Monday, November 12, 2012

David Tennant Does the Clone Wars!

George Takei voiced Lok Durd, Simon Pegg voiced Dengar, and now ex-Doctor David Tennant has been officially absorbed into the rapidly expanding Star Wars saga. He plays ancient droid lightsaber expert/archivist Huyang in the latest animated Clone Wars episode A Test of Strength which follows a bunch of sassy, wide-eyed Jedi younglings who are attempting to custom build their baby’s-first-lightsaber. You can get a taste of his performance in this preview clip here:

More than just a cameo, Huyang is present for the entire episode and there’s no doubt that Tennant manages to give him an energy and import that is necessary to make us care about another silly robot. The fact that he’s providing some previously unrevealed Jedi lore is an added bonus. Plus he totally schools those obnoxious kids!

I've been uncharacteristically tight-lipped about Clone Wars Season Five, now seven episodes in, but if you want to hear my general thoughts so far... join me after the jump!

A big part of me not recapping this season is that I haven't felt that there was enough for me to say. I listen to a couple of different round-table recap discussion podcasts and have found it kind of awkward lately to hear a group of adults attempting to milk additional meaning out of some relatively straightforward shows. I've been waiting for a time when I actually have something to comment on.

For me, this season has had a shaky start. We began with a fan-pleasing one-shot episode which continued the ongoing story of the resurrected Darth Maul and his brother, Savage, but it all culminated in another duel with Obi Wan that went nowhere and failed to advance the characters beyond cementing Maul as the Master and Savage as the Apprentice. All these tales are proving to me is that Maul is better used as a silent attack dog, like he was in Phantom Menace. As he gradually becomes a constantly monologuing stereotypical villain, he feels wasted and directionless to me. The Clone Wars team will need bigger plans for him to justify his re-emergence.

We then got a four part story about a group of new rebels trying to take back their occupied planet. It had moments of wonder, but was over-stretched, heavy-handed, and had too many new characters I didn't care about. For some reason Padawan Ahsoka was inexplicably put in charge of overseeing the operation which seemed less about the story and more about bombarding us with the character.

Which brings us to our current arc, a four-part story centred around aforementioned Jedi younglings. The origins of this one are shrouded in mystery. At the recent Star Wars Celebration event these four episodes were secretly screened to a theatre of children under the banner of Young Jedi as opposed to The Clone Wars. It was widely felt that this was a pilot for a potential new spin-off series and supervising director Dave Filoni was unsure how they would be actually shown to the wider public. Now just months later we are seeing them as part of the regular season. But were they written for a much younger audience, and are fans now dismissing them as kiddie fare?

Perhaps to an extent, but this is the first storyline so far that is actually engaging me. Which makes sense right, because shouldn't Star Wars be primarily for children? There's something pure about these light-hearted, simple, action/adventure stories. Star Wars has become increasingly bogged down by political allegory so a return to its more frivolous roots is welcomed by me. The first part involved Yoda  sending the children to find their own lightsaber crystals on the snow planet of Illum and the second (as mentioned above) has them building their sabers and being attacked by pirates.

The only catch? Ahsoka, despite being a Padawan herself, is now mentoring these children. Where does she find the time? Isn't there a war on? This episode, returning from Illum, they're in a huge ship with no crew, just a quirky David Tennant robot. Did they leave Yoda behind in the snow? And I don't want to be a total downer, but we're right around the corner from the Jedi purge so all of these adorable children are going to die.

I guess the answer to all this is that it doesn't really matter. Star Wars is for kids again, right? So just enjoy the adventure. If you try to parse the plan to rescue Han Solo in Return of the Jedi your head will probably explode. Sometimes you have to just accept what you are given.

I do wonder about the Ahsoka push though. Perhaps a new princess for Disney? Are these the winds of change?

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