"In short, the TV series in my opinion is among the best Star Wars I have seen outside of the feature films and it is much better than the animated feature. In fact there should be no worries for anyone who missed the feature film because in my opinion one does not necessarily have to be all that familiar with Star Wars in general to enjoy the show, which is suitable for adults too. I guess the only thing I cannot shake from my mind is a direct comparison between this and Paul Verhoeven’s 1990s CGI television series Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles though The Clone Wars offers storytelling potential the animated Starship Troopers TV series could not in that since the opposing sides are anthropomorphic in one way or another, it is easier to portray the opposing point of view in episodes and give viewers more backstory into the characters of Asajj Ventress, Count Dooku, General Grievous and even the battle droids. If we are going to get episodes that show the plight of the Clone Troopers, why not do an episode from the point of view of an ordinary Battle Droid? In Star Wars sometimes the droids are more human than the humans so perhaps this is not entirely out of the realm of possibility. So whether or not a character is human, alien, or mechanical or a bit of everything, it is a lot easier to relate to the Star Wars villains than it is the bugs of Starship Troopers."
"First the good news: "Clone Wars" -- the "Star Wars" animated series that amounts to an "interquel" between Episodes II and III -- is vastly superior to the advance theatrical movie. That's mostly because the half-hour episodes are so jam-packed with action the clunky dialogue flies by less obtrusively, and the irritating characters have less time to annoy. Those factors suggest the program should successfully scratch an itch for movie-deprived fans and yield dividends to Cartoon Network, even if the tone hews more closely to those born after "The Phantom Menace" premiered in 1999."
TVWeek.com talks sponsorships and the limited commercials of the premiere episode:
"As Yoda would put it: In the premiere of Cartoon Network’s “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” limited will commercials be.
The animated series from George Lucas launches this week, and EA Games and 20th Century Fox will be the lone sponsors. EA will be offering viewers a code to help them play its new game, SimCity Creator, and 20th will be running a trailer for its upcoming film “City of Ember,” starring Bill Murray and Tim Robbins."
UPDATE:Toon Zone thinks The Clone Wars series is off to a "strong start."
"Ultimately, I think this is a strong start to the series. You could make the argument this is money for old rope, but I think the production team have brought a fresh angle to the story. I'm sure some of the elements have appeared in novels and such, but Star Wars has really always been a visual experience. Obviously there's more episodes to come, but so far, Clone Wars starts its TV campaign with a good strategy."
TheLogBook.com has started an episode guide for TCW and the first entry centers on the theatrical release. Updates should show up on their main page on a weekly basis. (Thanks Philip!)
"Exactly what you expected, yet nothing like you've experienced before; The Clone Wars is an achievement on so many levels. Lucasfilm Animation sought to bring a big screen adventure to the small screen without sacrificing a thing. The result? A half-hour adventure that is guaranteed to leave loyal fans eagerly anticipating the next installment and bring new fans to the fold."
"Compared with last week's double-bill, it was a disappointing episode overall saved by the animation and the slow-to-show space battles... But if the show is to live up to its potential, the creators are going to have to work out how to make us care about the characters when they're not in danger of being blown up, shot down or any other form of being killed."
"Several times this episode evoked a specific and familiar Star Wars vibe, whether it be the shots of the Y-wings flying away from the camera or the cross-chatter between the pilots. There was also nice continuity with the prequels, as we saw that the clone medical station was under the command of a Kaminoan and echoed the look of the Kamino clone facility seen in Attack of the Clones (I think I just won the award for most use of the word "Clone" in a sentence)."
"All-in-all, I’m along for the ride. I know my Star Wars and want to know more, and that’s what it seems like this show is all about: Taking the lore and making it bigger. But the producers are going to need to re-evaluate their storytelling methods if they think the show is going to make any new fans of the property."
"After following the "Vector" arc in Knights of the Old Republic, I was quite sure I never wanted to see Scott Hepburn on a Star Wars comic again. Hepburn proves he can be adept with this universe in the right circumstances. My central qualm with his art before was an almost complete lack of order and structure. Now that Hepburn has the show as a references, he's able to instill some semblance of law to his exaggerated drawings, and his style is reigned in a bit.
Star Wars comics are increasingly becoming a valid outlet for fans disenfranchised by the more mainstream projects. The Clone Wars comic manages to outdo the source material, and in the process becomes one more oasis in a desert of dreck."
"I can't tell if Destroy Malevolence's "Greatest Hits Of George Lucas" - I'm not the only one who thought that the train sequence was reminiscent of Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom, right? - was what made it the most satisfying episode of the series so far, but I have to admit: there's just something perfectly Star Wars-ish about watching the heroes trying to rescue the kidnapped Princess - who fights back herself, of course - from the bad guys' new destructo space weapon."
