Sunday, January 30, 2011

Clone Wars Resources: Overlords

Season III episodes: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

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Episode Information...
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Season 3 Episode 15: Overlords
Premiered January 28, 2011

"Balance is found in the one who faces his guilt."

A mysterious force draws Anakin, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka to a distant planet, and its inhabitants, a family of exceptionally powerful Force-wielders, in an attempt to determine whether Anakin is truly the Chosen One.

Written by Christian Taylor
Directed by Steward Lee

Matt Lanter as Anakin Skywalker
James Arnold Taylor as Obi-Wan Kenobi
Ashley Eckstein as Ahsoka Tano
Lloyd Sherr as Father
Adrienne Wilkinson as Daughter
Sam Witwer as Son
Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn
Pernilla August as Shmi
Dee Bradley Baker as Rex
Tom Kane as the narrator

Watch the episode online...

Download the episode...

Official episode guide...

Official commentary...

This links to a site where you can download a zipped folder that contains all 60 screen-caps and concept art images from
This site includes hundreds of screen-caps from the version of the episode that aired on Cartoon Network.


Articles... interview with Sam Witwer, the voice of the Son article discussing Anakin Skywalker's role as "The Chosen One"
Step by step directions one how to draw the Daughter

If you have any suggestions on how to make this guide better, feel free to comment. I'm always looking for more resources to add to this.

Friday, January 28, 2011

"Overlords" Review

I don't know how to begin my review of the Clone Wars episode 3.15 because it rendered me speechless. The Clone Wars has been two things thus far, action and politics. For the first time, this show in my opinion has superseded these genres and crossed into pure dramatic fantasy. This episode contained barely any violence and was as far away from the mechanics of the galactic government as Star Wars can be in this era. It seemed to exist not as an excellently crafted series of dialogs and action sequences but as pure emotion. Even though the departure from almost everything that makes a Clone Wars episode recognizable may deter some of the fans of the series, I believe this episode's strength lied in an area that has been long neglected is Star Wars storytelling. I have not experienced a Star Wars tale based on characters to this extent since I first saw the Original Trilogy.

I will briefly note the technical achievements of this episode, which were outstanding. The animation was as breathtaking as it has ever been in this series. The entire environment of Mortis was incredibly detailed and reminded me slightly of the CGI alien planet of Pandora from the movie Avatar. The changing of the "seasons" was masterfully illustrated, as the storms on the planet gave it depth and atmosphere. Similarly the music in "Overlords" was perfect. Aside from well timed John Williams motifs interspersed throughout the episode, like the Force theme, the Imperial March, and Qui-Gon's theme, Kevin Kiner's score went on to echo and add to the core music. The sound design added to the fantasy and mystique of the environment and the episode as a whole. As usual, the new characters were beautifully animated. The look of the Father fully encompassed a godlike and timeless being, as the Children's physique embodied their respective sides of the Force.

This brings me to the most exciting element of the episode. Star Wars did not become popular for its politics or even its groundbreaking effects. It did not gather fame from the depth of its universe or the choreography or its action. Many franchises include these things. No, Star Wars is Star Wars due to an extremely unique and innovative concept. And that is the concept of the Force. The concept of good and evil. The concept of the eternal quest of humanity to bring harmony to the universe. And this episode brought the central aspect of Star Wars to the forefront like no visual media has since we saw Yoda's teachings on Dagobah. This was not a lecture about midichlorians or an expose on unleashed powers; this was an exploration of the very nature of the Force and even more importantly how it effects the characters that we have come to know and love.

The visions experienced in this episode by Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka developed their characters more than two and a half seasons of witty dialog and heart-pounding peril. This sequence of scenes brought the Clone Wars --and even all prequel era storytelling-- to its core, the core that recounts the compelling story of the  rise of the most iconic villain in western culture. It was shocking to see the specters that the heroes laid eyes upon. In several minutes we saw the return of two pivotal characters in the Star Wars story, Qui-Gon Jinn and Shmi Skywalker, be it in an illusionary and perhaps questionably sentient form. It also was equally shocking to see an incarnation of the possible future of Ahsoka, the character that binds the Clone Wars series together. It is difficult to perceive how much of these encounters was "real" and how much was an illusion. But nevertheless they were indubitably intriguing.

