By Dakota Wiegand
Hey all! This time around I am doing a show that surprised the hell out of me! A show based on the Star Wars prequels, which I will tackle at another time, did not give me the warm and fuzzies. Actually, back in 2008 I remember catching some of the Cartoon Network movie with the same title and I was unimpressed. Naturally, you cannot judge a book by its cover, and this show is by far the best example of that saying! Let’s take a look at Star Wars: The Clone Wars!
Airing in October of 2008, Cartoon Network aired Star Wars for 5 seasons, each season running about 22 episodes each, until 2013. However, Netflix bought the rights after Cartoon Network dropped the series and ran another full season, which had 13 episodes, until March of 2014. Recently, the creators of the show have posted to their site 6 13-minute episodes with just the storyboard art for the die-hard fans of the show.
The show itself takes place during the Clone Wars, which is in between Episodes II: Attack of the Clones and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. The show bounces from planet to planet, during the many conflicts between the Republic and the Separatist forces as well as naval battles in open space. Moving it from planet to planet definitely makes the Star Wars seem much more grander with new life forms that we haven’t seen before.
The characters on the show definitely make the show amazing! This is surprising because one of the biggest problems with the prequels was with the cast. However, each character in this show is much more enjoyable and much easier to get attached to. The character pool is pretty large as well, making it easy for the viewer to find their favorite character. The character pool consists of Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ahsoka Tano, Yoda, the Clone Troopers, Count Dooku, Asajj Ventress, Darth Sidious/Chancellor Palpatine, Darth Maul, and Savage Opress are just a few of the characters. So, let’s dig in!
Anakin Skywalker, voiced by Matt Lanter, is a young Jedi Knight whois very high-strung and believes in his emotions more often than the Jedi order would like. However, he is smart and cunning as a warrior, an inspiration to the Clone Troopers, a tactician, and just all around awesome! He’s not the moody little bitch he was in the prequels, though he can be at times, but the way he hold shimself through the show just makes you like him even more so. If you were to describe him to someone with a title, he would have to be the anti-hero. You know he will always do the right thing, even though it kills him to do so, at times, but he just likes doing whatever he likes, whenever he wants to.
Obi-Wan Kenobi, voiced by James Arnold Taylor, is the Obi-Wan that we all know and love. Obi-Wan was undoubtedly the best part of the prequels and he continues to be a boss in this series. He is still very traditional in the Jedi Order and has a seat in the council. He can be silly at times, in a very dry way, but he knows when to be serious and how to use his silly moments to his advantage. The show actually made me want more Obi-Wan than anyone else! Whenever there was an Obi-Wan episode or series I was pumped! The show expanded who Obi-Wan Kenobi is and made him just more amazing. Though, I do have one problem, which I will address a little bit later on. However, Obi-Wan will always be my favorite Jedi in the entire Star Wars universe.
Ahsoka Tano, voiced by Ashley Eckstein, is Anakin’s Padawan. She is much like Anakin, when it comes to being brash and over the top. She’s still learning, however, she is sometimes more mature and brave than other Jedi Knights in the show. At first, I thought this character was just a means to connect the younger viewers to the main characters of the show, like what Robin is to Batman. I was right for the first handful of episodes, but Ahsoka tore away from that soon after and became a much-needed character in the show and one of best characters of the series.
Yoda, voiced by Tom Kane, is the same as he was in the Star Wars universe. He is the rock of the Jedi Order, the example for all Jedi to live by. He cunning, smart, clever, and very humble. Being the head of the Jedi Council and the Order, none of that power goes to his head. Though the series does not give Yoda the same treatment that they gave Obi-Wan, they still expanded Yoda’s character in many ways that the movies did not. You cannot hate Yoda at all, he’s just too good of a character.
Next, pretty much the stars of the show, are the Clone Troopers, voiced by Dee Bradley Baker. The clones have the most interesting episodes! Where the show excels is making the Clone Army an army of men, rather than clones, in that they give each soldier their own personality. Instead of having ID numbers, the clones give each other nicknames to identify one another, as well as each of them customizing their battle armor, facial tattoos, and hairstyles. The main clone in the show is Captain Rex. My god, is this character a lot of fun. Whenever, he’s happy, the viewer is happy. When he’s on edge, you’re on edge, and so on and so forth. Essentially, he is the voice of the army and makes the show, along with the other clones, just that much better.
Next we have Count Dooku, voiced by Corey Burton. Dooku is Obi-Wan’s other half in a way, they respect each other to a degree, but hate each other. Dooku is a Sith apprentice, due to the Sith’s rule of Two. He is cunning and manipulative, not afraid to let his droid soldiers die, and he is cold and emotionless. We learn quickly that Dooku was the Padawan of Yoda, but Darth Sidious brought him over to the Dark Side. He’s a fun character when he is the focus of the show, but when he’s just thrown in the episode for no particular reason, he tends to be boring.
Asajj Ventress, voiced by Nika Futterman, is Count Dooku’s former apprentice. I say former because Darth Sidious forced Dooku to get rid of her, thinking he was getting too powerful and had thoughts to overthrow him. This failed, causing Ventress to go on a rampage to get her revenge, until she realized she was never going to have it and became a ruthless bounty hunter. Ventress is a cunning and manipulative warrior who oozes evil. She is a great character and you know that you are in for a treat when she is on your screen.