"Ambush works as a great reintroduction to ‘franchise’ that will hopefully put paid to the perceived negativity surrounded the recent theatrical release. It’s worth pointing out that, if you haven't seen the recent cinema release, then you needn’t worry - there's no essential info from the ‘film’ needed. These episodes are clearly designed to be viewed as a single entity (though there will be ongoing story arcs) so don't worry about any 'story baggage'. You can catch this beauty on Sky Movies later this month but (looks around sheepishly) I recommend that you catch it by ‘other means’, you won't be disappointed."
"These scenes in the space debris are incredibly well realised and directed, with a real sense of tension as a handful of Clone Troopers and the sole Jedi are left to be picked of by ‘The Hunter’ – a ship manned by Battle Droids (looking not unlike miners with lamps on the heads) that tears apart the pods like a tin opener. There’s even a slightly horrific moment as Plo Koon and co. watch as another pod turns slowly around revealing the death inside with one sole trooper slumped in the window frame – half in his ship, the other half in space. Later, we even see some sucked out of their pods. Younger viewers may want to look away. (Not me though, I lurved it!)"
"There were certainly some stronger sequences here though. First off, it was very clever introducing the aforementioned railway system on the Malevolence. Star Wars has shown us plenty of huge ships, but nothing beyond an elevator to explain how people would get around them. And that railway was used for some good action sequences, including a tantalizing but too brief lightsaber duel between Obi-Wan and Grievous."
"So far, so good. I know many people felt burned by the movie, but that really wasn’t the series at its best. It’s no Batman: The Animated Series, but Star Wars: The Clone Wars is a good solid action adventure show that boasts decent writing, acceptable acting, and promises to actually add to the vast Star Wars canon. If you’re a fan, it’s at least worth a try."
UPDATE #7:WeAreMovieGeeks.com have been posting reviews for each of The Clone Wars episodes, and will continue to do so weekly. You can link to them below:
Den of Geek reviews "Shadow Of Malevolence" (Ep. #3): (Thanks Cameron!)
"Speaking of ‘only hope’, A New Hope gets referenced; much as last week’s gave more than a nod to The Empire Strikes Back. Visually, the aforementioned Y-Wings (or their prototypes) receive much screen time and the battle scenes evoke the ‘classic’ trilogy, along with: the ‘team talk’ at the start - very reminiscent of the Rebel Troops rally before their attack on Death Star; and lines like, “Cut the chatter” and “From a certain point of view”.'
Den of Geek also reviews "Destroy Melavolence" (Ep. #4): (Thanks Cameron!)
"The aforementioned visuals continue to impress but I’m already feeling a bit jaded about the ‘characters’ on show and this was made all the more obvious when we get a holo-glimpse of the rarely seen Jedi, Luminara Unduli; I wanted to see what she was up to, not these guys! But, this enjoyable mini-trilogy has come to an end and next week’s features none of the regulars as it concentrates on a troop of Clone Troopers. Some much needed fresh blood - as it were."
Den of Geek offers up one more TCW review with "Rookies" (Ep. #5):
"As usual, we are presented with some nice nods to the films: the station is almost exactly the same as the Detention Block from A New Hope; in said station there’s pin-ups of some Twi’lek ladies (though you have to look close mind!); there’s thermal detonators; an appearance of the ‘gonk’ droid; and a mention of liquid Tibanna (for those wondering – Cloud City is a Tibanna gas mining colony). But this is the first story so far that doesn’t rely on our previous cinematic Star Wars experiences - it’s an all new adventure with its own distinctive feel and I hope that the rest of the series takes its cue from this outstanding episode.
Sadly, we have to wait two weeks for the next installment (bloody Hallowe’en!) but the future looks fresh for The Clone Wars if they can produce a tale like this every few weeks."
"It's difficult to make individual characters out of identical clones, but the creators did a good job here, starting with the uniquely armored Cody and Rex. Some have wondered how we're supposed to root for characters we know turn on the Jedi eventually, but the sympathetic portrayal of the Clones adds to a more tragic overall landscape – Obi-Wan notes what a "good man" Cody (seen in Revenge of the Sith) is, and it's a nice touch of poignancy. Little kids can still just enjoy the action, but it's a smart little beat if you're looking for it.
That being said, this episode pointedly skewed older. The normal Battle Droids that can be so vexing were barely present, supplanted as the main threat by new Commando Battle Droids, who were sleeker and far more dangerous. These were emotionless killing machines that seemed genuinely threatening, rather than the goofy morons the regular Droids come off as – and yes, they spoke in a more menacing, robotic voice, which was far less annoying."
Wired.com talks about Clone evolution through the animated TV series: (Thanks "Master Devwi"!)
"Continually fleshing out the Lucasfilm multiverse meant giving everyone a reason for being. Counting "Rookies," we're only five episodes into the new Clone Wars TV series, but already at least two episodes have taken valuable air time to humanize the clones and explain, via Yoda in "Ambush" and Master Plo Koon in "Rising Malevolence," how each of them is different from the others.
