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Ush's summarised impression of the first season Clone Wars episodes.
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Ushgarak
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Ush's summarised impression of the first season Clone Wars episodes.

Very late to the party, I know, but I am finally ploughing through the first season Clone Wars episodes. I thought I'd give a brief impression of each one I have seen so far. As for the original film, I gave my impressions of that when it came out- it was entirely fair for what it was.


1- Ambush: Jedi porn starring Yoda. Although without any specific objections, this episode is pretty dull really, as 'Jedi annihilate battle droids' was done back in TPM. Dooku is evil enough but looks a bit rubbish when his plan does not come through- I really feel they should give all the failed plans to Grievous, who is a much better “If it was not for you pesky kids...” villain. Dooku has an aura of cool and that jars badly every time he fails.


2, 3, 4- Malevolence trilogy: Again, reasonably fair background material; the idea of the super weapon having one weak point is very Star Wars stuff, though if both the Republic (i.e. pre-Empire) and Confeds all build stuff like that, you wonder who are the people building stuff without massive weak points that the Rebels will use later. The FX budget seemed to wimp out on the Malevolence's destruction, though. Where was the big Star Wars boom? I demand a shockwave.


5- Rookies: Cheap on voice acting... actually pretty good. The Commando droids are a neat addition- better but not TOO much better; perhaps more notable for their ability to do more than just point and shoot rather than actually being lethally dangerous, which suits well as the super droids are already the ones that just fight better, and their attempt to impersonate clones was amusing enough. Also, whilst painted as a Confed cock-up, in the end, the final score here is one Republic base destroyed for the expenditure of a trivial number of droids, which is not bad going for them. We all know the biggest problem here is Villain Decay for the Confeds, who look feeble a lot of the time, so you have to find their triumphs where you can.


6, 7 (R2 captured duology): Ahh... I dunno, seemed to be a lot of time wasting. Going to the place where someone is captive only to not find them, leave, and then end up going back for him somewhere else smacks of filler. The droid traitor thing was... ok... the droid vs. droid fight was... ok... It wasn't bad but it was generally forgettable. The assassin droid fight had some character to it, though.


8- Bombad Jedi (reviewed separately to those below on purpose)- obviously, everyone's worst nightmare for a story idea, but not as bad as you fear. 3P0's line to Amidala about the ship being destroyed being Jar-Jar's fault shows the same level of self-awareness that also made Qui-Gon's “That will not be necessary” line from TPM rather neat. Kiddy stuff is fine- so long as it is held in balance and awareness. The best kid's stuff has an adult nod (e.g. Doctor Who). Not that I am likely to watch this one ever again.


9- Cloak of Darkness: No idea what the title was meant to mean, but this was a solid episode to redeem Ventress. Obviously, Luminara looked a bit silly but we can live with that, and the traitor was clear a mile off because he was using the “I am a creep” voice from the get-go, but this isn't a crime drama. His murder by Ventress seemed a bit arbitrary- he struck me as useful- but that's the problem with working alongside nutters like her. Anyway, the achievement here is to make an episode that is good even though we know that the Republic couldn't possibly have succeeded in capturing the Viceroy.


10- Lair of Grievous: Linking this to the previous episode was completely unnecessary, but other than that, this was another good one. Classic Star Wars stuff- bad guys, monsters, fighting, dying etc. An amusing sidekick for Grievous, too quickly killed, a Jedi with “I am going to die” written across his forehead but a bearable character, a 'testing by the Dark Side' plot which might have been a little better were it not directly adjacent to something very similar with Ventress in the previous story, but in the end very watchable. However, I am left with two questions. 1- Is Fisto just a crap teacher? 2- did anyone care that everyone on the mission died except him? Because he certainly didn't. As an additional point, I don't think Windu would agree with that power line that Yoda spouts at the end either. Anyway, a clear Confederate win, really.


11/12 (Dooku captured duology)- Easily the pits of the series, and a waste of some reasonably interesting pirate characters with a distinctive technology style. The plot goes round in inane circles- it wastes time all over the place with scene after scene that gets us nowhere, and we are left with great uncertainty about how certain events happened. Worst of all, the whole episode is a violation of the coolness of major characters who just look like complete idiots in being captured by such useless people. An author might enjoy the irony of this sort of thing, but to the viewer it is just agony. Viewers get emotionally invested in their favourite characters- heroes and villains- and there should be respect for that. Like Mr Jackson himself said, no way should Windu go down to being shot in the back...

