Monthly Archives: September 2011

The Clone Wars Season Three Retrospective

No animated show may benefit more from the saturation of HDTVs and Blu-ray players then Star Wars: The Clone Wars.  Season Three saw a fully matured animation style that delivered some of the most breathtaking animated visuals on par with anything seen in an animated feature film.

My mouth absolutely dropped during the season premier when Asajj walked into the Clone DNA chamber, it was a photo realistic shot.  Just incredible work by Joel Aron and the visual effects crew on TCW.

The animation wasn’t the only thing that took a major step forward in Season Three, we saw a transition into more linear storytelling and the second half of the season saw some absolutely terrific story arcs.

The Best: “Great, kid. Don’t get cocky.”

Witches of the Mist (3.14):

The Nightsister’s Trilogy will always hold a special place in my heart because my wife and I were able to attend one of the theatrical screenings, but taking a look back at the episodes all these months later it still is clear to me that this trilogy and this episode in particular is probably my favorite of the entire series.

The Empire Strikes Back is probably my favorite Star Wars film and the favorite of many fans and one of the best parts of that movie is Yoda’s training of Luke on Dagobah.  In Witches of the Mist we get the awesome converse to those scenes with the Dark Side training of Savage Opress by Count Dooku on Serrano.

If that was the most memorable scene in the episode it would still be awesome, but we also got the Republic Commando Delta Squad cameo, the awesome platform battle in the Toydarian throne room, the Dark Side brawl between Dooku, Ventress, and Opress, the battle between Obi-Wan, Anakin and Opress, and the cherry on top of the Sundae the big reveal that Darth Maul is still alive.

The Nightsisters Trilogy culminating in this episode was one of the most authentic feeling Star Wars stories anywhere in the EU or in this show.  I can’t wait for the Blu-rays to come out in October so I can experience this again in glorious High-Definition.

ARC Troopers (3.02):

I love the visuals of Kamino both in Attack of the Clone and in the two premier episodes for Season Three.  The return of Clone Troopers Echo and Fives, the inclusion of ARC Troopers, and the Battle of Kamino was lots of fun.  I particularly liked the Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea inspired Separatist vessels and the aqua-droids.

I am probably in the minority, but I found the character of 99 to be over the top.  He is a very noble character and promotes a great message about not only the capabilities of those with handicaps but how we should view them.  The way the character was drawn and portrayed however seemed a little too Igor-ish.

This episode did serve to get my hopes up pretty high for the rest of Season Three, if only they hadn’t taken the political detours that followed this one.  Ooof, but we will get to that in a second.

Altar of Mortis (3.16):

I may not know what to make of the Mortis Trilogy as a whole and how it fits into the life of Anakin Skywalker and the Star Wars continuity; however that doesn’t take away from the quality of the story telling.  The Mortis Trilogy has some of the most dramatic visuals and richest voice acting that we have seen in the series.

One of my favorite scenes in the series is Dark Side infected Ahsoka siding with the Son and confronting Obi-Wan and Anakin.  Awesome!

Honorable Mentions:

There are a number of great and some neat episodes in Season Three, the Citadel Trilogy which featured Captain Tarkin was great popcorn fun, the appearance of Chewie in the two-part season finale was a nice touch, but one episode that I think gets lost because it was a stand-alone was Assassin (3.07).  In Assassin we have Ahsoka having Force visions and acting as Padme’s Jedi secret service detail.  We have Aurra Sing attempting to assassinate Padme, and we get a nice trip to the planet Alderaan.

The Worst: “I have a really bad feeling about this.”

I try not to be a negative person and I recently posted a rather long winded defense of the TCW Mandalorian story line, however I can’t be so kind this time.

Corruption ( 3.05):

If you have watched the recent SyFy channel version of Battle Star Galactica, then you are used to seeing a TV show were every other word is Frak.  While in this episode it seemed like every other word was Corruption.  Talk about beating a dead Tauntaun.

This episode revolved around smugglers bringing in tea to Mandalore, then diluting said tea with a toxic chemical (Slabin) and then giving it to school kids which made them ill.  Of course the meddlesome Senator Amidala has to investigate wither her new Cagney & Lacey partner, Duchess Satine.

Why the heck would the smugglers not just dilute the beverage with water instead of a potentially harmful chemical?  Someone needs to explain that to me.  This just seemed like a poorly thought out plot to introduce the concept of corruption on Mandalore.

