Empire Minute 4: Popperty-poppers

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January 16th, 2014


A small figure gallops across the windswept ice slope.





  • Starts with a zoom-in / helicopter shot of Luke Skywalker racing across the tundra and ends with Luke about to check out a meteorite that landed nearby while asking the tauntaun if it smells something.


  • Talking tauntauns...
    • Discussion of Tauntaun sounds:
      • Sounds like "popperty-poppers" (Alex) or "hopping time" (Pete). Call 8-DAY-GREEDO to tell the hosts what you hear when you hear a tauntaun.
      • They also sound like Lumpy from The Star Wars Holiday Special. Ben Burtt was probably looking for something to do with all the extra sound recordings from the Holiday Special. It's a brown / black bear mixed with a two other things - one of them a kangaroo probably.
    • They don't look real in the movie, especially in the close-ups - they have giant puppet heads. Alex says that, in fairness to the tauntauns any made up animal's head, OR the head of a real animal that you have never seen before, looks fake. High frame rates creates a similar issue - they make everything look too real.
    • The original shots of the tauntaun are stop motion. Other examples of stop-motion in the trilogy are:
      • The dianoga in Star Wars.
      • The walkers in this movie (using a technique called "go motion").
  • Mentioned: The Brackett draft
    • Tauntaun first described as "white snow lizard". They actually seem more mammal than lizard.
    • Luke could have had a scarlet cloak that flew in the wind. This would not be a good idea when riding around on an ice-planet if you're trying to hide.
  • Luke Skywalker's / Mark Hamill's "applause shot" and how this would have worked if Empire was a live stage show.
  • Luke is introduced, and uses binoculars, early in the movie to reassure the movie-goers that are confused by Star Wars being on an ice-planet that this is, in fact, a Star Wars movie.
  • Han doesn't get an "applause shot" but Luke does call him "old buddy". Alex asks - how long do you have to know somebody before you can refer to them as your "old buddy"? Pete says that it is actually referring to the fact that Han is Luke's OLDEST human buddy as all of his other friends are dead after being killed fighting for the Rebellion. (Chewbacca and the droids don't count.)
  • Are Pete and Alex Pete "old buddies"?
    • On the yes side - Pete and Alex have known each other for longer than Luke and Han.
    • On the no side - Luke and Han have probably had more bonding adventures together than Pete and Alex (unless you count the recording of podcasts as "bonding adventures).
    • Conclusion? Yes - Pete and Alex are old buddies!
  • Han says that there's not enough life on Hoth to fill a space cruiser. This:
    • Reminds the movie-goers that this is a space / sci-fi movie.
    • Is strange given all of the life that IS on Hoth and that we see in the movie.
  • Tauntauns do not appear to be native to Hoth as they can't survive the night time temperatures. Or they are native and know how to keep warm at night (ie by huddling together like penguins, NOT running around looking for humans).
  • Whatever the case is with tauntauns, something is clearly wrong with the way that rebels are utilizing them. Space-PETA should get on their case.
  • Referenced: PETA.
  • In the Brackett draft Luke is going to check out a pretty ice formation, not a meteorite. This may be a throw-back to simple "Farmer Luke" from Star Wars - or he really loves being on a cold, snowy ice-planet after a lifetime on the dry, desert planet of Tatooine.

Meta Minute

  • 15:31 podcast episode length.
  • Cold-open: Ad-read for audible.com.
  • Alex's "things I hope they do in Episode 7": Luke Skywalker shows up and uses binoculars.
  • Tauntaun noises are discussed further in minute 12
  • Listener Matt responds to the request to call the hotline and his call is played at the top of minute 19.


  • Pete: In fairness to the tauntaun, you also don't believe in horses.
  • Alex: As movie-goer 1 "...who is that?" As movie-goer 2 "That's the guy from the first movie."
  • Pete: In regards to tauntauns "...they don't seem equipped to deal with night on Tatooine. Which was that famous album by...no, no." (Note - Pete meant to say Hoth here.)



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