I really thought, when I went and saw the Clone Wars movie in the theatre, that Star Wars had reached the point of just being another entertainment franchise that I could take or leave. The theatrical release had a few compelling moments, but they were mostly action pieces, not themes or great characterization, which are the things I love about Star Wars.
At 10 minutes to 8:00 last night, I sat down and turned on the TV and DVR, undecided about whether to even watch the two premier episodes. I set the DVR to record them, of course, but I was kind of assuming they'd just be the first part of the movie -- a repeat of what I'd seen in the theatre. Maybe I'd watch part of one with the kids. Or maybe I'd just save them for later and probably dump them without watching, since we're likely to get the DVD eventually anyway.
Then I noticed that the DVR Guide blurb didn't sound like the movie at all. "No, they're new," said my son when I mentioned that. He's been watching preview stuff all week upstairs in the den, so he's more in tune with it than I am.
Okay, so I probably wouldn't dump them without watching them, but this had been a very long, tiring week, and I didn't know if I had the energy to watch another hour's worth of what I'd seen 90 minutes of in the movies.
At 5 minutes till 8:00, my wife was on the computer, but said she was about to get off, if I wanted to do some writing or web surfing. I was still undecided.
Finally, pretty much as I heard the kids upstairs yelling, "One minute to go!" I decided that at the very least, it was worth going up and spending half an hour with my children doing something together, regardless of whether that something was as passive as watching TV.
Each of these episodes was SO much better than anything in the movie.
Brilliant: actually having a full one-minute countdown running during the end credits of the preceding show and during the "coming up next" preview of Clone Wars. The font they chose for the numbers rocked, and the final 5-4-3-2-1 gave me goosebumps. It also didn't hurt that they had the Asteroid Field music from ESB playing over parts of the countdown.
Brilliant: replacing "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away" with a single line of wisdom related to the plot and theme of the show.
Brilliant: the first episode didn't have Obi-wan or Anakin in it at all, just Yoda and some clones.
Brilliant: we're actually going to get some major character-building, it appears, for all the Jedi we saw being slaughtered at the end of Episode III.
Brilliant: (and I can't believe this was brilliant, but it was) making an ongoing joke out of the incompetence of the droid troopers. Why anyone would build such bumbling, moronic and undisciplined robots is beyond me, but I honestly did find them funny.
I will be watching this show with my kids every week.