Pursuit of Peace (3.11):

You can’t keep a good Rodian down, or in this case dead.  In a timeline jumping episode we see the return of the dead Senator Onaconda Farr.  Honestly besides a brief speeder bike chase I can’t think of anything memorable about this episode.

The Academy (3.06):

Ahsoka teaching Mandolorian School kids, who go all Scooby Squad (Scooby begat Buffy, Buffy Begat Korkie).  Korkie and his pals investigate Prime Minster Almec and his nefarious ties to the underworld.

This one wasn’t as bad as Corruption, but I view this episode as a missed opportunity.  There are some scenes and some dialogue which seem to foreshadow a dark and even villainous turn for Duchess Satine.  I think it would have been much more interesting for her character and her relationship with Obi-Wan if Satine was behind the corruption.  In the end, the moral of the story is that Satine needs much better Human Resources personnel, because it seems like everyone she hires is gunning for her.

That is it for this week and wraps up our look back at the first three season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.  Get ready for the Season Four premier tomorrow night on Cartoon Network at 8 P.M.

~Pete

Interviews Spectacular! – SWR #14

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Here’s our special interview show from Dragon Con!

We talked to Ashley Eckstien about Ahsoka Tano’s progression in the Clone Wars as well as the booming success of Her Universe.

We also interviewed Sam Witwer. He was kind enough to lead us outside of the autograph hall where we could talk with him in a much less hectic environment. We talked about his role as Starkiller, Davis Bloom, and now Aiden on Being Human.

Sam Huntington… was awesome! We had a great time talking about all things Fanboys, Being Human, and so much more!

Tom Kane, aka Yoda on the Clone Wars, was also quite nice, and had some very interesting things to say about voicing Yoda!

And last but not least Temuera Morrison! Jango Fett belting out a musical number… what more could you ask for?

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The Clone Wars Season Two Retrospective

You need to stand before you can walk; you need to walk before you can run.  Season One of The Clone Wars was very much the show finding its legs to stand.  Developing character models and animation techniques, actors were getting used to characters, and writers striking a difficult balance of appealing to both kids and adults, all while being guided by the stories that George Lucas wanted to tell.

Season Two was where the show really began to pick up some steam; there are very few bad episodes in Season Two.  Generally speaking, I think Season Two was consistently good, but there are a lot of episodes that I like fairly equally, it was hard picking a top and bottom three.

The Best: “Great, kid. Don’t get cocky.”

Landing at Point Rain (2.05):

Now this is what I am talking about, when I think of the Clone Wars I think of the battle on the front lines.  Point Rain was a lot of fun, we have three different Jedi Generals, Ki-Adi-Mundi,  Anakin, and Obi-Wan lead a three pronged insertion onto Geonosis to attack and destroy the droid factory.  My favorite part of the episode was the touch of humor at the end with Ki-Adi one upping both Ahsoka and Anakin.  65! Suck it Separatists!

Lethal Trackdown (2.22):

Season Two really ended on a fun note.  I like the conflicted young Boba Fett.  I thought it was hilarious that Hondo has had enough interactions with the Jedi for one season, and is basically telling Aurra Sing to have fun with that.

The Deserter (2.10):

Bar none, The Deserter is one of my favorite episodes of TCW and one of my favorite Star Wars stories.  I am fascinated by the idea of a clone army.  The moral issues that cloning raises for the Jedi and the rest of the Republic, and for the issues it raises within the clones themselves.  How do the clones view themselves? How do they form their own individual identities and personalities? How do they view themselves and how do they view the Republic that they serve? In Karen Traviss’ Republic Commando novels she introduced Mandalorian training Sergeants that not only instilled the martial training that was necessary, but they also gave their clones access to Mandalorian culture and offered a sense of belonging and a moral code that goes beyond orders and flash learning.  How do clones who are not so fortunate adjust to life?  Do the clones worry about their future and what will happen after the war ends?

In this episode we meet Cut Laquane, his Twi’lek wife Suu and Cut’s two adopted kids.  Cut presents Captain Rex with a different perspective on the war and life as a clone.  I have a feeling the experience of meeting and debating with Cut will have a strong influence on how Rex’s views may change during the remainder of the series.  We know we are getting some more Rex focused stories in Season Four, and I have to believe that Rex will have an important choice or sacrifice to make by the times the series ends.

The Mandalore Plot (2.12):

Too many episodes I liked to pick just three, but this may be my most controversial pick.  You will hardly find a bigger fan of the Mandalorian culture or Boba Fett then me.  I was predisposed to have a fanboy freak out with this episode, however looking back with some perspective makes this one of my favorites from Season Two.

