Sunday, January 24, 2016

Star Wars: Clone Wars VS Star Wars: The Clone Wars-Which is Better?

Ever since Ben Kenobi mentioned a “Clone Wars” to Luke Skywalker, many Star Wars fans have dreamed of an actualization of said wars. After all, there were so many questions: who were these clones? Why were they fighting? How long did they fight? And what caused the war to end? Due to the period limitations, the “Clone Wars” story on film remained a dream until Star Wars Ep. II: Attack of the Clones came out in 2002…and then barely featured them. And even the final movie in the prequel trilogy only focused on the tail-end of it, leaving the idea untapped to its fullest.

Fortunately, the creative minds in film never lost sight of producing a definitive rendition of “Clone Wars.” In 2003, Genndy Tartakovsky, whose most-notable works were Dexter’s Laboratory and Samurai Jack, was tasked with bringing this project to TV via Star Wars: Clone Wars. Released as a series of pre-feature shorts, Star Wars: Clone Wars became a smash-hit. It garnered 3 Emmys over its 3 season runtime, fleshed out the world of Star Wars in ways the films hadn’t and tied together the second and third prequel quite nicely. It even gained enough of a cult-following that many fans hold it as the best piece of media to ever come from that era.

In 2008, scarcely three years after Star Wars: Clone Wars ended, George Lucas decided to release a CGI animated feature, titled Star Wars: The Clone Wars, in theatres. Initially poorly-received, even earning the lowest revenue for a Star Wars film to-date, the movie nonetheless paved way for a 121-episode show that lasted 6 years and won a few Emmys of its own. Like Star Wars: Clone Wars, many fans consider this the best piece of media to come from that era.

So which of the two shows is better? After all, both purport to deal with the events between the two films. This is a difficult question to answer, but I’ll try. Please keep in mind that this is strictly subjective, and that there’ll be spoilers.

Anyway, we’ll start with the first category, which is…



As expected, both shows deal with the events between Star Wars Ep. II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Ep. III: Revenge of the Sith. Beginning with Star Wars: Clone Wars, the show is a 25-episode mini-series (or micro-series) that tells its story in a serial format akin to those in theatres during the 20’s and 30’s. The first 2 seasons are 10 episodes each, with a run-time of roughly 3 minutes, while the last season is 5 episodes at about 12 to 15 minutes. The show focuses on Anakin Skywalker and the effect the war is having on him as a Jedi. We see his constant temptations, his struggle to resist said temptations and his overall acceptance of being “The Chosen One”. There are also detours involving other Jedi, but it’s mostly his story.

One of the most-interesting issues, however is the disconnect between the first two and final seasons. The former have a clear arc involving Anakin being sent out as a Commander, finding a rogue ship, discovering a Sith assassin and defeating her. It’s a complete arc, and it works as a short movie. The third season, however, jumps ahead to the final year of the war, and, save Anakin’s knighting ceremony, doesn’t show much of his change from cocky teenager to mature leader. I’ve always been bothered by this: why does the show rush through that? It goes by so quickly that his change in behaviour feels unearned, which is disappointing despite the obvious limitations.

In contrast, Star Wars: The Clone Wars has the advantage of time. Being 121 episodes, and kicked off by a 98-minute film, you’d think there’d be more room for Anakin to grow into his role as leader. Unfortunately…the series doesn’t take that route, having Anakin start as a confident General who’s already become a Jedi Knight. Instead, we’re introduced to Ahsoka Tano, Anakin’s Padawan learner and, for the first while, the most obnoxious twerp imaginable! Seriously, listen to the words that come out of her mouth early on and tell me you don’t want to smack her!

Going back to storylines, it’s clear both shows were going for different focuses. Star Wars: Clone Wars keeps the themes to a minimum, instead focusing on how an individual is influenced by war. Star Wars: The Clone Wars re-treads a little on that with Ahsoka, but it also allows for a bigger dive into the effects of the war. We constantly see how it’s bankrupting The Republic and The Separatists, is exposing corruption in The Senate, is taking a toll on the average citizen and is even causing indirect problems in neutral systems. The show really analyzes those themes thoroughly, thanks, once again, to the benefit of length.

It looks like it should be an easy win for Star Wars: The Clone Wars, but it’s not, for two reasons. One, the show has too many detours and filler episodes, meaning that the quality of the show suffers in the area of writing. And two, the show’s broadcast order is mixed up because of its anthology format, so the episodes aren’t in order and occasionally contradict one-another; for example, Onaconda Farr is poisoned by his trusted advisor as revenge for bringing the war to his home planet of Rodia, but in a future episode he’s still alive. We can deduce that the later episode came first time-wise. In contrast, Star Wars: Clone Wars, despite the time-jump, is much tighter, such that it can be, and actually has been, seen as a single movie that’s a little over 2 hours. Therefore, I think it has the better story.

Winner: Star Wars: Clone Wars.

But hey! A story is only as good as its characters, which leads to the next category…



One of the biggest selling-points of both shows is that they have large character ensembles. This can be both good and bad.

Star Wars: Clone Wars’s biggest strength is knowing it’s tight for time and can only focus on certain characters in-depth. Amongst these are Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Padmé Amidala and, to a lesser-extent, C3PO, R2-D2, Yoda and Chancellor Palpatine. For the most part, either through silent interactions or the occasional line, we really understand these characters. We know, for example, that Anakin is brash and impulsive, but also quiet and contemplative when necessary. Conversely, Obi-Wan is brave and fearless, but also not afraid to bicker with his Padawan when he steps out of line. Most of this is conveyed without words, as the show is largely visual and scarce on dialogue.

