Rewatch – Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Star Wars: The Clone Wars is a 2008 animated Star Wars series, which takes place between Episode 2: Attack of the Clones and Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith. The series follows Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, and his new Padawan, Ahsoka Tano, as they navigate all of the action and politics that come with a war lasting 3 years.

Joining our heroes is an impressive and ever-growing legion of supporting characters, but perhaps the most interesting are the clone troopers. Voiced by Dee Bradley Baker, many are given their own personality with slight vocal changes and various physical expressions. Perhaps the most iconic is Rex, who serves as Anakin’s second-in-command, and friend and mentor to Ahsoka. It’s hard to describe just how much justice this series did for the clones, but they really did. There are many who are just standard copies, but the show makes clear there some who strive for more individuality, and Dee Bradley Baker has his work cut out for him, sometimes leading whole episodes alone while voicing a variety of clones with slight differences.

Along with expanding the role of the clones, significant insight is presented not only as to how the Jedi train and operate, but also as to what the Force is and how it operates. A trio of episodes beginning with season 3’s Overlords expands on the mythology of the Force from the movies so much that it’s practically redefined entirely.

The show ran for 5 seasons, was picked up by Netflix who rescued its final canceled season, and then given yet-another final season by Disney+. 7 seasons in, is the show done? It’s anyone’s guess! But one thing is for sure, the animation improves dramatically every season.

If you’re new to Star Wars, Star Wars: The Clone Wars is a great jumping on point. You’ll definitely want to check out the movies after, and I have a recommendation on the viewing order. Star Wars animation doesn’t end with Star Wars: The Clone Wars. There’s also Star Wars Rebels and Star Wars Resistance, both excellent as well. Ahsoka returns in Star Wars Rebels, and she makes her live action debut in season 2 of The Mandalorian. And, coming soon, don’t miss the continuation of Ahsoka’s story in her own series, and Obi-Wan Kenobi in his.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars is a fun and fulling ride from start to finish. You can stream Star Wars: The Clone Wars on Disney+, or buy all but the last season on Apple TV for $29.99 per season, so maybe just watch it on Disney+.

Rewatch: The Dresden Files

The Dresden Files is a 2007 supernatural detective series based on the book series of the same name. The series follows wizard Harry Dresden as he continues to get caught up in supernatural mysteries throughout Chicago, anything from finding a lost item to busting a necromancer’s life insurance fraud.

If you love noir-style detective stories and magic, this is a must-watch series! Narration throughout really makes things easy to follow, especially if you decide to just jump into the middle of the show or watch it out of order. There’s not much character growth, but the characters are all pretty much grown as it is, a benefit of jumping out of a well-established book series. The mystery starts, great characters resolve it, you have fun. What more could you ask for?

Paul Blackthorne stars as Harry Dresden, a talented wizard and noir-style detective type who works as a consultant for the police when they need a “difference perspective” on very unusual cases. Valerie Cruz stars as Lt. Murphy, the only police officer who can stand Harry, and thus often his only source of case work. Terrence Mann stars as Bob, the ghost of an ancient sorcerer cursed to spend eternity bound to his skull, and Harry’s teacher. Conrad Coates stars as Donald Morgan, one of the wizards in charge of policing other wizards, and one who isn’t particularly fond of Harry.

If you know the stories, the actors definitely don’t look the part, but they play their parts to perfection. If you go on to read the books, it’s easy to hear their voices delivering the lines, because they just are these characters. Blackthorne’s Dresden is sloppy, distracted, showy, and focussed and powerful when he needs to be. Cruz’s Murphy is curt, direct, and always focussed on the case at hand. Mann’s Bob is arrogant yet caring, a teacher anyone would be happy to have. Coates’s Morgan is the perfect mix of direct, powerful, and kind when he wants to be.

Sadly, the series only ran for 12 episodes before being canceled, which is a shame, because it’s an absolutely wonderful show to just sit back and relax with. Fortunately, it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, and if you want more, you can always read the books.

You can stream the series for free on IMDB TV, or buy the whole series on Apple TV for just $9.99. If you’re looking for one episode to get you started, try “Soul Beneficiary,” but really they’re all great, and I hope you enjoy watching The Dresden Files as much as I do!

