Spring has sprung, the flowers are blooming, the grass is growing, and the Easter Bunny is on his way, which generally means another season of Clone Wars is in the can.
Even though there isn’t an official release yet saying that Cartoon Network has renewed CW, there is a fifth season underway and I don’t see why it wouldn’t be back in September. I think everyone would have loved to see a trailer for the next season but that may be why one wasn’t shown at the end of last week’s episode.
Overall, I think Season Four was in many ways the strongest and most consistent yet. The animators keep pushing the envelope, making the environment of the show look as photorealistic as possible in spite of the stylized look of the characters. There are many shots now almost indistinguishable from a visual effects scene from any one of the films. Not only are they just trying to make it look cool, there’s genuine attention paid to make the show look cinematic. “Lighting” and editing are often used to optimum effect. As I said a year ago, they need to shackle Joel Aron to the floor and make sure he never leaves! Matthew Wood’s sound work is as great as always. No one can say that at least in terms of animation, sound, voice acting, and design, they don’t try very hard. These guys genuinely care about putting out the best product possible.
The stories this season relied less on one-shots and more on multiple-episode arcs. So far the format seems to work, allowing for strong storytelling in the Umbaran arc, the Slaves of the Republic arc, etc.. Who ever thought you could wrench so much emotion out of an entire cast of characters NOT from the movies and an evil, corrupt Jedi? Who ever thought they could do a prison break series with Obi-Wan or successfully adapt one of the Clone Wars comics? One thing that is noteworthy though is the overall tone of the season was dark, with the exception of the two episodes with the droids. The stuff with Ahsoka and Lux would be light-hearted had it not been for the Mandalorians killing innocent villagers and Ahsoka’s impressive quadruple decapitation.
At various points earlier in the season, I kept wondering how close we were to the events of ROTS and how much longer Clone Wars had to go. Would it be all over in two more seasons? Then came the final two episodes with Darth Maul’s return. If I’m not mistaken, background on those episodes says that Maul had been on Lotho Minor for 10 years, meaning very little time has passed since AOTC! Not even a year! Don’t start counting on having your fall/winter Friday nights free just yet.
There were some creaky moments and some odd gaps in logic but those are minor things and every t.v. show has them. There are a few things though that are my main points for improvement:
1) Anakin needs some Chosen One moments each season. The Mortis arc did that last year, while this year…not so much. In fact, Anakin wasn’t featured very much outside of the season opener and the Slaves of the Republic arc. This guy is supposed to be the most powerful dude ever and at times I think the writers kind of forget that. He’s not just some random Jedi who can get it handed to him easily.
2) For the second season in a row, Anakin and Padme’s relationship is barely acknowledged. Sure, they hang out on a couple of missions but they can’t do much in front of other characters. The frustration of being together but not really being together is never even addressed! Again, it’s one of those pesky details the writers often forget. Uh, they do remember Padme gets pregnant at some point for some reason, don’t they?
3) Details like those noted in 1 and 2 often fall by the wayside due to the exuberance for fanservice. Maul’s return could work if he is put to good use as a catalyst. But is it really necessary to keep dropping in cult favorites? Is there anyone who doesn’t need to get some face time in the series just to generate some buzz? Have you ever noticed they’d rather do 10 episodes on bounty hunters than spend more than fifteen seconds on Anakin’s character development?
Oh yes, one more…please refrain from further professional fanboy basher guest spots.
Tags: Clone Wars