And you thought stormtroopers were just target practice for Han Solo."
The article also proclaims: "Clone Wars is the best kids' show on television..."
"As with every episode of the show to date, it was flawed, but it was also different, and that counted for a lot. While we didn't see enough of the individual clones for them to be anything other than a collection of stereotypes (and, thanks to the voice acting of Dee Bradley Baker, a collection of stereotypes all with the same quasi-New Zealand flat voice, which didn't really help matters), there was enough potential to earn the goodwill to see the episode through relatively unscathed. If the show can build upon episodes like this, that show a smaller, more mundane and, yes, more realistic side to the war mixed in amongst the high adventure of last week's shenanigans, then the series as a whole may end up building up into the most satisfying of all of the Star Wars to date."
io9.com also takes a look at The Clone Wars expansion for Star Wars Miniatures: (via ClubJade.net)
"This Friday (Halloween!), the Clone Wars expansion for the Star Wars Miniatures Game will be released. All your favorite characters from the movie and TV series will be available, and they'll only be one inch tall. Want to pit the 501st against a horde of battle droids? Check out our preview gallery, with figures and full stats cards."
"Overall, Rookies, is another solid entry into The Clone Wars and is further cementing this film as the real deal for some time to come. This is a good first step for the Jedi less episodes as well, but I think we need to focus on a squad that gets lost in battle at some point to really hit the best story you can with the clones. If they even killed off the entire squad, it would make a hell of episode, but for now, there is already plenty of death and loss for these clones."
io9.com recaps/reviews "Downfall of a Droid" (Ep. #6)...and doesn't love it:
"There's no way around it; "Downfall Of A Droid" was pretty much a failure in nearly every way. We know that R2-D2 is in no danger thanks to his appearance in all of the movies that take place after the series, so it's hard to buy into any of the faux drama surrounding his disappearance, and Anakin's reaction - pitched somewhere between grief and guilt, I'd guess - is just as unconvincing; he just comes across as more of a d#$@ than usual (The underperforming replacement droid, meant to show how wonderful R2 really is, also stretches credulity; he doesn't know how to switch engines on? Really?). No wonder the show's creators added their version of Star Wars Techno to the dramatic sequences; how else would we know when we're supposed to care?"
Den of Geek reviews "Downfall of a Droid" (Ep. #6)...and is a bit more positive: (Thanks Cameron!)
"I wasn’t expecting much from this episode as I knew it was an Anakin/Ahsoka adventure but this appealed to me greatly. No real script gaffs (there are a few Battle Droid moments however) and the story is allowed to breathe as it forms the basis of an ongoing story. Of course, we all know that Artoo will be found, but how and when is undoubtedly worth tuning in for."
IGN reviews "Downfall of a Droid" (EP. #6) with a score of 7.2 out of 10:
"As it turned out, this was a bit of a "to be continued" storyline, as things ended with R2-D2 still trapped by Gha Nachkt and on his way to be turned over to Grievous. Though this episode wasn't thrilling, I continue to be glad this show is allowing storylines to be spread out over more than one episode."
The NY Daily News delves into The Clone Wars series and talks with Dave Filoni: (Thanks Michael!)
'"Looking back on the movie," said "Clone Wars" supervising director Dave Filoni, "while the tone of it was skewing younger, that was never really the intention."
Filoni, who was elevated from a brief stint working on the animated series "Avatar: The Last Airbender" to nab the coveted role of director of "The Clone Wars," felt the light tone was more about the writers finding the proper balance between the light and dark sides of "Star Wars."
"As we developed our dialogue with George [Lucas] in terms of how he wanted the story told, a lot of our instincts were to go very dark," the 34-year-old explained. "And he didn't really want it to go that dark."
As a result, the series intentionally moves back and forth, with light-and-fluffy faire mixed with darker, more intense stories."
Wired takes a look at "Commander Cody and the Lost Clone Wars Airmen": (via Starwars.com)
"Like every fourth kid in our city, (our son) dressed as Commander Cody for Halloween.
That night has turned our kid into a miniature cultural historian. The husband at the third house we visited had never heard of any Clone Commander Cody, but he immediately asked my boy if he knew Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, or if he'd seen Commando Cody. Alas, he had not."
Den of Geek reviews "Duel Of The Droids" (Ep. #7): (Thanks Cameron!)
"This two-parter makes a most engaging story. Although we know that Artoo is not going to be destroyed (or go missing) from the get-go, the tight pacing and direction take our minds off this fact with the visuals and set pieces entertaining the eye, diverting the mind. On a more serious aside, it also highlights Anakin’s petulance and non-Jedi traits."
