Tuned In

Force Is with Cartoon Network

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The Clone Wars 2.jpg
Anakin Skywalker, right, kicks it prequel-style with apprentice Ahsoka. / Lucasfilm Ltd.

Cartoon Network announced today that it snared the rights to the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which will debut this fall. This is not the previously discussed live-action series that’s been bandied about, but all-CG-animated half-hour episodes set within the timeline of the prequel movies. [Update: There’s also an animated feature movie, to be released Aug. 15–here’s the trailer–and the series will pick up where it leaves off. So there’s that.] A few details from the announcement after the jump:

STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS showcases an entirely new look and feel to the galaxy far, far away, combining the expansive scope of the Star Wars saga with state-of-the-art computer-generated animation. Each week, viewers will see a thrilling, 30-minute “mini-movie” created by the talented artists at Lucasfilm Animation.

On the front lines of an intergalactic struggle between good and evil, fans young and old will join such favorite characters as Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Padmé Amidala, along with brand-new heroes like Anakin’s padawan learner, Ahsoka. Sinister villains—led by Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous—are poised to rule the galaxy. Stakes are high, and the fate of the Star Wars universe rests in the hands of the daring Jedi Knights. Their exploits lead to the action-packed battles and astonishing new revelations that fill STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS.

So I have to admit that I’m skeptical of anything prequelly in the Star Wars franchise–given how well the prequels worked out as movies. And sight unseen, I’d be more excited if the series didn’t focus on Anakin and company. I was never really able to get invested in Anakin the character, and I guess you can attribute that to acting and the scripts and what have you, but there’s also the fact that dude turns into Darth Vader. We literally know how that movie ends. The question was how Anakin would become Vader, but to make that interesting required more depth and acuity than a trilogy featuring Jar Jar Binks was interested in.

And yet: the series is all-animated, and that really seems to be much more where George Lucas’ heart is now than with actual flesh-and-blood actors. You want to enjoy Star Wars on an eye-candy level, and Lucasfilm’s CG operation, in nothing else, is capable of turning that out. So that makes me optimistic.

Not to mention: I’ve been spending a lot of time lately with Tuned In Jr. playing his first videogame: Lego Star Wars 2. The game itself is a pretty amazing meta abstraction: not a videogame rendering of Star Wars, not a toy based on Star Wars, but a videogame of a toy based on Star Wars. It has the advantage of making the relatively little violence bloodless and funny–even Lego Darth Vader looks so cuuuuute in his widdle black cape! And since the game follows the story of the original trilogy, it’s allowed the scary-movie-averse Tuned In Jr. (and his little brother) to learn the entire Star Wars mythology without ever having seen a frame of the movie. Even my cynical self has to be amazed at how this thirty-year-old movie franchise can continue to fascinate new kids, even ones who know it entirely through ancillary products.

All of which is to say, never underestimate the force of The Force. Are you excited?