CN.)
After all that things started to click, I understood who Darth Vader was, and how Luke came to play in the story. Finally, I knew! Over time I was introduced to the Original Trilogy, and now I've seen them all.
Most recently I've seen the Clone Wars Movie, and every episode in the new Clone Wars series. For me, watching the Clone Wars Movie in theaters on opening day was my way of making up for not watching the films in theaters.
But it wasn't enough; I read the Star Wars guides to purge ignorance from my mind, it worked too. Little details, like the how thermal-detonators work, and the details of Dug society, I began to understand every aspect of the universe and its many technologies. After that I continued to grow, I spent a lot of time on Starwars.com once the Clone Wars movie and series kicked off.
Here I am know; a Star Wars fan and proud of it. My favorite Star Wars films are (The) Empire Strikes Back (ESB) and ROTS, with the others falling somewhere in-between. I don't view the Original Trilogy (OT) as being superior to the New Trilogy (also called the Prequel Trilogy) or vice versa: one cannot survive without the other.
I want to discuss the many differences the Expanded Universe (EU) and the Star Wars films, and TV series have, and how effective each is in getting its, message across.
But first of all: What is the EU?
The EU is a vast collection of short stories and comic-books, not written by Lucas. These span the entire Saga. Many of them fill in tiny holes in-between the films, and even expand beyond them.
I myself haven't read much of the EU; only a few books. There are instances, or anomalies, were two or more books contain contradicting information (the Jedi's lightsaber is blue in one book, but green in another). I don't know how often this occurs, but it seems to happen frequently enough to tick some fans off. And if a fan were to get his fan fiction published by Dark Horse, it would be considered part of the EU.
As a whole, the EU tends to tell its stories in trilogies and duologies, an example of this would be the Black Fleet Crisis. There are also stand-alone stories, like the Cestus Deception, it's one of my favorite books.
Novels are an excellent way to tell a story: one because it allows you to get inside the characters head and learn their inner secrets; something that is difficult to do in a film or series.
Because it has some many different authors EU canon (continuity) is often disputed and criticized. But one fact remains: We would have no EU if we didn't have the epic six films that are the Star Wars Saga.
The Star Wars Films and TV series:
Like the EU, proceeding series fill in the holes left by the films, but there has yet to be a series, or film, to go beyond ROTJ. And one of the earliest Star Wars series was the Ewok Series, followed by the Droid Series (I may have gotten the order wrong.) From what I gather contradictions are rarer here, but can still occur.
But above both the series and the EU is the films; these are the trunk of the whole franchise, and the rest would crumble if they didn't exist. All six films are Lucas's work, and a fine work they are. There's no argument, anything Lucas approves becomes canon.
TVs communicate their stories though images, this gives them an advantage over novels. In a novel it may that several paragraphs to describe a scene: as opposed to TVs, which can show the viewer the sequence in one or two scenes. The downfall is these scenes have a hefty price on them, and are expensive to produce. George Lucas knows this fact all to well. But CGI has revolutionized the movie making business. And while it is less expensive then its counterpart, it's not cheap, and very difficult to master correctly.
Star Wars is perhaps the best franchise on the planet, with many intricate stories, and plenty of compelling characters. But its vast expansion would not exist, and exist in such well chronicled order, if Lucas hadn't laid the foundation; that being the six Star Wars films.
A word picture I want to leave you with is this:
The six Star Wars films are a great citadel, and the EU is surrounding kingdoms allied with the citadel. And the new Clone Wars series is a new wind being added to the main castle.
George has given us permission to play in his sandbox, but ultimately he owns the beach.
I hope I have clarified some things for you. Until next time may the Force be with you.