Friday, 2 August 2013
'THE CLONE WARS' SEASON ONE. AFICIONADO's TOP FIVE EPISODES. NUMBER FIVE - 'SHADOW OF MALEVOLENCE'
In the run-up to the anticipated release of Season Five of THE CLONE WARS, as well as the ultimate Seasons One to Five box set celebrating animated action/adventure in the best STAR WARS tradition, we at AFICIONADO thought we'd go back to the show's 2008 beginning and, in a continuing tradition, chart our five favourite episodes from that all-important, ground-breaking launch year.
So, in ascending order, here's five reasons why we love our first choice- number five: an early entry for the series and still one of its best, showcasing classic space battle action and the further cementing of Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker and his Padawan learner, Ahsoka Tano's unique friendship, and their relationship when it comes to decisive combat, proving a duo to be reckoned with as they take on the terror that lies within the Shadow of Malevolence.
1. The Malevolence. Getting the series off to a terrific and threatening start, our heroes are having a bad time of it from the Separatist's sinister and effectively deadly new Ion weapon, birthed in the equally formidable ship The Malevolence, of which you couldn't get a more malevolent captain of a vessel than its Jedi blood hungry droid General Grievous. Truly a threat this side of the formidable Death Star, and one that Anakin and Ahsoka must face with genuine courage and skill within the Force.
2. Y-wing bombers. The first true nod to the Classic Trilogy era within this first animated season, and its a real crowd-pleaser, as Anakin and Ahsoka command their bomber fighter squadron on the long journey to sneak attack General Grievous. Unlike their appearances from STAR WARS to JEDI, these vessels are in their prime as warships, their outer shells now fully covered, their interiors fully manned. It's a delight to see the vessels back in the STAR WARS universe and especially in the Prequel era, their dedicated Clone Troopers crews delivering prime Classic Trilogy battle speak. as the craft blaze into action in the episodes thrilling final battle.
3. Ralph McQuarrie tributes. Right from the start, and a fine tradition now carried over into the upcoming REBELS series, the master STAR WARS universe illustrator's unused work from 1975- 1982 is adapted and refined for use anew on the animated series, and it all looks wonderful. Inside the space lane known as the Balmorra Run, our heroes have a close-up encounter with the large and beautiful creatures known as the Neebrays, looking much like the flying whales seen in McQuarrie's conceptual art for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK in 1978/79 (and also later adapted as another species for EPISODE II). Their presence brings a wondrous if dangerous sequence of unforeseen jeopardy to our heroes during the story's mid-point.
4. The return of the Kaminoans. Unlike their original and vital to the plot appearance in EPISODE II, our favourite Rishi Maze-based alien cloners presence are not seen en masse yet, nor on their world, in animated form until Season Three's opening episodes, though they make a brief but key contribution here, providing hints of their use in storylines to come, too. In Shadow, they are custodians to a medical space station, one of many in areas near galactic war zones, where wounded clones are in varying stages of treatment- now under continual threat of target practice from General Grievous. A unique part of the Prequel Universe, it's a treat to see a return from those gentle but technologically advanced big necks...
5. "I have a bad feeling about this." That classic line, the one that crosses all boundaries and STAR WARS films, makes it presence felt for the first time within the animated TV series- uttered by no less than a Battle Droid!
Coming October 15th to UK DVD and Blu-ray: STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS- THE COMPLETE SEASONS ONE TO FIVE.