The unfortunate downside is, once again, the format. Being short episodes with little dialogue, we don’t get a chance to learn much about the characters outside bare essentials. We actually don’t get to know much about most of the characters, honestly, which is a shame because Mace Windu is one of my favourite Jedi, yet he’s only in a few episodes fighting. Yoda also gets the shaft outside of his temple rescue on Ilum, as, once again, he’s relegated to fight scenes. Essentially, it’s disappointing.

It’s especially disappointing because the show has so many cool characters, some of whom are introduced in it, that don’t get time to shine. Obi-Wan, for example, faces off against a bounty hunter who can regenerate flesh, and yet he’s defeated really easily and never seen again. The show also introduces Asajj Ventress, an assassin who fights Anakin, yet she’s also defeated really easily and is never mentioned again. The only character that stays on until Star Wars Ep. III: Revenge of the Sith is General Grievous, who becomes a joke in the succeeding film due to an injury he receives while abducting Palpatine. This really makes me wish Star Wars: Clone Wars was longer than it actually is.

In contrast, Star Wars: The Clone Wars has a wonderfully-fleshed out cast, including the return of Ventress. Other notable highlights include Boba Fett, who’s probably at his most-interesting here, Ahsoka, who becomes fantastically-complex, and minor characters like Duchess Satine and Onaconda Farr. The show also touches more on the Jedi, the Sith and plenty of side-characters that were either introduced, or were in the movies briefly. And, of course, the show even brings back Darth Maul. You heard that right.

Sadly, it too has its share of blunders. Firstly, General Grievous sucks here. The fact that he’s incapacitated by a group of Gungan warriors is proof enough. On that note, the show brings back Jar Jar Binks, whose irritation from the films is worsened by everyone else thinking him to be an idiot savant. If it weren’t for the episodes surrounding Rush Clovis, a character that keeps trying to ruin Anakin and Padmé's love-life which his creeper behaviour, I’d consider Jar Jar the most-painful part of the show.

The show also dedicates a lot of time to Ahsoka, to the point of overkill. To be clear, I love Ahsoka, I think she’s awesome. Her departure in Season 5 broke my heart. But she’s in so many episodes it’s sickening. (Let’s face it, did she really need to escort the Jedi Younglings to Ilum?)

The final complication is that Star Wars: The Clone Wars was ended prematurely, making some characters’ arcs incomplete. This is especially the case for Darth Maul, whom we get the feeling was supposed to resurface in a later season, but due to Disney cancelling the show in favour of Star Wars Rebels it never happened. The same could be said of Death Watch, a terrorism group whose plans to conquer Mandalore are left unfinished. I’m sure there are other characters whose fates were never revealed, but I can’t think of them off-hand. In short, it’s disappointing.

Still, Star Wars: The Clone Wars more than makes up for that with the clones. As much I liked Star Wars: Clone Wars, the clones were the most boring part. They were mostly generic soldiers who followed orders and couldn’t be told apart. Also, save Captain Fordo’s exchange with Obi-Wan when Anakin is spotted chasing after Ventress, they’re not all that funny. I understand that the show was restricted by format, but when a clone died I didn’t care.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars, in contrast, had many clones that I truly cared about: Heavy, Hardcase, Tup, Fives, Jessie, Gregor, Waxer, Cutup, Captain Rex, Commander Cody, Commander Wolfe, Ninety-Nine, Dogma, the list goes on. They each had distinct personalities and facial traits that made them stand out. When Fives was shot while trying to warn everyone about Order 66, for example, it hit me where it hurt. Same with Dogma killing a corrupt Jedi general, as I knew how hard it must’ve been to do that. The clones really make the show, and it wouldn’t have been the same without them.

One last point of note is the difference of the Jedi. In Star Wars: Clone Wars, they were practically invincible. They kept knocking down enemies like bowling pins, making their rare attempts at weakness contrived. In Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the Jedi were toned down, such that they were vulnerable. And many of them died or were injured, making the threat they faced more dangerous. The show also showed their characters flaws with their ability to be manipulated or distrustful, as well as their moments of fear and pride. It made their accomplishments that much more significant.

So on this matter, it’s no contest: Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

Winner: Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

But hey! Seeing as both shows are animated, it’s only reasonable to see how they measure up there, right?



Incidentally, this category’s a bit unfair, as Star Wars: The Clone Wars was initially an afterthought, while Star Wars: Clone Wars had a full budget from the get-go. Still, I’ll try to be fair…

Aesthetically, Star Wars: Clone Wars has two advantages over Star Wars: The Clone Wars. First, it was directed and designed by Genndy Tartakovsky. Tartakovsky has a really distinct style, that of a mixture of cartoony and deco, and it was bound to show up here. Star Wars: Clone Wars, therefore, looks and feels like an art-house production, making it unbelievably cinematic. And two, the show has a consistent budget. Even though it reuses frames and goes stock model heavy to an extreme, you can tell Tartakovsky put his all into the show. As I said, Star Wars: Clone Wars could easily pass off as a movie.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars, in contrast, has a far less qualitative feel to it. The animation improves over time, especially in later seasons, but it never reaches true filmic quality; in fact, the pilot movie is so un-cinematic that you’d think a C-list studio rendered it. And it did: Lucasfilm’s then-new Singapore animation division. I like that the show was ambitious in-spite of its limitations, especially in its action, but it’s impossible not to see its restrictions: characters are blocky, hands and feet are generic and it’s almost impossible to tell clones apart when they have their helmets on. It’s dirt-poor for a CGI show.

In short, it’s obvious which show looks better.

Winner: Star Wars: Clone Wars.

