Friday, May 23, 2014

TV Talk - Star Wars Clone Wars Series

Wow, Anakin’s rockin’ that hair. That entire scene needed some epic rock music.

Well, I’ve finally gotten to the Clone Wars. As you can probably tell, I’m looking at both series. Since they both have the same title, I’ll be mentioning them by the year they came out. It was actually the release of the 2008 series on Netflix that made this most of this month possible. As you can tell by the titles, the shows revolved around the Clone Wars. Since the prequels only touched on the beginning and the ending of the war, this was a chance to fill in the blanks on certain stuff.  I don’t have too much to say, so let me remember how I got into this.

I first saw the 2003 series when Cartoon Network (when they actually had good stuff on) would air the small mini-episodes. For those who don’t know, the first season of Clone Wars was split into 20 three-minute episodes that would usually air in the evening. The second season of the show came in 2004, but I didn’t get to see those until Revenge of the Sith was about to be released in 2005. That season was split into five 12-minute episodes. The whole entirety of the series is a little over two hours. Since I hadn’t seen those episodes (except for the awesome Mace Windu episodes) in a long time, I was able to find a video on YouTube that had it all.

As for the newer series, I first heard about it when Star Wars: The Clone Wars was going to be released in theatres. I didn’t know what to think of it at first. I mean, it was computer-animated and Anakin had a Padawan? I only saw the movie when MTSU had it airing on their movie channel. The movie was okay and was basically a pilot for the series. As for the series, I would try to tune in for the first three seasons. That all changed when I started to work nights. I did try to keep up with what was going on, but I kind of lost interest in it since I didn’t see it regularly. When I found out that they were releasing it and its 6th season on Netflix, I waited in anticipation for it. I went through that whole series during that month.

Star Wars: Clone Wars (2003)
As I stated before, the 2003 series was a small series. It was created by Genndy Tartakovsky, the creator of the awesome cartoon known as Samurai Jack. Just knowing that he did this series is a good thing because this series rocked. It was full of non-stop action. The first season shows the Jedi and the Clone Army taking it to the Separatists. There’s really not much said in the episodes themselves. What voice-acting we do get is pretty decent and well-cast. Unfortunately, the guy who voiced Anakin had some of Hayden Christensen’s flatness down. The first season also saw the first appearance of Asajj Ventress and the pretty awesome first appearance of General Grievous.
Who's the black Jedi who's a fightin' machine for the Republic?
(Mace!) Dang Right!

The second season picks up from where the previous season left off at. Since this was supposed to tie into ROTS, the episodes are longer and there’s more than just action.  We get to see Anakin become a Jedi Knight. While he and Obi-Wan are on a mission, General Grievous leads a Droid Army to Coruscant attempts to kidnap Chancellor Palpatine. The second season is better than the first for a couple of reasons. We actually get more development with Anakin, the episodes are longer, and it serves as a nice lead into Revenge of the Sith.

Overall, this was a good series. I don’t really have anything negative to say about it. Yes, the Jedi are a little overpowered in it. Just look at what Mace and Kit Fisto did in their episodes. Still, that doesn’t erase the coolness factor of it all. The show was well-animated and had some great moments. If I had to say anything negative about it, I just wish this was just a full-regular series. That would have been awesome. Still, what we got was pretty good. Check it out if you haven’t yet.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008)
The 2008 series took what the 2003 series had and expanded on it greatly. It may not have been perfect the whole way, but the series was good from beginning to end. I don’t want to gush too much, so here’s what I liked and what I didn’t like.

