Star Wars: The Clone Wars
When my son decided recently that he wanted to get into Star Wars, I was obviously delighted. I didn’t think he would enjoy the films just yet, so instead I bought for him seasons 1 - 5 of the CGI animated television series The Clone Wars. I say bought for him, but I ended up watching them as well. Just to keep him company, you understand.
I’m not sure what age group The Clone Wars is supposed to be aimed at, but I really liked the series. Space battles, lightsabre duels, political machinations, what more could you want? The stories are set in the time between films 2 and 3 of the Star Wars franchise (Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith). And one of the main appeals of the series was that it offered a chance to visit the Star Wars universe at a time when there were lots of Jedi.
For me, the highlight of the series was undoubtedly a new character, Ahsoka Tano. Ahsoka is a Jedi, and the student of Anakin Skywalker. At the start of The Clone Wars, Anakin is headstrong and impulsive, so naturally the Jedi Council give him a girl with the same mindset as his pupil. Ahsoka and Anakin spend most of their time trying to outdo each other’s recklessness. And there are some wonderfully humorous moments as Anakin struggles to curb in Ahsoka the same instincts he himself displays.
More than any other character, The Clone Wars is about Anakin Skywalker. We see some events that explain his growing disillusionment with the Jedi Council. Interestingly, Ahsoka herself provides one of those in season 5. There’s a great instance of foreshadowing early in The Clone Wars when Anakin fears Ahsoka has been killed. Another Jedi says to him, “When the time comes, I am prepared to let my student go. Can you say the same?” You realise that Anakin’s friendship with Ahsoka is going to cost him, and so it proves.
Another highlight of The Clones Wars was spending time in the company of characters who are seen only briefly in the films. Remember Order 66 in Revenge of the Sith? It was a poignant sequence, watching Jedi after Jedi betrayed and killed by their clone troops, but the effect was lessened by the fact that I didn’t know who these Jedi were. Having now met Plo Koon and some of the others in The Clone Wars, the same Order 66 sequence hit far harder went I watched it again.
My biggest complaint about the series was that it didn’t follow often enough the characters I am most interested in. I know this is a personal thing, but why did Yoda get only a single episode dedicated to him? By comparison, the likes of Jar Jar Binks and Padme Amidala received far too much screen time. Padme in particular was a yawn-fest, to the extent that “it's like watching Padme Amidala” may soon replace the phrase “it's like watching paint dry”.
Another thing that really grated on me was the inconsistent treatment of Jedi abilities. If you’re an all-powerful, ass-kicking Jedi, you’re an all-powerful, ass-kicking Jedi all the time. You can’t just have an off day because the scriptwriter needs your story to be more dramatic. Except you can in The Clones Wars. I lost count of the number of times a Jedi was defeated by a far weaker enemy. And as for how often a lightsabre was lost or dropped . . . well, my calculator ran out of digits.
Then there were the plot-holes. Oh, the plot-holes. Some of them were larger than the stories they were supposed to be in. For example, one bad guy desperately wanted revenge against Kenobi, so having finally captured him, does he kill him? Of course not. Instead, he taunts him just long enough for help to arrive. Then, when Kenobi flees in an escape pod, does the bad guy chase him in his much faster ship? Of course not. Better things to do, apparently.
All in all, though, I’d recommend The Clone Wars to any Star Wars fan. The episodes may range hugely in quality, but there are some real gems in there.