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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

4 Things to Expect from The Clone Wars TV Show (and 3 Things Not To)

Who knew, back in 1977, when Luke Skywalker casually asked Ben Kenobi "You fought in the Clone Wars?" that such an innocent, off-hand question would spin-off into one of the biggest multimedia franchises in fanboy history? Yes, George Lucas' Star Wars: A New Hope did spawn arguably THE biggest franchise ever - take your blood-pressure pills, Trekkers - but that had an entire movie, starring Harrison Ford and Alec Guinness, as it's foundation. The Clone Wars, possibly the most popular Star Wars tangent since Boba Fett, was founded by that one sentence, a lot of fan love, and Lucas' legendary inability to let go of a good idea. Years later, after we witnessed the beginning of the wars in Attack of the Clones and their end in Revenge of the Sith, The Clone Wars have inspired novels, comic books, video games, toy lines, animated series - you name it.

And, believe us, Clone Wars fans have a LOT to be excited about in the near-future. Picking up where Genndy Tartakovsky's beyond-cool Clone Wars 2D-animated series left off in 2005, Lucasfilm is actively in production of a 3D-animated, 100-episode, PG-13 rated Clone Wars TV series that's scheduled to air on the Cartoon Network and TNT. If that wasn't cool enough, it was announced weeks ago that the Star Wars: Clone Wars series would kick-off with a theatrically-released feature - that's right, a SEVENTH Star Wars feature film - that will hit theatres on August 15, following Anakin and Obi-Wan during their wartime tours of duty.

Now, if you guys in the Stormtrooper helmets can stop hyperventilating, there are some hard questions we need to ponder about The Clone Wars series. As we mentioned, we've already seen the wars begin and end in the prequel trilogy, which begs the follow-up, "Are there really that many more stories to tell about the Clone Wars? Particularly when we already know the fates of so many of the major players in the conflict?"

We all know what happens to Obi-Wan, Anakin, Palpatine, Dooku, and the rest, so what can we expect from the TV series that will offer us something new? As our Jedi cups runneth over with these new announcements of theatrical features, we here at The Deadbolt have assembled a quick list of 4 things you can definitely expect from Lucas' new Clone Wars series and 3 things that... well... don't get your hopes up.

4 THINGS TO EXPECT FROM THE CLONE WARS SERIES:

1. New Recruits for Both Sides of the Force

Okay, we know what happens to Yoda and Palpatine after the Clone Wars, but that shouldn't make the series any less dramatic. World War II movies are still exciting even though we all go into them knowing the fates of FDR and Hitler. How do they accomplish that? By showing us the famous conflicts through different sets of eyes. This isn't to say that we won't be seeing Mace Windu or General Grievous from time to time, but the best way to expand the scope of The Clone Wars is to show us new perspectives on the battle, and it sounds like Lucas is prepared to do just that.

While speaking at the 2007 William S. Paley Television Festival, Lucas told Creative Screenwriting that some episodes would focus entirely on such lesser-known (though fan favorite) Jedis as Kit Fisto or Shaak Ti and was quoted from the event as saying that other episodes would feature a cast of only Clone troopers. Lucas also made news when the official Star Wars website announced that a new Jedi, the young Ahsoka Tano would be joining the cast as a previously unmentioned Padawan trainee who served under Anakin Skywalker during the Clone Wars. (Wonder why she wasn't mentioned in Sith? We're all assuming she dies, right?) Also, expect Asajj Ventress, the Darth Maul-esque female Dark Jedi to play a big role in the series, as well as Captain Rex, a Clone Trooper friendly will Obi-Wan and Anakin.

2. The Lighter Side of Anakin Skywalker

We're not saying that The Clone Wars is going to show us the softer, fuzzier side of the man who would be Vader, but it definitely looks like the new series will display Anakin's war-time heroism and bravery, front and center, to show us the definite contrast and depth of his fall from grace in Revenge of the Sith. In a video on the official Clone Wars website, Supervising Director Dave Filoni discusses how the series will touch on the newly-promoted, full-fledged Jedi Knight's "good side", particularly through his relationship with his comrade/former mentor Obi-Wan and his new Padawan Ahsoka.

