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Series Overview

Image     Star Wars: Clone Wars, a "micro-series" consisting of 20 three-minute animated shorts, debuted on Cartoon Network Friday, November 7, 2003. The first 10 chapters aired weekdays at 8 p.m. from November 7-20, 2003, and the next 10 episodes will air from March 26-April 8, 2004.

     The series continues the saga where the live action feature film Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones left off – at the beginning of the Clone Wars, an epic civil war that pits the old Republic against a vast separatist movement led by the forces of evil. As Clone Wars unfolds, the valiant Jedi Knights lead the Republic’s Clone Army against both familiar and new adversaries across the galaxy.

     Anakin Skywalker, Mace Windu and Obi-Wan Kenobi are among the characters appearing in the first 10 chapters of Star Wars: Clone Wars. Kit Fisto, a Jedi who leads a special aquatic unit of Clone Troopers, leads an amphibious assault on the water planet of Mon Calamari. Count Dooku – the leader of the Separatist movement – also appears, joined by a fierce female warrior trained in the ways of the Sith. The action takes place on planets including Coruscant, Muunilist, Mon Calamari and Rattatak.

     Star Wars: Clone Wars is being produced at Cartoon Network Studios by a team led by Genndy Tartakovsky, the creator of Samurai Jack and Dexter’s Laboratory. “It certainly fulfills one of my dreams to work on a project like Star Wars that is so thoroughly established it has become a part of our culture, “ said Tartakovsky. “It’s an awesome assignment and I’m really honored to be a contributor to the Star Wars legacy.”

     “Genndy Tartakovsky and the team at Cartoon Network are tops in their field,” said Howard Roffman, president of Lucas Licensing. “Their work on Samurai Jack shows that they can tell an epic story in a unique way, lavishing equal attention on dramatic battle scenes as well as the dramatic development of the characters.”

 

Broadcast Schedule

Below is the current broadcast schedule. All times listed are Eastern/Pacific.

Date
Time
#
Title
Friday, March 26
8:00 PM
1-5
Chapters One through Five
Friday, March 26
9:00 PM
6-10
Chapters Six through Ten
Friday, March 26
9:30 PM
11
Monday, March 29
8:00 PM
12
Tuesday, March 30
8:00 PM
13
Wednesday, March 31
8:00 PM
14
Thursday, April 1
8:00 PM
15
Friday, April 2
8:00 PM
16
Monday, April 5
8:00 PM
17
Tuesday, April 6
8:00 PM
18
Wednesday, April 7
8:00 PM
19
Thursday, April 8
8:00 PM
20
Friday, April 9
9:00PM
11-20
Chapters Eleven through Twenty
Saturday, April 10
9:00PM
1-5
Chapters One through Five
Saturday, April 10
10:00PM
6-10
Chapters Six through Ten
Saturday, April 10
11:00PM
11-15
Chapters Eleven through Fifteen
Saturday, April 10
12:00AM
16-20
Chapters Sixteen through Twenty

 

Toon Zone Advance Review: Chapters 1-10

Written by Brian Cruz on October 17, 2003

Image     "Like fire across the galaxy, the clone wars spread…"

     So begins Yoda’s narration in the first chapter of Star Wars: Clone Wars, the highly-anticipated series of three-minute shorts from Cartoon Network and Lucasfilm. I had the pleasure of attending a preview screening of the first five Clone Wars episodes earlier this week in Manhattan, and while I’m far from being a hardcore Star Wars fanatic, hopefully I can give you an idea of what to expect from this series.

