Impressive, most impressive.
I have seen every animated SW show: the Boba Fett short from the Star Wars Holiday Special, Ewoks, Droids, the CW microseries, and the current CW series. I don’t think they really “got it” with bringing SW to animation until the microseries and CW is in my mind, the greatest effort to date. Visually, it’s a masterpiece. Much of it looks like the movies themselves. The animation is unique for television and it got better and better as the series went along. The Ryloth arc for instance looks like it was made five years after the CW theatrical release.
I’m impressed overall with the writing. The dialogue is reliably Star Wars-y. But the surprise is in the sophistication of the stories, which is far beyond what’s generally written for half-hour animated drama. A broad range of topics and character arcs are touched upon, taking on every tone from romance to serious drama to comedy.
I also think that the canon characters translated well from the films to the show. The only significant change has been in the way Anakin has been portrayed. The show is not focused on Anakin’s descent into darkness, therefore it is free to show him in a more positive light. His recklessness and rebellious nature are still in place, but tempered somewhat by his responsibilities to Ahsoka. In fact, his position as Ahsoka’s master has brought out a new aspect to his character. This is what Anakin could have been as a master and a father had things turned out differently. Still, Anakin is arguably not a perfect master. Some of what he teaches Ahsoka, if only through example, occasionally gets her into trouble. He is also unable to help her cope with loss, since he cannot cope with loss himself. Ventress isn’t a movie canon character but she is put to good use on the show. I also enjoyed the opportunity to expand on other background characters like Aayla Secura, Luminara Unduli, or Commander Cody.
Where CW has truly shined is in its array of new characters: Yularen, Rex, villains like Cad Bane, the pirates, and of course the wonderful Ahsoka. When they first announced the character, I thought, “God, I hope she’s not a Mary Sue.” Thankfully, Ahsoka, like all of the new characters, fit into the story without usurping all of the good qualities of the movie characters. As I’ve said, she adds a new dimension to Anakin and she has her own struggles. She can tussle with the big dogs but it’s clear she is not at the same proficiency of other experienced Jedi. She’s a bit too snarky and hot-tempered for her own good, which is why I guess they stuck her with Anakin, heh heh. But she shows she is capable of growth. She’s kind of like Lisa Simpson with a lightsaber.
Is there room for improvement? Sure. My quibble about Anakin on the show is that while it’s refreshing not to see him constantly angry and one hair-trigger away from turning to the Dark Side, that potential for darkness is part of who he is. There’s a little flash of it in the two-parter about the virus, but in the “Trespass” episode, I was wondering if Obi-Wan was slipping sedatives into Anakin’s orange juice. He would have gone ballistic if he learned his men and Republic resources were being used in a petty land grab.
And please, for the love of God, can we have an episode where Padmé appears and she DOESN’T get captured or incapacitated? There was a run on episodes where the Republic defeats the Separatists and Grievous escapes, too, but they seemed to have stopped that.
All in all, a great first season. The team behind CW loves SW and you can tell they really care. With everything established in the first season and the kinks worked out, Season Two looks very promising. Today’s t.v. is full of complicated, convoluted plots. CW is a breath of fresh air, whether or not you’re a SW fan.