Clonewars_240 Judging by the critcs’ applause greeting a screening of Cartoon Networks’ Star Wars: The Clone Wars, fans will be happy with the latest offering in the world George Lucas created.

Although advertisers got a sneak peek back in April at upfronts, this was a full episode the featured Master Yoda. But before we delve into the episode, General Grievous comes on screen to threaten us with bodily harm — demonstrated with droid violence — if we dare record it or do anything else similarly rude. So, no spoilers.

The main thrust of the episode features Yoda evading various Separatist traps and proving his worth (with the aid of three clones) against a battalion of droids. Although there’s political talk and betrayals around every corner, the numerous action scenes make it easy enough for Toon’s younger audience to follow. Add to that Master Yoda kicking ass and offering sage advice, some light-hearted, goofy humor courtesy of the oddly programmed droids, and gorgeous, cinematic animation that works particularly well with alien landscapes, and you have a promising introduction to the highly anticipated series.

Supervising producer Dave Filoni and Toon’s Chief Content Officer Rob Sorcher are also on hand to answer questions, one of which revolves around the bald villainess who has it out for Yoda in the episode viewed and adds a little sex appeal to the Star Wars universe.

"Ventress is a disciple of Count Dooku," says Filoni, before launching into her role in the Sith hierarchy. "Darth Sidious, Senator Palpatine, he is the main evil bad guy.  He has his apprentice, Count Dooku. The one thing George talks about with evil and being consumed by power is when you are the apprentice, you always want to usurp the guy that’s overtop of you.  So Ventress is Dooku’s way of trying to attempt that at first. He’s training her in the Dark Side. She’s getting more powerful."

Besides her Dark Side training, Ventress has another weapon in her personal arsenal.

"One of the things I wanted to do with her in the series was make her a little more intelligent, a lot more, you know, deceptive, but also kind of sexual," says Filoni. "She’s kind of a forbidden fruit that walks around the Jedi who are supposed to be very hands-off and not get involved with, you know, the more lustful aspects of life. So that’s why she’s a bit sensuous-feeling, I think like a serpent or whatnot."

With such a complex but well known mythology, Clone Wars will have to be careful not to retread ground or contradict what Lucas has set up, but Filoni isn’t daunted and points out the benefits of delving into more detail.

"We know Yoda is powerful, but how does that power develop? How does he use it?" Filoni muses. "You see in the episode, I really wanted him to be evasive in a lot of the ways that the troops are destroyed. So he’s not the one outright attacking most of the time. So we get to go into more detail that you just couldn’t do in the live action films, again, because they’re mainly focused on Anakin.

"I do keep acutely aware of what happened in the Attack of the Clones and what happened in Revenge of the Sith, and I know any time I go near one of the principal characters like Obi-Wan or Anakin or Padme, that we have to pay very careful attention that it’s going to hook up.  For the most part, it’s just having a lot of fun and talking to George about what the Jedi really were like."

Since the series takes place during the three years of the Clone Wars, which precedes the Storm Troopers’ betrayal of the Jedi, viewers are asked to recapture any sympathies they may have had for the helmeted soldiers.

"We have to go back to a period and show kids that they are good guys," agrees Filoni. "The Clones have more individual personalities than I had thought many years ago, and that’s important to get across to the audience and to kids.

"And that really begs the question later on about their betrayal of the Jedi and how that all goes down. So you see, though we see it from one aspect in one movie, we might in the end get to look at that event a different way, from a different point of view, as Obi-Wan would say."

One of the story arcs will still focus on Anakin, but also on his Padawan, Ahsoka.

"I look at the episodes where we have him and Ahsoka, which is his student, and I know that there is an arc there, because something has to happen to her," explains Filoni. "We don’t see her in Revenge of the Sith. So we use those kind of points to show the progression of the war. Because we can kind of go left or right of that plot and deal with characters that we have never seen, there’s a lot of material, so I can stretch it and, you know, keep  making episodes about things that George would like to see or I would like to see."

With the Star Wars universe well into its third decade, will fans be tired of Clone Wars before it’s even begun?

"[The episodes] stand alone as amazing entertainment programs. It’s like a mini movie every week," says Sorcher. "If you bring nothing, no background to it — to an entire new generation to kids, this will bring and inspire a whole new generation of fans. For us, it’s a dual audience. You have a program that a dad or a family will come to with a kid who may or may not be an existing fan now. So I  think this really just opens it up to go the other way." 

The 22 episodes of Clone Wars will begin airing weekly on Cartoon Network beginning this fall, but fans can get their Star Wars appetizer in theaters on Aug. 15

Posted by:Hanh Nguyen