"What a pleasant surprise. On the heels of a somewhat lackluster episode, the second part of this two-parter about R2-D2's abduction turned out to be one of the best episodes yet for the series, only surpassed by "Rookies" so far."
io9.com recaps / reviews "Duel of the Droids" (Ep. #7):
"Even more than last week's episode, this week's Clone Wars, "Duel Of The Droids," felt like it was a quiet reboot of the series - The animation seemed smoother (with the painterly touches and textures even more pronounced, and the characters less blocky and awkward), the incidental music more overwhelming - but at least it wasn't more of last week's ill-chosen techno - and the writing... well, much less annoying than last week, at least."
"Given all the slapstick humor and "Oh, Jar-Jar" eye-rolling from the other characters - "He was always such a misfit," as C3-P0 said during one of the times that they thought Jar-Jar was dead -it's clear that this episode was meant as a comedic breather between the kid version of sturm-und-drang from the other episodes, and on that level, it was probably a success; certainly, fans of the peculiar, unfunny Star Wars comedy wouldn't have been disappointed by Jar-Jar accidentally destroying his space ship, or the dumb evil droids falling for the old "hiding in a corner" escape trick. For everyone else, though, this was a half hour of throwaway television that didn't particularly excite or entertain. Better luck next time, I guess."
Den of Geek reviews "Bombad Jedi" (Ep. #8): (Thanks Cameron!)
"This episode will only give fuel to those who hated the prequels, as it concentrates on some of the less favourable aspects of The Phantom Menace and Attack Of The Clones and contains none of the visually pleasing sights or stout direction that I have become accustomed to over the past couple of months. I sincerely hope this is not the start of downward trend."
"In the end, I'm not too bothered by "Bombad Jedi." The biggest problem with the Battle Droids in most episodes is that their juvenile humor is inserted into the midst of otherwise tense or dark situations. Here, the creators of The Clone Wars were not hiding that they were making an episode meant to be extremely lighthearted and silly. For those who loathe Jar Jar, it's easy to skip his specific episodes if they're like this and don't tie in too much with the main characters… though we'll see how frequently Mr. Binks pops up on this show as time goes by."
io9.com recaps and gives a favorable review of "Cloak of Darkness" (Ep. #9):
"Everytime that the show is this good, I get optimistic -overly so, perhaps - that this is the sign of a new era where every episode moving forward will be this good, and everytime, I get disappointed. I should just be thankful for what I get, of course, but still; if every episode of Clone Wars managed to get the mix of influence and originality as right as this one did, then it'd be must-see TV. As it is, I'll just recommend that you all go download this when it appears on iTunes."
Den of Geek provides a SPOILER heavy review of "Cloak of Darkness" (Ep. #9): (Thanks Cameron!)
"So, a mixed bag this week in Cloak Of Darkness with the good just outweighing the bad, though there’s not really anything that’s “bad” here – just a little annoying. Most interesting is a line from Luminara who states that terror is not a weapon employed by the Jedi. I wonder who that remark was aimed at?"
Den of Geek asks "Why Aren't You Watching Clone Wars?":
"Now that the show is on the air on a regular basis (9 episodes and counting) we've been shown how the series works. And I'm here to tell you, it's bloody wonderful. In the way the prequels added nuance and meaning to the classic trilogy, the Clone Wars adds it to the prequels in a fashion that has made even prequel-bashers I've talked to admit to liking the prequels more than ever. They still don't like them as much as they should, but it's a start.
My advice to you is to start watching with Friday's episode. It's called "The Lair of Grievous" and it's about Kit Fisto and his former Mon Calamari padawan finding themselves in Grievous' lair and it looks to be dark and thrilling and fantastic. (Here's the trailer.) I can practically guarantee that, after a few episodes, you'll want to watch the prequels again and when you do, you're in for a pleasant surprise."
Den of Geek reviews "Lair of Grievous" (Ep. #10) - BEWARE OF SPOILERS IN THE REVIEW:
"So, another corker from The Clone Wars. The tone was spot on and the series seems to work best when it deals with the peripheral characters in the Star Wars galaxy (though they’re not peripheral in the war, of course) rather than concentrating on the more familiar names like Anakin and Obi Wan. Top marks to everyone involved and if I do have a negative point to make it’s that I have to wait ‘til 2009 before the next episode."
"This was one of those episodes that qualifies as "decent." Nothing outright bad about it, but nothing to really stand out either. Which is too bad, as there was potential here for something really cool."
UPDATE #24:BigShinyRobot.com has also been keeping up with reviews and previews of The Clone Wars.
"This episode had the best interplay we've had on the show so far between Anakin and Obi-Wan, the latter of whom hasn't really been that featured much up until now. On this episode however, there was a lot of time spent with the two, including the exciting way they dealt with a Gundark without having the help of a lightsaber, which ultimately involved some synchronized force-powered boulder throwing – Also, it was nice to see a Gundark in action, following Han Solo and Obi-Wan having both mentioned the creatures in the films."