In summary, any story so generally bad that I wasn't even focussing on how annoying Jar-Jar might have been HAS to have been pretty awful.


13/14- 'Pacifists caught in war' duology- A lot to say here. The first episode here does this whole philosophical idea a disfavour, by trying to set up the idea that the Jedi are equally morally culpable to the Confeds. Aside from the “Yes it DOES matter who starts a war” point, the whole thrust of what the tribe is saying is easily counterable by two points. First, if the Jedi were not protecting the Republic, it would be conquered by hideously evil people and there would be great suffering and oppression. Taking a pacifist position is all very well but to expect everyone to hold it at any cost is insane; a pacifist existence is only possible within the framework of an order of society that is willing to protect those who cannot protect themselves. Secondly, a Jedi can simply say that it would be deeply immoral to have the power to protect others from suffering and then intentionally not use it. Jedi only ever use their power to protect others- they did not start or want the war, but now it is on they are obliged to fight it. Jedi who stray from these principles are clearly portrayed as in the wrong, so it is very unclear what point was attempting to be made.

The second episode is better in that the chief specifies his is a Gandhi stance- do not even defend yourselves, suffer at all costs- but they promptly show such a view to be of no value against those who don't care about performing immoral acts (unlike the British in India who simply did not have the stomach to slaughter unarmed and unresisting protesters, though they gave it a go for a little bit). They also show internal dissent against the idea. This puts a pacifist view in a far more sensible position- laudable in theory, useless in practise, and entirely dependent upon others who WILL protect you to extend that protection around you. Luckily, the Jedi are nice enough guys to do just that, and likewise the point is made clear that the Jedi should in no way attempt to draw those who wish out the conflict into it- even though that is a deeply selfish view. Talking of selfish, the leader of any society saying "It is entirely acceptable for all of us to die rather than ever fight back" is doing his society a disservice. His people deserved to live, if nothing else.

Mind you, I feel the Confeds would do better if they were NOT always strutting around as out and out bad guys- didn't Dooku convince thousands of worlds to secede because the Republic was corrupt and he was offering something better? “Do as we say or we shoot you” as a constant attitude seems weird in light of that.

Anyway, the action bits of this episode were all fair enough- the opening fight in the skyline being the most visually impressive- so it was a reasonable story.

More to follow later!


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Last edited by Ushgarak on Dec 25th, 2009 at 12:32 AM

Old Post Dec 24th, 2009 02:25 PM
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Abu-Bactr
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Good review.

Lair of Grevious was the best among these.

Dont forget to watch Hostahe Crisis.

It kicks ass.

Old Post Dec 24th, 2009 04:10 PM
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REXXXX
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Agree on all points. As ever, you offer greater insight into these things.


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Old Post Dec 24th, 2009 11:35 PM
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Ordo
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..not really. Especially on the account of Jedi Crash and Defenders of Peace. Fails flat as usual on those points.

Obviously i agree with a lot of the points though, per my own reviews.


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Old Post Dec 25th, 2009 03:52 AM
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Ushgarak
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Well, obviously we do not agree on many points. I am happy for this thread to act as a counterweight to some of your opinions, which I find very strange indeed. I won't be expressly picking things apart, though. I'll just be doing my own analyses which I am confident will stand up well in comparison and will be liked for that.

Thanks, Rex. If anyone has any specific points of any episodes that they want to ask me about, fire away.


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"You've never had any TINY bit of sex, have you?"

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Last edited by Ushgarak on Dec 25th, 2009 at 08:30 AM

Old Post Dec 25th, 2009 08:03 AM
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REXXXX
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Some of this actually made me feel a bit better about season one. Watching season two, I looked back on this one and felt it was below my standards... but obviously fresh insight can help change opinion. The 'pacifists caught in war' one in particular; Ordo may disagree, but constrasting the pacifists in India and the morality of the British against the brutality of the machines of the Confederacy puts it in a new light.

Opinion on their portrayal of Grievous, Ush? You mention that he fits the Snidely Whiplash villain category better than Dooku does ("Drat, foiled again!" and all) but sometimes they make it a bit... extreme. He almost becomes goofy when he is meant to be highly threatening.


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Old Post Dec 25th, 2009 09:33 AM
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Ushgarak
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I agree- but that is kinda how he was in ROTS. The problem was that he seemed more hardcore in his original Clone Wars cartoon appearance, and has never lived up to that since.


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"You've never had any TINY bit of sex, have you?"

