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"The Clone Wars" ends its Cartoon Network TV run in Season Five

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Star Wars: The Clone Wars - The Complete Season Five

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Maul: To continue, we need one singular vision…my vision.
Savage: Brother, let us share our strength. There is no need for dominance between us.
Maul: Always two there are, my brother—a Master, and an apprentice. And you are the apprentice.

With the 2012 sale of Lucasfilm Limited to the Walt Disney Company, many fans of George Lucas's "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" television series thought the show would move from Time-Warner's Cartoon Network to the Disney Channel after the 2012-2013 season. Disney seemed intent in reviving the storied "Star Wars" franchise by green-lighting the Sequel Trilogy (Episodes VII-IX) set after 1983's "Star Wars - Episode VI: Return of the Jedi" and several stand-alone movies set "a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away." And although "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" was not a ratings champion on Cartoon Network, it had a loyal fan base.

However, either Disney wanted Lucasfilm to focus on the J.J. Abrams-directed Episode VII, which is due in theaters in December of 2015, or it figured it would be financially wiser to close "The Clone Wars" down and divert Lucasfilm Animation's effort's to the new "Star Wars: Rebels" series for the Disney XD cable channel.

For whatever reason, supervising director Dave Filoni and his creative team had to stop production of the series' sixth season, even though 13 episodes had been completed..

( The 13 Season Six episodes that were completed have been released on German TV and on Netflix as "Star Wars: The Clone Wars - The Lost Missions." The "Lost Missions" DVD and Blu-ray release dates have not been announced, but they may be announced later in 2014)

Set in the three-year gap between the live-action "Star Wars" prequels "Attack of the Clones" and "Revenge of the Sith," "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" chronicles the conflict between the Galactic Republic and the Confederacy of Independent Systems, known colloquially as the Separatists.

The Republic is defended by the Jedi-led clone army introduced in "Attack of the Clones,: while the Separatist forces are led by Count Dooku, a Jedi Master who has turned to the dark side and become a Sith Lord. Dooku is aided by several minions, including the cyborg General Grievous.

Though "The Clone Wars" often features story arcs about lesser known Jedi Knights such as Plo Koon, Kit Fisto, and Luminara Unduli, its main characters are Anakin Skywalker (Matt Lanter), Obi-Wan Kenobi (James Arnold Taylor), and Anakin’s Jedi apprentice Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein).

Other major characters from the live action Episodes are featured in their own story arcs, including Padme Amidala (Caterine Taber), Yoda (Tom Kane), Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best), C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), R2-D2, and a young Boba Fett (Daniel Logan).

In Season Five, the show’s narrative tone is darker as the story line draws closer to the events of "Revenge of the Sith". This can be discerned both by the stories told and by the look of the characters themselves.

Season Five’s thematic title is “Army of Revenge” and its 20 episodes make up five story arcs. These arcs are:

The Onderon Rebellion

The Younglings and the Pirates

Droids on a Mission

Sith Brothers

Ahsoka Framed

These story arcs push the story closer to the “Twilight of the Jedi” scenario George Lucas depicted in "Star Wars – Episode III: Revenge of the Sith". They also subtly plant the seeds for the birth of the Rebellion against the nascent Galactic Empire.

In the four Onderon Rebellion episodes, writer Chris Collins describes how the Jedi help a group of freedom fighters in their struggle against a tyrannical ruler who is in league with Count Dooku. Although the Jedi are forbidden to intervene directly because Onderon is not a member of the Republic, they provide training, strategic advice, and help the rebels to purchase weapons. According to Dave Filoni, the series’ supervising director, the Onderon arc shows the emergence of armed groups that will later coalesce into the Rebel Alliance.

In the Younglings and the Pirates arc by Christian Taylor, we follow a group of Jedi younglings in a series of adventures that start on the ice world of Ilum and lead to encounters with pirates led by Hondo Ohnaka and, later, General Grievous.

The first episode in this arc, The Gathering, shows the Jedi ritual in which trainees gather the crystals for their lightsabers. Though its main characters are youngsters from various species, The Gathering’s emotional tone will remind Star Wars fans of The Empire Strikes Back’s Jedi training sequences.

Though the four episodes which feature R2-D2 and a motley crew of droids led by Col. Meebur Gascon in a covert mission against the Separatists are enjoyable, Season Five is worth watching for the Sith Brothers and Ahsoka Framed arcs.