Speaking of aesthetic, the next category is…



We’ll begin with sound design. The two shows are going for completely different approaches here. In Star Wars: Clone Wars, the sound design is clearly cartoony. There are pinball noises, blatant uses of onomatopoeia, the likes. If the show is cinematic visually, it’s definitely not sound-wise. In contrast, Star Wars: The Clone Wars uses realistic sound design, including noises ripped straight from the films. This includes explosions, lightsaber sounds and hey, even The Wilhelm Scream. This makes the show feel like a series of film serials, in a way.

Then there’s the music. It’d seem like a no-brainer, what with Star Wars: Clone Wars going for a more simplistic soundtrack and Star Wars: The Clone Wars bringing in a composer, Kevin Kiner, for the tracks. The latter even has remixed versions of the opening and closing Star Wars themes in each episode, as well as remixed tracks from the movies! However…do you honestly remember any of the in-show tunes outside their respective scenes? I definitely do for Star Wars: Clone Wars, but not for Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

Finally, there’s the voice acting. Both have stellar VAs in their line-ups, but they too go for different styles. Star Wars: Clone Wars is clearly meant to be more cartoony, with a lot of the characters sounding more like your typical, Saturday morning roster. Star Wars: The Clone Wars, in contrast, goes the exact opposite route, with the voice talents throwing in more natural-sounding performances. Perhaps the most-notable difference is Darth Sidious: in one show, he sounds like an 80’s Transformers villain, while in other he slightly modifies his senator register. Also, there are plenty of character accents in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, something not present in Star Wars: Clone Wars.

Interestingly enough, I have a bone to pick with one voice in each series. In the case of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, I don’t like Tim Curry as Palpatine. Palpatine’s original voice actor, Ian Abercrombie, passed away in 2012 from cancer, and while Curry tries his best to fill in for him in the later stretch…he fails. His cadence is off, he over-stresses his syllables, it simply doesn’t sound right. In contrast, I don’t like Mat Lucas as Anakin in Star Wars: Clone Wars. I’m sure he’s trying his hardest, but his performance comes off as flat and uninspired. It’s too reminiscent of Hayden Christensen, which doesn’t help.

Regardless, both shows have terrific voice acting overall, making it a matter of preference: do you prefer cartoony voices, or more grounded voices? Flat Anakin, or emotion-filled Anakin? 80’s villain Palpatine, or normal-sounding Palpatine? I prefer the more grounded acting myself, as it feels more natural, so it’s obvious who I’m giving the point to.

Winner: Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

Looks like it's a tie so far! Hmm...

Entertainment factor:


And now we’re down to our final category, the "general entertainment" factor. The question at the end of the day is as follows, “Which do I like more? The serial series, or the actual series?” That’s tough to really answer, as both shows have their strengths and weaknesses. However, since I have to determine a winner, that’s what I’ll do.

Starting with Star Wars: Clone Wars, the show is a micro-series, which means that it’s meant to be short. The episodes definitely reflect that decision: don’t want to spend your time marathoning the show? Good news, you can watch it in short intervals while you’re heating up your coffee, or during your lunch break at work. And if you’re in the mood for a movie, guess what? There are YouTube accounts that’ve compiled the series into exactly that. Either way, you win!

Star Wars: The Clone Wars is more time-consuming. For one, you have to watch the movie to understand who Ahsoka is, and it’s dreadful! Then you have to sit through 4 seasons of 22 episodes, followed by a season of 20 and a season of 13. And they’re all 22 minutes, and some are multi-parters. Not to mention, the episodes are mixed up, which means looking up the proper order to watch them. And if that’s not bad enough, the episode quality ranges, with plenty of good episodes coming before and after a few bad ones (even in the later seasons.)

The deciding factor is overall satisfaction. Was I happy with both shows? Yes, but my level of happiness wasn’t the same. Star Wars: Clone Wars left me aching for more, but I could easily go back a few more times and enjoy it for what it is. Star Wars: The Clone Wars, on the other hand, left me exhausted. I loved what I saw, but I’m perfectly content with waiting a while before seeing it again.

Overall winner: Star Wars: Clone Wars.

A big thanks for sticking it out with these last few Star Wars blogs. Until next time!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Discussion

(Note: Save some syntax and format inconsistencies, the following conversation remains largely unedited.)

Zachary: When you think of the best thing to come from the Star Wars Prequels, what immediately comes to mind?

Uh…that wasn’t what I had in mind.

Okay fine, but that wasn’t what I had in mind either.

There we go! A lot of people gave this show a glance-over at first because of the-admittedly-terrible movie pilot, and I don’t think that’s really fair. The show, which ran 121 episodes and lasted 6 years, was actually surprisingly good, which is interesting given that it didn’t have to be. So good that, like Season 1 of Jessica Jones, it actually warrants its own discussion piece. And helping me do just that is JHawk99.


Hello! Meesa Ja-HACK, COUGH! Oh god, what's wrong with my throat? I'm JHawk99, and I grew up with this show, and that's why I'm here to talk about it with my loosely affiliated cohort, Whitly!

Zachary: *Glares*

Indeed. Like my previous collaborator, JHawk99 is a fellow g1 from way over at ScrewAttack. I’m not entirely sure what he does there, but he was nice enough to lend his time and help out.

Anyway, since we’re already on the subject, why not share your initial experience with Star Wars: The Clone Wars? How do you first come upon it?

JHawk99: Well, firstly, I'm quite happy you remember what I do. Not much! *Confetti showers* Anyhow, I was introduced to Star Wars: The Clone Wars like anyone else my age was, the hype train! While I missed out entirely on the film, though I use the term loosely, Cartoon Network went wild marketing this thing. If you, or your kid, watched that channel in good ol' '08, there was no escaping this damn thing.