"The banter between Obi-wan and Anakin was particularly well written and actually had me laughing out loud. Specifically, their exchange about Anakin being a Master of getting caught. The action was quite well put together in this episode as well, with the first third of it feeling very much like an adventure akin to the first forty minutes of Revenge of the Sith or Return of the Jedi."
Den of Geek reviews "Dooku Captured" (Ep. #11) with Spoilers: (Thanks Cameron!)
"Dooku Captured has a lot going for it (namely all the fun that the pirates have and Dooku’s characterization), so stick with it through the opening five minutes or so, it’s worth it."
"Great stuff, though. Like last week’s, this episode could have benefited from more action with the pirates but it’s a solid adventure nonetheless (even if it is Jar Jar who saves the day!). The Jedi leave the pirates with no recriminations or punishment but Kenobi leaves them with this warning: “Dooku doesn’t share our sense of honour and he knows where you live.” Sah-Nap!"
io9.com reviews/recaps "The Gungan General" (EP. #12):
"The real problem with the episode was that it went too broad, and as a result, didn't hold together well; especially problematic was the way in which the over-the-top slapstick of the Jar-Jar thread (which included him defeating the bad guys by literally falling all over them) tied in with the moderately more-straight Anakin/Obi-Wan plot, leaving you with the idea that the Jedi would've been better served to collapse and say "meesa sorry" a lot instead of their various unsuccessful attempts to escape captivity. It's a shame, because their section of the show worked, for the most part; seeing the strained, yet respectful, interaction between Dooku and the Jedi, and their escape plans, was the highlight of the show, and the kind of thing that I'd like to see more of in the show, a step outside of the binary Good Guy/Bad Guy thinking that the series often falls into."
IGN offers up their review of "The Gungan General" (EP. #12) as well:
"This was a very strange, disjointed episode – It felt like there were problems in the production or schedule, because things just felt off. First off, the episode began with Anakin and Obi-Wan having already been captured, because they'd been drugged. Huh? The end of the last episode had a funny little moment where Anakin and Obi-Wan realized their drinks were spiked, and in fact the final shot of that episode showed two of the pirates passing out, because the Jedi had managed to switch their drinks with them. So how did our heroes then get tricked after that? Showing them specifically get out of that scenario last week makes this a question well worth answering."
"The series continues, in its own way, to respectfully translate the Star Wars prequels to television, but in doing so, it amplifies its flaws as much as its strengths; yes, the show is technically impressive, and there are things about the technology/effects to marvel at each time you look at it... but it continually disappoints as the writing fails to come up to anywhere near the same quality as the animation. In order for the series to really click, they need to take a look at what works, storywise, and build on that. And, if all else fails, add some more French Jedi."
UPDATE #32: See below for links and excerpts from reviews of "Jedi Crash" (Ep. #13)...
"Speaking of Commander Bly, this right hand man to Aayla Secura is one of those who is personally responsible for killing her after Order 66 is declared in Revenge of the Sith - so seeing him serve as her loyal soldier in this episode has same chilling overtones. There was also a subtle and fun little nod to the future when Anakin was shown hooked up to medical equipment and his labored, mechanical-enhanced breathing could be heard through the apparatus."
"And just when your interest level is peaked to the max, the episode ends. Nooooo! It’s a two-parter (or maybe even more hopefully). Jedi Crash has delivered on all counts – great visuals, great characters and, at the heart of it, a questioning of the very principles the Jedi stand for; can you really be defenders of the peace brandishing a lightsaber? Brilliant stuff and part two can’t come quick enough."
"At the beginning of Jedi Crash, the viewer is thrust into swirling action. Super Battle Droids dive through the atmosphere; gunships roar; war ships lurch to and fro. Jedi Master Aayla Secura desperately needs reinforcement. They come, almost too late, from Anakin Skywalker and his battalion of clone troopers."
UPDATE #33: Links to, and excerpts from, reviews of "Defenders of Peace" (Ep. #14) below...
"This week on George Lucas Wants You To Learn That Fighting Is Awesome, war comes to Space Brigadoon, and Raccoon Ewoks discover that pacifism is for losers. Socially responsible television the way you like it!"
"The Clone Wars' creators might have bit off a bit more than they could chew on the thematic side with this episode. The core dilemma here involved the Lurmens and their refusal to fight, even as a Separatist force landed on their planet and clearly meant them harm. Concepts of maintaining a non-violent existence in the face of imminent danger were explored, and whether living a peaceful existence when endangered is brave or foolhardy – certainly some heady stuff for a mostly kid-oriented cartoon."
"I was, when I read the premise of Defenders of Peace, concerned that the showrunners would wind up treating the pacificism of the Lurmen as misguided or somehow cowardly. My lack of faith was unwarranted: more than any other episode thus far, Defenders of Peace allows for ambiguity."