The parts of this episode that were exterior to the main characters were slightly unusual. Are we supposed to believe that the fate of the entire galaxy lies in the hands of uber-powerful Force users? Are the events and beings on Mortis material or are they an allegory of the collective actions of all humans and aliens alike who manipulate the Force? Did we see this story from the outside looking in or from the perspective of the Jedi characters? As hinted at by the Clone Wars crew, this episode certainly left a plethora of unanswered questions. But, honestly, I believe the most inspiring works of art are those that don't answer life's queries, but lead us to ask questions and seek to answer them ourselves.

In speculation, I believe that Anakin will attempt to "fix" the dilemma on Mortis via his own methods and powers, rather than fulfill the destiny suggested to him in this episode. How this turn of events serves to further and/or illustrate his fall to the Darkside is yet to be seen. But I am extremely excited to see how this situation is resolved or if it is not resolved at all. But simply I love where this series is going because of its gradual return to character based stories that are relevant to the over-arching Star Wars saga. This episode was for the fans of not just sci-fi or fantasy, but for the fans of the exploration of the human psyche and soul. Battles will ensue, politics will spin, but these tales will only be compelling if they are grounded in the characters of the story. And this episode provided a foundation here for seasons to come.

In conclusion, this episode was visually stunning, intellectually astounding, and emotionally compelling. Between the high action of the Savage trilogy, and the mystique of "Overlords", the Clone Wars series has provided an amazing portfolio of its essence and potential. And if fans did not enjoy the last several episodes, they should just stop watching the show. Because in my opinion, this is the best Star Wars outside of the six films, and most certainly the best Clone Wars to date.

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Friday, January 21, 2011

"Witches of the Mist" Review

This is my review of the Clone Wars episode "Witches of the Mist" which concludes the much anticipated Savage/Nightsisters trilogy of Season 3. My first two reactions to this episode were, "This is the best episode of Season 3 yet!!" and "The name of this episode hardly makes sense...". Of course my first comment unquestionably outweighs my second.

Living up to the two previous episodes of the trilogy, the finale was not short on action. We were teased by a short but inventive duel amongst Savage, Obi-Wan, and Anakin midway through the episode, and were utterly thrilled by the complex and interwoven duels at the end. As expected, Savage proved to be a menace with a dual-bladed saber as he made quick work of Toydarian warriors and held experienced Jedi at bay. However short it was, the assault on Toydaria did well to set up Savage as a dangerous villain, and this fact added greater suspense to the action toward the end of the episode.

From a technical standpoint the animation was breathtaking. The choreography of the duels was on par with the Saga, and the characters were given a great range of expression with both variety in their facial movements and body language. Unfortunately we did not see anymore of "rainy Coruscant" than what was revealed in preview clips last year, but nevertheless the artistic achievement of this environment should be noted. Toydaria also proved to be a fantastically woven local in its second appearance this season. While not introducing as many new locals as previous episodes, overall the animation of "Witches of the Mist" was fluid and fully engulfed viewers into the story.

There were a few characters in this episode that had abominably minimal screen-time in their Clone Wars debuts. The unbelievably animated Clone Commandos in the initial scene slipped by in seconds. Hopefully their large fan-base will enjoy many more appearances from these renown elites. Additionally, the horned Jedi Saesee Tiin was merely scenery in the Jedi Temple sequence. His design fits well into the show along with other Masters, and with the creation of his model, the Clone Wars crew has come that much closer to having the ability to show a full session of the Jedi Council, something oddly lacking in the series thus far.

One of the most intriguing story elements in the episode was the Sith training of Savage Opress by Count Dooku. It oddly reminded be greatly of Yoda's training of Luke on Degobah in the Empire Strikes Back. However there was one gigantic difference; while Yoda encouraged Luke to purge himself of his feelings, Dooku challenged Savage to draw his power from his fear and anger. The simple comparison of these two scenes illustrates the core difference between the opposite sides of the Force and how their users utilize them.