Zachary: Sorry, I don’t keep up with the community these days.

As for me, I kinda got into this show late. I initially watched the film on DVD in 2009 (back when Blockbuster was still a thing), and it…didn’t impress me. It didn’t bore me either, but nothing about it screamed that it was special. It was just about Anakin getting a new Padawan learner and saving Jabba the Hutt’s son from bounty hunters. That’s it.

It didn’t help that that was around the time that I started slipping into my “disillusioned Star Wars fan” state (that’s a topic for another day,) hence I vowed to never watch or read anything related to the franchise ever again. And, of course, any occasional mentions of the show were mostly negative then anyway, so it really wasn’t worth my time. It wasn’t until the near-release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens that I actually decided to give it a chance, and while it took a while to warm up to it, eventually it became another show I couldn’t stop watching.

Before I forget, an early warning to anyone reading this: there’ll be spoilers. We’ll try not to ruin too much, but c’mon…if you’re coming into one of these discussions and NOT bracing for spoilers…

JHawk99: I mean, we can't not spoil it to talk about this show's impact on TV animation and Star Wars. While its early attempts to innovate are...lacking, the show set out with the goal of bringing film quality animation to television and even won some Emmys later in it's life-span for some of its guest performances, like this guy!

Zachary: (Shh! Don’t blow it early!)

JHawk99: What? We can spoil Star Wars: The Force Awakens now, but not the Cartoon that ended two years ago? I thought this was America!

Zachary: Anyway, let’s start with the basic synopsis. And I really mean basic, as there’s not much to really summarize here.

JHawk99: Well, if you didn't notice by the merchandizing frenzy, and I do mean frenzy, that went on back in '08: Star Wars: The Clone Wars is a cartoon series set in-between Episodes II and III of the films that focuses not on Anakin, or Obi-Wan, but Ahsoka Tano! Ahsoka is Anakin's Padawan apprentice, and over the next five and a half-ish seasons we would be following her growth as a character and as a Jedi.

Zachary: Yeah…we’ll cover the good and bad of Ashoka in the character section…

If there’s one complaint I have with the show in the grander canon, it’s that it’s kinda hard to pinpoint when exactly it takes place during the three-year gap. Unlike Star Wars: Clone Wars, which transitioned between the two movies quite nicely, Star Wars: The Clone Wars keeps its exact time period vague: is it right after Star Wars Ep. II: Attack of the Clones? No, because Anakin is already a Jedi Knight. Is it right before Star Wars Ep. III: Revenge of the Sith? I think it might’ve had it not been cancelled (we’ll cover that more later on,) but as it currently stands it doesn’t quite go there either. Factor in that the episodes were aired out of order, and it gets a little frustrating trying to pin-point when it exactly happens.

JHawk99: Well, they did go on to release a comprehensive timeline of the show after itzs cancellation. But one thing you are sure to notice while watching is that it has the wonderful narrative advantage of being an anthology! Fun, right?


Zachary: To clarify, the lack of narrative consistency is rarely an issue. At least, for me. The episodes are such that, save 2 or 3 exceptions, you can watch them in broadcast order and still come out largely unscathed.

JHawk99: Indeed, but should any of you watch the show I highly recommend watching it according to chronology.

Zachary: I couldn’t be assed to do it. Nothing personal against the chronological order, but I’ve seen what that entails, and it gave me a headache.

JHawk99: It is certainly not for the faint of heart…

Zachary: Yeah.

I guess we can move to characters. There are a lot of them, so we’ll only focus on three in detail, but the recurring ones (main and side) and pretty fleshed out considering they didn’t have to be. Let’s start with Ahsoka, easily the most-interesting of our leads. I actually didn’t like her at first, but was surprised by how quickly she grew on me.

JHawk99: Seeing as the show first aired several years ago, Ahsoka was never my favorite character. This is to say nothing of her, simply that I couldn't really appreciate her. She starts as a fairly inoffensive addition to the roster but actually grows at a rapid pace, and by the end of the series she is an extremely fleshed out and relatable protagonist.

Zachary: Which is important, since she’s supposed to be the audience surrogate.

What makes Ahsoka work in the end is that she’s very much a blend of Anakin and Obi-Wan in terms of personality: she’s care-free and brash like Anakin, wearing her emotions on her sleeve, but also even-tempered and cautious like Obi-Wan. She’s not afraid to speak her mind and be spunky, but she knows her limits. She’s pretty much what you’d expect from a padawan of her age, which is why it works. You just…need to sit through some of her bullshit in the early episodes to see it.

JHawk99: Granted, her bullshit is well warranted! You see, what set this show apart from any other coming of age story is made clear quite early on: war!

What? There are a million coming of age stories with war in them? Well, whatever! Instead of trivial, teenage drama, Ahsoka deals with what it means to lead and the responsibility of soldiers as trusting as the Clones. While this struggle, admittedly, could have been handled better, it is still rather nuanced for a children’s cartoon.

By dealing with the essentials of her character first, the show is able to later focus on Ahsoka's struggle with herself, her master, and the Jedi, instead of the titular Clone Wars and the politics therein, which was the major shortcoming of the previous films.

Zachary: Indeed, but it’s definitely an adjustment.

If I have any complaints about Ahsoka, it’s that she’s overused. I get that she’s the audience surrogate, but did she really need to be in as many episodes as she was? It definitely helps leave an impression when she leaves in the Season 5 finale (which, FYI, is a real heart-breaker,) but she didn’t need to lead the Jedi younglings in that rather amusing string of episodes in Season 5, for example.

