By Mike Richardson
The original (and the best) Star Wars film A New Hope (1977) blew my childhood mind and rocked my toy buying world. The original trilogy became the biggest thing in this (or any other) galaxy, the re-issued, re-mastered, re-released special editions were watched and enjoyed and I must admit I was giddy as anything when I heard that the prequels were being filmed. However the prequels disappointed, so much so that when a fire alarm caused me to miss the last 10 minutes of Revenge of the Sith (2005), I requested my money back rather than a replacement ticket (did I miss anything good?).
However, George Lucas and the gang at Skywalker Ranch have persisted with the Star Wars Galaxy, and continued to produce toys, comics, books, audio plays and TV Shows. The most successful of them all was the animated television series The Clone Wars. The show takes place a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, between the events of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002) and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. The third season began airing last September and is now being released on DVD and Blu-ray this October. The question is, is it a worthy addition to the Star Wars canon?
The series chronicles the Clone Wars, fought between the Galactic Republic under Chancellor Palpatine and the Confederacy of Independent Systems under Count Dooku. For those of you bothering to keep up with the nonsensical machinations of the Sith, it involves the attempts of Darth Sidious trying to rule the galaxy (or something).
The third season of the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars television series, comprises 22 episodes, and involves some of our favourite Star Wars characters (Yoda, Dooku, Anakin, Obi-Wan, R2-D2 etc.) doing their intergalactic thing. This is the first problem with the series – the worst of Star Wars is very, very present. Yoda and his annoying dialogue remains as it does, the ridiculous plotting of the Sith hangs over the story like a distraction stupid cloud and the “amusing” banter between Anakin and Obi-Wan is still lead balloons whenever it’s tried Obi-Wan (now voiced by James Arnold Taylor) seems to have abandoned his Alec Guinness impression for a Noel Coward one and basic story telling rules are ignored in favour of a lightsabre/spaceship/blaster/force-lightning fight. Still it’s Star Wars and it will always have a place in my (and many others’) heart. Star Wars: The Clone Wars has received generally favourable reviews from critics (a lot better than the premature Clone Wars movie (2003) which was a handful of Season One episodes cobbled together and rushed to cinemas) partially because it’s still Star Wars but mostly because of the technical brilliance of the Lucasfilm animators that prop up the gossamer weak story on the screen. Their efforts range from brilliant to much better than you’d expect from a cartoon.
Viewers agreed. Star Wars: The Clone Wars averaged three million total viewers in its debut season and Cartoon Network said the spin off ranked as the number one programme among all major animated networks. It has also been awarded as the ‘highest-rated sci-fi animation currently on television’ by Guinness Book of Records.
The show deserves the praise, and despite my complaints I did enjoy it as a whole. I would suggest that you get yourself a big TV to watch it on and remind yourself how much fun the original trilogy was (rather than how disappointing the prequels were) before allowing yourself to appreciate the one of the best cartoon series out there.