5 January 2013 is a special day for the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series. On that day, “Missing In Action”, the 100th episode for this action packed cartoon series, premieres in the States. And here‘s a clip!
The prequel trilogy might not have been as well received as the original films, but no one can deny that they’ve led to a resurgence of Star Wars as a franchise. You think Disney would have shelled out $4.05 billion if they didn’t think it was sure thing? No, neither do we!
One of the best things to come out of this resurgence in all things Star Wars has got to be The Clone Wars cartoon series. Ever since 1977, when we heard the war mentioned in Princess Leia’s message to General Kenobi, we’ve wondered what happened during these famous wars. Books and comics have tried to show us. The prequel films gave us a tantalising glimpse. And Genndy Tartakovsky showed a little more with his acclaimed 2D trad-animation series. But with the CG cartoon version we’re treated to more tales from the Clone Wars than we could ever have hoped for. And here’s a trailer Lucasfilm has put together celebrating 100 episodes of the show…
Apparently the 100th episode won’t be anything special. It’s the third part in a run featuring Artoo and a group of droids on an undercover mission. But we thought this 100th episode milestone would be a great opportunity to share some of our favourite episodes and why we loved them…
Seeing as we’ve just started 2013 we thought 13 would be the perfect number – those of you with triskaidekaphobia can think of it as 12 plus 1 if you prefer.
Have we missed your favourite? Please feel free to tell us in the comment section.
PLOT: On a visit to Naboo, Padme stumbles into a plot to poison the planet. With only Jar Jar to help her, the plucky senator has to try to stop the deadly Blue Shadow virus from being released and get a warning out to the Jedi.
WHY WE LIKE IT: Padme gets a little short-changed sometimes in this show; she tends to get stuck with the political intrigue-themed shows – being a senator you’d expect that – but here she gets to be out among the action and is even the one who discovers the bad guys’ plot. That she has Jar Jar along for the ride is a tiny drawback but she manages to cope just fine. Even Jar Jar is a little less irritating in this show sometimes.
BEST BIT: Michael York’s crazy accent as scientist Nuvo Vindi. The series has had its fair share of great guest players including David Tennant, Katee Sackhoff, George Takei and James Marsters among many others, but they’re usually all instantly recognisable. Here York goes to down with a crazy German-esque mad scientist voice. If we hadn’t checked the credits we would never guess it’s him. Brilliant stuff!
PLOT: The Grand Army is testing out a new anti-droid weapon on Malastare. It works perfectly and completely destroys all droids on the battle field. Unfortunately it also causes an earthquake – should that be Malastarequake? – which releases a giant beast long thought dead.
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Clone Wars is great at doing homage. The show has done Seven Samurai , zombies, Heart Of Darkness and Run Silent, Run Deep among others. There have been some really good, distinctly Star Wars takes on some classic storytelling tropes. Here we have Godzilla . The actual testing of the super weapon at the start is spectacular, as is the disaster it causes. And when the Jedi launch a search for survivors down into the pit the explosion has opened up, the eerie, slow reveal of the Zillo beast is perfectly done.
BEST BIT: Anakin’s lightsaber bouncing harmlessly off the Zillo beast’s armoured skin. He’s in trouble without his shiny stick. The design of the Zillo beast is also stands out; it’s like a cross between a snake and a lizard and with three arms and legs looks just strange enough to fit into the Star Wars universe perfectly.
PLOT: The Jedi are searching for the enemy’s latest super weapon; The Malevolence. Anakin and Ahsoka lead a squadron of Y-Wing bombers to deal with the threat.
WHY WE LIKE IT: This is Star Wars : it’s all about the space battles and this episode has a great one. The story is basically a rehash of the final battle from A New Hope or Return Of The Jedi but with better equipment. The brand new Y-Wings look lovely and the shots of them flying in formation as they head out on their mission are spectacular. The medical station Anakin and the pilots are trying to protect is the shape of the Republic insignia when viewed from above – a nice little touch. Lots of shiny spaceships, a tense hunt and a big battle; what more could you ask for?
BEST BIT: As we said; the ships, the mission and the sound effects all remind you of the Star Wars movies, there’s even an homage to the gigantic Rebel ships/TIE fighter skirmish scene from Return of the Jedi . This is no bad thing.
PLOT: Republic forces on Ryloth are cut off and facing overwhelming numbers; Senator Bail Organa and Jar Jar must arrange a deal to secure a re-supply before the army is overrun.
