The Life & Times of an Auteur.

Commentary on Pop Culture, and maybe creating some of my own.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Star Wars Rebels

And so that was season one... my feelings about this show are pretty mixed, I must admit.

The voice cast was fantastic. I'll start with my favorite character, and cast member. Vanessa Marshall is bringing a lot of passion to the character of Hera, passion that matches her own for this franchise. I've attended the "Star Wars Rebels" panel at New York Comic Con that she was on, and her passion and fandom for "Star Wars" and this show is infectious. It is always delightful to see someone who loves their work the way Ms. Marshall does. She brings her all to this show, and it more than pays off. Hera is a terrific character.

I raised an eyebrow when I heard that Freddie Prinze Jr. was cast as Kanan, mostly because I will admit that he's an actor I've always underestimated. But he did well, he brought a lot of humanity to a Jedi, after George Lucas spent the better part of the 2000's stripping them of any humanity they had. I rather liked the idea of this guy who never really finished his training being forced to take on an apprentice. We've seen the wise mentor a million times already, so a mentor with just as much to learn was a nice change of pace.

Tiya Sircar as Sabine and Steve Blum as Zeb bring a fun element to two characters who could have easily been annoying comic relief sidekicks, Zeb especially. They all round out a cast that feels like a Y7 "Firefly" cast, and I did enjoy them.

Unfortunately, most shows have a weak link, and this show's is Ezra. It's not voice actor, Taylor Gray's fault, he does well. But I don't think the character ever recovered from a very weak introduction, where he was a more annoying Aladdin, right down to being referred to more than once as "street rat". Ezra is the audience surrogate character, and a fine line needs to be walked, otherwise you end up with another Wesley Crusher, which this show, sadly, did. Before the season finale aired, a friend of mine speculated that Kanan was going to die, and I responded with "can't they kill Ezra instead?" He's not unsalvagable, but going forward, I think the wise move would be to downplay him, but as he is the lead, that's unlikely.

Finally, we have the Inquisitor. Jason Isaacs was terrific, he had a terrific visual, and there were moments where he was genuinely menacing, particularly in his first appearance and his last appearance. Unfortunately, somewhere in between, he began to feel very Saturday morning, as villain decay set in pretty quickly. Considering how powerful he seemed in his introduction, it began to strain credibility that he couldn't catch these rebels. More than that, I wanted to know more about him. Who was he? Where did he come from? How did he become so adept at the Dark Side of the Force? Was he an apprentice of Darth Vader? Did he have greater ambitions? What was his deal? Well, considering how the season ended, I doubt we'll find out now. All the ingredients were there, I just wish they were taken farther.

The show's last three episodes were probably its best, when Grand Moff Tarkin arrived and made the Empire formidable after many episodes of being, well, very Saturday Morning. There was an epic feel to it that felt like the original films. The way the season ends, it feels like it could lead in to "A New Hope" pretty seamlessly, both in learning about the existence of a larger Rebel Alliance, as well as the final scene with Grand Moff Tarkin bringing Darth Vader in to help him hunt down them all down.

Overall, it's a B-/C+ show. It's the most I've enjoyed "Star Wars" since the 1980's. I think the main protagonist is weak, and I do not care for 3-D animation, which I find much more limiting than traditional animation. But there is a lot of good in there, despite some big glaring flaws. It's one of the better entries in a franchise that broke my heart a very long time ago, in a theater that isn't so far away.


  1. Wow, had no idea you watched this. I agree with a lot. There's a lot of good here, but the Inquisitor was completely wasted, and while I don't dislike Ezra as much, he wasn't as interesting as Kanan or Hera were. Also thought that Zeb and Sabine could've been fleshed out a bit more.

    Will you be checking out Greg Weisman's Kanan comic book story arc?

  2. Pretty much share most of these feelings. This show, to me, is a definite step up from "The Clone Wars", but it could still afford to step up the quality of it's own merits a little bit more. Like what it had in the earliest and last episodes of the season with more consistency.

    Your assessment of the characters was 100% spot on. Ezra is sadly the blandest and most generic (and often irritating) of the main cast. And the Inquisitor should have been used a little more sparingly, like Jason Isaac's character in A:TLA, so the blatant villain decay would become less noticeable. I also hope we get spin-off material that explains what the character's deal was. The other Imperial characters were okay too.

    I loved the last three episodes when Tarkin showed up - he made shit get real. It's good to see one of the best villains in the franchise has not been ignored.

    This doesn't have to be a show you watch religiously or anything, but I'd give it a B grade so far and hope that the second season takes things further (though the lack of Greg Weisman on board does trouble me. Do we know why he left?)

  3. I heard rumors that the inquisitorious (basically the jedi hunters) who worked for palpatine are the primary antagonists of force awakened.

    Definitely ties to the clone wars (I won't go into details but one of the characters from clone wars is the mysterious "fulcrum".)

    I will say that the clone wars series actually managed to make Ahsoka likable.