JHawk99: A fair statement, it sort of makes this guy's appearance a moot point:

This criticism can also be applied to the lesson I mentioned above, in which she is tasked to lead a wing of bombers into battle at THIRTEEN YEARS OLD. They all die, by the way. I don't think that comes as a surprise given the prior sentence.

Zachary: She was 13? I thought she was older than that! Bah, Star Wars canon is confusing!

JHawk99: 13 at the start, I believe.

Zachary: I guess.

Speaking of which…

JHawk99: Oh yeah, it's time for the one, the ONLY...ANAKIN. FLIPPING. SKYWA-Hey wait, wait, come back! Get your cursor away from the close tab button! That's better, thank you. Now, for those of you who didn't turn tail and run, Star Wars: The Clone Wars did what many of you skeptics thought impossible: it gave life to what many consider to be the single worst thing to ever happen to Star Wars:

Wanted Anakin's relationship with Padmé to be more realistic? Bam, you got it. More emotion than a block of wood? Bam, you got it. You want him to be an interesting, morally struggling badass who constantly walks a tight-rope between his commitments to the galaxy and his own personal ambitions? You bet your ass you got it!

Zachary: I never minded Anakin in the films. I regret nothing.

JHawk99: Finally! I'm not alone! Viva la prequels!

...Please don't hurt me.

Zachary: That having been said…yeah, massive improvement. I think the problem with the films wasn’t the casting decision (Hayden Christensen has shown that he can act in Shattered Glass), but rather George Lucas having too much creative freedom and not knowing how to use it. Anakin had a lot of potential to be interesting, and Star Wars: The Clone Wars actualized it. Like I said, Anakin is Ahsoka without the inhibitions: he wears his emotions on his sleeve, he’s jealous, he’s brash, he’s demanding, he’s arrogant, but at the same he’s clever and he’s really skilled both on and off the battlefield. He’s pretty much what fans wanted from the character but didn’t get for three films, and his relationship with Ahsoka is so well-developed that it actually broke my heart when he was forced to say goodbye to her.

It really is a heart-breaker. (Courtesy of THANKS FOR 100 SUBS! :D.)

JHawk99: Indeed, and what's fairly interesting is that Star Wars: The Clone Wars was also produced in its entirety by George Lucas, which did lead to some odd episodes. However, the work of his brilliant team clearly shines through, even in the strangest of episodes.

Back to Anakin, though. Of all the characters, Anakin is actually the most reluctant to engage with Ahsoka, being saddled with an apprentice by Obi-Wan and Yoda, and he holds some resentment towards her in the pilot movie. So for four episodes of the show he did not like her.

But, like Ahsoka's growing on the battlefield, Anakin's frustrations are dealt with first so the more intricate workings of their relationship can be dealt with for entire episodes in later seasons. That's the running theme of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. All of the broader, more black and white plot threads were tackled extremely early, growing much more complex and mature throughout the show. Because of this, kids like me never grew out of the show, the show grew with us, and that's a hard magic to capture.

Zachary: And that’s also what got me to stick with the show.

The last important character of note is Obi-Wan Kenobi. Obi-Wan’s interesting in that he didn’t have much of an arc in the original films and a really clumsily-written one in the prequels, and yet I still liked him consistently. This show doesn’t add much to that, but rather expands on what was already there: he’s stoic, he’s valiant without being arrogant, he’s quippy without being irritating, he’s reserved without being robotic…he even has a love-interest in the show, one who gets “fridged to death" in, arguably, one of the saddest moments of Season 5.

JHawk99: And lo! Millions of people across the world shall use this as kindling for their theories regarding Rey's familial relations for years to come!

In all seriousness, there's not much more to say about Obi-Wan than what Whitly here just stated. He's used mostly as the plot incarnate, as whenever there's no Jedi stuff going on, Obi-Wan shows up and Jedi stuff starts happening. That's not to say he lacks character, but most of the earlier arcs are driven by Jedi business, and it is very much Obi-Wan who oversees that the business gets done.

Except...for one very specific rival who shows up later in the show, but that's for later.

Zachary: Darth Maul returning was one of the best decisions this show ever made, by the way.

As for the rest of the cast, they’re pretty solid. I especially like how the clones and Boba Fett are expanded on character-wise. The former were pretty much generic soldiers up until this show, but here they have different facial traits, personalities, even individual story and character arcs (Commander Cody, for example, is no longer just “that clone that was ordered to execute Obi-Wan”.) And Boba Fett, who really wasn’t developed at all in the movies, has a really convincing arc in Season 2 involving avenging his father’s death.

If I have any complaints with characters, I’d have to choose General Grievous and Jar Jar Binks. The former was just as ridiculous as his movie counter-part, even being taken down by Gungans at one point (and his only ever badass moment was taking down a cocky Jedi.) As for Jar Jar, man, is he ever annoying! Everyone keeps treating him like an idiot savant, when really he’s a walking disaster who’s so bizarre that even his endearing moments don’t really work. His stuff is almost unwatchable, key word being “almost”.

JHawk99: Okay, I was dreading this moment…

I believe I'm probably in the 1% of this show's viewer base that thought Jar Jar saw significant improvement over his cinema counterpart in this show.

Zachary: He’s an improvement, but not by much. I now see why people hate him.

JHawk99: Well hold on, hear me out!

So, while his earliest episode on Rodia is, quite frankly, unbearable, he does get better! I'm not saying Jar Jar is great, but he's at least got a few more hits than he does misses this time around. While most of his circumstances are absolutely absurd, there is SOME logic this time around. He even sees some minor characterization outside of the bumbling Gungan routine with an established relationship in Season 6.

Zachary: That was more weird than charming, I’m sorry.

JHawk99: Oh I can see what you mean, I'm just giving my side of things.

