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Set Visit: Clone Wars returns with better visuals, darker stories

by John Scott Lewinski, posted Sep 30th 2009 2:00PM
LucasFilm Animation hosted a special press event to hail the premiere of The Clone Wars' second season at Skywaliker Ranch in Marin County.Lucasfilm's Star Wars: The Clone Wars might just be the beat best action and adventure show on television.

Admittedly, there isn't a ton of competition as action shows are few and far between on TV these days. They're expensive to produce in live action, so reality TV, detective shows and "chick-flick" dramas drive network schedules. Since the Star Wars universe exists only in the imaginations of George Lucas and his team encamped north of the Golden Gate bridge, The Clone Wars has more room to play affordably.

The second season of The Clone Wars launches this Friday on Cartoon Network. To build some force behind the premiere, LucasFilm Animation hosted a press event at Skywalker Ranch in Marin County. Munching on Wookie-Cookies (as all of the catering was Star-themed) and rubbing elbows with costumed Clone Troopers and bounty hunters, show creators and cast members mingled with reporters in an enthusiastic, nerd-friendly atmosphere.

Supervising director Dave Filoni was joined by voice actors Dee Bradley Baker (Clone Troopers), James Arnold Taylor (Obi-Wan Kenobi) and Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka Tano) to explore how the second season builds on and surpasses the first.

"Visually, the show has really evolved from the first season," Taylor said. "When (the cast) got a look at the new episodes, it was amazing to see the depth of detail they've added in such a short time."

Taylor's fellow cast members agreed, stressing that the visual improvements blend with the show's thematic and story evolution over the next 22 episodes.

"In the first season, we were looking to develop these characters, see who they were, learn what their relationships were to each other," Eckstein explained. "We've done that now, and we're all comfortable with them. That gives us an opportunity to explore and develop the relationships -- because we all know where the story ends up (in the cinematic Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith)."

For example, Eckstein's Tano is the apprentice of Anakin Skywalker -- who will eventually devolve into uber-villain Darth Vader. Eckstein explained young fans pummel her with questions on what will become of Tano as Anakin turns to the Dark Side of The Force. "I tell them I don't know," she said. "I can't wait to find out myself. You become attached to these characters, and I don't want a tragic end for her."

Darker themes and greater threats are part of the second season, and director Filoni and his crew worked carefully with Lucas to determine how far to push the upcoming stories -- considering that a big portion of the show's audience is still kids. "We gave a lot of thought about how intense the stories could become to evolve the series further," Filoni said. "I think some of the stories could be a little scary, but that's a good thing. It's fun to be scared."

He added, "Also, this is a war -- and we're moving into darker times for these characters. We wanted to make sure the stories reflected that."

Before season one aired, LucasFilm premiered the first three episodes of the series as a feature film in theaters. Hardcore Star Wars fans initially formed a rebel alliance against the movie and the show -- citing it as too juvenile. Now, Baker believes the series is widely accepted as Star Wars canon -- and those fans are warming to the series.

"I've told fans again and again," Baker said, "'This is Star Wars. Just give it a chance and you'll see that."

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I don't wanna be "that guy" but that's the beat, I mean best typo I've seen all day. . .
Lucasfilm's Star Wars: The Clone Wars might just be the beat action and adventure show on television."

September 30 2009 at 4:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Leo M.

I agree with you guys. I actually thought this show was going to be lame, but it turned out to be quite good. It kept me entertained and has decent story lines in it.

September 30 2009 at 4:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree R-Bro. I enjoyed all of last season quite a bit. Some was campy, some was the best story they've produced in a while. Maybe this season will get it a little more recognition if the subject matter is a tad more mature. Not to say that that will make it better somehow. I think they hit the nail right on the head last season. After all, it is Star Wars for crying out loud. :-)

September 30 2009 at 3:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I really am surprised this show doesn't get more recognition and a bigger audience. It's really quite good.

September 30 2009 at 2:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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