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Death Star PR
Tonight's Webseries Presentation


Starring: Grant Cartwright, Erin-Jean Norvill, John Leary, Suzannah Bayes-Moreton, Ashley Zukerman

Written & Created By: Robbie Boland Directed By: Tim Nicholls

Production Website: http://deathstarpr.com

See It Here: http://www.youtbe.com/deathstarpr

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?


It’s pretty good.  Perhaps not what you were expecting, but that’s okay.

Pairs Well With...


Come to the dark beer…

“A long time ago, in a basement far, far away from the throne room…”

Ah, the Star Wars spoof: a favorite pastime from the early days of Hardware Wars all the way to modern YouTube videos featuring Jedi Kittens.  And once someone put a kitten in a TIE Fighter, you knew it was only a matter of time before someone else figured out how to translate Star Wars spoofage into a webseries.

As it turns out, that someone was Robbie Boland, the gent behind @DeathStarPR, one of the more brilliant bits of Star Wars spoofage populating that quirky corner of the galaxy known as “Twitter.”  Together with a band of like-minded ladies and gents who are most certainly not rebel scum, Boland has taken his Twitter concept of giving the Death Star a Public Relations department and pushed it one step further.  It’s an office comedy with a force choking twist, and it makes a frightening amount of sense.

Our saga follows the underfunded, underappreciated Death Star PR department, located in a tiny room in a deep basement in a corner of the great battle station that few others can be bothered to care about.  When the Empire decides to blow up a planet, it’s Death Star PR who have to take the angry phone cal- er, comlink calls.  When Lord Vader captures popular socialites like Princess Leia, it’s Death Star PR who have to put a positive spin on things, no matter how much truth stretching is required.  And when rebel scum dare to question the Empire’s commitment to cultural diversity, it’s Death Star PR who go out of their way to show that Lord Vader is in fact an equal opportunity employer who is willing to force choke anybody, regardless of race, creed, or number of superfluous appendages.

They are, in short, the official Imperial spin doctors.

Yes, the concept is as funny as it sounds.

With that in mind, one of the things that impresses me about Death Star PR as a webseries is that it doesn’t give in to the temptation to try too hard to be funny; jokes aren’t forced, and the laughs are allowed to happen naturally.  There’s also no attempt to over-magnify the humor; if the audience gets the joke, great.  If not, we move on.  Considering the rich amount of fuel that Death Star PR has to play with by spoofing Star Wars, the fact that the creative team resists what must be an overwhelming urge to play it over the top is impressive.  Most impressive.

Nor does Death Star PR forget to pay attention the other half of its parody pedigree; the jokes about office politics and idiocy are just as well-played as those about force chokes.  Last minute presentations, cultural diversity, dealing with a flood tide of angry phone calls… yeah, somebody’s spent time in Cubicle Hell, methinks.

And the “Kenny” thing that’s done (quietly at first) with the character of Sharpe… brilliant.

As are the performances of our two consistent leads.  Grant Cartwright is wonderful as Wilson, the long suffering head of the Death Star PR team who will be instantly recognizable to anyone who’s spent any time trolling an office as the low/middle manager with the controlled façade whose primary challenge on any given day is to make it through without either crying or having a nervous breakdown.  Before the end of the first episode, you’ll feel as though you’ve known Cartwright for years, and his sense of comedic delivery and timing is quite good.  The same is true of Erin-Jean Norvill as Green.  If there’s a single word that best describes her performance, that word is “fun,” and she serves as a fabulous counterbalance to the intensity displayed by Cartwright.

The production design walks the line of reasonability very well.  The sets fall more into the realm of “office space” than battle station, but all things considered, that makes sense, and any attempt to “sci fi it up” much further would have come across as phony overkill.  The general design is austere enough to pass for what we’d imagine the corporate side of the Death Star might be on a budget, and overall, it works.

That said, this admirable resistance to taking things over the top does a very fince balacing act that some might see as coming just short of being carried the opposite way by the show's direction.  This isn’t to say that there’s anything wrong with the direction; it’s just very “straight up the middle,” with no real highs or lows to speak of: an even tone that doesn’t do a whole lot of fluctuating.  Would I rather have this than the bonkers approach?  Absolutely; given the choice, this approach is far better, and I applaud it.  Those expecting something on the order of SpaceBalls, though, may be in for a shock. 

But for those whose expectations are more reasonable, Death Star PR is a fun look at what the corporate offices of the Galactic Empire might be like.  It’s not over the top, but to me, that makes it all the funnier; indeed, this one webseries that promises to provide more laughs on the second go-round.

As for how to go about seeing for yourself…

When Death Star PR premiered in December of 2012, it did so on a “pay for play” basis: each episode cost 99 cents to watch, with a license to keep doing so for six months.  When the Mayan apocalypse didn’t happen, the creative team put the series on sale, reducing the price to 99 cents for all six episodes together, again with a license to keep watching for six months.  Starting on February 13, 2013, however, episodes will begin to be made available for free of the Death Star PR YouTube channel. (All links up top.)  My suggestion is to go ahead and take in the free shows, but if you find that you enjoy them as I have, show your appreciation by going back to the Death Star PR production site and giving the crew some monetary love.  Creative people like this deserve your support, and besides, the more love they get, the less likely they are to talk Lord Vader into aiming his superlaser your way.

