I have been on quite the Star Wars kick as of late. Heck, who am I kidding?! I’ve always been on a Star Wars kick!! Growing up, it was hands down my favorite Geekly property, and a shared love between many of us Towelites. In fact, we sanctioned Sundays to be ‘Star Wars Sundays’ in honor of it. With the release of Episode VII: The Force Awakens later this year, Star Wars is BACK in 2015! To get ready I have been attempting to catch up on all things “new canon” as dubbed by Disney, which includes the new novels, the comics from Marvel, watching the Holy Trilogy for the umpteenth time, and TRYING to make it through the Prequels. So I decided to watch The Clone Wars again. I had viewed the show during its initial run which started in 2008 and ran five seasons through 2012. It was ‘abruptly’ ended when Disney acquired the rights to the franchise, but it was decided that in 2014 they would release the unaired episodes as a shorter season 6. As you may remember it all began as a movie that went to theaters in 2008, a film that I really hadn’t watched since the theatre, and that i revisited once I began this recent marathon.
I remember the feelings I had about the Prequels and the way it affected my love of Star Wars at the time. As usual it’s easy for fans of something to be easily turned off when things don’t go their way, this was very much the case when it came to these films. I remember telling Casey when we walked out of The Phantom Menace, after opening night, “run there’s going to be a riot”. These feelings, at the time, had a lot of influence on how I perceived this new animated show set during the same timeline. But I need to stop myself there because that was then and this is now. I’m sure many of you have watched Rebels, if you haven’t get on that now, this is a show that is very much like its Prequel counterpart and that’s thanks to Dave Filoni. Though The Clone Wars are VERY much George Lucas created, it was Filoni who had directorial duties on the show. He is now the Executive Producer for Rebels. When the Saga is not in Lucas’ hands is when it flourishes the most, this is something that has been proven time and time again.
For my marathon I started with the film which I ended up liking a lot more than I thought I would. It sets up the series most importantly by introducing us to Ahsoka Tano, voiced by Ashley Eckstein, who becomes Anakin Skywalker’s Padawan. The other “main” characters are Anakin (Matt Lanter) and Obi Wan Kenobi (James Arnold Taylor), who we know from Star Wars history fought together through many of the battles. This is one of the most important aspects of the show that I appreciate. I really felt that the Prequels fell flat with their characters and most of the relationships. Though I love Ewan McGregor in the role of Obi Wan in the movies and feel that he is a highlight of that Trilogy, the rest just didn’t cut it for me. The Clone Wars was supposed to be such an important time period in Star Wars history and I am really glad that we have a six season show to tell the tales of what happened. But no character from the Prequels gave me greater disappointment more than Anakin Skywalker. Growing up Darth Vader was always one of my favorite characters and knowing that Lucas would one day go back and tell the story of how he fell to the Dark Side was always on my mind. Little did we know how bad that would turn out. Thankfully The Clone Wars does an excellent job at redeeming Anakin Skywalker in my eyes and this iteration of the character is my favorite. From start to finish we watch as Anakin proves to be the hero that everyone saw in him, something that the movies really didn’t portray very well.
Season One does a great job throwing you right into the action along with giving you a diversity of characters in each episode. One of my favorite aspects is watching Ahsoka grow in her position of Padawan and Commander. The best episode for this is called ‘Storm over Ryloth’ in which Anakin puts Ahsoka in charge of her own squadron. The relationship between Master and Apprentice is a great dynamic as Anakin sees a lot of his own traits in his Padawan. I believe that this is a reason why he was assigned one in the first place. Ahsoka is snippy and always questioning her Master and she is quickly dubbed ‘Snips’. The two are a perfect fit for each other. The villains of the show are The Separatists led by Count Dooku, Asajj Ventress, and General Grievous. For those of you who can’t stand the droid army unfortunately they are still around with their “Roger, Roger’s” but as the seasons go on, as I remember, the annoyingness is downplayed. Speaking of annoying, everyone’s favorite Gungan is back as well. What did you think that we wouldn’t see Jar Jar Binks in something that Lucas had his hands in? There are some ‘OK’ episodes with him such as ‘Bombad Jedi’, but there are some really bad ones too. But what I found to be most annoying is that the voice changes throughout the season from original actor Amhed Best to B.J. Hughes. But what’s EVEN MORE ANNOYING is when Hughes changes the way he does the voice. But I digress because there are so many positive elements to the show that outweigh this. Like the Clones. A TV show is the perfect platform to delve into the personalities of individual characters and this is best demonstrated with them. Unlike their mechanical adversaries, each Clone has his own personality. Throughout the show we meet many of them, but the highlight is Captain Rex, who will also play a big role in the upcoming season of Rebels. The best episode in Season One that is Clone-centric is called ‘Rookies’ and perhaps one of my favorites from the entire show!
Another great aspect of this show is seeing all the different planets and races from the Star Wars universe. Each planet is either being invaded or trying to make a decision on which side to join. You’ll see aliens that you’ll say to yourself, “Hey! I saw that creature at the Mos Eisley Cantina in Episode IV!”. The Clone Wars is also very much a political show and it really tackles the ‘humane’ side of the war at times. I remember the first episode that really got me hooked called ‘Trespass’. Set on the snow planet Orto Plutonia, the Separatists are not the enemy of the show but rather ignorance and the lack of cooperation is. The season wraps up with an amazing three-parter that introduces us to one of the most prominent characters in the ‘new canon’ and that’s Twi’lek freedom fighter Cham Syndulla. I just wrapped up reading the novel “Lords of the Sith” in which Cham is the main character (read my review here) and The Clone Wars is the first time we get to see this ‘rebel’ in action. Also note that he is the father of Hera Syndulla who is one of the main characters in Rebels, who we also get to see on this show. These connections are what make this new canon special, especially when we can see them via TV, books, comics, etc. Hopefully the new movies will pay tribute in some fashion as well.
Regardless of how you feel about The Prequels, DO NOT let it affect your viewing of this show. I did not cover the last episode of the season in this review because it directly leads into Season Two, but get ready for the Bounty Hunters! The Clone Wars is like fine wine, it gets better with age. I urge you to give it a shot because of its importance in Star Wars history and the sheer fact that the show is hands down an amazing series.