Aside from breathtaking choreography and editing the duel at the end of the episode was compelling from a situational stand-point. We saw Sith fighting each-other with sabers and Force-powers for an extended period for the first time in Star Wars film and television to my knowledge. The moment when it seemed that the three users of the Darkside turned against one-another with their allegiance only to themselves was unbelievable. This left the short encounter between the two Jedi and Savage a mere afterthought. I was slightly disappointed at how the crew made Dooku's ability to cast Sith lightning a repeated trump-card in the duel. We saw Savage get pushed back by this one too many times. But nevertheless, Dooku is Sidious' apprentice for a reason, and second-rate Sith should never gain the upper hand over him for too long.

Finally at the end of the episode, as the dust settled, the wounded Savage returned to Dathomir poetically in the footsteps of his mistress, and only to set up one of the most shocking reveals in the history of this series. The Nightsisters tell the downtrodden Zabrak that he is indeed the brother of the fabled Darth Maul, and to everyones shock, that Maul was still alive! Mother Talzin then suggested Savage seek Maul out for further training in a similar manner to Obi-Wan's command to Luke about finding Yoda in the films. This turned what appeared to be a concluded story-arc, into a launching point for even more epic adventures.

In conclusion "Witches of the Mist" included fantastic animation, told a relevant story in a compelling way, and served a noteworthy purpose among Star Wars lore. The pacing of the episode was deftly crafted, as high-action and interesting dialog were interwoven handedly. The humor between Obi-Wan and Anakin gave the third Nightsisters episode an element that the first two lacked, as the endeavor greatly added to the mythos of the poster Jedi of the prequels. I was thoroughly satisfied with this episode, and am intrigued immensely at the doors that have been opened by it.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

"Monster" Review

The title was very fitting for this episode because it WAS a "monster" from beginning to end! Upon viewing the thirteenth episode of season three of the Clone Wars TV series, it is my opinion that "Monster" is the best episode of this season and one of the best of the entire series. If the conclusion to the Savage arc is as good as the first two installments, the trilogy will surpass the Boba Fett trilogy as the best trio of episodes to air. But now to the details:

My first impression of this episode was, "How the heck is this show not PG-13!". By far this was the darkest and most violent episode of the Clone Wars yet. It was not the fantasy violence that is common to Star Wars involving lightsabers, blasters, and Force-powers that put "Monster" over the edge; rather it was the brutal and extensive hand to hand combat that culminated in several characters being silenced in the dark by an ominous swinging blade and Savage ending his kin's life by strangling him in cold blood Darth Vader style. I'm sure in hindsight that the only thing that kept this episode in the PG range is the absence of blood. On the flip-side however, this very violence made for some of the most well choreographed action sequences that the show has seen. The crew took the martial-arts fighting style of Darth Maul and extended it even further with the Zabrak warriors. In addition to this, Asajj Ventress also showed off amazing skills in this department. I applaud the work of the animators because I have never seen combat of this nature taken to this extent in a CGI format.

The brutality aside this episode was indeed visually stunning. The Zabrak village on Dathomir was very well animated and the dark, blood-red environment that showcased Ventess' trials suited the mood of the episode exceptionally. The immense planet of Devaron was almost lost in the flowing interchange of scenes. I can only imagine what the animators are capable of bringing to the screen in future episodes. Like the effects and lighting, the music in this episode was impeccable, a rare feat in a show that refuses to use an adequate amount of classic Star Wars scores. The decision to make nearly the entire soundtrack of "Monster" consist of choral arrangements went a long way to underscore the darkness and impact of the episode.

The story itself also was a great achievement, and the dialog was nothing but natural and organic. For the first time, from beginning to end, a Clone Wars episode focussed completely on villains. The back-story behind Savage was an unexpected yet compelling addition to the story. The depiction of his relationship and later betrayal of his fellow Zabrak, Feral, went a long way to set the tone for his brutal character. As far as villains go, Cad Bane is cool, Asajj is sinister, but Savage Opress brings a unique lethality to the series. He is a mountain of hate and power, and the Clone Wars crew did a marvelous job establishing this fact without dabbling into Force-powers or gadgetry one bit. Perhaps it is the absence of these things that make Savage so imposing; his vengeance is visceral and thus inherently palpable.

