Why Aren’t You Watching Clone Wars?

Star Wars' animated spin-off, Clone Wars, isn't enjoying the success it should. And Bryan wants to know why...

Star Wars: Clone Wars

I’ve come here to ask why you’re not watching Clone Wars. I know some of you, beyond my comprehension, don’t like the prequel trilogy and some of you even resent George Lucas.

I’m here to tell you it’s passé to dislike the prequels and the Clone Wars cartoons and the great Bearded One. It’s cool again to like Star Wars (though the really cool kids never stopped and never chose between trilogies).

Remember in 1987 and you were out on the playground and none of the other kids understood your deep and gorgeous thirst for Star Wars and somehow thought less of you for it, but you knew you were right?  That’s what it’s like all over again, except we’re all older and inherently more geeky. Next year marks the tenth anniversary of Phantom Menace (a sorely underrated classic, no lie) and once again we have a Star Wars cartoon series to sate that dark thirst for more Star Wars.

But instead of Ewoks or Droids, we have Clone Wars.

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And it’s something we should be thankful for.

Ever since Luke Skywalker naively asked Obi-Wan, “You fought in the Clone Wars?” most of us have been dying to see that war. “If the war that defeated the Empire was this bad-ass, the war that ended the Jedi must be epic beyond all reason,” I used to tell myself.  And now, thanks to George Lucas and his 3D animation team and stable of fantastic writers (including Kevin Rubio and Paul Dini) we finally have an inkling of how epic this war truly was.

I mean, let’s be honest, as awesome as it was to see a hundred Jedi flare up their lightsabers around the arena on Geonosis and tear the place apart with the aid of the mysteriously acquired Clone Army, it was simply the spark that started an intense, explosive conflict.  And as breathtaking as it was to watch that final, desperate battle over Coruscant after Grievous’ daring maneuver to kidnap the Chancellor, we were watching the close of a war we never saw.

Clone Wars fills in that gap. I’ll admit, I wasn’t completely sold after the theatrical Clone Wars kick-off. I enjoyed it, but there was something missing that I wasn’t able to put my finger on until I had watched the first few episodes of the show. The problem?  It’s a Saturday matinee (or Friday night in this case) serial in every sense of the word and it needs those carefully placed pauses and cliffhangers for the structure to work. Scotch taping three episodes together doesn’t give it the air it needs to breath.

Now that the show is on the air on a regular basis (9 episodes and counting) we’ve been shown how the series works. And I’m here to tell you, it’s bloody wonderful. In the way the prequels added nuance and meaning to the classic trilogy, the Clone Wars adds it to the prequels in a fashion that has made even prequel-bashers I’ve talked to admit to liking the prequels more than ever. They still don’t like them as much as they should, but it’s a start.

My advice to you is to start watching with Friday’s episode. It’s called “The Lair of Grievous” and it’s about Kit Fisto and his former Mon Calamari padawan finding themselves in Grievous’ lair and it looks to be dark and thrilling and fantastic. (Here’s the trailer.)  I can practically guarantee that, after a few episodes, you’ll want to watch the prequels again and when you do, you’re in for a pleasant surprise.

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Bryan Young is a regular contributor to Huffington Post and writes about Clone Wars and other geekiness at Big Shiny Robot.

[He’s also a film producer  – ED]