Clone Wars Weekly Dispatch: Debut Week

Clone Wars Weekly Dispatch: Debut Week

If there was one important element of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars film, it was it introduced the Jedi padawan Ahsoka to us. That doesn’t mean she’s the only new character in George Lucas’ universe.

So yes, tonight will be the big debut of the SWCW series on Cartoon Network, but it will also be the introduction of two new recurring characters; two that informed sources say will have their impact as the series develops.

As most now know (read last week’s column), the first episode is entitled “Ambush,” and it hardly features Anakin and Ahsoka at all. Instead, it “stars” Yoda and the Clones. They are on their way to the moon of Rugosa, where the Jedi wants to negotiate a treaty with the moon’s native race, the Toydarians. The ambush in question is being provided by everyone’s favorite count, Dooku (now being voiced by v.o. vet Corey Burton instead of Christopher Lee). Don’t forget his assistant, Asajj Ventress (Nika Futterman). She really has it out for our Jedi Master (Tom Kane) and his Clones (Dee Bradley Baker for all of them).

It’s a good start as it shows the little guy can unload one gigantic can of whoop when he feels the need. It also goes further into developing each and every Clone as an individual. Still, the character to pay attention to is the Toydarian king, Katuunko (Brian George). According to informed sources inside the Lucas universe, this quiet and thoughtful ruler is going to have his impact as the series develops. As to how, we’ll have to wait and see.

Otherwise, this is one fast paced episode as directed by series boss David Filoni. It also introduces one of the main supporting writers to the series, head writer Henry Gilroy’s pal, Steve Melching. More on him some time in the future.

“I wanted to bring back some of the impish fun of Yoda from Episode V (The Empire Strikes Back) and instill it into the Clone Wars era as he is leading these three clones in a desperate situation,” Melching said in a press statement. “Yoda became a very serious character in Episodes I, II and III, and I thought this was a great opportunity to show his clever, fun side as well as his inspirational and warrior side.”

To give the show more impact, there will actually be a second episode airing tonight at 9:30 p.m. Entitled “Rising Malevolence,” it is the first chapter in a three-part arc that returns to the main team of Anakin (Matt Lanter) and Ahsoka (Ashley Eckstein).

If this episode is any indicator, it looks like the initial resistance the pair had when they were teamed up has now been straightened out considerably. In fact, it opens with Yoda and the Jedi Council wondering if maybe putting them together was really a good idea. Suffice it soon becomes apparent Ahsoka is learning a lot of things from Anakin that the Council wishes she didn’t know. As for Anakin? It looks like he’s developing a solidly fraternal relationship with his new padawan (again, much to the Council’s chagrin).

Again, another important character is going to be introduced to the series in the form of a new general, Plo Koon (James Arnold Taylor). In the episode, Ahsoka mentions that Plo Koon "saved" her (somehow) and brought her to her first Jedi temple. The source says he's a patient, thoughtful Jedi Knight who is protective of his clone troopers. He has a deep, mellifluous voice and speaks through a rather intricately designed breathing mask. After that, we’re going to have to watch and see.

“I liked the design of the Plo Koon character, and I also liked that he was a Jedi Master,” Filoni says. “Like so many Star Wars fans, I had always wondered what other Jedi were like – and Clone Wars presented an opportunity to explore those characters”

For the record, it looks like Filoni and Melching worked on this episode as well.

As this is the first chapter in a three-story arc, providing further criticism would be preemptive. On the other hand, based on what was previewed, this episode offers a ton of promise as to things to come. Lots of intrigue, some seriously cool daring-do from Anakin and General Grievous. What more do you need?

If these two episodes are any indicator, it’s safe to say the series has left the gate and kicked into hyperdrive.

For the record, anyone who misses the show this Friday, CN will be doing repeats on Sunday at 9:00 p.m. and Wednesday at 9:00 p.m.

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