"I really like how the writers seems to be relying on older war films and serials to guide them through this series in a really, really great way. They're able to mix humor for the kids (my boy was laughing hysterically at the antics of the droids) with classic film references and strong, well-animated action sequences for the adults like me.
The episodes are getting much more epic in scope as far as the wider galactic conflict is concerned and it's really working well for me. My favorite moment of this episode? The infiltration of the Separatist base under the cover of night. It was an incredibly well designed and laid out action sequence and it did all the cool stuff you love to watch Jedi and clones do."
"Not as good as the set-up and visually not as impressive, Defenders Of The Peace is an acceptable second part and full marks for trying to broach the notion of pacifism and the complexities that lie therein. Oh, and a gold star and a “see me after class” for whoever came up with the shot of Ahsoka downing two Battle Droids with her lightsaber - all in silhouette. Nice!"
Finally, Newsarama takes a look at the Kurosawa infulence behind "Defenders of Peace."
"Fans must remember one of Lucas’ biggest influences is the masterful director. The true first Star Wars film drew a lot of its inspiration from one of Kurosawa’s Shakespeare adaptations, The Hidden Fortress. For this episodes, Lucas and writer Henry Gilroy drew heavily the venerable director’s best known film, The Seven Samurai."
UPDATE #34: Links below to reviews of "Trespass" (Ep. #15)...
"This was a very cool episode, and no that wasn't a pun regarding the setting. "Trespass" told a taut, tension filled story with some interesting subtext that did a much better job dealing with issues of when it is and is not right to fight than last week's episode did, which attempted to be far more direct on a similar subject, but with less effective results."
"Yet again, the makers of The Clone Wars display that they can do decent scripts and thoughtful ideas whilst also brandishing fantastic set pieces and visuals, all to great effect. I must also congratulate them specifically on featuring Obi Wan and Anakin without any needless bickering - more of this, please. Oh yeah, and look out for Threepio piloting a speeder - in the background, look closely!"
"Overall, it was one of the better episodes of the series so far. The problem is that, at this point, that's beginning to look more like that's damning with faint praise. With little over a month of new episodes left, I'm sadly still waiting for this series to live up to its potential."
"The action in this episode was exceptional. The Talz letting loose against the clones on their mounts with spears was certainly a highlight. The visuals in the episode were fantastic, the animation top notch, and the environment was a useful character."
UPDATE #35: See below for links to reviews for "The Hidden Enemy" (Ep. #16):
"The Clone Wars seems to be muddying the waters, and I do not mean this in any negative at all, of the nature of the war taking place. For us older viewers, it's already a bit sketchy trying to remember who's who, but I congratulate the makers heartily on facing up to some tricky issues whilst creating beautiful visuals paired with nerf-herding excitement."
"This was another solid episode, adding a bit of paranoia into the proceedings. In the midst of an ongoing series of battles to protect the planet Christophsis from the Separatists, it becomes clear that someone is feeding the enemy information..."
"...The Hidden Enemy tries to do too much and feels, as a result, thinner than it should with such rich material. The core story, though, answers a burding question about the clones' psychology, and rolls out in an entertaining way. That makes it an episode that's required viewing for clone wars fans, flaws and all."
"Well, finally. After two weeks of stories about innocent bystanders versus sneering baddies, The Clone Wars delivers the goods. From the start, ‘The Hidden Enemy’ is a definite change of pace, as the newsreel informs us that it takes place on the planet Christophsis, which was last seen in the theatrical Clone Wars movie. And for a second, I worried that they were just broadcasting the movie instead of showing a new episode. But then it became clear that this installment was a prequel to the animated movie! Yes, a prequel to the pilot set between the prequels, airing sixteen episodes after the pilot’s theatrical run. Hooray for confusing continuity!"
UPDATE #36: Very up and down reviews from last week's double bill...
io9.com recaps/reviews both "Blue Shadow Virus" (EP. #17) and "Mystery of A Thousand Moons" (Ep. #18):
"This week's double-bill of Star Wars: The Clone Wars was another wonderful example of everything that's good and bad about the series so far. The basic plot - Separatists come up with a virus that kills anyone it comes into contact with, and even once the scientist who created it is captured, an antidote needs to be found... which involves a trip to a haunted planet - is great, full of tension and dramatic potential, especially once Padme and Ahsoka become infected with the virus. The animation is fast-paced and attractive, and there are times where the script (especially in the second episode, "Mystery of A Thousand Moons") was as funny and smart as you could have hoped for. And then, the stupidity begins."
Examiner.com reviews both "Blue Shadow Virus" (EP. #17) and "Mystery of A Thousand Moons" (Ep. #18):
"I think this episode might be a turning point for some of you guys that aren't sure about Ahsoka. She really came into her own in this episode in a way I didn't really expect."
