For starters, there’s nothing wrong with any of the senate scenes throughout the Prequels. The whole idea was to establish how stagnated and corrupt the government body had become. Lucas had two ways of doing this: a) talk about it through mere exposition ( = lame storytelling), or b) actually depict it, onscreen, as experienced firsthand by the characters. He chose b). The scene where Queen Amidala first pleads her case, for example, is constructed in way that specifically illustrates the incompetence of the Republic: "The Congress of Malastare concurs with the honorable delegate from the Trade Federation. A commision must be appointed!" "The point is conceded. Queen Amidala of Naboo, will you defer your motion to allow a commission to explore the validity of your accusations?" Blah, blah, blah ...if you thought this scene was tedious -- the dialogue soporifically didactic -- that was the point. It’s not supposed to be riveting like some courtroom drama; such would’ve nullified the intended effect. The Queen states her grievance only to have the matter dissipated by endless bureaucratic bull****. And yet the scene remains both crucial and, in my opinion, interesting because we’re witnessing Palpatine’s scheme in motion. Even the way it’s constructed visually evokes all these elements: flat wide shots of political figures rambling red tape nonsense as they drift aimlessly across frame in their senatorial pods, in a way that’s almost sleep-inducing, while cutting to key close-ups of Palpatine as he enters frame behind the fixed mask that is the Queen, whispering sophistry into her ear. It’s very precise, well thought-out storytelling. The preceding scene where Palpatine speaks with the Queen in her apartment is likewise executed in a very visual, metronomic manner, maximizing bold compositions and emphasizing key phrases of dialogue with reaction shots that pause ever-so briefly. Beyond all that, honestly, the whole political angle in the Prequels is fairly simplified and straightforward, and really only amounts to a handful of scenes, each clear in their purpose to the story. I never understood what all the bitching was about. But this brings me to my larger point concerning the storied approach for Episode VII. The OT chronicles the fight for freedom between resistance and oppressor while the PT chronicles the loss of freedom via the mechanization of fascism from within. Therefore, the Star Wars saga as a whole more or less covers all the primary themes classic to the arenas of politics and warfare, which, in-and-of-themselves, are mostly metaphorical to the central mythic conflicts of the main characters; anything more circumstantial, including many of the ideas suggested so far, would just end up dragging the series down too deeply into sociopolitical academics. Only then would Star Wars truly run the risk of turning into C-SPAN or some dense literary work ...or Star Trek. No thanks. The trick is to come up with something fresh that will nonetheless reflect universal truths. Remnants of the fallen Empire as a source of strife doesn’t boast well creatively. I mean, for dramatic reasons, we’ve been there, done that. The Empire’s been blown to bits, twice now. Likewise, having a corruption within a newly formed Republic would just be going back over old territory. I don’t know, maybe start the new trilogy off without any major wars altogether. I have an idea. If we pick up some time after the events of Return of the Jedi, we can assume the galaxy is at relative peace, criminal underworld notwithstanding. Now, if the New Republic is in political and economic order, naturally, that also means it’s expanding, which can cultivate two major themes that tap into real human history, particularly the history of the United States. The first of which is Manifest Destiny. The story can begin somewhere (or everywhere) just beyond the Outer Rim, with our protagonists somehow caught up in either the commercial expansion of regional governments or the New Republic as a whole, spreading peace and democracy to uncharted systems. There doesn’t have to be a lot to explain this, only what I’ve just proposed, really. Where the conflicts arise concerns peoples and societies of these new systems that may not choose to accept the good will of this New Republic, in turn highlighting not necessarily the political corruption of said Republic (at least not yet) but the moral dilemma of how bad things can happen through genuinely good intentions. Some entity amidst these new systems might first be presented as a legitimate villain or enemy of some kind, covering an entire film, only to eventually reach a point in the story where our heroes must second guess the wisdom of the New Republic or choose to stand against it by aiding the natives. And within these new systems may hide true agents of evil (the Dark Side, perhaps?) that can further complicate matters. Maybe our heroes are ambivalent to begin with; perhaps one is a rogue while the other a lawful Jedi Knight. Further into the storyline of these newly charted systems can the second major theme come into play, one that was only briefly touched upon during The Phantom Menace: Slavery. You can have the Jedi Order, acting on behalf of the New Republic, attempting to free slaves from evil masters as a simple and immediate conflict that all audiences can rally behind. The filmmakers would have to find a way to keep these premises lean in plot, abundant with action (which shouldn’t be too hard) while equally clear in thematic content; and also tangential to the inner mythic journey of our main heroes. How, exactly? I don’t know ...I’m spitballin' here.