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Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008-2014)

For over a thousand generations the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic...” -Obi-Wan Kenobi

Star Wars: The Clone Wars is a 3D-CGI television series produced by Lucasfilm, Lucasfilm Animation (including their Singapore division), and CGCG Inc. The series was created and executive produced by the master of Star Wars himself, George Lucas while being directed by Dave Filoni. The series ran for 6 seasons and a total of 121 episodes before the show was canceled in March of 2014. Possibly as a way slowly transition leadership of the studios to Disney due to their relatively recent purchase of Lucasfilm. (See our article on the new series Star Wars: Rebels here)

Back in 2008, I can vividly remember seeing the posters for the movie/pilot episode for Star Wars: The Clone Wars while walking into my local theatre to see WALL-E with my family. With all of us being Star Wars fans of the original films over the prequel series, the news of a new animated movie set during the Clone Wars gave us all the same reaction.

“This is going to suck.”

For one thing, the animation style bugged me. After having seen and loved Genndy Tartakovsky's Clone Wars shorts, I felt that what had been done with just 2-D animation would be far superior to anything this new show would throw at me. But the biggest for me and most older Star Wars fans was the introduction of Ahsoka Tano, a Jedi Padawan who becomes Anakin's Skywalker's student, as a way to temper Anakin's growing rebellious nature. While this was a good move to provide an audience surrogate for younger audiences and inspire a new generation of fans, I felt that this show would have very little to offer fans like myself who already know how the story of Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi will end.

So even after the pilot's success and the show began its run on Cartoon Network, I barely paid it any attention. It wasn't until a few years later into the show's run that I found myself flipping through channels while at home sick with a bad cold. With nothing else better on, I chose to stick around and watch a rerun of an episode from the show's third season, known as the Mortis Trilogy.

A three-parter which saw Anakin, his young padawan and Obi-Wan coming across an unusual planet. A planet inhabited by only three individuals, The Daughter, the Son and the Father (the first two representing the light and dark side of the force respectively, while the third is meant to keep them in balance). Characters that I remembered reading about in the books of the Star Wars Expanded Universe.

Needless to say, my entire opinion of the show changed almost overnight.

While Star Wars: The Clone Wars may not have had the strongest start, its true strength is how it continued to build on what most fans already knew about Star Wars mythos and breathing a new life into the characters. For example, while I found the portrayal of Anakin Skywalker to be more than a bit underwhelming in most of the prequel films, that was certainly not the case with The Clone Wars. He is still the same head-strong Jedi from the films, he is fleshed out a lot more in the series. His bond with Ahsoka being one of the more heartwarming aspects of the show from beginning to end. Ahsoka herself also grew on me, showing her development from a naive girl with Jedi Knight aspirations to a battle trained veteran of the Clone Wars. She was even given her own arc at the close of season 5 to explain why she was not present or mentioned in the Revenge of the Sith film.

The show was also not afraid to take a few risks. One of the primary being taking time away from the main cast to develop side characters, on both sides of the conflict. From Yoda to Count Dooku, almost every important character got time to shine. Even the Clone Troopers themselves were given names and time to develop just like the rest of the cast. A particular stand out being Captain Rex, who quickly became a fan favourite as the series went on. But by far, one of the largest risks taken was to revive a mostly silent antagonist only seen in what most Star Wars fans consider to be the worst of the prequel films, Darth Maul. Not only was his already intimidating presence maintained but he was given a back story, a scheming wit, and a ruthless, vengeful nature befitting Darth Sidious first apprentice. The show's animation also evolved with the story, becoming more impressive with each season. I even discovered that the character designs for the series had been inspired by the 2-D shorts that I was so fond of, as a way of paying tribute to Tartakovsky's work.

While I certainly enjoy this series more than I ever expected to, that isn't to say it doesn't have its low points as well. The earlier seasons that I missed while good tend to be a bit more episodic in nature which when contrasted with the more thrilling arcs in later seasons seem to pale in comparison. Also while credit is given to the show's creative team for jumping through hoops in order to maintain continuity with the films, there are still a few plot holes (very minor ones though!) left unexplained and more than a few loose ends. My biggest complaint, one that a lot of fans shared, is in fact that the show's cancellation left several plot lines unresolved. Such as Ashoka's fate after Order 66, Captain Rex future path, and the true motive for Mother Talsin of the Night Sisters for reviving Maul? For the latter, a comic series called the Son of Danthomir brought some closure to that plot line having revealed to be episodes previously scripted for season 6. However, the fate of Darth Sidious first apprentice is still up in the air. While Clone Wars sequel series has made moves to resolutions to these problems, whether or not all of them will be eventually resolved remains to be seen.

While certain episodes do stand out more than others, Clone Wars dared to do more with the franchise than just having it be a new vehicle to sell toys, games etc. The stories they told, brought a new weight to the Star Wars mythos and the events that would eventually unfold. It reinvigorated old characters while introducing new ones, and as a result uniting Star Wars fans both young and old.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars is available to buy on DVD and online streaming on Netflix.