Monday, March 11, 2013

The Clone Wars Cancelled

The news has been expected for months, but is now breaking and will likely soon be confirmed – The Clone Wars  is no more. There will be no Season Six. Read on for SPOILER FREE discussion of the news – I have not seen Season Five, and will not be talking about specific plot points at all.

It is unknown what impact Disney had in the decision. It is clear that the new films have changed the strategy for Lucasfilm, and that was happening before the deal with Disney. If fans look back to 2005, George Lucas felt like TV was where the interesting opportunities were (and looking at the talent new shows are currently attracting, he was right), and his desire was to keep the ‘Wars alive through the medium of television. But two things have probably conspired to change the strategy – the first was the need to make Lucasfilm an attractive company for Disney to acquire, the second was poor ratings for The Clone Wars and unsatisfactory home video sales proving the strategy not viable.

So with the new plan to produce a new trilogy and spin-off films, it is as if The Clone Wars no longer fits in. Of course the series could run alongside the new films, but perhaps Disney want to save the special Star Wars experience for the big screen. Or maybe there will still be TV opportunities for Star Wars, but it is felt that something new needs to coincide with the new films. Anyone paying attention will have sensed the tremors in the force that suggest Detours is not exactly going to last for very long.

If the focus is shifting exclusively to films at the expense of projects such as The Clone Wars, it is a shame. The cool thing about the series was that as it was in a different medium, it was clearly not “core” Star Wars, but side stories, an offshoot. But if every Star Wars adventure is a two hour movie, it will not be possible to allow for the occasional strange, experimental episodes that the series had now and again. 

Many fans will want the series should continue beyond Season Five, as they love The Clone Wars very much. That is a completely legitimate position, and anyone who really feels like there was much more to do should go and join the online campaigns. However, I disagree with the argument that it needs to lead right up to Revenge of the Sith. The series started with Ahsoka joining Anakin, and the viewer followed her point of view for the film and many episodes. The emotional journey, the character story of the series, is Ahsoka’s – the series began with her introduction, and must end with her fate. As long as that character’s arc is nicely resolved, the series has reached an appropriate conclusion. Those who want some brilliant foreshadowing/leading into Revenge of the Sith should check out John Ostrander’s Republic comics series and James Luceno’s novel Labyrinth of Evil, and it is hard to imagine that Dave Filoni and his crew could lead into Revenge of the Sith any better.

What is outrageous is that fans had no preparation for the end of the series. Rather than just going down the route of not announcing Season Six, Lucasfilm should have made it clear that the series was to end and hyped up the finale. It would have been much easier for fans to come to terms with if they had known in advance and were able to prepare themselves for the final episode. Ideally the series should end with a movie, as it came in, especially since it looks more cinematic than ever.

Dave Filoni and the crew should be proud of the series they created, it was no easy task to restore general faith in Star Wars after the prequels- and they did have a majority of fans, critics and commentators on side. Let’s hope that it’s not the last project we see from Lucas Animation.

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