Mar 29, 2012

[TV] Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Season 1

I'll admit that I remain both a Star Wars and a Star Trek fan and I continue to patronize both franchises whenever possible. I guess I just have a love for science fiction stories, space opera and other ways to celebrate the amazing potential of the far-flung future.

Although these days it seems almost impossible to ignore the continue expansion of the Star Wars media empire as it tries to secure itself in the consciousness of hundreds of new fans pretty much every single day. Thus we've experienced all of the movies being re-released in one form or another (with the prequels now joining in the fun with the addition of 3D), the creation of multiple cartoons and TV shows and countless books, comic books, toys and what have you.

That was always the biggest secret of George Lucas - being able to master the art of movie tie-in marketing while telling a great story. And now we're all doomed to remain trapped within his vision of the Star Wars universe as no human being on the planet may be spared from the glory of his creation - or at least that's how it seems to me at times. Especially with how their recent efforts seem more and more focused on children and other such "new markets" that they're clearly trying to tap to keep the stories alive.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars is a 2008 CGI-animated series that directly follows the 2008 movie of the same name. It is set in the same universe of the prior clone wars animated TV series, thus placing it between the second and third episodes of the movie franchise.

Clone Wars character. Ahsoka Tano. Türkçe: Sta...
Clone Wars character. Ahsoka Tano. Türkçe: Star Wars Klon savaşları karakterlerinden biri olan Ahsoka Tano. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The show largely focused on a young Anakin Skywalker (Matt Lanter), now a Jedi, and his even younger Padawan Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein) as they navigate the troubled landscape that is the clone wars. With the Galactic Republic locked in constant battles with Count Dooku (Corey Burton) and his Separtists, the Jedi have been drafted to act as generals in this conflict - why exactly this was automatically agreed upon, I have no idea. Beyond that, each episode starts with an old news reel style voiceover discussing the current situation, a nice nod to how our own world wars were handled from a media perspective.

The first season immediately stressed how different it was from the previous cartoon by exploring expansive multi-episode stories. And we're not just talking about mere two-parters - just dealing with the doomsday vessel The Malevolence took at least 3 episodes to resolve. And the story arc centered around Ryloth was another good 3 episodes of storytelling to explore.

While the animation style in the movie wasn't exactly top-notch, it was nice to see that that same level of quality was maintained in the series. so as much as it could have been smoother or something, at least they remained consistent across media formats. Although the efforts to possibly adapt the angular style of the original cartoon may have resulted in character models that have a rather difficult time showing emotion. Add in the fact that most of the characters are supposed to be cool, calm and collected Jedi (apart from Ahsoka) and you get for a lot of bland dialog.

Ultimately, one cannot forget that this is a children's show, and I don't just say this because of the bloodless animated violence. The focus on younger audiences inevitably means facing the fact that characters like Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best) gets entire episodes dedicated to his antics, which feel more like an older Looney Toons short. While you still get some fun space battles and massive ground army conflicts, it's a rather difficult pay-off to swallow.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars does deserve respect for acting as a new vehicle for introduction the Star Wars universe to a whole new generation of potential fans. My pokes at the marketing potential aside, even I have to celebrate the fact that the Star Wars franchise is far from dying and countless generations will continue to enjoy this galaxy far, far away. Thus the first season still rates a respectable 3.5 clone trooper tattoo styles out of a possible 5.

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