     If you've read the Clone Wars episode summaries, you already know pretty much everything about the plot. The first episode sets the stage for the rest of the series, giving us a glimpse of various battles taking place throughout the galaxy. During a meeting between Obi-Wan, Anakin, Yoda and Chancellor Palpatine, Anakin is given his first command. He bids farewell to Padme in a nicely done, dialogue-free scene, and then the action begins. Chapter Two gives us our first battle sequences, with Anakin commanding a fleet in orbit around Muunilinst while ARC troopers crash-land onto the surface. Anakin performs well, despite the reservations expressed by Obi-Wan before the battle. Chapter Three is almost entirely free of dialogue, following the movement of the ARC Troopers as they begin an urban assault. The troopers function much like a military commando unit, using hand signals to communicate as they fight their way through the droid army. Chapter Four is our introduction to Durge, the bounty hunter sent by Count Dooku to lead the battle against the Republic. Then Chapter Five abruptly changes the focus of the action, shifting to Jedi Kit Fisko’s underwater battle on the planet Mon Calamari. Yes, light-sabers work underwater!

     The three-minute format is a mixed bag. There’s no denying that each installment is packed with a great deal of story and action, but a 24-hour break between each chapter is certain to cause frustration. However, I must admit that viewing five episodes in a row, as I did, was a bit overwhelming. I had to stay for a second screening in order to fully absorb everything I saw. Being able to watch each chapter two or three times before moving on to the next might actually be a blessing, though I wouldn’t be surprised if some people decide to wait for a marathon screening instead.

     The animation and character designs are very similar to those in Samurai Jack, which is no surprise considering that Samurai Jack-creator Genndy Tartakovsky is the producer/director of Clone Wars. If you’re already familiar with Samurai Jack, you should have no problem adjusting to the unique animation style employed in Clone Wars. But if you’re new to Genndy’s style, you may have trouble adjusting. Do yourself a favor and watch a 22-minute Samurai Jack episode before you pass judgment on a first 3-minute Clone Wars. Unlike Samurai Jack, Clone Wars incorporates a fair amount of 3-D animation. Mixing 2-D and 3-D elements is always a difficult task, but I thought that it was pulled off perfectly here: it's done about as well as on Futurama, and much better than on Duck Dodgers.

     Clone Wars does a great job of capturing the Star Wars feel. Everything from the establishing shots, sound effects, and even the scene transitions (the famous wipes) feel authentic. I especially want to praise the sound design, which is every bit as good as one of the Star Wars features; close your eyes and you can’t tell the difference (allowing for the differences between the stereo presentation on TV and the digital surround sound of the features, of course). The authenticity of the audio can be attributed to the fact that the sound mix was created at the Skywalker Ranch using authentic Star Wars sound effects and musical cues. Details like that put Clone Wars well ahead of any animated adaptations that have been done before.

     The series is also similar to Star Wars in the way it handles violence. People are certainly dying when their ships explode or when they’re shot at, but there is no blood or guts to be found. The series should be safe for kids over 8, which should not be taken as implying that it is aimed at them. Star Wars has always been an all-ages adventure reminiscent of classic movie serials, and Clone Wars fits the mold perfectly (or even more so, considering the serialized format).

     That’s not to say that everything about Clone Wars is perfect. As much as I enjoy Samurai Jack, I can’t help but feel that the character designs used here are too simplistic and angular. I got used to it quickly, but I found myself wondering how the series would look in a different style. Scenes that featured multiple characters and fast movement looked wonderful, but some of the more static scenes seemed slightly lifeless. The series so far has a very bright feel, and I hope that future installments incorporate more darkness and shadows. The voice acting is hard to judge because dialogue is kept to a minimum. Anakin had only one line of dialogue that I can remember in the first five episodes, and it was delivered in a rather wooden and lifeless manner. But since that matches the live-action version perfectly, maybe it’s not actually a criticism.

     Overall, Clone Wars is a very satifying and highly enjoyable series. The first five episodes left me eagerly anticipating the next fifteen. It's a true mini-epic that should not be missed.

 

Toon Zone Advance Reviews: Chapters 11-20

Three Toon Zone crew members were able to screen advance copies of Clone Wars, Chapters 11-20. Click on the links below to open thier reviews in a new window.

 

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STAR WARS: CLONE WARS is TM & (c) 2003 Cartoon Network (c) 2003 Lucasfilm, Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.