Review: “The Clone Wars” TV series – Better Than Expected, Still Not Great

Geek Culture

I was completely prepared to hate the new "Clone Wars" TV series, but while it’s in no danger of making its way onto anyone’s list of great sci-fi shows, it’s not so bad. I haven’t seen the movie the series extends, but read fellow GeekDad Vincent Janoski’s review, and based on that I think the series is somewhat better.

The bad: Anakin’s too-cute padawan Ahsoka Tano is still around, and just as annoying. Worse, the preview for the third episode indicates it has, and it pains me a bit to write this, Jar-Jar Binks in it.

The good: The animation is good, and from all indications exactly like the movie. Because of the half-hour format, each story has to be pretty tight; the first two episodes were self-contained, neither referencing the other at all. And the voice talent is pretty good, even if the clone troopers’ British accents sound a bit off to my ear. EDIT: The clone troopers’ accent is meant to be New Zealand, not British. Thanks to CoffeeJedi and Chris Nixon for the correction.

Any animated TV series is only as good as its writing, and, if the first two episodes are any indication, the writing for "The Clone Wars" is decent, though unspectacular. The first episode dealt with Yoda and a bunch of clone troopers being pursued by hordes of battle droids; while the story was pretty basic, it did allow Yoda the chance to kick a lot of droid butt, with his lightsaber and his force powers. The second episode had a better story, with the Separatists having created a new energy weapon (which postshadows, for lack of a word with the right meaning, the Death Star’s planet-busting beam), and Jedi Master Plo Koon and several clones trying to survive long enough in an escape pod for Anakin and Ahsoka to rescue them.

I intend to keep watching it, and to let my kids watch it. They definitely liked it better than I did, which fits with everything I’ve heard about the movie. Of course, I know that watching it will lead to more requests for related merchandise, but what can we geek parents do? If we want our kids to grow up to be geeks—and which of us doesn’t?—there are some things we must tolerate along the way.

Two new episodes of "The Clone Wars" air on The Cartoon Network Fridays at 9pm Eastern/Pacific. Jar-Jar Binks will be in the first episode this coming Friday. You’ve been warned.

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