I am left very satisfied by this episode, and I eagerly anticipate the final installment in the Savage trilogy. I can only imagine the damage that a force-wielding Savage will do upon the galaxy! Perhaps I'm thinking ahead, but considering how much of a roll the dark arts of the Nighsisters play in Savage's unstoppable rage, I wonder what will be left under his brutality if this magic were to be removed... would it reveal a remorseful soul or an irrevocably broken one?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Clone Wars Episodes: What Works and What Doesn't

Since its inception in 2008, no animated series -and possibly no TV series of any sort- has captured the imagination and fueled the creativity of its fans like Cartoon Network's Star Wars: the Clone Wars. Yet while a rising generation of younger fans have consumed the show with almost blind appreciation and bewilderment, older fans tend to measure the quality of every episode against their own previous entertainment experiences. Most of all, viewers brought to the series through its vast source material, which includes a widely popular six movie saga, several prior TV series, and countless novels, video games, and comic books, have compared the Clone Wars with these beloved sources. Some of the elements that these serious Star Wars fans look for in every episode are exotic fantasy locals, compelling and "cool" characters, mind-blowing action sequences, epic music, and relevant plots and dialog that tie into other Star Wars media. Based on my own fandom and expectations and the knowledge that I have gathered from other fans like me, I will attempt to outline the elements that contribute most greatly to the overall quality and popularity of an episode of the Clone Wars.


The most important element of a story is just that, the story. And ultimately that is what Star Wars and any other media property boils down to. But what makes a story good? And more importantly here, what makes a story a good Star Wars story?

In my personal opinion good stories are those that serve a purpose, and great stories are those that may serve multiple purposes. The most obvious purpose of many Clone Wars episodes is to demonstrate a moral, a common truth about life that encompasses virtue and wisdom. Some of the episodes that illustrate strong morals are those with references to eastern values. Here are some that have stood out to me:

Bounty Hunters - Season 2, episode 17

This well written episode tells the story of a small agricultural village that is being harassed by space pirates. The villagers have no tools or ability to defend themselves so they use the little excess profit that they have to hire a group of bounty hunters to protect their crops from the pirates. The story takes an interesting turn when three Jedi show up at their village after a crash landing on their planet. The farmers immediately view the Jedi as their saviors and ask the Jedi to join the bounty hunters in protecting their harvest. But the Jedi know that if they defeat the pirates, it would only be a matter of time before another band of brigands would show up and use their military prowess to extort the farmers. To make matters worse, the farmers were not wealthy enough to constantly hire enough bounty hunters to protect them. So the Jedi decide to teach the farmers how to defend themselves. After a period of difficult and sometimes begrudged training, the farmers begin to gain confidence in themselves and join the bounty hunters in a battle against the pirates. The pirates attempt to pay off the bounty hunters so they could take on the farmers alone. But the bounty hunters show integrity by honoring their pact and defending the village from the pirates. In the end several characters realize their inner strength among their humble circumstances and the farmers prevail in driving away the pirates. The moral of this episode can be summarized in a well known proverb, "Give a boy a fish and he will eat for a day, but teach a boy to fish and he will eat for a lifetime."

Lightsaber Lost - Season 2, episode 11

What happens when a Jedi loses her most vital possession? As the wise master Obi-Wan Kenobi once said, "This weapon is your life!" And on the seedy streets of Coruscant one of the series' main protagonists, Ahsoka Tano, encounters this dilemma after a pick-pocket makes a get-away with her lime-green blade. Eager to both reclaim her honor and keep the knowledge of this event from her master, the young padawan seeks help from one of her trusted elders, a librarian in the Jedi Archives. The librarian refers Ahsoka to an aging Jedi who is a supposed expert on the criminal underworld. Antsy to find her lost weapon, Ahsoka is surprised to find Tera Sinube sleeping in broad daylight in front of a computer in the library. Upon being awoken from his slumber by the impatient padawan, master Sinube proceeds to help Ahsoka comb a database of known criminals to find the thief who stole her lightsaber. After Ahsoka gains information about the criminal that she deems sufficient to begin her search of him, she immediately tries to get away from the quirky and lethargic Sinube. But the elder Jedi asks to come along on her adventure and warns her that if she does not "slow down", she will never reclaim her lost blade. The two very different Jedi then embark on their quest to find the lightsaber, with Master Sinube teaching Ahsoka valuable lessons about patience and control throughout the episode. In the end it is the ancient Jedi's wisdom that helps the padawan find and repossess her blade, and Ahsoka ends the episode by teaching the lessons she has learned from the experience to a class of younglings. This episode deftly illustrates the moral that "patience is a virtue" as well as suggesting that although sometimes appearing slow and eccentric, our elders can teach us valuable lessons about life.