WHY WE LIKE IT: We aren’t big fans of the talky stuff in this show – the senate/political stories are often a bit boring and samey – but here there’s a ticking clock and Jar Jar’s stupidity actually help raise the tension and even saves the day. We almost screamed at the screen; he’s fooling around while the troops die. Plus there’s a Jedi called Ima-Gun Di – I’m Gunna Die – seriously! That’s what he’s called! We know the Star Wars universe sometimes has some odd names but this one is so bad it’s actually genius.
BEST BIT: Ima-Gun Di’s last stand. The name tells us what’s going to happen, but the doomed Jedi and his men put up a brave fight. The cuts between the political shenanigans and the brutal battle scenes are brilliantly handled.
PLOT: Betrayed by the Sith, Asajj Ventress seeks help from the Sisters of Dathomir and decides she wants to assassinate Count Dooku.
WHY WE LIKE IT: Ventress is a great character; her interactions with Obi-Wan are especially good. Villains can tend to become a little two-dimensional when they’re main purpose to reappear every-so-often just so they can be defeated by the heroes. Here Ventress is betrayed by the Sith and cut lose, giving her something new to do. This is a great move as it gives an already interesting character scope to be used in different and interesting ways. Tying her back-story to the Nightsisters also leads to some great new storylines.
BEST BIT: Count Dooku fighting off the Ventress and the Nightsisters while dressed in his pyjamas. He’s a bad ass!
PLOT: Wounded while hunting General Grievous, Captain Rex finds refuge at a farm, where the farmer has a very familiar face.
WHY WE LIKE IT: We like the clones and we like that this show isn’t afraid to question what they are and how they feel about being soldiers who were created to fight in someone else’s war. Over the course of the series we’ve had plenty of recurring clone characters and we’ve seen their doubts, fears and heroic acts; each clone has a name and a distinct personality. They’re people. Knowing that they’ve basically been grown to fight in a war with no choice in the matter is something we sometimes question. Having the stoic Captain Rex come face to face with a version of himself who has turned his back on the lifestyle Rex loves is a bold move and that the encounter manages to strengthen Rex in his dedication to the Republic cause is a great character moment.
BEST BIT: Getting to see the human side of Rex; usually he’s to busy fighting to speak much, but here he gets to sit down and enjoy a meal and discuss life in the Grand Army. It’s a nice change of pace.
PLOT: Savage Opress is on a mission to find his long lost brother; that brother just happens to be none other than the infamous Darth Maul.
WHY WE LIKE IT: The character of Opress was first introduced in the middle of season three and was a bit of a Darth Maul-lite character. Having the character hunt for and find Maul is a good move. When we heard that the cut-in-half Sith Lord was being brought back to life we weren’t exactly sold, but writers clever made what happened to the character an integral part of bringing him back.
BEST BIT: Opress discovering his brother. Maul is revealed to be a half-mad, spider-legged droid skulking away in a cave. The once fearsome Sith Lord is a shadow of his former self and is still wracked by hatred at what Obi-Wan did to him on Naboo.
PLOT: After Anakin Skywalker is called away his troops are temporarily placed under the command of the cruel Jedi General Krell.
WHY WE LIKE IT: We reckon the General Krell/Umbaran arc could have been released as a film in its own right. This opening episode in the four-part story is a great set-up. As the campaign continues it becomes clear that Krell has little respect for the clones and treats them as little more than cannon fodder. As the death toll grows Captain Rex and his troops must decide whether to follow orders until they’re all dead or whether they should rebel. Having Krell refer to clones by their production code number rather than names and his insistence on a full frontal assault strategy no matter the cost in life, adds to the clones’ growing resentment and it all make for a great set up for one of the darkest arcs The Clone Wars has done.
BEST BIT: General Krell. There’s been never been a character quite like Krell in this show before. He’s mean and abusive and takes no crap from anyone. Plus he’s got four arms and two twin bladed lightsabers. What’s not to love?
PLOT: Padawans Ahsoka Tano and Bariss Offee are trapped on a ship full of brainwashed clones. They have to find out who they can trust and just what is taking control of their troops.
