The Mandalorian demonstrates that, in the hands of people with actual talent, Star Wars is the most magical franchise of all time.
This is one of the rare times that the reins have been given to anyone with ability and it shows. The Mandalorian is incredible.
It's artfully directed, wonderfully written, superbly acted - pretty much everything modern Star Wars isn't.
Is The Mandalorian a straight-up homage to classic westerns like Unforgiven, Rio Bravo, and Once Upon A Time In The West? Absolutely. Does it rip scenes straight from Lone Wolf and Cub and the back catalogue of Akira Kurosawa? It sure does. Is this a bad thing? No, it is not.
Because it is done with a tender and loving hand, with everything tonally and thematically appropriate. A DVD of this should be stapled to Rian Johnson's head.
The Mandalorian is a journey in minimalism and the effect is exponential. A place for everything and everything in its place. Nothing ever overstays its welcome and it leaves every episode with the audience wanting more, as opposed to the Abrams/Johnson approach where the audience begs them to stop.
It even manages the cute factor well, which is something Star Wars has always had a problem with. Take note everyone, the rules of cute are the same as the rules for everything else in a narrative: necessity, agency, and conflict. Ewoks didn't have the necessity, Porgs didn't have...anything relevant, Baby Yoda is the complete package.
If I have one criticism of The Mandalorian it's that it shows that making something exceptional from Star Wars is possible, perhaps even easy, which makes the new films (sans Rogue One) that much harder to swallow - and they were nauseating to begin with.