Monday, January 05, 2015

Clone Wars Lost Missions

The following is cut and pasted from a portion of a review on Amazon for the Lost Missions DVD (or Blu-ray, to be specific.)  I don't have that; I watched them on Netflix streaming, where they were labeled as Season 6.  I want to get my hands on the DVDs or Blu-rays though, to see the featurettes and other supplementary material, which have in general been excellent for this series.
I have something of a love/hate relationship with "The Lost Missions."  The Cartoon Network Clone Wars was a landmark series. It's billed as a "bridge series" between Episodes 2 & 3, but over the course of five seasons, its tentpole arcs thematically eclipsed the prequels to the point where "The Clone Wars" now qualifies as a covert remake rather than a midquel. The redesign of Anakin and the introduction of Ahsoka which drastically altered the core character dynamics (and vastly for the better) only reinforces this. Watching this series reduces "Revenge of the Sith" to a mere expository piece about Hayden Christensen doing a very poor imitation of "Anakin" taking his lava bath and getting his new wardrobe. Everything else about Episode 3 feels like a rehash now.
Because of that, I actually feel "The Wrong Jedi" was the perfect ending for the series and so I had some strong misgivings about the announced Bonus Content (aka "The Lost Missions") as I felt it was tacking on an unnecessary appendage to a story that already had a clear through-line that came to an amazingly emotional close.
Anyway, I don't mind seeing "The Lost Missions" as kind of a spin-off, if you will, and I'm also aware of the fact that the Season 5 finale wasn't meant to happen at that point in the show; the original intention, prior to the Disney purchase of Lucasfilm, was that the Clone Wars would continue into a season 6 or even 7 before coming to a finale.  "The Wrong Jedi" and the arc to which it belongs, was pulled ahead, so to speak, to end the fifth season so that the show itself could end thematically well.  In that sense, the complaint of the reviewer is a little misplaced; these episodes (and the rest of the Clone Wars Legacy project, for that matter) should properly be viewed as episodes that precede the finale of Season Five, if you will, which otherwise wouldn't have happened as early as it did.

Other than that, I completely agree with him that the Clone Wars should really (if one wants to remain a fan of the franchise) be viewed as the rehabilitating "true story" of the era, and the prequels themselves be seen as just a bit of live-action exposition that bookend the series, to some degree.

I've been re-watching the series again; starting with the pilot movie.  So far I'm almost three-fourths of the way through the first season, so I have a ways to go, needless to say.  Although to be fair, it's not as much material as it might otherwise seem.  Each episode is 22 minutes sharp (plus about 30 seconds of credits) so that it can fit in it's original TV half hour time slot and allow time for commercials.  Most of the seasons (exception is 5, which was two episodes short compared to the others) pack on to four discs, that have five or six episodes each.  That means that each disk of each series is approximately equivalent to a full-length movie.  Or, in other words, each season is approximately four movies, and the entire run is equivalent, counting the pilot movie, to twenty one movies.  Not an insignificant amount of content, but not overwhelming either.

The series continues to improve as the seasons progress; both in storytelling complexity and sophistication, as well as in technical elements (animation and special effects, etc.) so it's always a little hard to start at the beginning and work my way up sometimes.  I'm reminded, however, that even in the beginning, it was a solid piece of work.

Anyways, here's a playlist on Youtube for the Son of Dathomir; a comic book converted to a video of sorts.  It's a good way to get the story, I suppose.  I would greatly have preferred to see it as an arc of actual episodes, but what can you do; that'll never happen now, with all of the principles who worked on The Clone Wars diverted to Star Wars: Rebels instead.  And here's another playlist of the Crystal Crisis on Utapau story arc, which was a little further along.  The voice acting and pre-viz animation was all complete, so really all we end up missing is the final animation.  Between those two playlists, each of which represents a story arc that we didn't get, and the upcoming "Dark Disciple" novel, we're about as up to date on the seasons that might have been as we're likely to get.

The only sad thing is the unfortunate, listless, whimper-like way in which this all happened.  The creator managed to salvage that by coming up with a good series finale nonetheless, but there was obviously more story to be told; and frankly, not just a few open questions that were never answered.

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