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Last edited by Ushgarak on Dec 25th, 2009 at 10:44 AM

Old Post Dec 25th, 2009 09:55 AM
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REXXXX
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Difficult to live up to that display! Taking on five Jedi at once...


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Old Post Dec 25th, 2009 10:29 AM
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Ordo
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quote: (post)
Originally posted by Ushgarak
I am happy for this thread to act as a counterweight to some of your opinions, which I find very strange indeed.


Shocker. lol.

I'd like to finish reading your reviews until I comment. I myself havent done a series wrap-up. Now that we're well into Season 2, I think it might be a good time to start thinking about it.

I woudl point out though, per everyone's Grievous conversation, that at least Lucas thought about Grievous killing Shaak Ti.

I've kind of always like Grievous as a pathetic, incompetant character though. He has 4 sabers...thats just ridiculous (insert fanboys here)...so I kind of like that hes a dangerous idiot vs a hardened killer. Lair of Grievous did a good job I think of giving him that inflated ego he desperately needed, but Clone Wars hasnt made him seem dangerous. (as we've dicussed, he seems to be just the opposite).

Thus, I don't really like him in the Gendy Clone Wars....hes too...successful.


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Old Post Dec 26th, 2009 06:12 AM
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Ushgarak
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Oh, one thing I forgot to add- the series has had a hyperspace jump happen in a gravity well. Now, this staple of the EU (that hyperspacing near high gravity was impossible) has never been explicity stated by the films, but it WAS always generally accepted as part of making sense of the films- why Han had to flee Tatooine and the Death Star, why Padme and co had to flee Naboo, why Dooku's ship was still moviing away from Coruscant with its prize... all of these things done in normal space before, in the cases of Han and Padme, entering hyperspace once they got far enough away. Else, why not just flick the switch ASAP? If you can enter hyperspace whilst still in atmosphere, why bother entering space at all?

Oh well.


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"We've got maybe seconds before Darth Rosenberg grinds everybody into Jawa burgers and not one of you buds has the midi-chlorians to stop her!"

"You've never had any TINY bit of sex, have you?"

BtVS

Last edited by Ushgarak on Jan 3rd, 2010 at 02:35 PM

Old Post Jan 3rd, 2010 11:28 AM
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Sadako of Girth
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They were keeping up with the Joneses, (or "Galacticans") maybe...?

That battle of New Caprica scene in BSG was FTL-jump-in-a-gravity-well tastic.
And dropping into and jumping out of atmosphere was spectacular there.

And that was probably still the big thing in sci-fi around the time these episodes would have most likely been conceptualised.

I agree though that this has no place in SW.


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Old Post Jan 3rd, 2010 12:30 PM
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Ushgarak
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Slightly later than planned, the rest of the first series reviews will be up this week, followed not long afterwards by series 2.


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"We've got maybe seconds before Darth Rosenberg grinds everybody into Jawa burgers and not one of you buds has the midi-chlorians to stop her!"

"You've never had any TINY bit of sex, have you?"

BtVS

Old Post Jan 23rd, 2011 11:16 PM
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Hybris
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quote:
Slightly later than planned


What plan stick out tongue ?


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Old Post Jan 24th, 2011 11:34 AM
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Ushgarak
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Quiet you!

(sends out Sith Assassins)


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"We've got maybe seconds before Darth Rosenberg grinds everybody into Jawa burgers and not one of you buds has the midi-chlorians to stop her!"

"You've never had any TINY bit of sex, have you?"

BtVS

Old Post Jan 24th, 2011 11:44 AM
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Ushgarak
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Here we are! More detail where it is due, too.

-----

15: TRESPASS

This episode, about a world cliamed by a planet that turns out to already have native lifeforms on it that are attacking Republicans and Separatists alike, was highly critically acclaimed on release, so I was keen to take a look. There is indeed a lot of praise about it- it's certainly an atypical plot, which is worth mentioning in a series often accused of doing the same thing over and over again. It gives the opportunity for the Jedi to show their non-violent side (part of the Jedi's job that I'd like to see more of, somewhat hampered by the fact that all Star Wars stories are about galactic conflicts), but more importantly shows them having to work within the limits of a Republican political system, which is as servants of that Republic they sometimes find themselves responsible for enforcing democratic policies that were nonetheless initiated by unpleasant people in power, and hence the policy was morally questionable. Best of all, instead of arrogantly overriding due process and forcing things to go their way, they get the matter resolved within the system via reasonable persuasion of those empowered to change the policy- perfect. Meanwhile, some may dislike the 'primitive warriors fighting hi-tech warriors' schtick, but it is very in keeping with GL's thinking and they were a whole lot more convincing as threats than the Ewoks, and at least they were only killing people (and only one in armour that I noticed) and not blowing up tanks.