Forshadowing... Ooooo...
  • Interesting Stories – The show had a diverse array of stories. The show itself comprised of multi-episode arcs and some standalone episodes. As I said before, we got to see the whole reach of the war. We got to see the gritty action and the politics of the war. You also had episodes that centered on other aspects like bounty hunters, mercenaries, and the Hutt Clan. There are even some arcs that revolve around the Jedi and the Sith. You also see how entrenched the Sith are in the going-ons of the war. While we got a bit of this in the movies, the show went further with that.
  • Good, diverse set of characters – There were a lot of characters on the show. While you had your regulars from the prequels, you also had a nice, diverse set of characters. We had Ahoska, who grew on me over the course of the show. The show also centered on a group of Clones and those episodes provided for some great moments. You also had some nice development over the course of the show with some characters. Asokha and Asajj Ventress went through the most growth on there.
  • Good set of villains – While you had the Separatists and the Sith as main villains, you also had other villains that went up against the heroes. You would have bounty hunters like Cad Bane, Aurra Sing, and a younger Boba Fett doing their thing. You also had a Mandalorian terrorist group called Deathwatch that posed a bit of a threat to the Jedi especially Obi-Wan Kenobi. You also had the Nightsisters , Asajj Ventress, Savage Oppress (funny name), and Darth Maul. Yep, they brought him back and he was still pretty cool. You even had some renegade Jedi thrown into the mix.
  • It redeemed Anakin – That’s right, folks. This show actually turned Anakin into a decent guy. I guess that what happens when one gets their hand sliced off. It makes one less of a d-bag. This man here is the guy that Obi-Wan talked about in the original trilogy and not that guy from most of the prequels. We also get to see him gradually shift towards the Dark Side as the show progresses. Since the movies really only gave a glimpse of his shift, it was cool to see more of that here.
  • Great Action Pieces and Animation – The show was full of fast-paced action. The space battles were awesome. The battles between the clones and droids were good and pretty gritty for an animated show. The lightsaber battles were also nicely done and pretty awesome. While we didn’t have Mace destroying a whole Droid army, the action was still cool. I also liked the animation. It may have been a little stylized at times, but it worked for the show.
  • Balanced the lightness and the darkness – The show was able to balance the lighter moments with the darker moments. The first season is probably the most kid-friendly though not by much. I mean, you have clones dying left and right, dismemberments, lightsaber stabbings, and electrocution. Still, you had witty banter and droids saying funny things. Yep, the battle droids talked a lot here and most of it was actually funny. While the show got darker as it went on, you still had a couple of lighthearted moments.
  • Nice theme song – Yes, I know it’s a jazzed-up version of the Star Wars Theme. I know it’s not John Williams’ original theme. Does that mean I should hate it? Nope. It’s got a lot of drums and you can dance to it.
  • Great Voice-Acting – The voice-acting for the show was pretty good as a whole. You had a lot of folk from the previous show on here. You also had a lot of veteran voice actors on here as well. Heck, Clancy Brown even lent his voice to the character of Savage Oppress. Man, there’s something about that name that makes me say “why.”
  • There is more to say, but I can only say so much. Just go watch the show.

Oh man... it's the effeminate, Southern Jabba the Hutt. I'm not kidding. What were they thinking?
  • Some episodes are out of order – There are some episodes that are aired out of order.  This mostly occurred in the early seasons of the show. For example, there was one character that died in a season 2 episode that shows up alive in a later episode from season 3. I don’t know if it was intentional or not. Luckily, this does stop in the 3rd season when Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Ahsoka get their warbrobe change.
  • The narrator – That narrator at the beginning of each episode is a little grating at times. It’s like he popped out of a radio show from the 1940’s or 1950’s.
  • Some Lame villains – I have three words: Ziro the Hutt. There are also a couple of villains that were pretty lackluster.
  • Jar Jar Binks – Yes, “The Thing” shows up here too. He was heavily featured in the first season. He also brought his unfunny antics as well. Fortunately, he’s not around much after the first season. When he is, they actually make him a little funny. He even gets a couple of moments to shine. Oh man, I think I gave Jar Jar a complement! Noooooooooooooo!
  • That’s about it. While you may have had a sub-par episode, the show was good and it makes the prequels a little better… only a little though. Let’s not get too carried away.
Favorite Arcs:
Finally, here are some of my favorite episodes/story-arcs from the series:
  • The Malevolence arc (Rise of Malevolence, Shadow of Malevolence, Destroy Malevolence) – Gen. Grievous unleashes a new ship on the Republic.
  • Rookies – A group of clones have to protect a Republic outpost.
  • Hostage Crisis – It’s the first appearance of Cad Bane.
  •  The Mandalore arc (The Mandalore Plot, Voyage of Temptation, Duchess of Mandalore) – Obi-Wan and Anakin head to Mandalore to protect its Duchess.
  • Heroes on Both Sides – Padme tries to end the war with politics.
  • The Nightsister arc (Nightsisters, Monster, Witches of the Mist) –Asajj Ventress declares vengeance on Dooku when he tries to get her killed.
  • Mortis arc (Overlords, Altar of Mortis, Ghosts of Mortis) – Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Ahsoka end up in a strange land where Force-wielders dwell.
  • Umbara arc (Darkness on Umbara, The General, Plan of Dissent, Carnage of Krell) – Commander Rex and the 501st have to follow a new, cold Jedi named Krell.
  • Brothers/Revenge – The return of Darth Maul.
  • Framed arc (The Girl in Question, The Jedi Who Knew Too Much, To Catch a Jedi, The Wrong Jedi) – Ahsoka’s final fate.
  • Final Clone arc (The Unknown, Conspiracy, Fugitive, Orders) – We find out more about Order 66 and the creation of the clones.
  • Yoda’s arc (Voices, Destiny, Sacrifice) – Yoda learns more secrets about the Force.
And that’s all I have. As to which series is better, I have to go with the 2008 series. While the 2003 series was really good, the 2008 series brought so much more to the table. Check them out if you haven’t yet.  I could end the Star Wars segment here, but I’m going to look at something from the now-defunct Expanded Universe. Peace and God Bless.

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