In addition to these hallmark episodes, there are many more in the series that incorporate morals into their storylines. For instance, Season Two's "The Deserter" asserts the philosophy that each individual has his or her own path to honor and fulfilling duty and Season Three's "Clone Cadets" illustrates the value of teamwork. Stories like this not only serve the purpose of entertainment but are parables of wisdom. They exemplify the heart of the Clone Wars TV series and make for the most memorable plots.


Episodes that exemplify moral values have purpose, but this purpose can be lost if the plots do not fit into the Star Wars universe that forms the backdrop of the series. Most Star Wars fans look for elements that are related to and even expand upon events in other Star Wars properties, especially the two theatrical trilogies. Here are some episodes that in my opinion are either successful or unsuccessful at providing relevancy in their plots:

Heroes On Both Sides - Season 3, episode 10

This episode does well in explaining a line from the opening crawl in the Star Wars film Revenge of the Sith that hints that there are honorable people seeking peaceful resolution on both sides of the complex civil war. Frustrated by the seemingly endless fighting and futile debate surrounding the war, Senator Padme Amidala and padawan Ahsoka Tano travel covertly behind enemy lines to meet with one of Padme's former mentors who is now a member of the opposition. Upon arriving in the enemy's political capitol, the two protagonists witness firsthand that not just their own government is mired in debate about the war. Padme's mentor went on to work with the Senator to propose peaceful legislation, only to be thwarted by a terrorist attack that forced the escalation of the war through fear. Along the way the young Jedi Ahsoka learned the terrible truth that she is not just fighting mindless automatons but actual civilizations of honorable civilians who stand behind the antagonists. The episode provides a great deal of relevant exposition about the mechanics of the war at the heart of the series and reveals the strategy of its true mastermind, the puppet-master Palpatine, to use fear to pit the two opposing halves of the galaxy against one another in an effort to gain ultimate power in the universe.

Corruption - Season 3, episode 5

Despite a respectable effort from the creators of the series, in many opinions of critics and fans alike this episode fell short in terms of quality and plot relevance. The intended point of the story is apparently to illustrate the decay of civilizations at the time of the Clone War. Yet the episode steps out of the realms of both war and politics and uses underdeveloped and completely new characters to drive the choppy story forward. "Highlights" of this episode include weak, nameless antagonists and "poisoned Snapple", far departures from the intrigue of the war and the mystique of the Force. The events of "Corruption" could have been summed up in less than a minute at the beginning of the following episode, and their relevance to the overall story arc of the series is limited.

Other relevant episodes include the Boba Fett trilogy of Season Two which chronicles the young bounty hunters quest to avenge his father's death and Season One's Lair of Grievous which provides insight into the mysteries of the cyborg and the erosion of the constraint and humility of the Jedi. These episodes fit well into the Star Wars universe and serve to extend storylines from the films.


Probably more than any other element, Star Wars is known for its memorable characters. Staples of the films like Darth Vader and R2-D2 have become pop-culture icons that have broken through the boundaries of Star Wars media and entered the lexicon of universal entertainment. But the question is, what makes a good Star Wars character?