Just sayin’.

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Full Series | Six Episodes, 6.75 - 10 minutes each

Episode I: “The Phant-” Oh, sorry.  My bad. “Alderaan Reasons” - It is a period of civil war. The benevolent GALACTIC EMPIRE have recently unveiled their secret weapon.  No, not the DEATH STAR, but its PR TEAM.  Hounded by calls from evil REBEL ALLIANCE’s supporters,WILSON, Head of PR, and his scruffy-looking off-sider, SHARPE, set out to prove that the Death Star will restore peace to the galaxy… Highlight #1: Old eMacs and the sounds of Pac-Man in the background.  Brilliant.  Highlight #2: “So you’re definitely not going to use the laser on us, then?”  Highlight #3:  “We can’t respond to calls of that magnitude!”  Highlight #4:  Oh, dear.  Someone didn’t notice the difference between the blue light and the red one…  Highlight #5: “What presentation?” / “The one we’re about to make up.”  Ah, that one’s been heard in offices everywhere.  Highlight #6: The glove.

Okay.  The joke stayed simple and on point, and the concept’s funny.  I’m in.

Episode II: “Prank Call” - It is a golden time for the PR Team. Having convinced DARTH VADER of their worth, the PR Team’s ranks have swelled to three. Joined by the beguiling yet naive GREEN, Wilson has his eyes set on future glory.  Sharpe, having dressed to impress his new colleague, is interested in a completely different prize…  Highlight #1:  That mini trampoline?  Highlight #2: “I hate emos.” / “Yeah. Emos suck.”  Highlight #3:  “A sexy baby Ewok?”  Dude… you’re reaching pretty hard…  Highlight #4:  “Spammers will be force choked.”  Yes!  I can totally get on board with that!  Highlight #5:  “You will be… you will be…”  Subtle.  I like it.

Episode III: “Opinion Poll” – Boredom has engulfed the PR Office. Intent on avoiding a year’s backlog of filing, at all costs, Sharpe has created the ULTIMATE work-avoidance scheme…  Highlight #1:  “It’s only 160 kilometers in diameter.  It’ll only take you a day or two!”  Highlight #2:  How else did you expect them to answer?  Highlight #3:  “If this is another one of your convoluted attempts to avoid work and/or meet girls…”  Wow, it’s like they’ve been to places where I’ve worked…  Highlight #4:  Did she just swear like an Ewok?  Plus a thousand points.  Highlight #5:  “Name one competition in the history of anything where the public vote actually determines the winner.” / “That’s a good point.”  Yes.  Yes it is.  Highlight #6:  And that’s what you get for bringing up “peanut butter Twister” to someone who then decides to tell the Emperor about it.

Episode IV:  “Appreciation Day” – There is unrest in the PR Office. Having just received word that a certain high-profile Rebel socialite has been brought aboard the Death Star, Wilson takes to his keyboard to craft the perfect PR release.  Meanwhile, united by their mutual appreciation, Sharpe and Green giddily concoct an idea of their own…  Highlight #1: “I used off blue milk in your coffee.”  Ew.  Highlight #2:  “Do you think she only [unintelligible, but I think it’s synonymous with ‘shags’] family members?”  Enquiring minds want to know!  Highlight #3:  “I love you for Alderaan reasons…”  I seriously doubt that any moment will be able to top this particular highlight.  That’s just pure awesome.  Highlight #4:  “Do you want the six foot four asthmatic laser sword wielding cyborg killing machine to be mad at you?”  Is this one of those rhetorical questions, like “Who wants to be a millionaire?”  Highlight #5:  “Wooo!”  Highlight #6:  Yeah; that’s a PR/Marketing guy, all right.

Episode V: “PR & Prejudice” – All is well in the PR Team. Little do they know that the REBEL ALLIANCE has secretly deployed BOTHAN SPIES onto the Death Star armed with video cameras and the mission to produce an undercover exposé on life in the GALACTIC EMPIRE.  Unanswered, such a video could spell certain doom for our small band of PR heroes…  Highlight #1:  “It’s like watching a Sarlaac eat but with worse table manners.”  Highlight #2:  “Everybody has an equal chance of getting force choked.”  Highlight #3:  Ewok swearing!  Highlight #4:  We found the one toilet on the Death Star!  We knew it had to be there somewhere!  Highlight #5:  Not sure how I feel about the green tinted stuff, but I do like “Five minutes and ten hits of Xanax later…”

Episode VI: “Nemesis” – War! Apparently. It’s hard to tell from deep, deep down in the Death Star’s basement, which is why Wilson is occupying himself by giving PR pointers to Green. Meanwhile, Sharpe eagerly awaits the midnight launch of the galaxy’s most anticipated video game. But a phantom menace from Wilson’s past threatens to upset their plans…  Okay, season finale so no real spoilers, but I will say that you know there’s got to be trouble when Death Star HR comes out to play.  And that you really, really aren’t going to see this one coming.

- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, February, 2013

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