Dec 12, 2016

[TV] Star Wars Rebels: Season 1

So I had rather enjoyed Star Wars: The Clone Wars during its run over on Cartoon Network. It was an interesting exploration of the Clone Wars period in Star Wars history and a nice effort to fill in the games between Episodes II and III of the Star Wars prequel movies.

But the sale of the Star Wars franchise to Disney had a lot of weird side-effects including the cancellation of that series and the announcement of a new canon. While the older Expanded Universe books were related to "Legends" status, Disney started creating it's new canon with efforts like Star Wars: Rebels.

I wasn't quite sure how to feel about the show at first since it did feel somewhat toned down versus the war-centric tale of the Clone Wars as an obvious effort to aim for younger viewers. And I admit that I was still feeling sore over the death of the old Expanded Universe and all that so it wasn't easy to open myself up to the Rebels hype before the show began.

But things got a lot better once I started getting into the show.

Synopsis: Star Wars: Rebels is a CGI-animated series created by Simon Kinberg, Dave Filoni, and Carrie Beck for Disney XD. The show takes place fourteen years after the events of Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith.

The story initially centers around Ezra Bridger (Taylor Gray), an orphan living on the planet of Lothal in the Outer Rim. One thing leads to another and he gets entangled with a small group of rebels attempting to steal blaster rifles from the Empire. The group consists of Kanan (Freddie Prinze, Jr.), Sabine (Tiya Sircar), Zeb (Steven Blum), their Captain Hera (Vanessa Marshall) and the astromech Chopper. At first they're just brought together by chance but eventually they find common cause.

It is quickly revealed that Kanan is actually a Jedi, or at least a Padawan who survived the purge of the Jedi as part of Order 66. Hera mostly receives her orders from a mysterious contact that no one else knows the identity of beyond the name Fulcrum. And in time the team is also pursued by an Inquisitor, who is a special agent tasked to seek out all remaining Jedi in hiding and execute them.

What I Liked: To be fair, Rebels is a good character-driven narrative that made the right choice in creating a core cast to focus on instead of taking a wide view of things. The crew of the Ghost is but a single rebel cell operating in isolation so gone is the grander scale of battle that was the scope in the Clone Wars. And in time you get to appreciate each of the crew and their quirks and stories and see how things go.

The early scope of the show first felt a little narrow with most of the adventures being related to Lothal but in time they managed to expand things to include notable characters from the franchise including the likes of Grand Moff Tarkin, Lando Calrissian and even C-3PO. And having them added to the mix of characters does make for more interesting stories and it also further ties it to the established movies.

What Could Have Been Better: Ezra is a bit of an annoying focus for the show as he's often a reckless Star Wars version of Aladdin without a love interest. He's constantly complicating situations and he's also prone to complaining about this or that in a very juvenile manner. I could do with a lot less Ezra.

The meta-narrative driving this story forward takes a while to really get going and then you'll find the season is over way sooner than expected. The first season is understandably short but the stories still include a lot of odd side-stories that seem to be stuck in the strictly episodic story progression pattern of most television.

TL;DR: At the very least, the first season of Star Wars Rebels is one with a lot of promise but it still takes a while before they fully come into their own. There are some nice moments and amusing cameos but thankfully it's the reveal at the end that really keeps you hooked to get into season 2. Thus the season gets a good 3.5 odd Ezra antics out of a possible 5.

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