“Star Wars: Clone Wars”
Fridays at 9 p.m.
Cartoon Network

Courtesy of Cartoon Network

1 out of 5 Stars

The new animated series “Star Wars: Clone Wars” explains what happened between episodes two and three of the Star Wars saga: nothing.

It’s no wonder that this new series couldn’t get on a more prestigious channel than Cartoon Network. The show is tedious and, at least so far, offers no insight into the mysterious evolution of Anakin Skywalker. In the first half of the hour-long premiere, Yoda fights off a droid army in order to organize a Republic base to be built on a crucial moon. In the second half, Anakin and his apprentice Ahsoka, a pre-teen Twi’lek, try to recover survivors of the Empire’s new “secret weapon.” Neither episode is particularly thrilling, especially Yoda’s, which is just a half-hour lesson on patience and poor sentence structure.

The series, which is supposed to answer a lot of questions about this interim period of “Star Wars” history, only creates more. Why do only some of the clones have an Australian accent? Who gave Anakin the authority to have an apprentice? Who thought this series could possibly be a good idea?

Not only does the show lack these explanatory insights, it doesn’t even look good. The animation is three-dimensional, but very rigid, made using polygons with very sharp lines. This odd, linear animation style works decently for humans and the more recognizable alien species, but for less familiar space creatures, the cartoony depiction makes it difficult for the viewer to guess what the alien would actually look like. The same goes for new worlds, where the terrain and flora are confusing. For example, on the moon Yoda investigates, a droid tank crashes head-on into something that looks like seaweed, and up until that point, the plant didn’t seem strong enough to withstand a crash.

Voice acting for “Star Wars: Clone Wars” is mostly on par with the acting from the movie of the same name. However, as any “Star Wars” fan knows, this isn’t saying much. Tom Kane does a good job with the voice of Yoda, having already voiced him in numerous Star Wars games and spin-offs. More surprising is Mat Lucas, who does the voice of Anakin Skywalker more convincingly than Hayden Christensen ever did.

One reason it’s hard to become immersed in the plot is that each episode is introduced by a voiceover spoken so quickly you can’t even tell if it’s English. There’s enough useless content in each episode that they could have afforded to give a bit more time to the introduction. There was also no clear link between the two episodes of the premiere event; it wasn’t even clear which one came first chronologically. Without a cohesive, overarching story, “Star Wars: Clone Wars” is just a bunch of boring anecdotes.

While there are far greater shortcomings of the series, the most irritating failure is droid humor. There’s nothing funny about a robot making a bad pun once, let alone once every two minutes. The show needed at least some of the humor to be entertaining, because that was its only hope. The action, drama and suspense could never have lived up to the movies, and thanks to some terrible laser jokes, the humor falls equally short of matching the glory of the “Star Wars” franchise.

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