Star Wars: The Next Generation
Star Wars on TV
For those of my generation (what JimmyMac often calls, “The Star Wars Generation”), between the Star Wars films and after the original trilogy had finished, virtually the only way a fan could get his fix was to watch one of the specials or cartoon series on television. In a world decades away from the Information Age, children learned to schedule their time around these somewhat rare opportunities to revisit that galaxy far, far away. While their parents were sometimes confused by the intricacies of the developing technology of video cassette recorders, their children became adept at setting the timers on the family VCRs and programming them to record these shows so they could be watched over and over.
And watch them, we did. Repeatedly. I wore out my copies of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back as well as E.T. and Friends, the CBS special from 1982. Those that survived, however, offered me an opportunity to introduce these classic elements of Star Wars to my own children many years later.
Both of my children were born a couple weeks after the initial releases of the first prequel movies. By the time they could comprehend what was happening on the television screen, we already owned The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones on DVD, so the dearth of Star Wars content I had known as a child never affected them. But I had some of these treasures from my childhood available for them to watch whenever I wanted to introduce another aspect of Star Wars to them.
As they became enamored with the brief Clone Wars clips which aired on Cartoon Network before the release of Revenge of the Sith, I introduced them to the Droids and Ewoks cartoons that were released on DVD in 2004. They loved watching them. Their interest prompted me to pull out Dad’s old Betamax player and digitize some of the other episodes of the Nelvana cartoons so they could watch them, as well. As the excitement surrounding Star Wars: The Clone Wars grew, I made a DVD for them with more episodes of both shows. They became acquainted with Thall Joben, Jord Dusat, and Kea Moll. They laughed at the antics of the Ewoks. They were ready for more cartoon adventures in the Star Wars universe when August rolled out the theatrical release of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the subsequent start to the five-season series on Cartoon Network.
Just like the days of my own childhood, my children would plan their activities around watching The Clone Wars on Friday nights. They loved meeting new characters and wondering how they would fit into the larger story of Star Wars. Every season premier was a big event in our home, giving us reason to drink Ahsoka Cola and Yoda Soda while munching on Clone Cookies in front of the television for thirty minutes as a family. We travelled to Dallas to meet the voice actors behind their favorite characters. We collected toys, books, games, and artwork. While the movies were the foundation of my Star Wars fanaticism, this new animated series quickly became the bedrock of theirs.
Our conversations on car rides often revolve around unfinished stories and themes from these television shows. The tones of my daughter singing “The Fate of Ahsoka” (her favorite Star Wars character by far) by High Adventure can be heard throughout the house as she spontaneously erupts in song any given afternoon. My son continues to reenact battles between heroes and villains from this series alone or with his friends.
Don’t underestimate the power of television to instill fandom in the next generation.