23/06/2018

Watching Clone Wars Season 1

I've never been a completionist when it comes to Star Wars fandom, someone who feels like they have to see or read all the things. For this reason I never had a particular desire to watch the Clone Wars TV series, because it was just another bit of supplementary material and aimed at kids to boot, so I couldn't be missing much, right?

However, as time has gone by it actually seems to have grown in importance. It was declared canon when so many other things were not. Ahsoka Tano became an aspirational character that grew beyond her origins, reminding me of the way people talked about Mara Jade back in the day, only more so. And I saw a lot of adults talk about the new animated show, Rebels, as well, lending credence to these being more than just light entertainment for the little ones. Finally, when I watched Solo... without spoiling anything, but something happens at the end of that film that doesn't really make sense if you've only seen the movies, but I was told that more explanation was provided in Clone Wars.

Next came the challenge of actually finding an avenue to watch it. I have neither a TV nor a Netflix subscription, and I don't do file sharing. I tried signing up for a free trial of Disney's Disney Life service in hopes that they might have it, but I couldn't even get the sign-up to work (it gave me a generic error every time). And DVDs proved hard to find at decent prices (at the time - looking at Amazon UK right now, they seem to be back in stock).

As it happened, I was on holiday last week and while browsing in a local electronics store, I spotted a DVD of season one for cheap, so I decided to grab it. At about twenty minutes per episode, they fit in well between other holiday activities. On a side note though, considering that I always perceived this as a kids' show, I was surprised to see that the German FSK had rated it as suitable for ages 12 and up (which is, incidentally, the same rating they gave the original Star Wars films).


The short of it is that I found what I watched pretty enjoyable. Each episode featured a healthy amount of what I'd describe as simple, condensed Star Wars fun: space battles, lightsaber duels and strange aliens included. That said, I also couldn't help but think that it must have gotten a lot better than this to have achieved the cult status it has. Ahsoka Tano for example didn't really do anything particularly remarkable throughout the entire season, and mostly seemed to serve as a foil for Anakin. (No matter who turned out to be right, they always seemed to disagree on something or other every episode.)

Watching Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker's adventures during the Clone Wars also made me kind of want to watch the prequels again to see how well it all fits in between episodes two and three, while at the same time worrying a bit that it probably doesn't. I mean, I really like the idea of Anakin having more personality than a piece of cardboard for example, but I'm not sure the portrayal we get of him in the show really gels with what's shown in the movies...

That said, I couldn't help but think that it feels like the show actually does the prequel area better justice in some ways than the prequels themselves. As implied above, Anakin Skywalker actually comes across as a person that did indeed accomplish great things and wasn't just whiny all the time. Or how about General Grievous? I always thought he seemed as a little silly with his twirling lightsabers and spider-like run in Episode 3, but Clone Wars actually embraces this and just turns him into a ridiculously over-the-top super villain who's always brooding and shaking his fists at things - but it kinda works! Likewise, the extremely disposable separatist battle droids are turned into properly silly mooks that often serve as comic relief and it actually feels appropriate more than anything else.

What was most interesting to me though was actually the realisation of just how much this show must have served as inspiration for SWTOR. Even the art style is somewhat similar - SWTOR veers a bit more towards realism, with less angular movements and more realistic proportions, but you can definitely see similarities.


For example I've often heard people complain that SWTOR's hair options don't look like real hair. I'm always like: "Duh, it's not supposed to." I wonder if people ever complained about Obi-Wan's beard not looking beardy enough here...

It's also quite obvious where inspiration for various classes came from: for example the episode "Rookies" features a clone trooper who's very much a proto-Commando, mowing things down with a giant assault cannon more than once.


Or how about Asajj Ventress? Everything this lady got up to in season one screamed "Sith Assassin" at me, and while she was using dual sabers the entire time, I've seen stills of her wielding a double-bladed lightsaber as well, so I know it's a thing.


We'll see when I'll get a chance to watch more... whenever I have internet available (which I didn't for most of my holiday), the lure of spending time on there instead of watching anything is usually too great, but my curiosity has certainly been piqued...

5 comments :

  1. The stills of Ventress wielding her two sabers as a conjoined dualsaber is from the 2008 film, which serves as a simultaneous prequel and sequel to elements of the series proper (the episode set on Christophsis with the Clone traitor is one of the only few stories which precedes the film, if not the only one of all six series), and I don't believe she ever uses them in the same way in the series itself.

    Shame if this is proven wholly correct, but she still gets a lot of good action throughout the series regardless.

    Also, since I mentioned the film, it's revealed in this that the sole reason why Ahsoka is made his Padawan was solely so Yoda can teach him something about responsibility. It's a nice idea in theory and leads the way to the show's moral messages of course, but this doesn't exactly meld well with where we see Anakin in Episode III.

    Still, the extremely grouchy Anakin we see in the prequels would definitely not have made for a good cartoon protagonist so I can forgive a little shifting-around for that purpose.

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  2. From what I've read, the style of Clone Wars was based on the Gerry Anderson puppet shows from the 1960's.

    Specifically, Thundebirds.

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    1. Heh, that's interesting... there's certainly something puppet-like about some of the running animations for example.

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  3. Taken as a whole, I greatly prefer the Clone Wars series to the prequel movies. The first season is by far the weakest, and I still find it varies from "Ok" to "pretty good" de[pending on the episode. In fact, I tend to prefer pretty much everything set in the Ep 1-3 era to the movies themselves. It's a fascinating visually engaging universe, that is apparently pretty easy for most folks to tell interesting stories in. JL may have been a terrible director dialogue writer, but he did come up with an interesting setting.

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    1. Yeah, it's a shame that this is something that's been a bit lacking in the new films, even if I mostly enjoyed them otherwise.

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