This is the 33rd post in a daily series. Read about it here and see the list of previous posts here. A new post about “Star Wars” will be posted every day for 40 days leading up to the franchise’s 40th birthday on May 25th.
Earlier this year, “Star Wars Rebels” ended its third season by killing off a popular established character. I won’t spoil it. It was such a big death that even I found out about it, and I don’t even watch any of animated “Star Wars” shows.
Or, rather, I hadn’t at the time. But the high-profile series finale piqued my interest, so I decided to check in on the animated parts of a galaxy far, far away. I started with the 2008 animated film, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” which was set between “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith.” After that, I began watching the TV series based on the film. At the same time, I began watching “Star Wars Rebels,” which takes place between “Revenge of the Sith” and “Rogue One”/”A New Hope.”
I had been apathetic toward the animated series, as I had not seen them nor did I have any interest in seeing them. But the aforementioned climactic “Star Wars Rebels” episode, combined with my fervor brought on by the 40th anniversary of the franchise, caused me to rethink my indifference and give them a shot.
Are the animated movie and TV shows worth watching?
That depends on how invested you are in the “Star Wars” franchise.
What do you mean?
If you’re not a huge “Star Wars” fan, then the animated movie and TV shows might be a little much for you. I’ll go ahead and say that if you have loved the live-action movies but made it this far without knowing that there’s anything other than the live-action movies, then you’re probably not a huge “Star Wars” fan. Or at least not hugely into the franchise enough to warrant seeing anything other than the live-action films. If this is the first you’re hearing about any “Star Wars” media beyond the movies, then you probably don’t care that there was an Expanded Universe, or a campy but awful holiday special, or a shit ton of books that delve into the back stories of characters you saw on screen for half a millisecond.
But then again, you might be a younger fan or a newer fan whose love for the series is growing. If that’s the case, and you want to consume whatever you can, then I would say, yes, absolutely check these out.
OK, well, I knew these existed, I just didn’t know a whole lot about the animated projects. But I knew about these, and just hadn’t gotten around to checking them out.
If you’ve hear you’ve been meaning to watch them but haven’t gotten to them, then I say they could be worth your time. There’s some neat development, and you get to see something things that are alluded to but never shown in the trilogies.
So, are they good?
Yeah, I would say they’re not bad.
That doesn’t sound like a full-throated endorsement.
Well, they’re just different from the live-action movies.
Well, sure. I mean, one’s live-action, and one isn’t.
It’s more than that. “The Clone Wars” — both the movie and TV show — feature a narrator who sounds like he’s reading news bulletins from the 1930s. It’s a different pacing and tone from the trilogy movies. The characters also feel different: most of the characters are given snappy dialogue, even the ones who were quiet in the films.
Define “snappy dialogue.” Like “Be careful not to choke on your aspirations”? Or “I’ve got the high ground”? How cringeworthy are we talking? On a scale of zero to how bad is it?
The battle droids sound like they’re practicing open mic material. Dooku and Grievous make some wisecracks, too.
Oh shit, all those assholes are in “The Clone Wars”?
Yeah, the “Clone Wars” movie and TV series features all of them prominently. Dooku and Grievous seem a little less cartoony in these projects, but maybe that’s just because they seem more appropriate given the context.
Do I need to have read anything before I start watching “The Clone Wars”?
Nah, you can go into it cold. You’ll know all you need to know about the characters you’ve met in the trilogy movies. And the new characters will be fleshed out enough for you to follow.
How many new characters do I have to see?
Again, that depends. “The Clone Wars” movie has characters you’ve met in the live-action movies: Anakin, Obi-Wan, Padmé, Yoda, Mace Windu, Palpatine, Jabba the Hutt, Count Dooku.
Oh shit, Jabba the Hutt!
Yeah, a big part of the plot includes Anakin and his padawan trying to rescue Jabba’s son.
Wait, what? Jabba has a son?
Yeah, Ricotta the Hutt or some such shit. Wait, no. Rotta. He’s an infant. A Huttlet!
Fair enough. So, Anakin has a padawan?
Yeah, and she is whiny as shit. She’s basically the Jedi version of Rachel from “Glee.”
Oh, that sounds awful. Please tell me Anakin force chokes the shit out of her.
Well, watch it you must. Spoil it, I shall not.
That sounds like Yoda. Is he in any of this shit?
He is, and he flips around like a catfish with a lightsaber in the same way he did in the prequels.
I hated that. So far, you’re not convincing me I want to watch “The Clone Wars.”
Well, the padawan gets better throughout the TV show based on “The Clone Wars.” Kind of like how Sansa has gotten more badass in “Game of Thrones” or how Gaius Baltar got a little more likable by the end of “Battlestar Galactica.”
But beyond that, the strength of “The Clone Wars” comes from seeing Anakin in a new light. He’s more likable than he was in the prequels. When you see him with a padawan, he seems a little less impulsive, selfish, and whiny. He seems like a good guy, rather than some whiny asshole who went bad because he had no patience.
I’m confused. How can he have a padawan? Wasn’t “Revenge of the Sith” largely predicated on the idea that he wanted to be a Jedi Master, but the Jedi Council wouldn’t let him be one?
Yeah, that’s a good question. There’s some long-winded message board explanation that basically says that the word “Master” could mean several different things in the Jedi world, and that’s how they were able to give him a padawan without retconning the prequels.
Hmmm, that seems like some retconning.
Yeah, it does. At the very least, it’s like Obi-Wan saying he was telling the truth “from a certain point of view.”
Gotcha. Well, that could be interesting.
It sort of depends on what you thought of the prequels. If you loved them, then “The Clone Wars” and the TV show based on that movie both give you more of the story. They both serve to flesh out that overall trilogy.
And because they flesh it out, they end up making that story a little better for fans who didn’t love the prequel trilogy.
Like fleshing out Anakin and making him not be such a whiny shithead?
You got it.
So what about “Star Wars Rebels”?
So that takes place after “Revenge of the Sith,” but before “Rogue One.” It shows how the rebels resist the Empire. And like “Rogue One,” it shows some characters we have met before, though it mainly focuses on new characters.
Am I going to like any of those assholes?
Sure. There are some fun characters in there.
So, who will I recognize?
Well, the aforementioned padawan is in there, and—
I don’t give a shit about her yet.
OK, OK, so besides here, you’ll see Vader, Obi-Wan, plus a character you thought was dead.
Oh shit, who is that?
I will not spoil it for you.
OK, fair enough. So it’s an OK show?
Yeah, it’s not bad. We get to see some of Obi-Wan’s past adventures, and there’s actually a pretty moving confrontation between Vader and his former padawan.
There are some bumpy parts. The characters you’ve met before, like Vader, are given some lines that don’t sound 100 percent in line with the Vader you’d recognize from the live-action movies.
So, yeah. If you’re only a casual fan, then watching the animated movie or animated shows might not be your bag. But if you’re a fan who knows some deeper knowledge of the “Star Wars” universe, then you’ll probably like at least some of the animated projects.
One last question: Will I see any Jar Jar?
He’s only there for some of the series. He’s as relevant to these shows as Michael Mancini’s sister was to “Melrose Place.”
Wait, Michael Mancini’s sister was on “Melrose Place”?
Yep. She was played by Alyssa Milano.
Oh yeah, I forgot that!
And you’ll forget animated Jar Jar even more quickly.