Sith Brothers continues the plot thread of Nightbrother Savage Oppress and his brother, the long-lost Darth Maul. Thought to have died on Naboo at the hands of a young Obi-Wan Kenobi over a decade ago, Darth Sidious’ former Sith apprentice survived his bisection-by-lightsaber and rescued by his brother. Now, thirsting for revenge against Obi-Wan and Sidious, Maul forms an alliance with the Mandalorian terrorist group Death Watch. With Mandalore under the Sith brothers’ control, Maul and Oppress set in motion a plan that will lead them on a collision course with Kenobi and Maul’s former Sith master.

Charles Murray’s four-episode story arc answers the question “Why doesn’t Anakin have a Padawan in Revenge of the Sith?” Murray, who gave his episodes titles based on those for movies by Alfred Hitchcock, begins the arc with Sabotage, in which Ahsoka Tano and Anakin investigate a bombing at the Jedi Temple. In true Hitchcock-like style, Ahsoka becomes the prime suspect as a result of a frame job and flees into the underworld of Coruscant while trying to prove her innocence.

My Take: Though the "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" movie which launched the series in 2008 was at first dismissed as being geared more for kids than for general audiences, the TV show enjoyed both popular and critical acclaim. Even fans who do not like the live-action Prequel Trilogy seem to have embraced the series’ strong narrative sensibility. The scripts have gotten better with each passing season, and the animation techniques reflect subtle but significant tweaks that improve the show’s look, especially in high definition formats.
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The home media (DVD and Blu-ray) sets of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Complete Season Five" break with the pattern established in the previous four home video releases and present the 20 episodes in chronological order. When they were first aired on Cartoon Network in 2012 and 2013, they followed the old anthology format established in earlier seasons. However, Lucasfilm and Warner Home Video decided to put all the story arcs in chronological order.

This is a seemingly trivial change, but to some fans, the series' anthology approach could often be confusing. Viewers have to pay attention to detail when they watch Seasons One through Four in order to keep the series’ internal chronology straight. In Season Five, each story arc flows in a more logical and easy-to-follow order.

Though the series aired on kid-friendly Cartoon Network, it was rated TV-PG for good reason. Unlike most "cartoons" where characters can go through battles and other nasty situations virtually unharmed (as in the 1980s' GI Joe series), "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" features many episodes in which clone troopers and even Jedi Knights are injured or even die.

On Animation: For first-time viewers, the animation (which was inspired by the British animated series "The Thunderbirds") does take some getting used to. It's rendered in three-dimensional computer style and done in a slightly exaggerated style (Count Dooku, for instance, has a decidedly knife-like look in his face-and-beard) reminiscent of both the 2003-2005 "Clone Wars" micro-series and anime.

Once the viewer gets used to the visual style, though, the strength of the writing will win over almost all Star Wars fans.

Season Five Episode List

Disc One:

A War on Two Fronts- Written by Chris Collins, directed by Dave Filoni
Front Runners – Written by Chris Collins, directed by Steward Lee
The Soft War – Written by Chris Collins, directed by Kyle Dunlevy
Tipping Points – Written by Chris Collins, directed by Bosco Ng
The Gathering – Written by Christian Taylor, directed by Kyle Dunlevy
A Test of Strength – Written by Christian Taylor, directed by Bosco Ng
Bound for Rescue – Written by Christian Taylor, directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell
A Necessary Bond – Written by Christian Taylor, directed by Danny Keller
Secret Weapons – Written by Brent Friedman, directed by Danny Keller
A Sunny Day in the Void – Written by Brent Friedman, directed by Kyle Dunlevy

Disc Two

Missing in Action – Written by Brent Friedman, directed by Steward Lee
Point of No Return – Written by Brent Friedman, directed by Bosco Ng
Revival – Written by Chris Collins, directed by Steward Lee
Eminence – Written by Chris Collins, directed by Kyle Dunlevy
Shades of Reason – Written by Chris Collins, directed by Bosco Ng
The Lawless – Written by Chris Collins, directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell
Sabotage – Written by Charles Murray, directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell
The Jedi Who Knew Too Much – Written by Charles Murray, directed by Danny Keller
To Catch a Jedi – Written by Charles Murray, directed by Kyle Dunlevy
The Wrong Jedi – Written by Charles Murray, directed by Dave Filoni

Created and Executive: Produced by: George Lucas
Supervising Director: Dave Filoni
Produced by: Cary Silver
Score by: Kevin Kiner
Original Star Wars Themes and Music by: John Williams

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