Grumpy Bird’s Random Thoughts on Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Star Wars has been on my mind a lot lately. There are two main reasons of this. One is I have been listening to the podcast Star Wars Minute which spends about fifteen minutes talking about each and every minute of Star Wars. It sounds insane, but it is really entertaining and actually not as scary as you might think. I’ve laughed out loud a lot while listening.

Another reason is I finished watching season five of the Star Wars: Clone Wars cartoon. This is another thing which is much better than I thought it would be. I was, and remain, very underwhelmed with the prequels. That said I loved the Genndy Tartakovsky cartoon that came out in the early 2000s. Hearing that they were “replacing” that cartoon with a CG movie was an automatic minus, because I am too judgmental about weird things like comics and movies. Also, I heard the film that launched Clone Wars was not so good.

Then a few years later I started hearing rumblings that the show was actually pretty good. I gave it a chance and was pleasantly surprised. It isn’t a perfect show. It has issues and disappointments. The major disappointment is aspects of the source material. Some of this is just nitpicky like my not enjoying the presence of R2D2 and C3P0 in the prequels. Other parts hurt the storytelling. The most common foes are the droid army. The movies never treat them as a serious threat. This show continues that. For the main threat to be bumbling and not a threat hurts the tension that a war story is supposed to have.

Maybe that is more to do with my being in my late twenties when I started the show and in my thirties now. Maybe little kids don’t mind that the main droids are shown as hopelessly ineffective. I don’t know any little kids I can ask about it. I do remember that when I was a wee lad Star Scream and Cobra Commandeer were not the most effective villains, but they had an air of ruthlessness to them that made them feel like a threat even if they never succeeded at anything. I feel the droids are lacking the mystique.

 

So, I might be too old. Also, I think the show might not want to target itself at a little kid audience. There is a part of the show that might be its most interesting aspect that it never directly addresses. It hints about and suggests, but in such a way that I often think I might be reading into things. I don’t have anyone around who is also  watching this show, so I could never ask. But, hey, maybe that’s why I have a blog. Anyway, the interesting aspect is that the heroes of the show, the Jedi, the Clone Troopers, all the characters that we are supposed to root for: they are the villains of the Star Wars Universe. The bad guys they are fighting with: that is the seeds of the rebellion. Every victory for our main characters is a victory for the empire. Doesn’t matter if it is Anakin, clone troopers, Obi Wan or even Yoda. They are all working for the increasing power of the empire. The implications of that are fascinating to me, especially since the show does often follow the typical kids show guidelines of how to depict good and evil. With so many of the episodes I just kept thinking that the audience is being set up to root for the villains.

But it is a kid show, so they can never bring up those most interesting aspects. It can never be really explored or addressed. It just dances around the edges. I can’t help but think if they could address the moral grays of  this show it could be one of the greatest sic-fi projects out there. I’m talking first few seasons of Battlestar Galactica good. But the target audience really prohibits having that kind of discussion through the show.

 

I’m sure the writers know what they are doing, but is this a part of the discussion about the show? (That can be one of the hardest parts about living in another country is it is hard to find people who like to discuss the particulars of the same ridiculous interests you have. For all I know the other fans of this show have active discussions about this way too often.)


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