Zachary: It’s cool. If anything, Jar Jar has that one really cool scene where he juggles plates on Toydaria.

As for in-show introductions, I don’t like Rush Clovis either. His episodes are interesting in theory, but not only is he a pervert, his presence also makes Anakin into an unbelievable child. I think his fight with Clovis was the most-painful part of Season 6, justified or not.

JHawk99: I was about to mention that scene, that was funny. I actually thought Clovis was an interesting character, as Muunilinst is a planet not often touched upon in Star Wars lore. It was nice to see a character who mixed the swash buckling nature of Star Wars with the political maneuvering, even if he is a jackass about it.

Now, since we're on the topic of side-characters, shall we touch upon the guests? Because this show has A LOT of guest appearances.

Zachary: Sure. Mark Hamill as Darth Bane? Liam Neeson reprising his role as Qui-Gon Jinn? David Tennant as a robot professor? Count me in!

JHawk99: Not to mention the various lesser-known characters from the EU, like recurring ally Plo Koon, or the one time appearance of Quinlan Vos! The show even got some pretty big names on, like the aforementioned David Tennant, Liam Neeson, and Hamill. But they also got George Takei as a Separatist general, and Simon Pegg as Dengar! You know, the bounty hunter with the weird head-wrap from the original trilogy? This show spends a lot of time playing with its guests, and it was always exciting to see which characters would show up next...even if, eventually, they did just say, "Fuck it, let Sam Witwer voice everything”.

Zachary: At times, like some of the characters themselves, it feels a little like fan-service, but any show that features David Tennant is welcome in my books!

That leads to the voice acting: I’m actually surprised that Andrea Romano didn’t ADR the show, as the acting is as spot-on as her DC and Avatar franchise work. Admittedly, hearing the character accents is jarring at first, but even that become tolerable after a while. Besides, characters Aayla Secura sounding French, Even Piell sounding Russian and Shaak Ti sounding Finnish kinda make sense when you think about their species.

JHawk99: If there's one thing this show did incredibly well, it was the ability to convey the sense of cultural variety in the Star Wars mythos. Every world they came across was very different in their aesthetic and in how their people interacted and spoke.

Zachary: Indeed. The worlds are varied an unique, such that no two look the same.

JHawk99: Which, I'd say, is quite fitting, since human characters are almost a minority in the show, making for some interesting guest designs. Such as Professor Huyang (David Tennant), or Tera Sinube (Greg Baldwin).

Zachary: I think my one blight in the voice acting category is with Palpatine. Ian Abercrombie, the original VA for the character, died from cancer while recording his characters lines in Season 5, and while Tim Curry replacing him for the remainder of the show sounds like a cool idea in theory, it doesn’t mesh well in practice. I distinctly remember hearing him as Palpatine in the final episode of Season 5 and thinking, “Dude, your inflection sounds forced.”

JHawk99: Unfortunately there's not much that could be done about it.

Zachary: I know. It’s still disappointing, although I guess that’s because I loved Abercrombie’s performance so much.

JHawk99: On that topic, we did glance over the voice acting of our main trio.

Zachary: There’s not much to really say. Matt Lanter, Ashley Eckstein and James Arnold Taylor were great as Anakin, Ahsoka and Obi-Wan respectively. They don’t really stand out enough outside the stable of excellent actors. Even the ones that normally voice anime characters, interestingly enough.

I guess we can move on to the way the show looks. Star Wars: The Clone Wars was initially an afterthought, being given a relatively low budget for a CGI series and having everyone involved being forced to make due. The show more than compensates with its cinematic directing and sound design, and the animation quality does improve over time, but you can definitely tell that this isn’t high-quality character modelling.

JHawk99: At the start, yes...but the art direction is fantastic. The animation even sees steady improvement from season to season. The fights are visually coherent and stylized, and, while robotic at first, they also see great gains because of the higher quality of the later seasons.

Zachary: Yeah, those lightsaber fights were awesome. Probably some of the best in the franchise, actually. Unlike the original films, which had pretty stiff fights, and the prequels, which had over-choreographed fights, Star Wars: The Clone Wars finds a nice medium between genuine and raw. They're also really gritty at times, particularly the battle between Darth Sidious and Darth Maul/Savage Opress. (Also, best “fight I never actually knew I wanted to see” moment in the entirety of the Star Wars franchise.)

I'm not lying, am I? (Courtesy of keebe2006.)

JHawk99: I don't really see how the fights aren't over-choreographed, but that's part of what made them fun. Because it was an animated series they could be liberal with physics in a way that didn't break suspension of disbelief. Without that disconnect between CG and actors holding them back, the Star Wars: The Clone Wars crew went buck wild. From the sweeping arcs that lightsabers make, to the impossible speed with which force users move, everything was consistently over-the-top but believable.

Zachary: Second best fight is the one between Count Dooku and The Nightsisters. That was intense.

I guess what I mean is that they felt real and not like stylized dancing, which is what the prequels are frequently criticized for. It makes the stakes that much more investing when the characters are putting raw energy into their attacks, even if we know who’s gonna win half the time.

JHawk99: Case in point: Dart Maul vs Pre Vizsla. That fight, in my opinion, was the thematic, technical, and stylistic pinnacle of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

Zachary: While we’re on the subject of gritty, let’s face it: this show didn’t hold back in the later seasons. We never saw any real blood, because “kid’s show” (though more like “teen’s show” than anything,) but that doesn’t mean there weren’t deaths and decapitations a-plenty. To be fair, the early seasons did warn us that that’d happen with some of the stuff they pulled too, but, well…let’s just say that I wouldn’t show this to anyone under the age of 12.