Den of Geek reviews both "Blue Shadow Virus" (EP. #17) and "Mystery of A Thousand Moons" (Ep. #18):
"So far, this season, The Clone Wars has really only thrown up one stinker but, I report with some regret, the recent run of excellent, not to mention pensive, episodes has come to a crunching end. I can see why the producers chose to broadcast this 'story' as double-bill rather than prolonging the tedium over two weeks, so I commend them on that at least."
ClubJade.net reviews both "Blue Shadow Virus" (EP. #17) and "Mystery of A Thousand Moons" (Ep. #18):
"Overall, the story arc was clever, with a good balance between tension and humor. One of Obi-wan’s nameless clones gets in a dry comment when they reach the room with the bombs, and Jaybo’s reprogrammed droids has some visual wackiness with their drawn-on faces and servant activities. York did a fine job as the German mad scientist, albeit the character is such a caricature of that stereotype, and BJ Hughes as Jar Jar Binks, while not sounding quite like Ahmed Best, does a good job – and perhaps the change in voice helps to differentiate the comical klutz from The Phantom Menace to the a bit more resourceful, but occasionally clumsy representative we’ve seen in the past few episodes of “The Clone Wars”.'
"However, this was still a very messy episode overall, burdened not only by the hard to take Gungan moments, but also by having a plotline that had Padme captured again, something that has happened nearly every time she's appeared on this series. While it was nice to see her make a joke about Anakin rescuing her again, I do think it's time for her character to be used a bit differently."
IGN reviews "Mystery of A Thousand Moons" (Ep. #18):
"The second part of this one-hour Clone Wars story was still messy, but definitely the stronger of the two."
"What is a marvel, given all this, is how well everything fits together without ever feeling rushed. The episode feels more like the Escape from Jabba's Palace in Return of the Jedi than anything else: a series of discreet set pieces and objectives all edited together hyper kinetically. Even though this episode aired originally back-to-back with episode 18, it feels entirely complete on its own, in just about 22 minutes of actual airtime. Quite a feat."
"'Classic' fans of Star Wars will enjoy the sight of escape pods being deployed, housing a certain droid and a certain Jedi but probably won't make it that far as this tale lacks any real interest or tension."
"There have been better and more stirring episodes, but this was a decent installment. The final space battle was especially strong, with some great shots as Ahsoka and the Clones used Y-Wings and other ships to strike against the disoriented droids. On the other hand, it would have been nice if Ahsoka's doubts could have been a longer story arc – I could be wrong, but the fact that she pulled her big plan off at the end of this episode without a hitch makes me think we've moved past this particular moment of crisis for the padawan."
"Storm over Ryloth, the first of a "trilogy" of episodes that even have their own trailer, isn't exactly the "grand and operatic" epic promised by the Lucas Animation crew. Instead, it's a fairly pedestrian affair for Star Wars, and a rather large missed opportunity."
"All in all, this was a very sober installment, especially considering the non-stop WTFery of the previous two episodes. Still, with a great new villain, a killer first act, and loads of stylish details, ‘Storm Over Ryloth’ is a solid intro into the final arc of the season."
UPDATE #38: See below for links to, and excerpts from, reviews of "Innocents of Ryloth" (Ep. #20):
"Innocents Of Ryloth is one of the more thoughtful installments of The Clone Wars and features some lovely character pieces and genuine emotional growth - notable in the two Clones, Boil and Waxer, and their interaction with the young Twi'lek, Numa. Through this controlled storytelling and dialogue we are presented with a beautifully told story that, although sits in a trilogy, could easily stand alone. It may not have the numerous action set pieces and glorious visuals (though they are present in smaller fashions) but the latest episode is a classic, demonstrating that characters and emotions can strike a chord just as devastating as a spaceship or lightsabre battle. Hopefully, this will be the default setting for the episodes to come."
"While it was in some way's the first solo story on this series for Obi-Wan Kenobi (as in, sans Anakin or other Jedi accompanying him), "Innocents of Ryloth" also served as a very good spotlight for the Clone Troopers, taking us on a specific journey with two soldiers."
"It is great fun to watch episodes like this based loosely on my favorite movies. This episode was very much a kids version of The Guns of Navarone, with Obi-Wan cast as a much less surly Gregory Peck and instead of David Niven and Anthony Quinn, his team is comprised of clone troopers who aren't as interesting personality wise, but still cool, to be sure."
'"Innocents of Ryloth" may have only been the middle section of a three-part season finale (Following last week's "Storm Over Ryloth" and ahead of next week's "Liberty of Ryloth" - way to give away the end, title guys), but it was nonetheless one of the more satisfying episodes of the series to date, giving a complete story even within its relatively-filler framework. Part of that came from a decent mix of "big name" characters - Obi Wan got to be boss and perform some appropriately dazzling Jedi tricks - and original characters (Clone troopers Waxer and Boil) that gave the episode some feeling of newness, and another part was the result of just telling a simple story well."
