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Prequel Envy

24 Jul, 2009 By: John Latchem

Though it has ruled at the box office, “Star Wars” as a franchise has always had mixed results on television. But creator George Lucas seems determined to buck that trend, beginning with the CG-animated “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.”

“George has always been interested in technology, and was aggressive with the use of CG in the [‘Star Wars’] prequels,” says supervising director Dave Filoni. “He thought the success of the Pixar movies paved the way to using CG for a TV show in an effective way.”

Filoni says the Clone Wars that took place between Episode II and Episode III, offered good opportunities for storytelling that could expand the “Star Wars” storyline. And the subject matter was a proven hit with fans, considering the earlier success of a traditionally animated “Clone Wars” miniseries from Genndy Tartakovsky that aired in 2003 and 2004.

“The beautiful thing about ‘Clone Wars’ is getting into the personal lives of these characters,” says James Arnold Taylor, who voices Obi-Wan Kenobi on the show and has played the character since the Tartakovsky shorts, and in several video games. “These are the types of things we really didn’t see in the movies.”

Adds Filoni: “The storylines are worked out with George directly to tell the bigger picture.”

Following releases of a few episodes in single-disc compilations, a first-season boxed set of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” is coming to DVD ($44.98) and Blu-ray Disc ($59.99) Nov.3 from Warner Home Video and Lucasfilm. The four-disc set has 22 episodes, including seven director’s cut versions; a making-of featurette for each episode; a 64-page behind-the-scenes production diary; and special packaging that includes exclusive art created by Filoni. In addition, the Blu-ray version will include “The Jedi Temple Holocron Vault,” which has an extensive database exploring concept art, 3-D object turnarounds, test footage and scene fly-throughs for each episode.

“The boxed set really goes into how we came to make the choices we did,” Filoni says. “We’re trying to bridge the gap between not just episodes two and three, but from the original trilogy to the prequels. For the casual fan, these are crucial pieces of the puzzle.”
Following a theatrical release in August 2008 (the film combined several episodes that had been planned for a multi-episode arc), the series debuted in October and became one of Cartoon Network’s highest-rated shows.

“The show really hit its stride by about episode 10,” Taylor says. “To have the first season on DVD, and to go behind-the-scenes to see the creation of the show, is really cool.”

One episode (“The Hidden Enemy”) even serves as a prequel to the Clone Wars film.

“We like to joke about George’s tendency to do prequels,” Filoni says. “That’s just a type of storytelling that occurs with ‘Star Wars.' But when we made the movie, we didn’t have that episode planned out."

Given that so much of the “Star Wars” universe has been fleshed out, Filoni and the creative team are always wary of potential contradictions, especially under the watchful eye of a vigilant fan base.
“If anything seemed like a contradiction, I’d call [George Lucas] and we’d talk about it,” Filoni says. “It’s all driven by George at the end of the day.”

Filoni also has plans for the one character from the show that has caused the most discussion among “Star Wars” fans: Anakin Skywalker’s padawan apprentice, Ahsoka Tano, who isn’t present in Episode III.

“I definitely have plans for her,” Filoni says. “It’s a matter of talking with George and getting ideas for the evolutionary process. But I do have an idea of what to do with her when the show ends.”

"Star Wars: The Clone Wars" supervising director Dave Filoni


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