JHawk99: Aha! And it all comes full circle! Like I was saying earlier, the show grew up with its viewers. The initially broad strokes of its narrative break down into their component parts later in the show. As the show deals with ever more complex and nuanced problems, the visual tone shifts. The lighting, the places our heroes (or villains) go to, the color correction, it all reflects the current state of the show; both in proficiency and artistic design.

Zachary: It almost makes me wonder if Star Wars Rebels will do that sort of stuff in its later seasons too. But I’ll know for sure when I get around to watching that.

JHawk99: I can tell you right now it's doing that. But that's off topic.

Zachary: Right.

The thing that makes this show shine, however, is its underlying deconstruction of war. On one hand, there’s a clear villain who’s wrapping both sides of the conflict around his finger like a puppet master. But even on a smaller level, the show highlights the good and bad of both sides of the conflict, showing that, like with most wars, there are innocents and creeps on both sides. Not to mention, we frequently see the effects the war is having on the average citizen, highlighting how it takes a toil on the economy, how it splinters the political factions, and yes, even how it benefits the banks and those who profit off of war manufacturing.

I think that only other animated show in the West to do that was Avatar: The Last Airbender. Which doesn’t surprise me when some of that show’s talent also worked on this one.

JHawk99: For the first time, we get to see the Separatists humanized, and that they are, in fact, real people with real beliefs and real lives affected by their choice to secede. Ahsoka even finds a love interest in a young Separatist boy.

Granted, this is much less apparent in earlier seasons, but by season three things are starting to get a bit intense.

Zachary: The show also brings in other wars on top of the main one, showing just how broken the galaxy really is. And, to be honest, the most broken of them all is Mandalore, which frequently gets shat on by internal politics for trying to stay neutral.

JHawk99: Now, I will also say against the show that it is not always clear about what it's trying to convey tonally. It does blunder from time to time with its heavy handed messages and attempted light-heartedness. To be blunt, some of the times this show wants to preach are just not handled, at all.

Zachary: Yeah, it does waffle at times. You get the impression from watching it that, like Palpatine in-show, the show runners were constantly being yanked like puppets by the higher-ups. It’s almost meta, in a way.

JHawk99: Which makes sense, as accounts from Dave Filoni do give one the impression that some of George's expectations were...lofty, to say the least.

Should we talk about the source of all life in the universe? I think we should talk about the source of all life in the universe.

Zachary: The Midi-Chlorians? Or Anakin?

JHawk99: I mean THE ACTUAL, PHYSICAL SOURCE OF LITERALLY ALL LIFE EVER. PERIOD. That is a thing that happened!

Zachary: Are you referring to those episodes about the guardians of The Force?

JHawk99: Mortis, and that weird place in Season 6 that never got a name.

Zachary: Oh…

JHawk99: Now, anyone who has seen Star Wars: The Clone Wars probably knows we went to some weird places, but for those who haven’t, allow me to educate you:

Mortis is a giant, weird, reddish black Minecraft block in space that is home to three characters, the Father, the Daughter, and the Son. Together, they are, literally, The Force incarnate; the Father is, of course, The Force, while the Daughter and Son are the light side and dark side respectively.

Didn't like Anakin being space-Jesus in the prequels? Too bad, because for as awesome as these episodes were, that was literally the entire reason we had them: to establish that being the Chosen One actually did something at some point. Religious imagery where nobody needed wanted or desired it, hoooooooo! And then everyone forgets it ever happened at the end, because, you know, retcon.

Zachary: I also love how they drop the ball at one point in those episodes and reveal the future, only to then pretend it never happened. It was as if the creators knew they’d boobed continuity and went, “Shit, we need to fix this somehow! QUICK, HAVE ANAKIN’S MEMORY WIPED OF THE WHOLE ORDEAL!”

Though, ironically, the acting in that vision was superior to the movie.

This actually happened. (Courtesy of Harleen Quinzel.)

JHawk99: But my beef is not with Mortis. Is it silly? Yeah. Is it overly preachy about the nature of people? Yeah. Does Sam Witwer voice yet another villain without doing a damn thing to make that performance stand out? Of course, but it was cool. No, I'm talking about the actual SOURCE OF ALL LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE. Because, apparently, Mortis wasn't. Totally keeps that event relevant, right?

Whitly, will you do the honor?

Zachary: Which honour?

JHawk99: The honor of talking about when we pulled a Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and literally found God.

Zachary: When was that?

JHawk99: Come on, man! This is your blog! Season 6, Yoda goes to learn how being a Force ghost works. In this arc, he somehow manages to find the super-secret SOURCE OF ALL LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE, which we, apparently, can easily find in a Starfighter. There, he meets the Force Priests, the aspects of a being so old she cannot be comprehended in any form other than five, overly cryptic theatre masks. Guess that's the logical extreme of the whole cryptic Jedi thing.

Zachary: OH, RIGHT! Sorry, I don’t always catch vague hints.

Anyway, that was weird too.

JHawk99: Again, Dave Filoni and Pablo Hidalgo's work on this arc was crucial to it not being a complete and utter bomb, with solid animation and thematic structure. But let's face it, not one person on all of planet earth asked for this:

THIS! Nobody wanted this! Well, except for this guy:

Zachary: Aww, what do you have against Gollum Yoda?

JHawk99: It was entirely too campy! After five seasons of raising stakes, it was like running back to the black and white of Season 1. For as mysterious as they tried to make the SOURCE OF ALL LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE, we simply had to have a good vs evil representation of the human (whatever Yoda is) psyche, resulting in one of the weakest fights of the entire series.

It literally took Mark Hamill playing one of the most powerful Sith of all time to make that up to fans, and they still made people mad by changing the name of Korriban because...well, reasons!

