Thursday, September 30, 2010

Season 3 Poll Results

My life is complete! More Season 3!
11 (42%)
Looks good, but is it going to be more of the same?
6 (23%)
Kamino Battle!
5 (19%)
Just how much Star Wars do I have to watch until it's enough?
0 (0%)
Savage Oppress? Really? Why not call him Murder Badguy?
4 (15%)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Season 3, Episode 3 - Supply Lines

Supply Lines is an oddball of an episode, wedged into the Clone Wars continuity and starring characters usually relegated to the sidelines. The battle for Ryloth rages led by the unfortunately named Master Di and season 2's Ryloth rebel Cham Syndulla. They appeal to the Republic for aid - food, ammunition and medical supplies. In order to fulfill this request, Bail Organa and Jar Jar Binks travel to the planet Toydaria, in an effort to secure a route.

As a stand-alone episode, it's a ho-hum affair, focusing on a sort of kid-friendly version of diplomacy. It would be interesting (as with other episodes in the series as a whole) to see a prolonged negotiation that involves the interest of various parties as opposed to the oft-repeated assertion of neutrality (see: Madalore). It's laudable that the writers want to show the effect of politics on the war front, but because of the brevity of episodes and the demographics of the general viewership, the limitations makes scenes like these better in theory than in practice.

The debate before King Katuunko isn't without interest for fans: it helps to clarify the Trade Federation's public position of not being an active Separatist supporter. It remains unnecessarily sticky and confusing as a story point, but it adds layers to what a character like Lott Dodd can contribute. Later, "diplomacy" is reduced to an amusing enough song and dance number by Jar Jar Binks as ships fly past the windows.

The battle scenes here are there to serve debate on Toydaria, not the other way around. As such, they work, and the animation is fluid and fun. Once again, new characters are cut down quickly. This time, though, it's in service of showing the timing of Bail Organa's and Jar Jar's efforts impact lives, not just who gets bandaged up and when.

It's an interesting trend for Season 3 to wedge episodes into the continuity. The first two episodes of Season 3 were bookends for an episode in Season 1. This episode is glue that connects the very first episode of the series and the Ryloth campaign. This is a six of one, half a dozen of the other choice for me. I like that that they're using their existing narratives to weave a larger tapestry. I am, though, excited to see extended stories that reach beyond the core characters and show us things that are entirely new. Supply Lines doesn't cover new ground in the least. In fact, it's actively retracing the series' steps.

Rating (out of five): ** 1/2

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Season 3, Episode 2 - ARC Troopers (plus deleted scene!)

The second episode (or the second part of an extended episode, depending on how you look at it) of Season 3 is ARC Troopers, which fast forwards us past "Rookies" in the chronology of the series and into the defense of Kamino against a cunning and sinister attack by General Grievous.

The episode is action packed, and it throws quite a bit of the best of Star Wars tricks at us: lightsaber duels, firefights, underwater and space battles. It's all in there, and all thrilling. It's so good that, in a way, it would have benefited from being given more time. In Season 2, the battle for Geonosis took place over multiple episodes, turning it into a stirring campaign. Kamino could easily receive that sort of treatment.

That being said, it's unfair to review what you didn't see. What I did see what exceptional characterizations and great action. It's episodes like this one that excited Star Wars fans when this series was announced in the first place. It, like Clone Cadets, also benefits from being a part of a larger in-series mythology pertaining to this five-clone coterie.

Nitpicks? Sure! First of all, Obi-Wan once again has a lightsaber duel with General Grievous and, let's face it, it's starting to feel like duel number 3,000,0000 with those two.

The other nitpick requires a bit SPOILER ALERT! Do not read past if you have not seen this episode!

The death of 99 is yet another example of them pulling the trigger, literally, on character's too soon. 99 is a fantastic character whose death could have been absolutely tragic. By introducing him and killing him off in the course of less than an hour, the writers robbed themselves, and the viewers, of a terrific extended and well-earned story arc.


That all being said, I loved watching this episode, and certainly hope there's more extended and impressive battles like these in the future.

Rating (out of five): **** 1/2


Thanks to the guys over at for posting this deleted scene. One can see pretty quickly why it was cut out. Still, though...bad ass.

The Clone Wars Season Three - ARC Troopers Deleted Scene II
Uploaded by millenniumfalcon. - Full seasons and entire episodes online.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Season 3, Episode 1 - Clone Cadets

Star Wars: The Clone Wars begins the third season with it's focus squarely on the clones themselves. The first episode, Clone Cadets, and the second, Arc Troopers, chronologically bookend the fifth episode of season 1, "Rookies." Here, we meet Fives, Echo, Droidbait, Hevy and Cutup. They're learning here to work together as a team, training on the clone "homeworld" of Kamino.

In many ways, Clone Cadets is extremely conventional: a sort of Bad News Bears Go To War. Heard this before? "A plucky squad of misfits must to work together and gain confidence in themselves. Only then will they come together and earn their place as soldiers. Along the way, we learn that their greatest strength is not only their unity, but their creativity and individuality."

It doesn't remake the wheel. Still, Clone Cadets deepens our relationships to this band of brothers, and retroactively deepens the already excellent episode "Rookies." It also features some well-staged action sequences, and one of my favorite new characters ... 99. 99, a misshapen and seemingly aged clone, who wants nothing more than to be accepted as a member of his people. He relates to, defends, and aids our heroes. (More on 99 in my review of this episode's follow up - Arc Troopers.)

The work in this episode even further speaks to the brilliance of Dee Bradley Baker, who marks each clone with distinctiveness. It's terrific work, and when a new clone shows up like 99, it's all the more apparent.

Other new characters include the bounty hunters hired to train the clones: Bric and El-Es. They show potential, but I felt they weren't all that necessary. Might it have been better to let Shaak Ti, an audience favorite, take center-stage instead of sharing it with even more new voices?

If Clone Cadets isn't quite as iconic an episode as Rookies, and even if it relies a bit too heavily on story convention, it's an excellent episode in it's own right. Welcome back, Clone Wars!

Rating (out of five): *** 1/2

Friday, September 17, 2010

New poll

New fun Season 3 poll is up!

Season 3 is upon us!

Hey everyone,

Obviously, I've been intermittently updating this blog. Never fear: full episode reviews of each Season 3 episode will appear here weekly.

I am getting married in a month. Those of you who have ever gone through wedding planning know, it's quite a hectic time. Still, I'm excited to continue to offer my thoughts as long as you care to read them.