Thanks to Halloween programming, there was no new episode of SWCW. Fret not, this week will more than make up for it.
For starters, the full first season of “Clone Wars” will be released this Tuesday. Naturally, the four-disk set is has all the season’s episodes, from Yoda’s star turn in the series debut, “Ambush” to the introduction of Cad Bane in “Hostage Crisis.”
Overall, it’s interesting to review supervising director Dave Filoni’s recent interview (See <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/tv/091016-Clone-Wars-Weekly.html>http://www.newsarama.com/tv/091016-Clone-Wars-Weekly.html</a>) on the development of the show. Yes, it did start with a bang with “Ambush,” but then the series lagged a bit with the following “Malevolence” trilogy.
It peaked again with the fifth episode, the truly classic “Rookies.” In the same interview, Filoni promises another Clone-centric episode like this. This dark character study of what it’s like to be one of a million beings sprung from Jango Fett deserves it. There’s a rich vein of storytelling gold here.
On the plus front, the series continues to get better, even if there are a few half-hours featuring Jar Jar Binks. By the time the series gets to the “Ryolith” trilogy, it’s firing on all cylinders.
The reason for this is Star Wars fans couldn’t have asked for a better creative team than Filoni and story editor Henry Gilroy. As said often before, Filoni earned his bones as a master director on some choice episodes of “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” Gilroy is not only an experienced animation writer, with series such as “Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League” and “Atlantis: Milo’s Return” in his resume, but a few Dark Horse Star Wars comics, too.
It’s also interesting to see how the animation team at LucasFilm has grown up in front of our eyes. Dust off a copy of the first movie and compare it to “Hostage Crisis.” The character movement has become smoother and more believable with time. Ahsoka, Anakin and Obi-Wan become less and less jerky as the episodes progress. The background designs, which was solid at the debut, becomes bona fide eye-popping with “Ambush” and beyond. You don’t fully appreciate the coral moon of Rugosa until hitting the pause button to gaze on its refracted-ly lit glory.
The proof of the pudding is now in this just-begun second season.
Even better, a number of the episodes include added footage that couldn’t be included due to air-time restrictions. If that isn’t enough, Filoni and Gilroy provide a five-or-so minute preview before each episode. The intros include some interesting confessions, such as it was The Force himself, George Lucas, who wanted Jar Jar in some episodes. They also provide insights and interesting points on things the average fan might have missed.
The final treat for the standard set is a true book of initial sketches, 64 pages of them. They include many developmental drawings, not only of the main cast, but such side characters as Luminara, Dr. Vindi and even the details of Clone Commander Cody’s battle armor. There are also some fascinating full paintings of alien landscapes that beg to be poster-ized.
All said, this is a collection that warrants being an early Holiday present. After all, who wants to wait for it to be under the X-Mas tree when December 25th is over six weeks away?
Interestingly enough, the next episode of “Clone Wars” will air on Wednesday, November 4, not the usual Friday. More important, it is the kickoff of the largest story arc in the Clone Wars saga, at least so far.
Entitled “Landing on Point Rain,” this first chapter will introduce another long known Jedi General, Ki-Adi-Mundi. Mundi, voiced here by Brian George, made an appearance in the first live action trilogy and, if not mistaken, in some Dark Horse comics as well.
“Internally, we just keep getting better and better,” says Filoni. “There’s no way we could have done something like this in the first season. We just didn’t have the assets to populate a battle this big, but we’ve learned so much and we’re still learning. It’s pretty amazing to be able to do something so theatrical and ambitious.”
“George [Lucas] wanted ‘Landing at Point Rain’ to be as intense as any live-action movie about the assault on Omaha Beach,” adds Brian Kalin O’Connell, the episode’s director. “In order to give it that sense of frenetic intensity, we needed to be able to have a fully populated background. This episode was a challenge to our studios and is a testament to what we were all capable of doing in Season Two. George challenged us to make something big and didn’t let us deliver anything that didn’t raise the bar for the whole series. This episode was filled with challenges but I am really happy with how it turned out. It’s non-stop, in-your-face action, and I hope the fans like it.”
Fans can decide for themselves this on Wednesday, November 4, at 8:00 p.m.