Earth Day, 2021

It’s Earth Day, a day to reflect on the planet we inhabit, the only one we can, and it’s a great day to start saving the environment for free, going carbon negative, donating to Trees for the Future, and taking even more action.

The end of the COVID-19 pandemic is in sight, some of us are now immune, and the rest of us hopefully understand how to safely be outdoors by now. Without us for over a year, nature has begun to bounce back in some very impressive ways. Hopefully, as we begin to re-engage outdoors, we’ll keep that in mind.

If you can, try to spend some time outdoors today, and make sure you do it safely if you’re not already vaccinated. If you can’t be safely outdoors today, or you’d rather not, please enjoy this video.

Rewatch: Samurai Jack

Long ago in a distant land, Aku, the shapeshifting master of darkness, unleashed an unspeakable evil. But, a samurai warrior wielding a magic sword stepped forth to oppose him. Before the final blow was struck, Aku tore open a portal in time and flung the samurai into the future, where his evil is law. Now, the samurai seeks to return to the past and undo the future that is Aku. He’s gotta get back, back to the past, he’s Samurai Jack.

Samurai Jack is a 2001 children’s animated series lead by Genndy Tartakovsky, starring Phil LaMarr as the titular Samurai Jack and Mako as Aku. The series ran for 5 seasons, though there was a 12-year gap between seasons 4 and 5, more on that later. To call it strictly a “children’s animated series” though is a bit of a disservice. Like with Batman: The Animated Series, some episodes definitely have a time-filler feel, but other episodes feature moments that can only be described as art.

Stranded in the future, Jack (taking the name the locals call him) immediately sets out to find time portals or magic to send him back to the past and prevent the future that Aku currently rules over. The show focusses on his journey as a whole. He’s always walking towards the next rumored solution to his problem, encountering new challenges, friends, and people to rescue along the way. Though Aku appears a few times each season, Jack spends most his time dealing with robotic minions of varying statures in Aku’s employ. With that said, Aku is perhaps one of the best villains in children’s animation, largely thanks to Mako’s unique voice and comedic timing. It’s truly a treat whenever he shows up.

Samurai Jack was canceled without a resolution after 4 seasons. The lack of resolution was intentional. The final episode is just another “someone needs help” episode, Aku isn’t even mentioned. Tartakovsky intended the viewer to simply understand that Jack will continue his journey. 12 years later, the show returned for a final season. Rather than being episodic and kid-friendly like the past 4 seasons, it had an overall arc and was darker and more geared towards the audience that grew up on the show. Sadly, Mako passed away in 2006, and Greg Baldwin took over as Aku. Regardless, the final season is an excellent end to Jack’s story.

Samurai Jack is an incredibly diverse adventure, it’s art much of the time, and it’s simply fun. It’s well worth watching. Since the first 4 seasons are very episodic, it’s safe to check out episodes XXXV or XL if you want just a taste first, and I’ve posted a few GIFs if you need an even smaller taste. You can stream Samurai Jack on HBO Max, or buy the whole series on Apple TV for $84.99, so maybe just get HBO Max for a month and stream it.

Happy New Year! the 2021 edition

2021 begins today, and while the new year is supposed to be about casting aside the bad things to focus on a bright future, it hardly feels that way in the midst of a global pandemic. But, writing these has been a tradition since 2013, and this doesn’t seem like a good year to break with any traditions.

Keeping with the theme, the top post here was Working From Home, written at the start of the lockdowns in the United States. I’ve been working from home for 10 years, and now most of us are, so I hope folks found it useful.

A quick list of favorites this year, I hope you enjoy them too:

This year especially, we’ll need more people sharing their voices and experiences as we navigate our lives during this pandemic, so please considering launching your own site with WordPress (and Jetpack) or WordPress.com, or start posting again if you already have one! If shorted content is your thing, take Tumblr for a spin. I didn’t think I was going to do much there, but now it’s a big part of my online presence.

If we work together and have empathy for not only one another, but also for those we lost along the way, we might just make it through 2021.