Cynical Optimist : WTF Star Wars Clone Wars!?


The hour-long premiere episode of ”Star Wars: The Clone Wars” aired on October 3, 2008, and set a new record with Cartoon Network as their most-watched series premiere, attracting 3.958 million total viewers. That’s pretty damn impressive for a cartoon. Now, I’ll admit – the first season had it’s share of flaws (namely the Jar Jar Binks episodes) but season two was simply amazing, it delivered on nearly every level.

When I saw the trailer for season three, needless to say I was excited and filled with high expectations – and I must admit, I am disappointed so far. We’ve had three episodes in this season and while they have been entertaining – they’ve done little in the way of capturing my attention or pulling me into the story.

Why? Well, the problem is this – all we ever see are battles. Yes, the show is in the style of ’30s serials and it’s more of an anthology comprised of skirmishes and scenarios, but the big picture – the Clone War itself, has been completely lost.

You’ve got all of these great villains: Count Dooku, General Grievous, Asajj Ventress, Emperor Palpatine, hordes of bounty hunters and your typical scum and villainy, and yet – what are they doing? Nothing, basically.

The show never really goes anywhere. I would expect in the first couple episodes for a road map to be drawn – this is the objective, this is where we need to go – and the season unfolds in getting to that destination, but instead it’s just “the lightsaber battle of the week” as of late. I need a master plan. I want to see Dooku, Grievous, Ventress and Palpatine orchestrate a major campaign, with each one striking at a different limb of the Republic, cutting them off and going straight for the heart.

Instead, I’m guaranteed to see Anakin duel with Ventress or Kenobi battle Grievous in nearly every single episode – when (in terms of continuity) Grievous has never met Skywalker or Kenobi before their encounter in Revenge of the Sith. This is a problem.

On that note, when Anakin isn’t dueling with Ventress he’s interacting with Dooku – another major problem being as Anakin doesn’t encounter Dooku between episodes II and III (hence the dialogue, ” My powers have doubled since the last time we met, Count). Of course the line could be stretched, but honestly it’s meant to suggest that Anakin has grown in the three years since they last battled.

Also, why is Jar Jar Binks still a factor? It’d be different if he were reserved – perhaps more mature like he appears to be in ”Episode III”, but here he’s jumping up on tables and clumsily chucking plates and cups about to cause a distraction… and a distraction he is, to the validity of this show.

I’ve got to say, I haven’t been pleased with how the creators just throw in classic characters like Bossk, Greedo, and Boba Fett just to please fans – you know what would REALLY please the fans? A Good storyline – something that feels completely in line with the films. The whole point in creating this series was so you could elaborate on prequel characters, yes?

And while characters like Anakin, Kenobi and Plo Koon have soared, I feel like other characters (Mace Windu, especially) haven’t gotten their chance to shine. Instead, I’ve been forced to watch Jar Jar bounce around and eat up precious time.

This season it looks like Darth Maul’s brother will factor into the story somehow, and again – I think this is a waste of time. Yes, fans loved Darth Maul (he was one of the only redeeming factors of the prequels) but he’s dead and by introducing his brother, all you’re doing is pandering to fanboys with a character (and a plot thread, I’m assuming) that will eventually dead-end, being as it has nothing to do with ”Episode III”.

My major problem with this show so far is the timeline, mainly because there isn’t one. There’s no way of knowing when these battles take place, and especially after season three’s premiere, a flashback episode paired with a “present” storyline, I’m completely confused. If a 25-year-old Star Wars nerd has problems finding coherency, how in the hell can an eight-year-old?

Of course, this rant makes it sound like I hate this series – but it’s probably the best thing “Star Wars” since the original trilogy. I just fear the show is taking a turn toward the prequels, and we’re losing sight of the most important thing… story. I would love to see more Ahsoka and her interaction with Anakin. Again, isn’t this why you created the series?

Here’s an idea, every time you think about putting Jar Jar into an episode, replace him with Ahsoka, at least then maybe I’ll get to see her do something. If you’re going to have lightsaber duels, why not throw Kit Fisto or Plo Koon up against Dooku? I’m tired of seeing Anakin and Kenobi doing the same old things week-in and week-out.

Hey, after you’re finished with Darth Maul’s brother (that statement sounds more and more absurd every time I say it) maybe you can introduce Qui-Gon Jinn’s brother, Dim-Sum Yung… or maybe Kenobi has a twin-sister that can show up, Debbie Kenobi (but now she goes by the name of Old Deb). I don’t know, just some ideas for you.

Maybe Yoda and Yaddle go out for some drinks and hook up and have a kid – and that’s why Yoda doesn’t say shit about Anakin and Padme, because he’s carrying this dark secret about the time he had a little too much blue milk and got it on with Yaddle in the Jedi Library.