"‘Innocents of Ryloth’ is the middle chapter of a three-part story involving the liberation of the Twi’lek homeworld of Ryloth during the Clone Wars. Last time we saw Anakin and Ahsoka break the blockade around the planet, and now we see Obi-wan and Cody start the ground assault, to clear the way for Mace Windu to make a full landing of troops. So does this make it The Empire Strikes Back of the trilogy – only if by Empire, we mean Republic."
"War stories shouldn't just be about soldiers. If there are costs of war, we need to see and feel them in order to care about the outcome. The Clone Wars series could very easily be a series of well produced video games that you don't get to play. Episodes like Innocents of Ryloth, therefore, become a key to the series' potency as effective storytelling."
UPDATE #39: See below for links to, and excerpts from, reviews of "Liberty on Ryloth" (Ep. #21):
"This episode was still not quite illuminating on Mace Windu when it comes to his non-action oriented decisions. And given that this was a three-part story, it would have been nice to have seen all the strands come together a bit more – I liked seeing Anakin and Ahsoka still helping in the sky, but Obi-Wan was mentioned without ever appearing, despite also being on the ground with Mace. Still though, this was another strong episode and certainly a sufficient way to truly introduce Mace into the show, after his earlier cameos. Hopefully Season 2 will feature the character even more."
"So is there any fun to be had in this episode? As it turns out, quite a bit, especially in the action scenes. One particular sequence, featuring Mace Windu on a bridge, actually had me holding my breath and trying to remember that it’s just a cartoon. And at the risk of repeating my previous review, the sound design (or in this case, the absence of sound design) is nothing less than brilliant. Mark my words, come this fall, Cartoon Network’s gonna have a slew of Emmys coming its way."
"With the first season closing out next week, it feels as if Clone Wars has finally found its equilibrium, and what it's good at. When it stop trying so hard to impress (whether it's in plot trickery undercut by the knowledge of which characters are going to stick around, or trying to make some deeper point that it never quite manages), this show manages to offer up a stylish, enjoyable half-hour of thrills, spills and dumb robots who say "Roger Roger" a lot. Here's hoping that they can build on that next year."
"Overall, I'm not sure I would count this among my favorite episodes. It was entertaining and had all the things I would have expected, but it seems as though something was muted and I'm just not able to put my finger on it. In the end, I think I got more pumped for the trailer for next weeks episode than anything else. Cad Bane, for some reason beyond my rational and cognitive abilities, is consuming my thoughts and I want to see him in action. Badly."
"Liberty on Ryloth, as a stand alone episode, is well-executed and well done. As the third part of a trilogy, it shows some flaws. Although there is a tacked on Episode I style parade at the end of the episode, the three individual episodes don't connect particularly well, and don't seem to all add up to this one. Sure, there's a logic to their order (Get on the Planet, Secure the Planet, Take the Planet) but it would have been almost better to simply see three episodes of Mace Windu, or Obi-Wan, or even Ahsoka. The diffuse nature of the episodes, and their differences in quality, didn't help make this episode a stirring triumph. Just another episode with really cool battles."
UPDATE #40: See below for links to, and excerpts from, reviews of "Hostage Crisis" (Ep. #22):
"Pity poor Clone Wars, finishing its first season on the same night as Battlestar Galactica... It was pretty much doomed to be overshadowed, even though last night was the best episode of the season altogether."
"As a season finale, Hostage Crisis owes something to the original Clone Wars microseries. Instead of tying up loose ends, they're teasing what's next. Grievous made his debut at the end of the first season the original Clone Wars cartoons."
"For the last several weeks, Cartoon Network's advertisements have been hyping the debut of Cad Bane in the Season 1 finale of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Until now, the main villains on this series have either been from the films (Count Dooku, General Grievous) or a pre-existing Expanded Universe character like Asajj Ventress. Cad Bane is the first time the show has introduced what is clearly intended to be a major new ongoing villain – and in that respect, it is most certainly successful."
"What a way to finish the season! This solid episode delivered. Despite not having one major action scene (only a few short action scenes), the show balanced tension with the action to stay on edge. Two minor quibbles: Bail Organa’s voice just didn’t quite sound right to me – while we’re used to having difference voice actors than the film actors, Bail wasn’t as convincing to me as the more regularly used characters. Also, with the level of animated detail on Cad Bane and his crew, the animation felt a little skimped on for Padmé, and the Bettybot looked more like it fell out of Futurama than The Clone Wars. But this introduction to Cad Bane puts him up there with Shaft and Chigurh."
"There isn't much to say or to critique about this episode. The writers developed a consistent level of suspense and action that made sense and built to a logical conclusion, the animation was top-notch (perhaps the best in the series), the voices of the new characters (particularly Cad Bane) were well done, and the level of violence was satisfying for a kids television show."