While Attack of the Clones and Sith often featured Anakin at his worst (slaughtering Sand People or... you know... ALL of the Jedi, kids included), you can expect The Clone Wars to show him at his best, setting up why people like Obi-Wan, Padme, and the rest of the Jedi placed so much trust into that sad, flawed man. And, besides, as we know from Sith, during the Clone Wars, Anakin has to save Obi-Wan's skin ten different times - well, nine, if you don't count that business on Cato Neimodia - so he can't be all bad... for now.

Even though they both met their ends in Revenge of the Sith, there are two things you can't deny about Count Dooku and General Grievous - they're both pretty bad-ass and we know next-to-nothing about them. (Well, if you haven't read the various novel/comic book tie-ins to the Clone Wars... or if you're not a hardcore Hyperspace-subscribing Star Wars fanboy... or if you don't run your own Star Wars wiki... you probably don't know much about them.) Lucas just teased us with little nuggets of cool about the Count and the General in Clones and Sith and The Clone Wars series seems like the likely place to finally pay off those teases. In the official trailer for the series, Dooku is featured heavily, and the Clone Wars website has posted a cool new piece of concept art of the good General. Expect this devious duo to be the "Big Bad" of the Clone Wars series, filling in the unknown portions of their evil doomed lives and leaving Palpatine to pull the puppet-strings in the shadows.

4. There Will Be Blood

Did you think that there was a lot of death in the PG-13 Revenge of the Sith? (We're still pretty shook up by the whole Youngling slaughter.) Well, prepare for more of the same in The Clone Wars. Not only is this a war-time TV show - more in the style of Band of Brothers than Hogan's Heroes - but the producers seem committed to making this a much more adult animated show that TV is used to seeing. And we're talking in terms of content and character development rather than sex or dick jokes. According to the online site Wookiepedia, Lucas was quoted on the May 1, 2007 episode of Late Night with Conan O'Brien as saying, "It's very much Star Wars. It's not a, you know, South Park comedy. It's not a kiddie's Spongebob Squarepants. It's sort of the first dramatic animated show that is, um, PG-13, so it doesn't really go on late night, it doesn't go on Saturday afternoon, it actually doesn't go anywhere."

Lucasfilm's head of fan relations Steve Sansweet has described the look of the show as "a melding of Asian anime with unique 3-D animation styling," which - as any of you who familiar anime know - means that you should be expecting an INSANE level of action. From what we've seem from the series' trailer, it looks like the show will be a mixture of staggering believable wartime battles - where clone troopers are reaching into a pile of goo that used to be their clone brother's face - and over-the-top, hyper-kinetic Jedi-on-Jedi action. Not everyone is going to make it out of The Clone Wars alive (we're looking at you, Ahsoka), and those that do will never be the same again (looking at you, Anakin).

3 THINGS NOT TO EXPECT FROM THE CLONE WARS SERIES:

1. The conception of Luke and Leia

C'mon! You KNOW it happens during this time frame. Why can't we get a little glimpse into Anakin and Padme's wedded bliss? Are we such prudes? And, besides, you know that R2 probably secretly filmed the whole thing. That little tin can is such a closeted-pervert.

2. The re-election campaign of Jar-Jar Binks

Jar-Jar, fandom's favorite whipping boy, popped up as a senator in Attack of the Clones, and it was thanks to his dim-witted suggestibility that Palpatine was able to become Supreme Chancellor of the Republic. It might have seemed like a good idea at the time, but as the Clone Wars dragged on, you just know that the investigative staff at the Naboo Tribune must have pieced together Jar-Jar's role in the seemingly endless war. Lucas could use this story to parallel the current war in Iraq (oh, timeliness!) and smack Jar-Jar around a little more for our pleasure. That's win-win.

3. The cost-benefit analysis of The Death Star

Revenge of the Sith ends with the beginning of construction of The Death Star, but the initial planning phases - design, budgeting, accounting - must have taken place during the Clone Wars. Show us Palpatine pitching the project to his executive board, the Sith accountants trying to make the numbers work, the Emperor reviewing carpet samples and paint swatches with his interior designers... it'd be like The Office meets Trading Spaces, but with Star Wars! Doesn't that sound awesome? Doesn't it? Hello? Where did everyone go?

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