There are two things that I look for in a character. Firstly, does the character have the "cool factor". And secondly, is the character compelling? The creators of the Clone Wars series have given us countless characters with breathtaking designs, Cad Bane, Embo, and Savage Opress to name a few. But it is more difficult to make a character compelling. Some of the key elements in a compelling character are an interesting back-story, a unique personality, and sufficient character development. These elements make us feel strongly about the character; we will either love to hate the character, identify with the character, or just think the character is plain "awesome". Here is my analysis of some Clone Wars characters based on these criteria:

The Well Developed Character: Ahsoka Tano

The padawan was one of the first new characters added to the series, and her development is one of the main story arcs that ties the series' eclectic collection of episodes together. Her back-story is one shared by many Jedi; she was found by Master Plo Koon as a young child and transported to the Jedi temple for training. When the Clone Wars started to escalate she was assigned as an apprentice to the headstrong yet powerful Jedi master, Anakin Skywalker. Unbeknown to Ahsoka, her master is destined to follow a dark path, as he eventually succumbs to the power of the Dark Side of the Force, the collective ethereal antagonist in the Star Wars universe. With her fate uncertain, a rarity in a series that takes place in the middle of the Star Wars continuity, the audience follows the padawan's training and experiences with expectation of her imminent triumph over -or fall to- evil. Ahsoka is the best example of a character that people identify with, as we uncover the mysteries of the Clone Wars and the Force through her eyes. We witness exceptional development of and revelation about her character in episodes like "Storm Over Ryloth", "Brain Invaders", and "Assassin". Her future is directly tied to the future of the series and although many have been adverse to her character, her fate is greatly anticipated.

The "Cool" Character: Cad Bane

Under a wide brimmed hat, the minds behind the Clone Wars TV series have achieved creative brilliance. Cad Bane is the epitome of the "Man With No Name" western gunslinger. From his innovative gadgetry to his intimidating voice, the bounty hunter has captured the fancy of millions of fans. His antagonizing character is both a relevant and fresh addition to the ever-expanding Clone Wars cast. After nearly an entire season consisting of nothing but Separatist vs. Republic action, Bane added a third dimension to the map of the Clone War. He is a representation of the Star Wars underworld, an endless assemblage of both villainous and honorable characters driven not by duty or morals but by the quest to make their way in the universe through shady and marginally legal dealings. In action, Bane is deadly as he stretches the heroes of the series in new and imaginative ways.

The Underdeveloped Character: Padme Amidala

I will probably take some heat on this one because I know many people who enjoy stories about the good senator. But in my opinion her character is sadly weakened in the Clone Wars series and has thus become a boredom and downright nuisance to many fans. Very often I hear the phrase, "Not another Padme episode!". I think this growing disdain stems from one simple fact: the character of Amidala does not change during the Clone Wars. True her heroism is evident and compelling through the first two theatrical films she appears in, but during the time of the Clone Wars series she becomes jaded and frustrated, and too many episodes have focussed on this occurrence. It seems that one time too many we have watched her beat her head in vain against the wall of corruption and tyranny, and even though the ideals she holds form the base of the future rebellion against the Empire in the original Star Wars film trilogy, her presence in the Clone Wars series only serves as a plot device in her husbands downfall and an illustration of the death of democracy. While some of this is necessary, I feel the series has not developed her character in any relevant way and centers stories around her too frequently.

Even with a relevant storyline and intelligent plot, it is ultimately the portrayal of the characters that makes or breaks a story. Clone Wars episodes that have been centered around compelling characters have enjoyed more popularity than episodes that are lacking in this department.


Once you have a great plot for a story and compelling characters to take part in it, the only thing left is to actually tell the story, and that is where the dispersion and choreography of action, the precision of editing, and the tonality of music come in. Here I will give my opinion on what mixes of these elements make for a quality and popular episode:


Action is synonymous with Star Wars, and the franchise provides a rich assortment of action elements to the Clone Wars series. The audience is entertained by lightsaber duels, Force fights, and blaster shots galore, as well as epic battles in space and alien locals. For the most part, the choreography of these elements has been phenomenal in the series. But sometimes it is the absence of this action that lets fans down. While some political and character-based storylines are well written enough to carry an episode that is void of significant action, too many of these episodes occurring sequentially have constituted lapses in the show's quality and appeal. Star Wars fans have seen the capabilities of the Clone Wars series in staging fantastic action, and want to see the limits pushed even further in this area.

