Star Wars: The Clone Wars has been some of the best television this year. And here are the numbers to prove it.
The Force is strong with Star Wars: The Clone Wars, its fans, and the show’s showrunners and cast.
From the announcement of its revival through the aftermath of the final episode of the final season, from Dave Filoni and Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoska Tano), to Dee Bradley Baker (Captain Rex and all the clones) and Sam Witwer (Darth Maul), to Matt Lanter (Anakin Skywalker) and James Arnold Taylor (Obi-Wan Kenobi) and the rest of the cast and crew, they understood and openly expressed that the main reason Clone Wars received a proper sendoff and a final storyline as its creators had intended, was its passionate, insistent fans.
They never let Disney off the hook for prematurely ending a series that was hitting its stride and producing absolute gold in the second half of its run, fans who kept demanding Disney revive the myopically-cancelled series.
The joyous but frustrating burden of Clone Wars fans
For years, there has been and still is something of a burden fans carry: we know how good the show is, but we also know that the initial theatrical release was hardly given rave reviews (and, admittedly, it is, by far, some of the weakest Clone Wars content, though still worth watching).
Furthermore, the seasons were all on Cartoon Network except for the sixth half-season, which ended up on Netflix. By not being on a major network, so many people who would have seen it did not. Additionally, Disney has hardly put much effort into promoting Star Wars content produced before its takeover, favoring its own Star Wars films and animated series.
So for me and other fans, we felt a responsibility to push Clone Wars on people and push and proselytize it hard. It’s not that hard to sell people on other great shows like The Sopranos, Game of Thrones, Dexter, The Wire. People on the fence can be easily convinced by close friends on shows like that.
Then there is the issue of competition with The Mandalorian. It’s not a hard sell to get people to watch a live-action show starring a fan-favorite from Game of Thrones, the other dude from the classic Predator, and co-helmed by a man who was both the director of Iron Man and an executive producer of The Avengers series.
Trying to convince people that a Star Wars cartoon is one of the best dramatic series in years, and that it is one of the most complicated intersections of plot lines that took years to build. An even harder sell is that Clone Wars has some of the most complex themes on politics, war, and terrorism of any show in recent memory other than Homeland.
The Clone Wars faithfully reflects the deepest themes of films of the Lucas-helmed Star Wars movies. Yeah, to many, you generally will come off as crazy making these claims, as I am sure I have to many people.
Yet all this is true for Clone Wars, and its best storylines are among some of the best screen experiences I’ve ever experienced, whether film or TV. I am not saying that there aren’t other stellar moments throughout the series, but, as I wrote for Dork Side, the very final four episodes of the final season are as good as anything I’ve ever seen in Star Wars, including the Original Trilogy. Because the loving care and respect that beloved characters are given in building up incredibly emotional climaxes pay off beautifully.
Frankly, after five Disney Star Wars movies, none of those attempts came anywhere near such intricately woven and long-developed emotional payoffs as (spoilers) Luke’s redemption of Vader and Vader’s subsequent death in Return of the Jedi or Anakin’s fall to the Dark Side and Padmé’s dying of a broken heart at the end of Revenge of the Sith, but Clone Wars has at least two clear stories (and arguably several others that rise to that level) at the ends of seasons five and seven.
The moment in season five (spoiler), when Ahsoka leaves the Jedi order, breaking Anakin’s heart and his faith in the Jedi Order, came out all the way back in March 2013. The half-season six in 2014 had some great stories but not at the level of that season five finale, so it’s been more than seven years since anything like that level of emotion has happened in Star Wars movies or shows, despite Disney’s “efforts.”
Let’s discuss those efforts, then…