Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Clone Wars is coming...

I see some of you out there shaking your heads and thinking, "You're a little late to the party," but just give me a moment. I don't mean The Clone Wars is coming to TV; I mean The Clone Wars is coming to my blog! Sounds awesome, yes? Yes! Of course, it does.

In conjunction with The Armchair Squid, we'll be going through each episode on a weekly basis and evaluating and reviewing them. That means that for... well, like, a couple of years, I guess, there will be a weekly Clone Wars post. If you haven't watched this show and you like Star Wars at all, you really should watch it, and this is a great excuse to do it. This is easily one of the best animated shows ever on TV and, actually, one of the best sci-fi shows, animated or not. Trust me; I've been known to watch some bad sci-fi, and this is not that. If you've already seen it, well, you know you should get in on this. If you want to sign up, just follow the link over to Squid's blog and get signed up!

Now, a few words... which is difficult, because I want to say a lot of words about a lot of different things, but, then, that's a lot of different things, and I don't want this post to go on all season. So let's talk canon. Hey! Pay attention! I said "canon," not "cannon." We are not shooting explosives at people. Here, we use more elegant words from a... okay, well, not so civilized age. Anyway...

Last year, when Disney took over Star Wars, one of the first things they did was to "do away" with the Star Wars Expanded Universe. I have found this whole thing amusing, but the statement they were making had to be made. But let's back up a moment.

Prior to 1991, the only Star Wars canon was the original trilogy. Sure, there were a handful of books in existence (Splinter of the Mind's Eye, some Han Solo books, a Lando book or three), but no one took those as real, especially since some things like Luke cutting Vader's arm off certainly didn't happen within the movie time line. Those books were just fun things on the side. But all of that changed in 1991 due to a couple of events:
1. The publication of Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn.
2. Dark Horse comics' release of Dark Empire #1.

Both of these series take place after Return of the Jedi and are responsible for bringing Star Wars back into the American consciousness. One way or the other, you can probably thank Timothy Zahn for the fact that the prequels exist. It was his Thrawn trilogy (and everything that happened after because of it) that showed Lucas that there was still an interest in Star Wars.

Interesting fact:
Zahn originally wanted to write a trilogy set during the Clone Wars. Lucas said "no" because he knew that if he did ever make the prequels (because at that point he had no plans to do that), they would invalidate the books Zahn wanted to write. So Zahn reformed his clone story and set it after Jedi.

Now, here's the thing:
Lucas always said that anything done outside of the movies could be invalidated at any time (see Splinter of the Mind's Eye) and was never considered canon, hence the Expanded Universe. That's what it was: non-canonical material. But, over time, as there became more and more of it and people became more and more invested in it, even people at Lucasfilm, people began to view the EU as being pretty much as valid as anything Lucas himself did. People had come to view the EU as canonical even though they had been told again and again that it wasn't.

When Disney came in with their plans to officially expand the Star Wars universe, to provide a vast tapestry of new canon, they had to make a hard statement so that people would understand that they weren't going to accommodate the EU into their plans. So "the EU doesn't exist anymore" was a clear way of stating that.

The Clone Wars, though, having come from Lucas, is official Star Wars canon. This is the story. I think it's a good one. I hope you come along for the ride.


  1. I really do not get the whole reason this is such a big deal, 'canon' or 'non-canon'. I don't like 'dream stories' or 'alternate universes' or the like, but if a story's good, why care whether it's 'canon' or not.

    You know what the real problem is? If Zahn had written "Heir To The Tsar," or something that DIDN'T tie in to Star Wars, it likely would've died on the vine. I was talking with Sweetie yesterday about how hard it is for movies (and books) to start up a whole new line of heroes. Lots of bad movies try, sure, but lots of good ones, do, too, and we're in an era it seems where only if you tie in your thing to a pre-existing brand will it have much of a chance.

    Which is why I'm remarketing Codes as "The Fast And Furious Avenging Codes Vs. Superman And The Chamber Of Secrets."

    1. Briane: It really comes down to continuity and conflicts between stories. Marvel and DC make a good example of what happens when you don't pay attention to what is, basically, canon.

      Occasionally, DC will put out a good story but, overall, their universe melts down every half a dozen years or so because they don't pay attention to continuity. It bothers people when things don't line up (like Luke cutting off Vader's arm).

      Marvel pays a lot of attention to continuity, so they have never had to re-boot their entire universe due to continuity issues.

    2. I don't follow it all that closely but didn't Marvel reboot with those "Secret Wars" things?

      So if I understand, someone might write a story in which Luke and Han duel to the death, and that's okay to write the story but it's non-canon? I suppose I get it if you're going to keep expanding out the way comics do, because you can't just have ANYTHING happen, so when you talk about it as continuity, it makes more sense.

    3. Briane: I don't know anything about the current Secret Wars that is happening; I only found out about it yesterday. However, I have the original Secret Wars, and it had nothing to do with any kind of re-boot.
      -If- Marvel does a re-boot, it won't be because of continuity errors but because they've been talking about updating everything for a long while. The "Ultimate" comics they did for a while were a way of doing that.
      I may have to actually look into this new Secret Wars.

      And, yeah, basically, "canon" is what happens in official continuity. It's similar to the line between a thing and fanfic.

  2. Zahn's books were certainly better than the second trilogy. Sad to think the last good Star Wars movie was Spaceballs...

    1. Alex C: I don't think they were better. He has his moments, but there were also a lot of points where I was like, "Whaaat?"

  3. Haha! I'm excited, too.

    Clearing away the Expanded Universe to make way for the new films is only fair, really. After all, we do all want to be surprised by the new stories, right? And as you say, Uncle George has always made it clear that the movies would supersede everything else.

    1. TAS: Yeah, I agree. Especially since most of the EU stuff is pretty bad.

      (I've already gotten my first two posts done!)

  4. My husband would love reading this…I may have to alert him to the blog series you guys are doing, he'd eat it up. I remember him being happy about Clone Wars coming to Netflix but not really sure why because he's seen them all repeatedly.

    1. Elsie: Probably, he was happy about the Netflix thing because that was the only place season six aired. It's on DVD, now, but, for a while, you could only see it on Netflix.

  5. I never kept up much with Star Wars after the first film. I'm pretty sure I saw the second two in the series, but I've been relatively indifferent to them.

    Mostly I just shipped out tons of Star Wars merchandise when I worked at the costume company and that was as involved as I've been with the franchise in the past 20 years. Not at all familiar with Clone Wars.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    1. Lee: Mostly, it's probably not your speed, although you might be interested in some of the more philosophical episodes. Because, yes, they do do that.