Zachary: Actually, that brings up another weird decision in Season 6: the Order 66 chip. It’s executed brilliantly, but it almost downgrades the event in the movie to something overly-convoluted and unnecessary. We already know the clones are bred to instinctively follow orders, so why introduce a brain chip? It’s redundant, even if it leads to some great moments.

Come to think of it, Season 6 was pretty hit-or-miss when stacked up against Seasons 3-5.

JHawk99: It was, but I actually liked the chips. It made sense to add a countermeasure to stop Clones from defecting. They are loyal to the Republic, yes, but they are also living beings who have spent their entire lives serving specific generals. No matter how docile they are, it would take a lot to break that bond. Enter your control chips.

Zachary: I see the argument either way, so I guess. I just think it was a little convenient to have all that set-up and then have it go nowhere. It also makes the clones feel like the mindless soldiers they’d proven themselves not to be, effectively removing the moral ambiguity that could’ve been.

JHawk99: I think it would have, and still can lead to greater drama. Imagine a book about the Clones after Order 66, how did they live with themselves? Knowing that even after their touted superiority to Droids due to a sense of self, they gunned their comrades down against their will. Would it break them? Would some revel in it? These are some nice questions opened up by the show, and it's that sort of trust put in the audience to fill in blanks that made Star Wars: The Clone Wars special.

Zachary: I suppose.

I guess the last thing to discuss would be the show’s length. It’s interesting comparing this to the now non-canon Star Wars: Clone Wars, as my biggest complaint about both is, surprisingly, their lengths. Star Wars: Clone Wars, I felt, was too short, while Star Wars: The Clone Wars was too long. Both shows had different objectives, and they definitely fulfilled them, but at 121 episodes, not including the 98-minute movie, Star Wars: The Clone Wars only reaffirms my theory that a show need not be more than 100 episodes long.

JHawk99: I actually cannot debate this with you, as I saw it as it aired. What I can say is that, as it came out, the time felt right. It was a great move having it take as long as it did so that viewers like myself, who may have been too young to think abstractly, could comprehend and appreciate the heart-shattering ending of season five. Which, to me, is where Star Wars: The Clone Wars ends.

Now, if there is one last thing to talk about, I'd say it would be this show's impact on pop-culture and the impact on the Star Wars franchise at large.

Zachary: Well, for one, it makes the Star Wars Prequels better by default. And two, it definitely bridges the gap between Star Wars Ep. II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Ep. III: Revenge of the Sith quite nicely, if not necessarily completely. I guess it’s also proof that people initially misjudged the show, which is an important lesson in the world of entertainment.

JHawk99: What's so interesting to me, is its legacy.

Zachary: Explain?

JHawk99: Now, to me, as a kid growing up on the prequels, I never knew the general disinterest in the show. It was just there, but now that Star Wars Rebels is airing it's all people will talk about! Every huge character reveal is somehow related to it: the return of Ahsoka, fan favorite Hondo Onaka, it's really found its way into peoples' hearts.

Zachary: Isn’t it ironic how Star Wars: The Clone Wars is the exact opposite to Star Wars Rebels that the prequels are to the originals?

JHawk99: ...Explain?

Zachary: I hear more love for Star Wars: The Clone Wars right now than I do Star Wars Rebels, which is the exact opposite from the movies these shows are so clearly connected to.

JHawk99: It's more superficial than you'd think. Perhaps the most relevant part of Star Wars: The Clone Wars's legacy now is, in fact, Star Wars Rebels. Star Wars Rebels was the first on-screen look into the post-Disney canon of the franchise. Ultimately it came down to Star Wars Rebels to give everyone a good first impression of the new landlords. Star Wars Rebels, as fortune would have it, is almost entirely consisting of talent from Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and treads a very similar tightrope of themes.

Zachary: Maybe it’s just me, then. Or that I’m reading too many forums on the respective shows.

I think it’s about time we wrap this up. Overall, what’d you think of Star Wars: The Clone Wars?

JHawk99: Well, it's a huge part of my childhood. From eagerly awaiting new episodes on weeknights, to its dying days in the Saturday morning block, I followed the adventures of Anakin, Obi-Wan, Ahsoka Tano and many, many more for the better part of five years. It's a brilliant show despite its faults, and I'm happy to see its legacy continued with grace in Star Wars Rebels.

Zachary: As someone who only watched the show recently…I agree. It definitely has its share of oddities in terms of structure, content, continuity and mandates, and I feel it also leeches a little too much on nostalgia at times. I also feel it’s a bit too long and doesn’t wrap up all its hanging plot threads, though that could be due to its cancellation. Still, as a whole, it’s definitely one of those surprisingly awesome shows that didn’t have to be as good as it was, much like Avatar: The Last Airbender. I can’t quite give it full marks, but I’d still recommend it to fans and maybe even non-fans alike.

I give it a 4/5. Here’s hoping Star Wars Rebels is just as good.

JHawk99: I give it a 4/5 as well. The tone is inconsistent, but it has a sort of heart to it most shows can only dream of finding.

Zachary: I’m glad we’re in agreement.

A big thanks to JHawk99 for agreeing to participate in this with me. It wasn’t easy finding people who’d seen the show, so it means a lot. Any last-minute plugs you want to make?

JHawk99: Well, I haven't made any contribution to the community over at in years, but there are tons of people who have. Go check them out! I will also shamelessly plug my Twitter, @g1_JHawk99, for anyone brainless enough to find me interesting. Thank you, Whitly, for the opportunity to collaborate about a subject I hold dear.

Zachary: You’re welcome. Join me next time as I, hopefully, dive back into the world of Star Wars with a more…interesting piece. See you then!