WHY WE LIKE IT: It’s Invasion Of The Body Snatchers given a Star Wars -style makeover. When the show first started there was news of a young character; Anakin was to have padawan and most fans weren’t too happy about this. Anakin didn’t have a student people said; it’s just a lame attempt to interest the kids. But fears and doubts were soon dispelled as the character of Ahsoka Tano quickly became a fan favourite. Here the character gets to step out the shadow of Anakin and prove her worth.
BEST BIT: The nature of the threat – brain-controlling worms – is kind of gruesome for this show. We loved it. For a show that continuously blurs the line between kid’s cartoon and serious war drama this episode once again doesn’t skimp on the brutality.
PLOT: Cad Bane breaks into the senate and kidnaps a group of officials in a plot to free Zero the Hutt from prison. Anakin is caught in the middle with no lightsaber.
WHY WE LIKE IT: Star Wars has always had a thing about bounty hunters and The Clone Wars is no exception. Season two was subtitled “Rise Of The Bounty Hunters” and featured some very familiar mercenary characters such as Bossk, Boba Fett and Aurra Sing. The show also introduced some new faces, the best of which was arguably Cad Bane. Here in his first appearance he proves himself a cruel and cunning adversary for the Jedi. With a look straight from a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western the character quickly became a fan favourite.
BEST BIT: The Clone Wars once again proves that it can be very brutal. Aurra Sing’s cool and quick dispatch of the Senate Guard with her sniper rifle shows that a high body count is waiting around every corner in this show. Cad Banes gravely voice is pitch-perfect too.
PLOT: The Jedi discover General Grievous’ secret base and attempt to capture the cyborg leader of the droid army.
WHY WE LIKE IT: General Grievous isn’t a very good villain. He was one of the poorer things in the prequels. He’s supposed to be this bad-ass killer and all we see him do is run away again and again. The same thing happens in the Clone Wars to some degree, but here he’s actually used effectively. Treated as a monster in the dark, slowly picking off the team sent to capture him, he is able to be a real threat and proves to be every bit as fearsome as the Revenge Of The Sith promotional material would have you believe. Shame it didn’t last. We also liked the over-eager Mon Calamari Jedi – shame he didn’t listen to Kit Fisto; Kit Fisto is always right.
BEST BIT : Grievous realising that he’s been set up by Count Dooku. Imagine if work place evaluations involved taking on a fully-armed squad of soldiers and a couple of blokes with laser swords? Bet they never mentioned that in evil henchman school.
PLOT: Artoo and Threepio escape a Separatist attack in a damaged fighter and manage to get themselves into all sorts of interesting trouble.
WHY WE LIKED IT: The droid-themed episodes are a bit hit and miss with this show; the comedy tends towards the silly. This, however, was a refreshing change. It managed to include some war-based Jedi and clone drama and also give the robotic pair a nice Gulliver’s Travels -type adventure. The various mini-adventures are just the right mix of silly and funny, while shamelessly ripping off some literary classics. Having the bumbling duo accidentally save the day or escape in the nick of time is perfectly in character and genuinely funny stuff.
BEST BIT: Discovering the pit droids pulling a Wizard Of Oz and seeing their former subjects turn on them. Artoo and Threepio walk away as all hell breaks lose behind them. Or maybe Threepio accidentally causing Artoo to squash the leader of the Patitites; having the little droid spend the rest of the episode stained with the leaders blood is a wickedly funny move.
PLOT: The Separatists have invaded Geonosis and the Jedi have to take the planet back. Anakin, Ahsoka, Obi-Wan and Ki-Adi Mundi each lead squadrons down to the surface but face withering resistance.
WHY WE LIKE IT: When a show does multi-part episodes they afford to pull off an episode like this. With the plot taken care of in previous episodes, “Landing at Point Rain” is basically one long spectacular action sequence, and it’s very brutal at times. The Clone Wars has never been a show to pull its punches when it comes to the battle scenes; here we have troops falling to their death from burning aircraft, violent crash landings and we even get clone troopers armed with flame throwers. You’d think the Jedi would have a problem with such gruesome weapons but no such concern is raised. Having the Jedi keeping score in an “I killed more than you” type competition is a little jarring but seems to fit in with general feel of the action here, the one-upmanship on the battlefield makes them more human in a cruel kind of way.
BEST BIT: The whole episode. It’s non-stop action from leaving orbit as ships are shot down left and right. Once our heroes and their troops are on the ground they fair little better. If Clone Wars skirmishes is what you want, then this episode provides it in spades.