The issue of Mandalorian continuity probably caused the biggest conniption fit in fandom when the rumors first started spreading about Karen Traviss’ leaving the Star Wars franchise, resulting in the cancellation of two books (Boba Fett Stand-alone and Imperial Commando II).  When this show aired people freaked, pacifist Mandalorians, George Lucas had lost his mind.  Ok, everyone step back from the ledge.

This episode introduced Duchess Satine Kryze ruler of Mandalore and Pre Vizsla, Governor of Concordia and Commander of Death Watch.  Vizsla, voiced by Jon Favreau, was a very cool new character and villain.  The black, samurai sword like lightsaber is so wizard (That one’s for you Ani).  Satine is a character that grows on you.  The concept of Obi-Wan having an intimate relationship is an idea that had been explored in the EU, but this was the first time it had been explored on screen.  This relationship is explored in the other Mandalorian episodes but it first appears here.  Satine is an interesting parallel to Padme, both were rulers of a world, both are strong female characters prone to taking action, and both fell in love with a Jedi in spite of knowing the rules that forbade it.  It is clear that Obi-Wan loved and probably still loves Satine, but unlike Anakin, he is the master of his emotions and is not ruled by them.  Perhaps if Anakin was less self centered and more open and honest with his Master, guidance and even acceptance may have been found.  For the “chosen one” I think the Jedi might have bent the rules, after all they do it for the Cerean reproductive issue.  It’s not the attachment to Padme that is Anakin’s problem, it’s the fear of loss that stems from the loss of his mother and was transferred onto Padme, Anakin would keep a psychologist busy for decades.

This episode dealt with very mature issues, not only do we have the terrorism of Death Watch, but we also have a suicide.  Pretty tough stuff for some of the younger kids in the audience to deal with, but very powerful story telling.

The capture of Obi-Wan is a nice call back to Episode II, and the rescue by Satine has a very Anakin-Padme on Geonosis feel to it.

The only thing I didn’t really like about this episode was the uniformity of the Death Watch Mandalorian armor, but that is the legacy of reading so much EU with the rainbow of beskar’gam that we get there.

It seems pretty obvious that the Mandalorian Civil War that is eluded too and the fragile façade of pacifism that has been erected is only a temporary thing for Mandalore.  That is why Satine is so vehement in her quest for peace and neutrality, because she knows how fragile this peace is.

I firmly believe that before TCW series ends we see a return to Mandalore for the fall of Satine’s government, but I don’t think we see a successful Death Watch rise in its place, but a third faction restoring the Mandalorians closer to the EU version of the culture and planet.

Honorable mentions:  Holocron Heist (2.01) was fun; Bane is a good villain and who is cooler then Jocasta Nu?  As an EU fan I loved the Bariss Offee (2.06-2.08) episodes, the Medstar Duology is a very underrated set of books.  Lightsaber Lost (2.11) had its moments; I really dug Tera Sinube and his cane/lightsaber.  Cat and Mouse (2.16) was a very cool one off story, feels like Hunt for Red October.  Bounty Hunters (2.17) featured some cool new bounty hunter characters particularly Sugi and Embo.  Let us not forget about the Zillo Beast, I feel like playing Rampage all of the sudden.

The Worst: “I have a really bad feeling about this.”

Senate Murders (2.15):

Lt. Tan Divo really isn’t my cup of tea and Senator Lolo doesn’t make my favorite character list either. Frankly, the only memorable thing for me from this episode is the cool looking Senate Guards who got the full cape and plume treatment for the first time.  I love the Senate Guards both in the Prequels and in this series as precursors to the Imperial Royal Guards.

Senate Spy (2.04):

Padme has a special friend who is not Anakin.  Well there goes the image of a virginally pure Padme.

So Anakin basically condemns Senator Clovis to death by the hands of his Neimodian friends.  That is a pretty un-Jedi thing to do.  Clovis should have been brought back to Coruscant to stand trial for treason.  I wonder if Padme ever thinks about the fact that Anakin basically killed her ex even though that ex saved her life.

Children of the Force (2.03):

On the whole I actually like Children of the Force, it is certainly interesting to see Anakin going to Mustafar before Episode III and interesting to see that it is a go to hideout location for Palpatine, after all, he sends the Separatist Council there in Episode III.

What I didn’t like was the ending of the Episode.  It would have opened up much more interesting story telling potential down the road if Palpatine’s surgical procedure went to completion on the kids and they were rescued, or if they were not successfully rescued at all and they could be brought back in the Expanded Universe later as Dark Side operatives.