Direction and Editing

I have already discussed most of the major elements that contribute to the quality of a Clone Wars episode, but there are a couple minor things that I would like to address. While, the Clone Wars TV series has been groundbreaking in terms of direction and editing, I believe the series could improve in a couple areas. Those areas are spacing and perspective. By spacing I mean the juxtaposition of fast paced action and more slowly paced downtime. Because the creators of the series have limited time to work with while making each episode, sometimes they will edit the scenes together at a break-neck pace. This makes for an action packed episode, but it is the quieter character-building and scene-setting moments that give the show depth and artistic relevance. If the creators find a way to incorporate more of these moments into episodes, it will make for a more dynamic and compelling presentation. Another thing that the series could improve upon is the perspective of its camera angles. Unlike in a live-action series, the creators have limitless ability to show scenes from any perspective that they chose. Because of this, sometimes they do not emphasize the difference in scale adequately. Sometimes a star cruiser can appear to have the same weight as a tiny speeder and epic battles can seem like small skirmishes. This lack of perspective can lead to rooms seeming minuscule and empty and characters appearing the same size. Improvement in perspective would give the series more gravity and impact.


The final thing I want to discuss is music. While sometimes a trivial element of other entertainment properties, the soundtrack of Star Wars has been referred to as the oxygen of the franchise. The films are known for their memorable and moving musical scores just as much as for their characters. While some of the motifs of the Clone Wars series that were written by the talented composer Kevin Kiner are fitting additions to the Star Wars soundtrack, more often than not the scores serve as nothing but monotonous filler. In my opinion, either more original Star Wars motifs need to be added to the series or Kiner's scores need to become more poignant and memorable for the series to equal other Star Wars media in this important area.

Therefore it is my conclusion that Clone Wars episodes that have the highest quality must contain a purposeful storyline, a relevant plot, character development, and compelling storytelling. So far, the series has delivered in these areas more often than not, but there is still a great deal of room for improvement. The creators of the Clone Wars TV series are avid fans themselves, and thus I trust that the series will do nothing but improve in quality as it progresses. Hopefully by the time it ends, it will have taken its rightful place as a jewel of the Star Wars franchise and will be deservingly recognized as the most groundbreaking animated series in the history of television.

Friday, January 7, 2011

"Nightsisters" Review

Here is my initial review of the Clone Wars episode "Nightsisters" upon seeing it for the first time.

All Clone Wars episodes should be like this! There were heroes, villains, and shades of grey. There were action packed battles and fight sequences, as well as well timed dialog and plot exposition. However I am not saying this is the best episode of the Clone Wars this far. And I believe that the episodes in the Savage ARC will have to be viewed together and not separately to portray their true strength. Even though I was not disappointed by this episode, it left me feeling a little empty. I wish that Cartoon Network had chosen to air at least a few of the Savage episodes together to provide a more cohesive and in-depth story. I was expecting to see Opress sooner, and I was slightly annoyed that after all the hype, he did not show up at all in this episode.

Aside from this minor issue, I found the episode within itself to be solid. It was definitely on par with some of the best episodes of this season. The character exposition of Ventress was phenomenal for this series. The initial sequence in space reminded me of the microseries. I wish this sequence was a little longer, but I understand the time constraints that come with the 22 minute limit. In fact, I believe this episode was very ambitious considering this fact. It is amazing how much we actually saw in 22 minutes, an epic dogfight is space, an equally entertaining lightsaber duel in the ship's hanger, the intriguing environment of Dathomir, and the imposing palace that was home to the mysterious Count Dooku which was a fantastic stage, internally and externally, for the well choreographed duel that ensued.

Even though most eager Star Wars fans have gleaned significant information about the plot of these episodes during the last half of 2010, I would like to touch on the storyline for a moment. In my opinion the idea that members of the Sith would fight against each-other for power and vengeance is a much appreciated addition to the complex Clone Wars plot. The Star Wars EU is filled with compelling stories of this nature and the departure of the monotonous Republic vs Separatists storyline by the Clone Was series is a much needed breath of fresh air.

I laud the ambition and innovation of "Nightsisters". I cannot wait to see all of the newly introduced locals in high definition when the box set is released this fall. But most of all this episode left me with the same feeling that I took into it, the feeling of anticipation. The nightsisters were intriguing, but it is the imposing monolith of Savage Opress that beckons my imagination. And from what I have heard from those fortunate enough to see this arc in it's entirety, I believe my anticipation is duly felt.