There are few things that are synonymous with childhood like Star Wars is. It shouldn’t have been all that surprising for my parents that one November morning back in 2003 both my sisters and I ended up pretty late for school because I had to see the first episode of the new Star Wars: Clone Wars cartoon that Cartoon Network kept running ads for. The car was running and I was half in the door repeating “one sec!” as Obi-Wan and Anakin prepared to set out for war. It was barely five minutes long to my mom’s relief and my disappointment. But for the next two or so weeks I delayed us like clockwork every morning to see five more minutes of the Clone Wars.
Clone Wars was helmed by the legendary Genndy Tartakovsky (Creator of Dexter’s Laboratory and Samurai Jack) and aired a year after Attack of the Clones was released in cinemas. To call it a hit would be an understatement, it collected three Emmys and remains loved by fans of the galaxy far, far away to this day. It ran on Cartoon Network in the interim of Episodes II and III. Boasting a voice cast with the likes of James Arnold Taylor (who would continue to voice Kenobi in the 2008 The Clone Wars series), Tom Kane, Anthony Daniels and John DiMaggio as General Grievous.
Truth be told I don’t remember as much as I would like of when I first saw the cartoon aside from my devotion to watching it any time it showed up on tv (thank you CN reruns)and of course Kit Fisto’s charming rogueish grin after thrashing the separatists in an underwater battle. A standout moment of Clone Wars, and Star Wars as a whole, was the finale of the first volume. Where a lonely Republic Starcruiser stood embedded in the ground and thousands of droids closed in on it, while only half a dozen jedi remained within, hoping against hope that they would get out of this one. Until General Grievous dropped down, crushing a padawan beneath him. As far as reveals go, it was terrifying. I’d only ever seen one Jedi killed and that was in the Phantom Menace, and it was an evenly matched fight. Here Grievous was literally flinging Jedi around the inside of their ruined starship like it was second nature, and if it wasn’t for the arrival of the resident badasses of the series, The Arc Troopers, far more jedi would’ve been snuffed out.
As well as Grievous, Clone Wars introduced Durge and Asajj Ventress. Favourites of the Expanded Universe and menaces to the Republic in their own right (though both of them combined hardly matched Grievous). Introduced early on in the series as a foil to Obi-Wan and Anakin respectively, they hounded them right until the bitter (And gooey) end. I can’t help but love these two, especially considering their striking designs, and in some maths copy somewhere there’s enough bad doodles of them to prove it.
The first volume (comprising of seasons 1 and 2) kept to the five minute format, meaning you blinked or watched it. Focusing on the Anakin and Obi-Wan’s siege of Muunilist while occasionally cutting to other adventures across the galaxy (like Mace Windu soloing a legion of droids with his fists) The second volume took longer and darker strides, with fifteen minute episodes that lead into Revenge of the Sith. The siege of Coruscant by the Separatists finishes out the series, with Yoda crashing two dropships into each other and Mace still giving battle droids the one-two. It connects seamlessly to Revenge of the Sith, showing how Chancellor Palpatine ended up a captive of the Separatists and why Grievous has such a nasty cough.
When it comes to Star Wars and childhood, theres a distinct nostalgia filter that has caught me in the past (probably shouldn’t have revisited Phantom Menace) but with Clone Wars it never seemed to be there. I still adore it to this day and haven’t fallen out with it since I started watching it that November morning. As a series it runs just above two hours and theres hardly a boring moment in there. Even from the first season the action is captivating and you’d be hard pressed to fault the animation, and delivered a brilliant story without slacking off and relying on the good graces of the Star Wars brand. If anything it improved it as the franchises’ first TV series that was accepted well by fans and critics, and spawned several comic series and introduced some Iconic villains to the Star Wars Galaxy. Despite having a bone to pick with the fact that we only saw the opening and the close of the Clone Wars on the big screen and never anything in between; Clone Wars was the next best thing at the time and kept a young eight year old Star Wars fanatic satisfied in the lead up to Revenge of the Sith.