It's not quite as good as some of the reviews said for two reasons- first, after the setup, the episode doesn't actually hold any surprises, panning out exactly as you would guess. Secondly, whilst killing the evil politician might fit into concepts of just deserts, which in turn is suitable for a kid's show, I think the stronger statement would have been to have him very much still alive at the end- after all, he had been politically defeated, and the lesson that “sometimes bad people are in power in a democracy and you have to work with that” would be well made. Nonetheless, a very positive episode, which even had C3-P0 doing his actual job rather than just tagging along. Ok, he was actually always intended to be the tag along observer, but it's nice to see him being directly useful nonetheless.

Good stuff.

-

16: THE HIDDEN ENEMY

One of a number of episodes making use of GL's idea that stories don't have to happen in chronological order, seen before in Indiana Jones (both film and tv series). Not a fan of that approach myself, but it's hardly devastating. Basically, a major battle is messed up by treachery on the Republican side.

This episode opens a can of worms by having a Clone as the traitor. This causes issues for two reasons- first of all, there's no particular reason given as to why this Clone was capable of this kind of rebellious thought where the others are not. Was it a faulty development, random chance, his particular experience, the persuasion of others or evidence of a long-term possibility of more self-determination by clones (which ROTS will snuff out, of course). In isolation, the reason doesn't matter but having clones act this way is such a big challenge to the underpinning of the entire Clone Wars, I'd like to have at least heard the matter discussed

The other issue is even bigger, which is that this is a huge ethical dilemma. It is, of course, absolutely true that the Clones are effectively slaves, drafted into fighting with no choice in the matter (worse, not even really aware of the concept of such a choice, it would seem). The traitor in question raises this very point, and all that is said back to him is a criticism of his method (betraying his comrades) rather than his underlying issue, which was very valid. If it had been about a soldier simply refusing to fight, rather than actively betraying his friends, I am very unsure how they would have resolved it. I'm not sure The Clone Wars should have gone here, as it really is a hazy ethical issue that I think might be too much for such a show to do with any justice. And they are also limited by plot, as any attempt to give some sort of self-willed culture to the Clones is pretty much, as I said, going to be buggered up by ROTS anyway.

We've never actually seen the Jedi talk about the Clone Army- basically a possible failing of AOTC. The Jedi just seem to take the army for granted, despite a. it's very weird origin and b the effective use of slave labour. A convincing case could have been made to use them anyway (on the grounds that a. the Republic needs to be able to fight and b. it might be somewhat distasteful, but as it is they are willing warriors and you have to make the best of what tools are there in times of crisis). GL chose to ignore the entire issue, and that may have been wise. Now this episode drew attention to it. Hmm.

Of course, the whole series is drawing rather a lot of attention to the clones- giving them distinctive and apparently almost fully self-willed personalities, and in this episode them having them sometimes have quirks like collecting battle droid fingers as trophies. In a series abut the Clone Wars, this kind of development is unavoidable as they'd be pretty dull without any development, and it is again a shame that ROTS kinda kills that.

Well, I am rambling. My conclusion is, it was a fair idea for a story, but touching this whole subject of clone independence is dodgy ground, especially when no real attempt is made for the Jedi to make their moral case for it- something always important for a Jedi. The episode itself has some reasonable battle scenes and another inconclusive sabre fight. It's squarely in the 'average' bracket.

-

17: BLUE SHADOW VIRUS

A Jar-Jar heavy episode (complete with female equivalent) that for half its length has no Jedi or clones turning up might seem to be the worst nightmare of many a Star Wars fan, but actually this episode is more forgettable than it is rubbish. There's some typical Jedi/Clone action for the end bits and I am sure some enjoyed watching Jar-Jar getting electro-torture. It's also worth noting that the animators are very good at getting the quirky design and movement Star Wars should have for certain aliens and robots just right.

I am unsure if viral warfare really fits Star Wars, even for the bad guys, and talking of which the villain is too ridiculous even for this style of show. Still, I've definitely seen worse.