What did you think of TCW Season Two?  Leave a comment below and let us know!

Come back next week for our retrospective on Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Season Three.

~Pete

Dragon* Con! Monday – SWR #13

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Our recap episode of Dragon* Con on Monday!

Monday started for us with the Music and Sounds of Star Wars panel! The panelists discussed a number of sounds in the original trilogy, including the Wilhelm scream, the different ways lightsaber sounds were made, etc. Riley and I sat next to Tracy of Club Jade and enjoyed some snark and some Star Wars! We also met Kelly of Big Shiny Robot! (Bryan Young of Big Shiny Robot was one of the panelists.)

Afterwords we attended a Battlestar Galactica panel called “On Your Feet Nuggets!” which was quite funny. Edward James Olmos led the crowd in his “So Say We All!” cry! (And we got it recorded this time!!) This is also where we said goodbye to Nanci, Lane and Shannon. =(

Then we went to the Order 66 panel, which was a sort of feedback panel for the Star Wars track of Dragon* Con. An after action review if you will. It was quite long, but very informative. I learned quite a bit about what being a member of staff at Dragon* Con would be like, and that most staff at Dragon* Con, even the security, are volunteers.

Afterwords I finished my walk through of the Marriott hotel. We also had, for the first time at Dragon*Con, time to browse for thirty minutes in the dealer’s hall! Yay! YAY!! Finally! Then we recorded our Monday recap episode.

I took various pictures of the hotel, the dealer’s room and Atlanta. I’ll put a few here, but look for a lot more on Facebook!

Below is the autograph hall (walk of fame) where the stars sat to sign autographs (or be interviewed) and take pictures with the fans.

Atlanta in the rain.

The dealer’s hall was amazing! I’m really glad we finally had time to browse if for a little while!

Our shirts that we bought at the con, my Her Universe wrist band, and our Club Jade wrist bands. Also our passes and 501st game badges.

This is our handy dandy bag that held our audio equipment! We had the recorder in it, and would pull out the mics when we interviewed someone or recorded a recap episode.

The Marriott hotel. It was quite amazing!

I hope you guys have enjoyed these daily recap episodes! We’ll have the interviews up soon, so look for them!

May the Force be with you!

- Bethany

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Dragon* Con! Sunday – SWR #12

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Our recap of Sunday at Dragon* Con!

Our day started out with the Mythology, Philosophy, and Truth of Star Wars panel! We had a good time listening to Timothy Zahn and Gary Kurtz discussing all things “myth” in Star Wars.

Then we went over to the Her Universe booth!

Riley and I separated and I did most of a video walkthrough of Dragon* Con that I hope turns out and he attended a Battlestar Galactica fan panel that had Michael Falkner in it! We would have loved to have been at The One Ring.net’s panel about the Hobbit but by the time we got there it was too full. =( So, we left for the other hotel (the Hilton) and conducted a few interviews that we’ll release later.

Afterwords, we sat in for Tom Merritt’s Frame Rate panel.

Next was Ask the Authors! That panel was hilariously fun! I know that I’m kind of commenting like “Oh, that panel was fun, so and so was nice, that other panel was fun…” but we plan on doing a recap episode of Dragon* Con and you can expect more detail there. =)

Hmm, I just realized that Riley and I haven’t taken any pictures of each other we’ve been so busy! =/

In line for the next panel.

After that we went to the Battlestar Galactica panel Sometimes You Gotta Roll a Hard Six! This panel was also fun (see, I’m doing it again..) and at the very end Edward James Olmos led the massive crowd in screaming “SO SAY WE ALL!!!” at the very end! It was quite electrifying to be a part of! We did record this panel, but we didn’t catch that part because the moderator had just wrapped up and finished the panel when Mr. Olmos lifted up his mic and commanded the audience into thunderous tribute to the series and to everyone in the panel!

Then! A random creature. What is it guys? I have a feeling I should know…. sooo tired now though….

We went to NSFW’s (New Show Full of Win, or New Sauce for the Webernets) live podcast episode, and we learned quite a bit watching how they conducted their live show and looking at their equipment afterwords.

Then, our wonderful mother picked us up and brought us dinner! We drove home and our doggy raced in as mad as a hatter running circles around me until I stopped, hugged, kissed, and patted her, and put her on my lap. Now I’ll sleep.

Remember, many Bothan’s were sleep-deprived to bring you this podcast!

- Bethany

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