As with anyone who had lived in the 80's, Star Wars was a major cornerstone for which my imagination factory was build. The expansive universes inhabited by diverse species, the weaponry and technology, the political systems are work - all of which fueled the bulk of my "creative" time in elementary school, whether it be drawings or writing. The many fan fictions available through the bookstore in this pre-DeviantArt world were the most worn books on my shelf. Every piece of "original writing" I submitted to my sci-fi-naive teachers were inevitably some derivative of George Lucas' world. The woods in my backyard was Endor, the Grand Canyon is Tatooine, and every big city was Coruscant. The Return of the Jedi spoken narration on vinyl was the first album I ever scratched on.
And then Episodes 1, 2, and 3 killed my interest in Star Wars over 6 agonizing years. Worse than that, it caused me to be ashamed of my earlier obsession of the sci-fi genre altogether. I know I saw episode 3 in the theatre; I can't even recall what happens in The Clone Wars until the last 5 minutes when all the relevant exposition actually happens.
As trailers for Episode 7 started hitting the internet, naturally I expressed no enthusiasm. Despite not being a frequent movie goer, I would undoubtedly see this movie in the theater, as it would assuredly be a pop cultural icon and frequent topic of discussion among, well - everyone. It would be the first film in the franchise with the Disney stamp of approval, with J.J Abrams at the helm. Disney has made so few mistakes in it's storied history of filmmaking, and Abrams turned Star Trek from an outdated and dry franchise to two lively summer blockbusters. Clearly, the world would be watching to see if Star Wars just needed a strong defibrillatory shock that this duo could provide.
I didn't lower my expectations going into the movie. Instead, I considered it as a standalone film, isolated from the rest of the lore of Star Wars. I remained ignorant of the actors, trailers, and speculation to maximize the surprises whenever one of MY heroes show up onscreen. I pretended as if I couldn't tell you the name of every bounty hunter in the following lineup. Which, I can.
Ep 7 provided exactly what Star Wars needed - Essentially, a revival of 4-6, down to the smallest details of the plot points. New characters for a younger generation to identify with, acting alongside the greats of my generation. Obviously imperfect, but sufficient.
Hey wanna see some official Star Wars related TV movie content that's even less fit for consumption than The Phantom Menace? Of course you do. Here is some 90-odd minutes of Wookie-speak interspersed with musical interludes by Jefferson Starship and Harvey Korman as a Julia Child parody in a cooking TV show. And yes - this is all canonical.