Although LucasFilm’s animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars initially seemed to come to a close back in 2014 after six very successful seasons, it showed up again in 2020 for a bonus seventh season that felt like it finally brought the narrative to a conclusive end. Even after that, however, creator Dave Filoni is apparently still not ready to move on. His new spin-off, Tales of the Jedi, is less a series to itself than a collection of miscellaneous story points that he couldn’t fit into the Clone Wars show.
Filoni has had a lot of trouble letting go of The Clone Wars. In addition to prior spin-offs Rebels and The Bad Batch, the writer/producer has actively worked to integrate animated characters he created into Disney’s various live-action Star Wars series. We’ve already seen Ahsoka Tano and Bo-Katan in The Mandalorian, and bounty hunter Cad Bane in The Book of Boba Fett. The very same night Tales of the Jedi premiered, Forest Whitaker’s rebel Saw Gerrera (who originated in Clone Wars before appearing in the Rogue One movie) popped up in the latest episode of Andor. A dedicated Ahsoka series that will also feature Rebels protagonist Ezra Bridger is in production now. Between all those and shows like this, The Clone Wars may never really be over.
|Title:||Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi|
|Number of Episodes:||6|
|Release Date:||Oct. 26, 2022|
Officially, Tales of the Jedi is an anthology series telling standalone stories from random points within the Star Wars timeline. In theory, that could open the door to episodes based on or between the many live-action movies or TV shows. In actual execution, though, the first season is entirely focused on The Clone Wars, with many of the voice actors from that show reprising their characters. Any of these six entries could well have been incorporated into The Clone Wars, either as flashbacks or (for the last one) a postscript coda.
At between 12 to 19 minutes each, the episodes are quite short, more like webisodes than a regular TV series. While techically separate stories, they progress in roughly chronological order and have a couple of overarching bridge themes. Some are set before the start of The Clone Wars, some during the events of that show, and the last one after its end.
- Episode 1: Life and Death (19 min.) – Baby Ahsoka Tano is taken on a hunting trip by her mother and reveals her first signs of being Force sensitive.
- Episode 2: Justice (16 min.) – When a corrupt politician’s son is taken hostage by the oppressed villagers in a territory he governs, two Jedi are sent to resolve the dispute. Not named at first, we soon realize that the Jedi are a young Qui-Gon Jinn (voiced by Micheál Richardson) and his master, Dooku (Corey Burton).
- Episode 3: Choices (15 min.) – A slightly older Dooku and Mace Windu (Terrence Carson) travel to retrieve the body of a fallen Jedi, only to discover that she was betrayed by forces within the Republic.
- Episode 4: The Sith Lord (17 min.) – Jedi master Yaddle (Bryce Dallas Howard) becomes suspicious of Dooku’s behavior and spies on him, witnessing a very troubling meeting.
- Episode 5: Practice Makes Perfect (12 min.) – During her Padawan training, Ahsoka (Ashley Eckstein) is forced to repeat a nearly impossible test over and over again by her master, Anakin (Matt Lanter).
- Episode 6: Resolve (16 min.) – Following the events of The Clone Wars and Revenge of the Sith, grown-up Ahsoka goes into hiding on a farm until discovered by an Imperial Inquisitor (Clancy Brown).
As well as the actors named above, Episode 4 notably features Liam Neeson as the Phantom Menace-era Qui-Gon Jinn and Ian McDiarmid as Palpatine/Darth Sidious (a role handled by a different voice actor in the Clone Wars cartoon). If it seems strange that Neeson’s return to the franchise has gone much less heralded than Ewan McGregor’s in the Obi-Wan Kenobi series, Qui-Gon unfortunately only has about three lines of dialogue in the entire episode. That leaves me questioning the point of bringing him in at all, unless the actor just happened to be very convenient to a recording studio and had a free half-hour in his schedule.
That episode also plugs a very minor plot hole from the film series by officially identifying the Yoda-looking female alien seen sitting on the Jedi Council during The Phantom Menace and explaining why she never appeared again in any later movies or in The Clone Wars. The character’s name (Yaddle) has been part of official canon for decades, but only through supplemental materials from outside the movies or TV shows. To my knowledge, she was never named or given any dialogue on screen until now.
Episode 5 has what appear to be a continuity issue, or at least some confusion as to when its events take place. The training scenes suggest that Ahsoka is still a young Padawan Learner in the early stages of her Jedi mentorship, yet she looks older and wears her teenage outfit from the later seasons of The Clone Wars, rather than the tube top she wore during the Clone Wars pilot movie or the show’s first few seasons. If she’s meant to be older and more experienced, why would Anakin put her through a beginner lesson again?
The most interesting aspect of this entire season is the opportunity to see Dooku when he was still a Jedi, and to watch his growing dissatisfaction with the Republic and the Jedi order across several episodes. It turns out he may have actually had legitimite greivances pushing him toward the Dark Side, which the Jedi did little to nothing to acknowledge, much less address.
The Ahsoka story arc, meanwhile, feels mostly like set-up for the character’s upcoming live-action spin-off.
In all, this first season of Tales of the Jedi runs barely 95 minutes total, probably closer to 85 if you skip the end credits for each episode. It makes a quick and entertaining enough binge watch that fans of The Clone Wars should enjoy, but the short length of the episodes, and the fact that most of them exist only to tell side stories or fill in minor plot details that could have been inferred elsewhere, makes the show as a whole feel a little insubstantial or inessential.
Disney+ streams Tales of the Jedi in 4K HDR at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (no Atmos, unfortunately). The show looks very consistent with The Clone Wars. I doubt that the animation was rendered in 4K natively. The upconversion really exposes some of the limits of its textural detail. Video noise is also evident in areas of the frame where fine details fail to resolve sufficiently.
Colors look nice and fairly rich, but usage of HDR is very subtle, almost the to point that Disney needn’t have bothered with it. If anything does, bright objects like lightsabers or fire might possibly offer highlights that extend beyond the SDR range, but just barely if so.
The musical score by Kevin Kiner has pretty good fidelity, and the various fighting and battle scenes will engage your surround channels, but (like most anything Disney produces these days) don’t get your hopes up for much in the bass department, because you won’t find it here.