-

18: MYSTERY OF A THOUSAND MOONS

An unexpected sequel to the above, and not content with having tried to get Jar-Jar to ruin things, this episode throws in an irritating cocky kid for good measure. But again, this episode is merely flat rather than bad. There's a slight hint of Anakin's 'complex' emotional state in there, but it's really not a significant episode in any way. I actually feel the two-part nature of this episode is a bit artificial; the main plot could have been its own plotline without connection to the previous (just re-writing the threat a bit), and the rest of the episode back in the virus facility is filler, suggesting they didn't have enough main plot to go around. Certainly if you watched the first part and not the second, you wouldn't get any feeling that you hadn't completed the story. Still, I'll live with it.
-

19-21 (RYLOTH TRILOGY)

This one kicks off with some good old fashioned 'waaaaaaaaaaaaar!' as the series nears its end with a full on Republican space assault of a Separatist occupied world and some fanboy nods to OT scenes and visuals, all of which is nice to see. Nice to see Ahsoka cocking up too, and anything that builds up some credible threat from the Separatists is welcome- the three episodes even have several Separatist commanders that made for entertaining antagonists.

We then get a fairly straightforward 'second chance' story for Ahsoka and a chance for Anakin to show his style of strategic thinking (though I have never liked the ease of ship collisions in any sci-fi; Babylon 5 was addicted to it and even Battlestar Galactica got in on the action there).

We then move onto the surface with some more good old fashioned sci-fi/action tropes- the 'bug guns' that need destroying, and the dastardly enemy using hostages to dissuade a direct assault. A Jedi-assisted clone assault carries the day. We have a side-plot about one of the Clones originally being a tad racist about the twi'leks but then later befriending a cute twi'lek child- inevitably, they prove crucial to success. This is not my sort of plotline but it is handled well enough. The action is all pretty good and we get some decent, proportional use of force powers from Obi-Wan.

We end up with some full-on Mace Windu action to finish the invasion, and who does not enjoy watching the Macester in action? However, this is not straight fighting porn as the series started with; Mace does him some talkin' work too as he recruits a notorious local freedom fighter who is unsure about the motivations of the Republican politicians who have plans for his world. We also get a plot nod to the droids no longer being dependant on a central computer (one of many cut scenes from AOTC, and one that generally entered the canon). More dastardly actions from the bad guys as they seek to exterminate as much of the populace and structure as they can before pulling out, and good ol' bad guy dissension as greedy Wat Tambor disobeys Dooku's orders to withdraw before it is too late. The good guys prevail.

So, all in all, you may note that I am not giving this story top marks for originality, but this very much does not matter. Out of all the first series, if I just wanted to show someone a storyline that I thought best represented what the series was about, then this is it- one of the major battles in the Clone Wars, done well. Everything is very solid and they nailed the formula, and any such storylines in future will have to be judged against this one. It was fought in skirmishes rather than mass battles, which may disappoint some, but that's hard to do well and leaves room for the future to try. That said though... you can't just do several more series of stories like this.

-

22: HOSTAGE CRISIS

A bit of a departure from the norm as we have a Coruscant-set episode with the bad guys as a Wild-West style alliance of evil bounty hunters. A connection with the Clone Wars exists but needn't have done- if they were just doing stories set in the Star Wars universe as a whole, this would have worked, like Trespass before it.

Surprising in many ways for the series to end without a giant battle or lightsabre duel, but this remains a good episode, with some decent villains with an equally decent lead in the form of Cad Bane. We even have a believable Jedi takedown- triple-teamed without his sabre by relatively competent people rather than just being randomly beaten.

A good ending!

-

So, what is my final judgement on the series? Well, it really was not at all bad. Not many episodes aspired particularly high, but then it is the first series of a show not exactly intended for an adult audience. Episodes like Trespass very positively broke that mould, however, and the Ryloth episodes nailed down the general sense of how episodes about the war could go.

Is it as good as the Gendy series? In terms of sheer mood and style, no. In terms of coherent narrative, yes. That's not very helpful as this merely reflects the very differing aims of the two series. I rather like the animation and I do not have the issue some have with the character models, but that's all a matter of taste. They've put in a lot of work here and I feel it shows.

Is it rubbish? Far from it. Is it great? Well... not great enough, but it could be if it filters out the good from bad a bit better.

I fear, however, the same rocky ride will be there for my series 2 review...


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"You've never had any TINY bit of sex, have you?"

BtVS

Old Post Jan 24th, 2011 04:15 PM
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queeq
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Better hurry then.


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Old Post Jan 25th, 2011 07:51 AM
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