Next we have is Darth Sidious /Chancellor Palpatine, voiced by Ian Abercrombie and Tim Curry. Darth Sidious doesn’t make too many appearances in the show, or real quality appearances…except one. That one episode is too epic for me to really talk about, but if you marathon the show (which I highly recommend you do) you will find this epic moment of badass-ness. On the other hand, Chancellor Palpetine is in several episodes and he is the pot-stirrer that he is. He’s fun but nothing too, too exciting. I like the voice performance by Ian Abercrombie, but I wasn’t too fond of Tim Curry. I love Tim Curry as a villain, trust me! I just didn’t feel that his voice was the right fit for Palpetine/Sidious.
Next is Darth Maul, voiced by Samuel Witwer, who won a daytime Emmy for best voice acting and he honestly deserved it. Darth Maul is now part cyborg and mentally insane. He is out for revenge against Obi-Wan and will do anything to get it, which he does! I will talk about how he does it later, but it was probably the best episode of the series and most dramatic moment. I nearly lost my shit watching it! Darth Maul is so evil and amazing that you just don’t want his reign to end. However, he breaks the Sith’s number one rule, “The Rule of Two” and is killed off. When I heard he was in the series, my response was, “Well, they were bound to fuck this hsow up eventually…” However, I was delightfully proven wrong! He is such a great villain in this show and deserves the thanks of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Yeah, I said it! Sue me!
Lastly, we have Savage Opress, voiced by Clancy Brown. Savage, pronounced Sa-vah-j, is the distant kin of Maul. They were both from a tribe of males who were bread to be Sith against their will. Once they are converted, they are the embodiment of evil. Savage is a little more brutish than his brother, but he knows how to execute a plan and think on his feet. Seeing the conversion of man to sith was pretty cool.
Now the relationships in the show are actually quite complex. You still have Anakin and Padme still sneaking around and getting naughty, but you actually care about their relationship. They are complex now and dealing with their own problems. Padme even suggests a divorce at one point because she wasn’t sure how she was going to live a life with Anakin in secret. Though, they were still very obvious, which begs the question: how come no one noticed? No one noticed, until Netflix took over the show where Obi-Wan talks to Anakin about Padme giving him the “I know whats going on” talk, but leaving it up to him how to act. Speaking of Obi-Wan, he used to be intimate with Ducthess Satine, ruler of Mandelor. They admit to each other that, when they were young, they were in love with each other and were willing to give up everything for each other, Obi-Wan said he would have left the Jedi order for her, if she asked him. They still show feelings for each other, clouding Obi-Wan’s judgment at times. They were the best couple in the show, by far! Some other minor relationships in the show is Ahsoka and a kid from the Separatist capital planet and, believe it or not, Jar Jar and a Queen of different aquatic creatures… watching them make out still gives me nightmares!
When it comes to character design, I have mix feelings about it. The characters themselves are modled after their real-life actors from Episodes I and II, but are drawn like they were from the 2D Star Wars: The Clone Wars. I like how they are designed, but when they are on that beautiful backdrop that you can use for a live action movie, they look a little… flat. The show does vary between animation from episode to episode. You can tell by the special effects and the way facial expressions are done. The better episodes perfectly blend the designs together and stick out the most. The number one character design I hated in the show is Jedi Fisto. Yes, that is his real name. I can’t help but think of Kreiger from Archer saying “Fisto Roboto” whenever I hear Jedi Fisto’s name. Who okayed that name?! Anyway, he was created with the facial expression of mild-content and shows no other emotion. Its weird because when other characters are designed so beautifully, the show went “fuck it” to Fisto.
The show itself is addictive. I binged the series in short order and enjoyed a lot of it. Like most shows, it has its weak episodes. However, those are few and far between. The show has a lot of great moments and provocative story lines as well as very memorable characters.
Now, I know that the Star Wars Prequels came up short to a lot of people. However, this show saves the prequels. It takes the misery of Episode II and the better Episode III and used it to its benefit. It saves these two movies and developed the star wars universe further. We visited new galaxies, seen new creatures, and learned more about the Star Wars mythos than in any other film. Obi-Wan became even more of a boss! The clones were given such personality and made them relatable and likable to the point where one of them dying is as emotional as anything.
I was talking to my friends about this show the other day to them and I scared myself. I have gone on record in these reviews that Batman TAS is, by far my favorite show. That being said, I said that this show is my favorite and my friends called me out on that. After much thought, yes, Star Wars: The Clones Wars is my favorite show. Its my favorite show in the Sci-fi/fantasy genre. Batman TAS is still my favorite show of all time and without Batman, you would not have been able to make a children/family show with a dark and edgy story, like Star Wars has.
With that being said, Star Wars: The Clone Wars is a must see. The amount of asses kicked in the series is commendable and would be hard pressed by any other series to match. Its also the first show, outside of Batman TAS, to truly help contribute to the mythos and universe of a series. Please, stop reading my review and go watch this.
Show Rating: A+
Watch what I was talking about!
Star Wars: The Clone Wars